Rafat Ali, Founder, and CEO of Skift, a company which focuses on global travel, grew up in India, the United States, and the United Kingdom. He started off by pursuing a degree in computer engineering at Aligarh Muslim University in India and then went on to study masters in journalism before he became an entrepreneur. It was not his intention to enter the entrepreneurial world, and Ali says that he “just kind of stumbled onto it.”
Ali made a huge success out of what started off as just a brief blog in 2002 covering digital media. This blog was the first of his many successful business ventures and developed into an online media company known as Paid Content, which he later sold to Guardian Media Group for $30 million. He continued to work with them until 2010 when he started his travels across the globe.
His next business venture, Skift, led him into the travel industry. His business provides relevant information and data services to the travel industry between the subsectors, such as airlines, airports, tourism, hotels, etc. Skift has used digital technology trends and is now in its third year. The company is based in New York and consists of a team of 18 staff members, which is growing steadily.
Ali says that they are a “boutique media information business” and as a venture-backed company has only raised $2.5 million, but is content with the progress the company is making and considers his brand and reputation to be of great significance to him.
He also mentioned that believing in himself has played a major role in his success. There are many challenges that one faces and he feels that it is important to focus on your goals and have a sense of balance and manage your time effectively.
Ali tries his utmost to create a suitable working environment for his team and says that seeing as they work hard during the day, he doesn’t want his staff to be in the office after hours or on weekends. He intends to build a humane company where he can get the best out of his team during their working hours. In doing so, they can live a more balanced life outside of the office.
So with such a busy working schedule, Ali spends his free time relaxing with his wife and son and enjoys reading and traveling. Traveling is a big part of his life and keeps him connected with his Indian roots. He met his wife while on one of his journey, so she enjoys it too.
The best advice that he can offer to young entrepreneurs it to be well prepared in whatever sector you are working in, and do plenty of research. He also says that one should have a “high-risk tolerance” and learn to be comfortable with such uncertainty, and lastly “action over intent, always.”