Image by: ffaalumni
By Michael Sterling
21-year old Ali Hamed has created one of next year’s most talked about companies, CoVenture, but it wasn’t always this easy. During his sophomore year at Cornell, he found himself sleeping in Union Square Park and sneaking away to read programing books. His journey is like something you’d see in a Hollywood movie and his method, though simple, is quite unique. So how did he do it?
#1) Studying Is Power
Attending Cornell to play baseball, Hamed broke his back in two places and was permanently gone from the game. Though this would completely devastate most kids, Hamed found solace in reading books on computer programing and technology entrepreneurship.
While he was napping at Starbucks and dragging his suitcase around at night, he was also sneaking passed Barnes & Nobles security guards to study. He hid the books in the kids’ section, hoping no would find them. Despite the fact that he literally couldn’t afford food or a place to stay, studying took precedence over everything.
As a result of the “free education” he received, Hamed taught himself how to code and was able to launch his first company which used natural language processing to extract sentiment from news articles.
#2) Every Failure Teaches You Something
Hamed’s first startup company tanked. He lost all his cash and, since he was a homeless student, everything seemed like it was the worst it was going to be. It was at this time, he realized that other entrepreneurs who weren’t so tech savy can use his knowledge. The idea for CoVenture had begun.
“If you create enough attention around yourself, and then fail, everyone knows,” Hamed said to Forbes, “It’s hard to talk to friends, even. But failure scares you just enough so that the next time you start something — if you’re ever able to — you have this feeling in your stomach that never leaves, that makes you know you can’t fail again. Because you know how bad it really is.”
Alternating between couch-surfing with friends and living/sleeping in Starbucks, in 2013, Hamed and his team sought out non-technical founders with big ideas. Their mission was to build $30,000 worth of software for them (which he had learned how to do from his Barnes & Nobles days) in exchange for 5% equity in each company.
All six companies raised additional capital in 2013, gaining revenues of around $10 million.
#3) Know The City You’re In
Hamed has been setting up shop in New York City since the building of CoVenture, and according to him, it’s the best city to be in when it comes to his company’s mission.
“I think CoVenture makes a lot of sense for New York,” Hamed said to Business Insider, “There’s a lot of people who understand industries very well here, but there’s not as much technical talent.”
Hamed’s goal is to build software for nontechnical founders who don’t want to pay developers by the hour, or search for a co-founder with a background in coding, or invest in non-trusting companies that might steal their idea. CoVenture offers them a faithful springboard towards getting exactly what they need for their company.
New York City is full of opportunity-seekers who lack the knowledge of technological programing required for online businesses. For CoVenture, it’s perfect. As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial to aim for the city you’re stationed in first by being the solution to their problem. It’s then that you will be able to branch out.
#4) Expand By Your Results
In 2014, Hamed’s team will be partnering with 15 additional companies, after raising $500,000 from angel investors in just six weeks. By providing company owners with support, he’s not only helping them, but consumers as well.
For example, one of the companies in his portfolio is Globa.li, which makes boutique hotels in far-flung places like Sub-Saharan African bookable online. According to Hamed, one-third of the world’s hotels are not bookable online. His service, then, help both parties get what they want. The result is total satisfaction which seals CoVenture’s loyalty.
In essence, it’s cause and effect. As a business owner, you’re never going to get the results you want unless you please the right kind of clients. Aim for results that please multiple parties, otherwise you will be selling a losing product.