In the second of our two-part focus on successful entrepreneurs, we talk to three more businessmen about their experiences going it alone…
Nami Zarringhalam and Alan Mamedi, TrueCaller
Nami and Alan met at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm when they were both studying for their degree in computer science and are the co-founders of the global phonebook service TrueCaller.
“TrueCaller aims to give as much information as possible about the people you communicate with,” says Zarringhalam. “We do this by connecting to all the white and yellow pages of the world as well as to Facebook and Linkedin and our own crowd-sourced database of phone numbers.
“We actually didn’t have any plans on taking the entrepreneurial route but from the day we realised that our regular jobs didn’t give us the satisfaction we needed, our aspirations escalated ‘till the day we started working full time on TrueCaller.”
It’s never an easy path however, as there are always obstacles to overcome.
“The biggest obstacle for us was probably finding the right team members,” Zarringhalam explains. “When we started out we were two and had to outsource a lot of the development to keep costs to a minimum. The outsourcing projects did often leave a lot to be desired whereas in-house developed projects always performed excellently.
“After a while we realised that the cost of outsourcing was actually much higher if you account for loss of time, product quality and defaulting revenue.”
So how do you know if you have it in you to be an entrepreneur?
“We believe that anyone feeling what we felt when we started working has potential to become a entrepreneur,” says Zarringhalam. “All they probably need is a push which working with the right companions will probably give.
“Once you have a team, don’t be afraid to ask people around you for help. Out of ten people you know, you’ll probably find at least four who are willing to help and two who are knowledgeable,” he advises.
Tom Colvin, Conseal Security
Colvin was identified at just 14 as a future captain of industry and was sponsored through his BSc in mathematics. Following a long and successful stint as a developer at Visualware he founded Conseal Security.
Conseal was conceived following a noticeable increase in news reports of data breaches a few years ago. The value of data and therefore the inherent cost of losing it were finally being acknowledged, but no new solutions to address the problem were being produced. When the HMRC lost details of 25 million people in 2007, it wasn't simply dismissed as its problem: people were genuinely angry because they realised the serious impact it could have on their personal lives. The established security market had, in many respects, stagnated and been starved of innovation.
Throughout his research of the market and of the solutions currently available, it became clear that there was a need for a solution. Colvin therefore set about developing a technology to encrypt and remotely wipe data if it was lost and launched the solution earlier this year.
“After discovering that there was no existing product to satisfy the need, the development of the first version of Conseal USB began in earnest. There were a number of complexities to work around, and some extremely tricky mathematics in particular. When the product was finally completed, we began our testing phase which involved extensive testing in our labs, in the hands of outside experts and in genuine business settings, which took even longer. We vowed to only release it when we were certain it was 100% secure,” Colvin says.
"We thought it would take off, but nothing quite prepared us for the level of activity we saw. I have launched many different technologies over the years and nothing has had quite the reception that Conseal USB did.”
Colvin’s advice to those who’re considering launching their own business? “Do your research, then repeat and repeat,” he says. “ If the conditions are right, don't be scared to go for it. Running your own business brings a true freedom you can't get elsewhere.”