Why I left J.P.Morgan job for a Tech Startup: Timeline to Entrepreneurship
Fateh Ali is Founder and CEO of Collabu Technologies
“I know creating a business is what I want to do and there is no better time than now”
I’ve always loved the corporate hustle: I’ve lived in different countries and worked across a whole gamut of roles. 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, where I worked, 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 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. Yet entrenched in my role, I couldn’t imagine doing something so drastic but I soon realized the professional life just wasn’t “me.” I wanted more creativity, passion, challenge and adventure in my work. Something had to change.
Eventually, I became an entrepreneur – a decision inspired by that influencer. I also began looking into more flexible and creative opportunities.
With a full-time job in hand (9am-6pm), I embarked on free-time consulting, freelancing, development projects that I used to do between 9pm-3am, sometimes 4 or 5am. I had enough time constraints and missed a lot of social gatherings and family time (I owe my wife and kids a lot of time). It was challenging but I knew it was not for long, nevertheless, I endured, upholding this grueling schedule and picking up some lessons on the way:
– Waking up at 6am 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.
I was reminded of an aphorism: “The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.” 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.
Here Is How My Life Unfolded Towards Entrepreneurship
- 2001 – I was creative in many things except studies. I was dropped out of college.
- 2003 – I got my first computer at home and got all my creativity unscrewed. I continued my graduation in Computer Application and excelled.
- 2006 – I 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 – I joined Fidelity Investment India as a Systems Engineer. My professional career started; however I continued as a programmer, designer as a freelancer.
- 2007 – I became an owner of hosting company!
- 2009 – I moved to J.P.Morgan, Singapore. In parallel, I undertook many international freelancing projects. My weekends used to be busy: some I did; a few I outsourced.
- 2012 – Sold my hosting company to a New Zealand startup company! It was a clean 6 figure exit.
- 2015 – I launched my first global ecommerce brand that, manufactured products in China.
- 2016 – Inspired by my kid’s idea, I invented a smart device. The Intellectual property (IP-Patent) was filed and the global eCommerce brand was launched. We manufactured physical products and 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 – I Founded Collabu Technologies, Headquartered in Singapore (I will soon make a video to show how my 8-year-old dream was achieved).
The Turmoil of Setting up a Startup
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, 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 the 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 onboard on our SaaS based technology platform for collaboration and transform their digital ideas into reality through design, experimentation and product development.
We are going to revolutionize how communities collaborate with the help of technology specially with advancement of AI, machine learning and pattern recognition. We are at an early development stage, pre-beta, so can’t reveal too much but follow me to know how the next big thing unfolds (smiley).
I will conclude with two pieces of advice
1.) Don’t ever quit your job until you have learned to fly comfortably as part-time