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How To Build A Startup: 5 Practical Tips For Founders From Shohoz Founder And Managing Director Maliha Quadir

Shohoz Founder and Managing Director, Maliha M Quadir, has a fascinating story. She was born and brought up in Dhaka. Studied in the US: Smith College and Harvard University. Worked at some of the top institutions, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered, Nokia, and Vistaprint, spanning multiple countries, US, Singapore, India, and Indonesia.

In an all-encompassing interview with Future Startup, Ms. Maliha has offered practical lessons on entrepreneurship and venture building that aspiring entrepreneurs can use in building their own businesses. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

From Maliha M Quadir:

01. Take action instead of planning

Don’t wait for regulation to change. You should always operate with a sense of urgency. That’s something I regret. Often we unnecessarily wait for things to happen whereas taking action can make a huge difference. (you may use the entire para if there is one)

02.  Startup is all about finding your balance

Running a startup is an everyday balancing act. Balancing process vs speed. Present vs future. Growth vs sustainability. These are the things a founder needs to be mindful of on a daily basis.

Being said that, I do believe in doing more with less. For startups, it is critical to find this balance where you are not overspending and at the same time, doing more with less without hampering your growth. This is a balance you have to find.

03. Be tenacious

When you pursue something as challenging as entrepreneurship you need a serious amount of tenacity. All my reviews at my previous workplaces and from my professors are almost the same: she is extremely tenacious. If she decides to do something she would do it. We started with that mentality that we have to do it no matter what.

04. Bigger challenges are better

Raising money is tough in Bangladesh. The market is tough. We already have two competitors who are doing great. These are all tough challenges. I was aware of all these challenges when we were working on launching ride-sharing in December. But we also aware of the fact that the market is young.

That the competition is just ahead of us by one year. When we spoke with the investors they said one year is not enough time for a big market like Bangladesh. You can’t call anyone a winner at that point in time. So then I plunge and took the risk. That was a big call but I still decided to take the challenge because you live only once.

O5. Understand your shortcomings and have a plan to overcome them

I used to be very shy. You would not believe it now. I was aware that I have to overcome it. Harvard helped me a lot. We used to have three-four classes per day and all were debates. These were the best and most smart people in the market and when you debate with them every day and that too for long hours, it gets to your depth.

After my MBA, I decided to move to Asia, close to home, and get some hands-on experience in technology and business. I worked at Standard Chartered Singapore for one year, at Nokia for a while and then Vistaprint. I got great exposure to emerging market and digital and technology services while working at Nokia and Vistaprint. I used to cover India and Indonesia for Vistaprint out of Singapore.

Ayrin Saleha Ria works at Future Startup as a full-time Research Associate. She has a background in Applied Sociology. Before joining the FS team, she worked and volunteered with a number of social organizations. As someone who comes from a social science background, she takes a deep interest in research around important social-economic challenges in our society. A voracious reader, Ayrin is passionate about working for the betterment of society, takes a deep interest in human society and behavioral science, and loves books.

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