When Lionel Messi said, “It took me 17 years & 114 days to become an overnight success.” He really wasn’t kidding. Achieving goals is not an easy process, at least not how the usual articles, stories on internet make them appear. Entrepreneurship has become a fancy and glamorous industry, all thanks to different initiatives taken throughout the world to promote this entrepreneurial culture. Only those who take a leap of faith will know how difficult, lonely and excruciating the whole process of building something from the ground-up is. When Shoaib Makani realized that starting a company is undisputedly what he should do in his life, he wasn’t aware of the fact that it will take him 8 long and tiring years to land his dream startup idea.
Makani is currently residing in U.S.A and working on his startup, KeepTruckin, which is backed by several investment firms including the famous Google Ventures. KeepTruckin, as the name suggests, is a web and mobile based electronic logs and fleet management system. The target market for this tool is North America and as the drivers already own tablets or smartphones, they can utilize the application to improvise operational coherence and cost-effectiveness without additional investment on hardware.
Let’s take a flash from the past — In 2005, Makani was an intern at search engine giant, Yahoo. After a great learning experience and exposure during his tenure, he concluded he wants to see himself heading something great in the future.
Unsure, about the possibilities of what he could be running, Makani recollects,
“Finance and banking was the most common career path at LSE, but I knew my calling was entrepreneurship so I broke from the path and looked for opportunities in the technology industry. That is what brought me to Silicon Valley.”
After graduation, Makani joined Google as Product Marketing Manager, where he played his role in marketing and small to medium business acquisition. Two years into the company, he left this lucrative job from the worlds most innovative company, and chose to be part of a startup venture — AdMob. Makani pauses here to exclaim how that was the best decision he made in his professional life. He joined as the Business Development Manager at AdMob to assist product growth in emerging markets. He traveled from Latin America to India to Asia Pacific to draw a more larger customer base. In a remarkable turn of events, this startup was acquired by Google and Makani was back to where he once was. The zeal to produce something innovative and cutting-edge still existed in Makani. While working at Google, Makani met Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, who upon his first meeting with Makani offered him a job as an investor. Makani had no prior experience in investments, but he knew a thing or two about it because of his previous startup gig.
Makani worked for more than two years at Khosla Ventures where he led a number of key investments including Instacart, Indiegogo, Everlane, Summon (Instantcab), Simpler.co. Simultaneously he went through portfolios of more than 1000 startups which gave him detailed insights on businesses, investments and how to go about it.
“When you evaluate hundreds of startups over the course of two years, you start to identify patterns and develop a sense of what has potential to be big and what does not.”
He added that majority startups fail because of lack of good skillful team, founders usually break up or the focus deviates from the mission. Makani gained a whole lot of experience through leading investments for a lot of startups.When I asked if all the investments were successful, he smiled and told me,
“Yes. A couple of investments didn’t go well, but it was a great learning experience.”
While Makani was in Pakistan in 2012 to visit Plan9, he acquired a great team of engineers for his startup KeepTruckin. The startup is performing commendably and Makani is having the best time of his life. Makani, who is only 31, believes that he has acquired immense experience during the entire course of working at different companies. If he didn’t have such large exposure which he has now, he would have never been able to start KeepTruckin and secure investments.
If you are certain about what domain inspires you, it is highly recommended to work in an organization operational in the same industry to extract insights before initiating something of your own. In times when we are not really sure about what we will be doing, the best advice is to go with the flow and trust your intuitions like Makani did. He is only a single example of risk-takers and an experimental entrepreneur. If we dig deeper, we will come to know about a great deal of people, who left their professions and remunerative jobs to follow their heart and passion only to find success, happiness and contentment.
(The article originally appeared on Medium)