Young Entrepreneur Amman Ahmed tells us how a crazy idea led him to start an online business on a shoestring, hire people around the world and travel to South Africa to meet Sir Richard Branson
In my final year at the University of Manchester I knew the time had come to start applying for graduates jobs. It was a harsh reality after living the student lifestyle yet I felt the urge to do something different. I had no urge to become part of the rat race, my motivation was always to create something unique, a "WTF' type of business.
I started reading entrepreneurial books for inspiration and came across one called 'The Four Hour Work Week' by Timothy Ferris. For me it was totally mind blowing and gave me kick I needed to be like "screw it, just do it".
I had £1,000 of my student loan left over which at the time to me was 'a lot 'but at the same time, I never felt the fear of losing 'a lot' of money. I just needed to find the right idea.
As many of you will know £1k is still very little to get started when creating an online business so I had to be very strategic and do everything on a shoestring. First I needed to figure out what I wanted to sell I knew that I wanted to create something digital to remove any production costs. I had my Eureka moment sitting in a room playing with the Google keywords tool on my laptop and jotting down the most random ideas when suddenly it hit me... how about music to help people sleep?
It seemed pretty risky from my market research, there was little data to suggest there was a viable online market for music to help you sleep, but my curiosity exceeded the hard facts and I thought I would give it a shot.
I had the idea, now I needed to find the people. Timothy's book mentioned an online employment platform called Elance, where people can hire talented professionals from around the world, so I thought I would check it out.
Hiring online opened up a whole new world of affordable international talent with endless opportunities. I hired a web designer, online promoter and even musicians.
So my first brand EasySleepMusic was up and running but I soon realised that this was not making enough money for me to "live the dream." After graduation I found it difficult to get a job related to my degree so I ended up falling into recruitment.
Working 12 hour days as a recruitment consultant in an intense sales environment was painful and made me want to be my own boss even more. My goal was to get out of there as quickly as possible, so straight after work I would come home and develop EasySleepMusic till 2am most nights.
I sharpened up my objectives by focusing on my business strong point , which was the success on YouTube with EasySleepMusic, I was building up a steady amount of views and positive comments. Soon enough I was invited to join the YouTube partner programme, earning money with my videos.
As much as I hated my job, I think it's important for any entrepreneur to spend time working inside a business. I learnt many valuable skills but most importantly how to communicate effectively.
I refined my business model with the core focus of creating music with a solution and EasySleepMusic morphed into roundwav.es a site that creates music with a solution such a music to help people sleep, to concentrate, relax and, as crazy as it seems. We even make music for dogs with users uploading their own videos to show how it can really help them sleep.
As the business expanded I quickly started building up my "dream team" using the internet once again. Hiring people specialising in everything from SEO, to social marketing, website development and product development. I would hire artists who believed in the brand and created music not based on scientific research but based on YouTube feedback. I learnt how to manage a team with as little input from myself so they would work during the day and I would put the pieces together during the night.
By Mid-2011 I had a viral business model that allowed me to quit my job and fully push my business.
After my initial "just do it" moment, taking that leap into the unknown was not as scary as I expected. As a 'one man' company to start off with it can get lonely, but there are various support networks that make the journey easier. I am grateful for the Virgin Media Pioneers network, which was a source for useful advice and connections.
I was privileged enough to be sent to South Africa with the opportunity to meet Sir Richard Branson, have my eyes opened at entrepreneurship on a global scale and to make valuable connections with fellow pioneers in which we could support each other.
Now I have a team of employees, two offices in Manchester and talented musicians I found on Elance who are based in El Salvador working full time for roundwav.es now. It really hit home with what I was doing when I received an email from a musician in El Salvador who had managed to buy a house with the money he'd earned working with me.
To think it all started with risking £1k on a crazy idea.