It isn’t a simple decision to leave the comforts of running an already successful business to start a new one; but that’s just what Zamir Cajee, founder of iQualTech, did in 2013 after putting himself in the shoes of his first investor – himself. He gave us some insight into what it took to get his company off the ground and why thinking like a VC might benefit entrepreneurs.
The idea of running your own business is often a romantic notion for aspirational entrepreneurs – a dream that appears to offer flexibility and freedom that corporate office jobs can’t provide. But starting up comes with its own unique challenges. When it’s your company the buck well and truly stops with you. And it’s not necessarily all freedom, as heading up a business generally means you are now accountable to everyone – staff, investors, and most of all, your customers.
In 2013 I decided to take on all of those challenges, and more, after identifying a key e-commerce opportunity. I had been running a successful digital agency for two years and despite my passion and dedication to the company, I felt that working for other brands was repressing my own business vision.
Founding iQualTech was hard work. I’d seen many interesting projects fail during my time at the digital agency and I was keen not to make the same mistakes, so I decided to change my way of thinking.
I’d previously worked on a lot of projects that had received venture capital funding. Working on these projects helped me realise that business owners need to get themselves in an investment mindset and truly learn to recognise that the first investor in their business is the entrepreneur themselves.
More often than not entrepreneurs fail to sufficiently value their own contribution. At inception, a business idea will often go through many iterations. It’s at this point where large amounts of time and effort are invested and huge personal sacrifices are made making it difficult for any business owner to stay objective and assign tangible value to their company.
With my VC thinking in mind I decided before I could ask someone else to invest in my business I would have to formally ask myself whether I’d be willing to invest, so I came up with a proposal that – as an investor – I could accept. I gave myself a limited budget and a set amount of time to deliver a proof of concept. For me, this target was for the company to become profitable within six months with no extra funding or budget extensions.
iQualTech formally launched on Amazon.co.uk in 2013. Since then we’ve become one of Amazon’s top 1% of sellers for customer service and regularly outpace our competitors due to our high quality products and fantastic customer feedback, making all that hard work worthwhile.
While every business and idea is different, I think that most can benefit from that early investor test and without setting myself that test I don’t know if iQualTech would be where it is today. More than anything, you owe it to yourself to find out whether this idea really is ‘the one’ before pouring in your heart and soul. If it turns out not to be viable, then you have simply taken one step closer to finding the idea that is the right one for you.
Running my own business has been challenging at times, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. It’s been fantastic to utilise my experience and knowledge in ways I never expected, and I’ve learned so much too. Watching iQualTech grow and thrive has been incredibly rewarding, and now I am looking forward to elevating it to it’s full potential.
iQualTech focus on making quality, everyday tech essentials for sale exclusively online. They raised £169,130
from 191 investors on Seedrs. Find out more about iQualTech and their campaign here. When investing, capital is at risk.