Editor’s Note: Hustling is about being resilient and bouncing back from failure. It’s about being honest with oneself and acknowledging what one could have done better. Shahed knows what it’s like to put all your effort into something that doesn’t work out, but he’s not afraid to dust himself off and try it all over again.
I really think to get drawn to entrepreneurship, you need to get bitten by a bug. A bug that makes you want to learn more about this ‘start-up world’ and find opportunities to get involved in it.
Like what happened to me 4 years ago, when I had the spark. Since then, the time I’d normally spend watching TV show’s or cat videos on YouTube have been replaced with watching Founder interviews (Kevin Rose’s Foundation videos – my favorite) or watching Colleen show around amazing start-up offices on TC cribs.
I was in year 12 of school when a friend and I happened to attend a talk by the founders of http://duplays.com/ at a co-working space in Dubai (where I was born and went to school). I was blown away that both had left their professional jobs in completely different fields to start a social sporting company.
I didn’t know much about coding, but I wasn’t going to give up just yet. First thing I did was to look for friends who had technical knowledge, but I had no luck. I spent hours on Elance trying to convince freelancers to be co-founders even though I could not pay them (as I was in year 12).
Finally, when my summer break started, I bought a lynda.com membership and learnt everything I could about WordPress. Picking up bits and pieces, I bought a theme from themeforest which most closely resembled the product I wanted to build. Editing as much I could, using plugins and changing HTML codes following patterns of other codes, I built something – which, I realized later, would be called MVP.
Fast forward: MVP, which I built on WordPress, has turned into a decent product: http://www.nextstretch.com/
There were some big highlights with this project: 14,000 hits in first 4 months; signing deals with 35+ small businesses; coming close to a deal with the University of Melbourne; and a partnership with http://www.comparecourses.com.au/ (one of the leaders in this space).
But all in all, the project was a fail. There were a lot of challenges. I hustled for two years and kept going through the roller costar ride of a start-up.
Although it was a great experience, I learnt a lot and met amazing people. And the one most important thing I learnt? Start-ups are hard!
I was coming up with heaps of ideas to work on after that experience. I even tried to build something like this: http://foodoncampus.co/ But nothing really clicked with me or made me feel passionate enough.
Finally, last March, I had an idea I felt strongly about. To get validation, with the help of few friends, I built an MVP and hustled to get customers. The response has been overwhelming.
Assignment Hero is an on-demand online tutoring service focused on helping with assignment troubles. The concept was simple; even the tech wasn’t too hard. The most sophisticated part would be the virtual white board, which helps the tutor give lessons online.
But hustling for customers by standing for hours in humiliation outside universities handing out fliers is what got the traction: Since our launch last July, we’ve received $20,000+ in revenue.