Q: What is exactly Entrepreneur in Residence (EiR)?
A: Its a position that exists only within either a start-up builder (Rocket Internet), venture capital firm (Mother Goose Venture Developers) or disruptive innovator (Ephlux). The EiR is assigned a startup concept that has never been attempted in itself entirety or within the region its being executed. The role comes with very low personal and professional risk, implying full funding by the backers and investors which also means the EiR is the show runner and mastermind behind the idea. There can be multiple EiRs within the start-up, with the responsibility of testing and computing the idea with the highest chance of success. In my case, the maximum timeframe for experimentation is 30 months, but it varies from company to company and can be max of five years. Moreover, the title also applies to former or current innovators hired at business schools that coach or mentor their students.
Q: How is EiR supposed to work and what are his responsibilities?
A: The EiR develops and tests multiple business models. An evaluation at predetermined intervals justifies testing and measures earnings versus costs. The best fit model is then picked and expanded. In our case, we are creating an academic start-up first and foremost, with a revenue model that stems from corporate branding and consultation services. The EiR leads the product development and quality assurance in this regard, delegating support system tasks to his subordinates and partners.
Q: What is the EiR concept in Pakistan?
A: LinkedIn search for the term shows only 25 active EiRs in Pakistan. Business owners and investors are often against the idea because long-term risk and disruptive innovation are two elements outside of a risk adverse culture and mindset. The uncertainty of exploring a completely new and untested business idea is almost unheard of in our region. The backers of Ephlux Insights are Asian technopreneurs that have thrived and gained from disruptive risks and are thus less fearful of the prospect of experimentation.
Q: What does Ephlux Insights deals in? And what is your job at Ephlux as EiR?
A: Ephlux Insights is a fully funded academic start-up based in Hong Kong that publishes deep insights and best practices shared by leaders in business, technology and disruptive innovation. It also has a revenue model in corporate branding services and brand strategy consultation, based on the teachings of Prof. Sasha Strauss of UCLA. Noticing the emerging trend where the C-level executives had the power to sway stakeholder engagement, Ephlux Insights facilitates the image augmentation of selected executives with various promotional packages.
Q: Who are your clients?
A: We primarily deal with NA and EMEA businesses in the brand, agency and consultation space, with special emphasis on the CEOs, MDs and Founders of various types of disruptive innovators like BCG Digital Ventures, Innovation Protocol and Maher Bird Associates and with the CMOs of D.E. Master Blenders, SandStorm Digital and Atmel Corporation among others. Because we are in our start-up phase, most customers have opted for the video interview component of our 10-point corporate branding package as a test run and have found success in the form of leads and interest from investors. Our most comprehensive client project has been with Hong Kong based mobile tech company MULTICHANNEL Group, headed by Dmitry Fedotov; who opted for a video interview, media imagery, placements for speaking engagements and contributing thought leadership to the online portal
Q: Your role or experience in lean start up methodology?
A: In 2011, I co-founded one of the first digital marketing agencies in Pakistan, which later was sold in March, 2012. My partner and I earned 16 customers each time applying “Lean Methodology” to better understand their pain points and cultivate the best fit online and offline strategies for customer engagement. It was important to only work with customers that shared our pulse and drive for innovation, so the “Customer Validation” component allowed us to hone in on which customer segments we were the best fit for after which our 60 per cent failure rate was slashed in half with 100 days.
Q: Why exactly “Volunteering” should be done for different social causes in the society?
A: The following table will explain this question.
So, the risk is higher when you are bad and dont believe on GOD. If you do so, you will start working for good, good people will be around you, you will do well always and good will happen to you. What more could be good, then Volunteering for any good cause? An more importantly, we live in a society where people talk and talk, then do nothing about the causes that matter. We spend countless hours creating a human flag and yet ignore starving or homeless people. We gather and rally for YouTube ban removal, and yet sit on our hands when the driver asks us for a raise in order to educate his daughter. The question you should be asking is – if we the educated elite do not offer our time and guidance to the poor underprivileged that lack a mentor or role model, then (a) can you really shoulder the risk of that person becoming a criminal or negative contributor to society and (b) if we dont do this then who will?
Q: Any suggestions you would like to give to people who are working to start their own start-up?
A: I suggest Googling “FullStart.com 4 reasons you should not be an entrepreneur” before jumping into the cut-throat world of entrepreneurship because it will be the biggest reality check of your life in terms of who is your friend or enemy but also in terms of what are your real strengths and weaknesses. When I co-started my digital agency, I came from a career that told me that my brand development skills were top notch but I lacked in personal selling. When you get thrown in the ocean with circling sharks and have no floaters or weapons, you learn to swim and fight really fast. In my case, I had no choice but to learn sales and learn fast.
Im happy we have a start-up movement in Pakistan, with TiE and Start-up Weekend events all over the country. Disruptive innovators are also pleased because it suggests that the new generation has the guts to own their destiny, a characteristic not commonly associated with millennial and its a precursor to the accountability trait found in high performing leaders.
If you are going to do something, first get the stakeholders in your life on the same page and understand that there will be long days in the sun for product testing or research and long nights pouring over usage cases and data analysis on where the product or service was flawed. Expect to sacrifice plenty but know this – you will initially earn less than the amount you work then boom out of nowhere one day you will earn more than you work.That is the reward of perseverance, and it is the key difference between those who build their dreams and those hired to build.