Raad Ahmed
December 20, 2021

The Truth About Going Through 500 Startups

A conversation with Kamrul Khan for the Bengalis of New York podcast

Kamrul: What are the pros and cons of going through an incubator versus friends and

family, or self-funding?

Raad: The incubator accelerator route is cool because they give you money. 500

Startups invested 125K into us, and they're professional investors. So there's validation

because they've invested in a lot of other successful companies before. Psychologically,

you're like, maybe I can be a public company, because they've invested in companies

like that in the past.

You get to work with 15 or 20 other companies in a similar stage as you, so you get the

sense of community. Everyone's going through the same struggles and you replace

your friends with all these other ambitious people. You just moved from New York all

the way to California. That was really cool to change your surroundings- where you

live, where you ate, and who you talked with.

They were replaced by this mystical place called Silicon Valley where Apple, Google,

and Microsoft started. The office we were working at was where Elon Musk started his

first company before PayPal, and he slept in that office. We drove by the Facebook

house. There's this historical, inspiring vibe there that was very different than being in

Long Island, or being in Queens.

Part of it was delusional. Sometimes you need a little bit of that delusion to kickstart

your dreams. You have to be a little naive. You have to be a little bit overconfident

based on your surroundings, because otherwise it's so easy to get into your own head

and think it's absolutely ridiculous to build a $10M business. I have this website that

collects email addresses and introduces them. How on earth would this ever make half

a million dollars a month, or a million dollars a month?

You have a combination of: there's people out there that did this, I'm surrounded by

other people that are doing this, and there's investors that have seen this happen who

want equity in my company. There's a lot where you're independently thinking for

yourself. To have all of these forces draw you in versus friends and family, you're no

longer in your own reality- you're in a different reality.

Nowadays it's different, I moved to Long Island City to get away from that. Everyone I

met in San Francisco was doing a tech company. Everyone was thinking the same way

and trying to hire the same people, it was too much of the same. I just want to move

back. And I want to build a really big company in Queens, which is where I was born.

I got this cool office that's right nearby my apartment, which is similar to our flow in

Silicon valley. Our house was here, and our office was here- there's one street. I

wanted to recreate that here. And I got to make that happen.

We went on this another two plus year journey of not hanging out with any tech

people. We decided to do our own thing and figure it out because we did struggle, even

after we raised our initial round of funding and we couldn't find product market fit.

We just were like, let's go into a two-year hole and shut the door behind us until we

got profitable. We're going to figure this out somehow, some way. And that's what

we did.