by Lana Al-Kazimi
Bilal Zuberi is a principal at General Catalyst Partners, a Venture Capital and Private Equity firm with offices in Boston, New York City, and San Francisco. He moved to the United States from Pakistan and brought with him a wealth of clean-tech focused knowledge. He holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry from MIT and had a short stint in management consulting before starting a company in 2004 that commercializes advanced materials [advanced ceramic technology] for automotives and other applications. GEO2 Technologies commercializes the automotives’ emissions control technology in partnership with Corning, Inc. That then led to a spinoff biomedical device company called BIO2 Technologies. Once launched, he joined General Catalyst Partners [about four and a half years ago] as an investor. Bilal’s side interests include ENTER, a program he co-founded to help college-level entrepreneurship, active membership in the TIE Entrepreneurship Taskforce, and engaging in intellectual conversations, to name a few.
Needless to say, I was fascinated by Bilal’s accomplishments. Even better? He’s approachable! If you have any questions that I didn’t cover below, please do reach out to him, that’s how interested he is in helping people!
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This is a cross post from Sami Shalabi’s blog
Taking on entrepreneurship is one of the most life changing events any person can embark on; it not only impacts the individual, but impacts the community and even the world. An entrepreneur is someone who just does not accept the status quo, but has a vision for the future and makes the impossible happen to arrive at this vision.
Entrepreneurship is not easy anywhere in the world. Each region has its unique challenges, and in the same ways has its unique opportunities. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is in transition. All market indicators whether it is around consumer usage patterns, infrastructure availability, business demand or overall business and political disruptions indicate the MENA is ripe with opportunity. Things are moving quickly and it is clear that it is a major and growing world market.
What does this growth mean for MENA entrepreneurs? We are about to enter the age of MENA entrepreneurship. MENA Entrepreneurs are going to be the life blood of all MENA economies. If you have what it takes, now is the time to act and take that idea you have always wanted to do and just make it happen. Only good will follow!
In my journey as an entrepreneur, I too started with a desire and an idea. This idea took me to unexpected places and taught me plenty of lifelong lessons that I will share with you in a list of 10 confessions:
1. Be your #1 customer
I have always found that the greatest products service the needs of those that create them. Solving a real personal pain point makes you passionate about the space, and solution. Being your #1 customer makes you use your own product everyday and forces you to keep improving it before the rest of the world asks you to. Your problems are potentially business opportunities.
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Tweet a tip on Entrepreneurship from your own experience or tweet what you think an entrepreneur is and attach #YallaStartup #Tip next to your tweet.
YallaStartup will be giving out one free ticket to the best tip – best defined by quality of tip and number of retweets.
Let’s get those tweets going. This starts NOW and ends on March 20th.
There is nothing like it. You have an idea, and you have the stage for a minute, or two, or five. You’re on a mission to sell yourself, your vision, and your team. There is no room for error, and no room for mediocrity.
You need to be the number one advocate of your product. You need to love it, and you need to show how much you believe in it. You need to be passionate about it. Passion is contagious, and the only way you are going to win the crowd over.
With passion, you need to deliver a clear vision. You need to show that you are captaining a plane with a clear destination, and that it would be a mistake not to come along for the ride. That means really understanding your product and getting the basics right:
- Why are you creating the product or service, who is it serving and how big is the market?
- Why your solution? what’s so magical about it that competition can’t replicate?
- How will you make the idea a reality?
- Why your team can take it forward and succeed?
Get those figured out and take the 2 minutes you will have, mix in Passion, Confidence, Clarity and Keep it Simple.
Demo’ers shorten up the above, make it quick and focus on your demo. Show us your product and go through a few scenarios that really showcase your top features. Check out Demo 2011 pitches for some examples. Be very clear and very precise – that means Practice! Practice! Practice!
And now, we will leave you with this –
“If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days [of preparation]; if half an hour, two days [of preparation]; if an hour, I am ready now.” – Woodrow Wilson