This Article is written by Fateh Ali, the co-founder & CEO of CollabDeen, a smart technology platform that can mimic complex human collaboration.
Several years ago, I found myself at a giant conference in Kuala Lumpur filled with hundreds of educated and well-paid people, cheering at the top of our lungs in celebration of the release of the next world-dominating product. The energy was great and the financial incentives were huge.
Back then, I was a part of J.P. Morgan which is a global leader in financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion, operate in more than 60 countries and have over 240,000 employees. My position was relatively safe and we were doing good work.
Working at JP Morgan
I’ve always loved the corporate hustle: I’ve lived in different countries and worked across the whole nine-yards. I’ve had various roles in the corporate sector and non-profits. I thrived on the thrill of watching big organizations get better, so the mood that pervaded that giant conference should have elated me. Instead, it left me wanting. I knew something was missing, I just didn’t know what. Don’t get me wrong, I loved J.P.Morgan, and all of my intelligent colleagues, who worked hard and celebrated success while making the world a better place; yet I felt a call to something different.
I want to be 1% better each day, with learning and hustling daily; with time i will be x times better than my past me -Fateh Ali
Not long after that, I met an inspiring influencer at yet another large business event. He told me a story about risking it all, selling his business and taking life in planned phases.
Entrenched in my role, I couldn’t imagine doing something so drastic. I realized this life just wasn’t “me.” I wanted more creativity, passion, challenge and adventure in my work. Something had to change.
Getting Serious on Entrepreneurship
Eventually, I took my side hustle to a new level – a decision inspired by that influencer. I also began looking into more flexible and creative opportunities.
With a full-time job in hand (9 am-6 pm), what started as a free-time consulting, freelancing, development projects which I used to do (9 pm to 3 am, sometimes until 4 or 5 am), I had enough time constrains and missed a lot of social gatherings, family time (I owe my wife and kids a lot of time), it was challenging but I knew it’s not for long, I kept my performance up. Some people try to run away from doing hard things but I find it rewarding.
Here are some examples
- – Waking up at 6 am is hard.
- – Running first thing in the morning is hard.
- – Working on your tiny-business alone on a Saturday night is hard.
- – Quitting your job to pursue what makes you happier is hard.
- – Deciding what you want to do with your life is hard.
Doing hard things breeds confidence! If you do hard things, you will begin to develop self-esteem. True confidence is knowing fully, that you are able to rely on yourself. – Knowing you are in control of yourself. – Knowing you’ll execute on what you decide to do. – Knowing you’ll figure it out—and trusting yourself to do so. Want to build confidence fast? Start by doing HARD things.
I was so inspired by successful people’s approach that I finally decided to jump ship from the corporate world and join the startup community for good ( Caveat: Don’t ever quit your job until you have learned flying comfortably as part-time).
My final Goodbye email to J.P Morgan
Friday is my last day – I have enjoyed working here at JPMorgan and I sincerely appreciate having had the chance to work with you. Though I will miss working with you and the rest of the teams, I cherish every moment at work, Diversity Council, Morgan Club, and beyond.
Years ago, I got a cold-call for a job with luring opportunity. It was a big step from my current role and had all right skills and qualifications.
I politely said ‘sorry but I’m not interested’, and told I “already made it to the top”, he knew I was nowhere on top of my career level and he was insisting to know what I mean. I took a pause and this is what I conveyed…
“Making it to the top” for me meant, I love the exact work I did each day, I loved my company, I was treated fairly, and with respect, I made just enough money to be comfortable, I had excellent benefits, I had flexibility, and most importantly for me, I never missed a single social occasion due to work, I did not spend my weekends struggling, parent-teacher conference, anniversary, birthday, or any family event; and with all these advantage I was focused on my career plan at a high-level. Yes, I already dreamt how my 3-years-down-the-line looks like and what I need to do to reach there.
I knew what taking the next step in my career meant. More time, more fun, healthy work-life balance, more travel, and sacrifice “not worth it” 🙂 My definition of “making it to the top” doesn’t have society’s or anyone else’s definition. You do what you love. I always wanted to be my own boss, I always wanted to be an Entrepreneur. After close to 8 years in JPMorgan, I am moving on to a new journey worth exploring. Whether I success or fail, at least I will give a shot at it.
Thanks again for everything. This email is not about bragging but to motivate those individuals who want to achieve something – start today.
How my life unfolded towards entrepreneurship:
- 2001 – I was creative in many things except studies, not sure what I was doing in Botany and chemistry classes (personal computers were not common then), I dropped from college. Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates were few in support with me – failures are also successes in many ways.
- 2003 – I got my first computer at home and got all my creativity unscrewed. I continued my graduation in Computer Application and excelled, thanks to my Falcon buddies for the healthy competition which kept me on toes!
- 2006 – Sold my Java developed college project for Rs. 3000 (US$ 50) to a Bangalore based startup, I tasted the pleasure of doing my first business deal on my own.
- 2006 – Joined Fidelity Investment India as Systems Engineer. My professional career started, however, I continued as a programmer, designer as freelancer (Fiver, PeoplePerHour were still-not-born)
- 2007 – Owner of a hosting company!
- 2009 – Moved to J.P.Morgan, Singapore: Microsoft’s App virtualization technology was in demand + In parallel I was building my ship, got many international freelancing projects, my weekends used to be busy, some i did, few i outsourced.
- 2012 – Sold my hosting company to New Zealand startup company! Clean 6 figure exit.
- 2014 – Learning, revamping, ideating and planning the big move career move
- 2015 – My first global e-commerce brand launched, manufactured products in China, captured pre-orders > Idea – Build – Launch – Learn – Implement
- 2016 – Inspired by my kid’s idea, Invented a smart device, Intellectual property (IP-Patent) filed, global eCommerce brand launched, manufactured physical products, sold to customers to 29 countries
- 2017 – Second Invention with Patent on another smart device, pre-orders captured and shipped to 32+ countries.
- 2017, Aug – Retired from J.P.Morgan. BIG MOVE BIG DECISION.
- 2017, Sep – Founded Collabu Technologies, Headquartered in Singapore developing the Collabdeen platform
Want to know how Collabdeen is connecting Muslim communities around the world read this article How CollabDeen is unleashing the potential of the ummah
additionally, I have been serving various communities, such as faith-based communities, from to Mosques to Churches, Singapore Disability Sports to Diversity councils, Blood donation camps to old age homes, and what not in not just in India, but supported few global initiatives – why? I love serving people and communities.
Why not work on it part-time?
By far this is one of the most common questions I get. “Why don’t you work on this in your free time?”, “Why don’t you work on this during weekends?”
I believe that this a fundamentally wrong approach. Startups are hard, I know from my two failed experiences that there are so many things that can go wrong and most of them at some point will. You need a lot of focus and will to get over these and keep moving on. I think startups are one of those things where you are either all in or you are not. There is no middle ground.
Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, famously said starting a startup is like “throwing yourself off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down.” To start a startup while having a day job is like throwing yourself off a cliff but with a parachute on. When things get hard you are going to deploy the parachute.
The only way to maximize your odds of actually building the airplane is to have no parachute, no backups and nothing to go back to.
What am I doing now?
I am still building an airplane mid-way in air.
I am on a technology mission to engage and collaborate with at least a quarter of the world, neatly backed with advisors, investors, individuals, and a great team (who puts sweat, blood, tears to our vision).
The way we challenge the status quo is by helping the largest global communities to onboard on our SaaS-based technology platform for collaboration and make most use of their digital ideas into reality through design, experimentation and product development.
We are going to revolutionize how communities collaborate with the help of technology especially with the advancement of AI, machine learning and pattern recognition. We are at the early development stage, pre-beta, so can’t reveal much but follow me to know how the next big thing unfolds.
I am not sure how big my startup grows, will work out or not but the one thing I am sure of is, I won’t have regrets. And the failure wouldn’t have been for lack of trying. So far I am enjoying the journey and loving my new role and I sincerely believe that Collabdeen is playing a role in reviving the respect towards the Muslim Ummah.
If you believe and think I can be a great resource for your network then please feel free to connect and give me a shout if I could be of any help. I can be reached at Fateh Ali