On Failure: Q & A with Ivdad Ahmed Khan Mojlish

On failure, startup & life

Ivdad Ahmed Khan Mojlish is no stranger in the startup scene of Bangladesh. He is the co-founder and Managing Director of LightCastle Partners-one of the 5 Bangladeshi Startups we listed to watch in 2014. Ivdad has a diverse body of experiences that includes working at a non-profit youth leadership institute, founding a startup, advising and mentoring several youth-led non-profits and living in cultural diversity.

As we are ‘celebrating failure’ on April-as our first monthly theme, we spoke to Ivdad to know how he looks at failure, his personal experience with failure and his take away on startup failure.

We deeply resonate with Ivdad’s take on failure that ‘I believe the way failure is framed in today’s world is grossly misrepresented’ and we want to change it. We believe people who are on the journey of making things happen need a radical new perspective towards failure. We believe we need to embrace failure, own it, and then renew ourselves with the lessons from our past failures.

As you will go through Ivdad’s take on failure you will find something wonderful about failure and you will be convinced about why we need a radical new perspective towards failure. We hope Ivdad’s insight will inspire you to keep trying and to keep center solid when things go wrong. ~Ruhul

Ivdad Ahmed Khan Mojlish

Ivdad Ahmed Khan Mojlish

What do you think about failure?

I believe the way failure is framed in today’s world is grossly misrepresented. Some of the most banal natural associations with failure are: loser, good-for-nothing, black sheep, so on and so forth. While it’s true that failing never results in a fruitful ending to a short-term objective, keep in mind that the broader implications of it are often overlooked. In fact, were it not for failure, the world would not see many of today’s biggest accomplishments. Examples are available in abundance.

Let me share something deeply profound about failure that I have learned from one of my mentors. He would always say, ‘Permit yourself to fail, because if you don’t fail, you don’t try.’ So if we don’t try, how can we expect new changes to occur, positivity to culminate and peaks to be conquered?

Gone are the days of viewing failure as something bad. We must come to accept failure as a part of life. It should not deter us from reaching our goals, but rather inspire us to draw the lessons out of it and start afresh. Let our fear of failure be a source of inspiration to achieve greater heights and stretch us to our limits so that we can discover what we are truly capable of doing. We need to learn to view it as a friend, not a foe. In the end, it’s the friend that helps to bring the best out of you.

Let our fear of failure be a source of inspiration to achieve greater heights and stretch us to our limits so that we can discover what we are truly capable of doing.

Have you failed ever?

Over and over again. I have lost count and even to this day I continue to fail. From academics to professionalism, personal to social, I have failed miserably in many occasions. However, one thing that I have realized is the more you take failure as a stepping stone in your stride, the more resolute you become in your future outlook. I can honestly say that for what it’s worth, I’m a product of my failures. And I’m content with that.

What is the most important aspect of failure to you?

That will have to be the goodness that results from an incident which you perceive to be a failure. Believe me, it’s all about a matter of perspective. I can say that from my own experience.

I never thought I’d venture into entrepreneurship before I’m 35. The initial plan was to get a good MBA education from a reputed university, work in an international organization for a couple of years and then settle back to Bangladesh to pursue something on my own. However, when I failed to get acceptance from my dream university in 2012, I felt I had set myself back by one year. But things happen for reasons and in that one year period two major positive changes occurred in my life.

The first was able to make hajj, giving me clarity of life’s purpose, and the second was to leave job and co-found LightCastle Partners. None of these were drafted in my ‘pre-plan’ schedule. Were it not for the year gap that culminated due to my academic failure, I’d not have the privilege to achieve two of my biggest achievements in life till date.

Always remember that whatever happens, it does for a reason. Give your best and leave the rest to Allah. Trust me, the end result will be rewarding, in one way or the other.

What startup should do with failure?

Adopt a mindset to fail whenever you are in the launch phase. You can never predict what will be a hit in the market unless you go out there and experiment. Often times, you will find your initial hypothesis proved wrong. Yes, it will reduce your net worth by some margin, but look at the brighter side. Now you at least know what the market really demands from you to be successful.

As I have said earlier, it’s wiser to get comfortable with the notion that failure is your friend. So instead of getting bogged down by failure, let this friend of yours point important cues and act as a guide to bounce back strong.

Adopt a mindset to fail whenever you are in the launch phase. You can never predict what will be a hit in the market unless you go out there and experiment.

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