12 Lessons from Mudassir Sheikha (CEO and co-founder of Careem)

 Mudassir Sheikha is the CEO and Co-Founder of Careem. He started his career with Trilogy Software before joining San Francisco-based mobile experience startup Brience at the height of the dot-com bubble in March 2000.

Careem is the Arabic edition for Uber and it's one of it's greatest competitors

Today he gives us 12 valuable lessons from his personal experience and great journey with Entrepreneurship

1) Lesson One: Seeking impact not money

When Mudassir and his partner magnus was just starting out, they had no idea what they would do, he says:

"Whatever we do has to be massively impactful over time, and it has to be meaningful.
It's not about making money, money is going to come, it's the byproduct, it's about improving the lives of people, making an impact and ultimately building something that will be our legacy in the world"

So one of the greatest mistakes entrepreneurs do, or let us say aspiring entrepreneurs is that they only seek financial gains, and the reason why I said aspiring entrepreneurs, is because they usually not achieve much, because they usually have no vision, all that they desire is making a lot of money.

So make impact your main focus, because the impact could live more than you do, and it's much more important than money, and money is only the byproduct as he said.


2) Lesson Two: (Customer service is your guard)

Mudassir wanted to build a reliable solution, and he knew that even if you did a thousand trips very well, but only one trip went wrong with the wrong person, it could completely destroy that relationship for you.

He follows:
"So we had to build a service that was very reliable, we wanted to offer very high levels of customer service, so if things went wrong, which they often and inevitably do in this business, we would respond very professionally through customer service. We would do things even before people would complain, just wow them with our customer service.
We built very strong capabilities in delivering a reliable service and exceptional, high quality customer service"

So also this gives us an idea how much customer service could be impactful, and how they could rescue a business from losing it's customers.


3) Lesson Three: (Nothing like competition to get you running)

Mudassir talking about their early competition when Uber wanted to get into market at Dubai:

Mudassir said: "It was frankly a very high-stress time for us, but there's nothing like competition to get you running really, really fast.
Instead of sleeping six hours a day, we started sleeping 3.
We said, we have to launch an app, and we have to have it up and running before they come to market, and we did just that.
We were live on the appstore in a matter of weeks before Uber came to town"

Entrepreneurs usually fear competition, especially when the competitor is a well known and established business like Uber, but we as Entrepreneurs should rather embrace this competition, use it as a motive to get us running fast, faster than our competitor would run, and eventually, we'll catch and overcome them.


4) Lesson Four: (Finding the right partner)

When Mudassir was asked " What is your first advice to aspiring entrepreneurs? " He said:

"I think the first advice is finding the right partner. It's a tough journey and it has it's trials and heartbreaks, I think it would have been extremely difficult to do it alone. My first advice to entrepreneurs is to really find someone that you're aligned with on the vision, mission and whom you get along with socially"

He follows: " Find someone whom you have some common history with, ideally, that would complement you in some way, that is aligned with you and your values. Look up into your history and search for people that might be looking to do something similar.
Don't just do it by yourself. "


5) Lesson Five: ( What worked abroad might not do so in region)

Mudassir says: " Another piece of advice: " I think sometimes we're quite obsessed with what is happening in other markets and we think that this is working in Germany, this is working in the US, what can we bring into the region that is going to work?
Often, what happens when we try to bring those ideas to the region, we find that the region may not be ready for them yet, I strongly advice entrepreneurs not to think that way "

6) Lesson Six: ( A business is basically a solution to a problem)

Mudassir says: " If your focus is on understanding and solving local problems, then you can feel free to get inspiration and learning from solutions that might be applicable, that may have worked in other markets, but don't make these solutions your focus"

Mudassir said after this that: If they have copied Uber blindly they would have been wiped out after the first year in the business.

Mudassir says: " The only way we were able to really complete successfully was because we focused on understanding the local problems"


7) Lesson Seven: (The golden advice)

Mudassir says: "Talk to customers, talk to other stakeholders, not just at the beginning, but as a continuous process.
Constantly understand the problems at hand.
Constantly learn how your product is doing or not doing, and everything about the experience.
Make sure that it's realistic, good experience and make it fit the needs of your customers"

Really you should read this one again, as I consider it one of the best advice ever provided, it may be common sense but not common practice.


8) Lesson Eight: (Be quick to market)

He says: " Another advice is to be quick to market and use feedback to refine the product, and keep learning and refining until you hit what they call (Product-market fit)

The product-market fit is what exactly your customers need, it's the solution to their problems in this field, and it's their first choice usually as it was initially designed to fit them perfectly.


9) Lesson Nine: (Try your best to get top talents)

Mudassir says: "Focus on top talents, because in a startup you don't have a lot of cross-functional systems, so smart people can really m ake or break your business. "

Try your best to approach top talents, and if you feel that someone is going to add value, you owe it to yourself and to your startup to keep trying.


10) Lesson Ten: (Know the motives, utilize them)

Mudassir says:" Everyone will have their own reasons for creating a startup if you're an entrepreneur or founder, you should figure out its purpose and articulate it well, it will be a motivator when things become challenging, it will attract like-minded people, and it will manifest itself much more easily than it would have otherwise, I truly believe that this has been (The secret sauce) behind Careem's success."


11) Lesson Eleven: (Focus on personal development)

Mudassir says: "As an entrepreneur, if you want to continue growing with the business, you need to focus on your own personal development."

He also says:" The advice here is, as an entrepreneur, you never should stop learning."


12) Lesson Twelve: (Embrace problems)

Mudassir says: "The bigger the problems, the bigger the opportunities in the region, which is exciting."

A business never should exist without problems, so as an entrepreneur your main mission is to solve problems, so don't freak out but rather embrace problems.


So that was all for today, hope that this wasn't so long, I really appreciate you for putting the time to read this, hope it was helpful and thanks for your precious time.

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