I just finished reading a book called “The Dream” Written by entrepreneur Gurbaskh Chahal, the son of Indian immigrants who moved to California when he was two years old, dropped out of high school at 16 and by 18, he was worth a whopping $20 million dollars, all from an internet start-up company he founded and later sold. The company was called Click Agents and it dealt with internet advertising. I found the book to be both inspirational and very telling and I’d encourage all of you to get it and read it.
One of the main themes of the book that kept jumping out at me was Chahal’s focus on revenues. He started the company in the 90′s when a lot of internet companies were proclaiming to be worth billions even though few had any real income coming in. He points out that his company (while lesser known) was one of the few that was making a real profit and at age 17, it was bringing in roughly $300,000 dollars a month in revenue.
The other interesting point about Chahal was that he is not a computer programmer and knew very little about coding. However, what he was good at was selling and identifying people’s needs. The coding and programming were outsourced first to a software engineer in America, then (for his second company) to a couple of software engineers in Eastern Europe.
In both of these respects, Chahal is totally different from any African tech person that I have encountered (particularly on twitter, which I’ve talked about here before). Almost universally, the African “techies” on twitter will flood that forum with their heroic stories of how hard they are working. You’ll often see “tweets” by them proclaiming how they are running on virtually no sleep because they’ve been up coding all night. When not talking about their “brilliant” coding skills, they’ll be announcing a launch – Watch out! website A or B will going live in one day! wa! (& by going live, all they really mean is that their 3 page website will become visible to the public).
Now, I’ve encouraged some of them on Twitter to go out and get a copy of Chahal’s book. Usually, I make this encouragement after getting tired of reading their mindless tweets. i.e. why inundate your followers with tweets about a website that has absolutely no revenues? like, what’s the point???
I was talking to a friend the other night about this Russian I’m working with who is irritating me with her endless memo’s and pointless spreadsheets and my friend said to me: “You know, a lot of those spreadsheets are mumbo jumbo” (and she was right).
I used to get excited about building websites like 7 years ago, but then I quickly realized that if the revenues don’t follow nobody’s going to give a shit about you or your website. Really, they don’t.
So, nowadays’, the only time I get excited is when I see dollar signs moving up and If not, I continue working (quietly).
And honestly, after reading about how an 18 year old was able to pull in $300,000 dollars a month (a whole six years ago) – why would any non-revenue generating African techie impress me?
Get Chahal’s book. He’s the real deal.