Haroon Mokhtarzada is a 35-year-old graduate in law and economics who became an entrepreneur and sold his first company for the price of one hundred and seventeen and a half million Dollars. He had always dreamed of having a significant impact on the lives of others, which he has done on his amazing journey.
Other than being involved in his successful business, he also belongs to the Global Entrepreneur’s Council at the UN Foundation. He is part of a pilot project, ‘Tolo-e-Shams,’ meaning ‘Rising of the Sun’ in Afghanistan. The project involves a private school which provides free education for orphans. His parents emigrated from Afghanistan, where he was born and spent three years living there.
Mokhtarzada graduated with a degree in economics from the University of Maryland in 2001, after which he and his brothers started a company named Freewebs.com which is a platform which allows individuals to build their own websites.
It started off as a side business which offered premium options that were only being used and paid for by a small percentage of people. Mokhtarzada had been studying law at Harvard at the time, and after graduating was faced with the decision of either continuing on his business path or joining a law firm.
He made the wise decision of putting all his efforts into being an entrepreneur. His older brother, Zeki gave up his profession at the National Institute of Health and his younger brother, Idris, who was still in high school at the time joined them as they put their heads together to launch the company as a full-time business.
At that stage, they already had a million users who had signed up to use the site, as it was free. One year later, the brothers had raised twelve million dollars from venture capital firms and investors. By 2011, their company, changed its name to Webs.com, having done exceptionally well and being acquired by Vistaprint.
The business grew rapidly, but not without its serious pitfalls and lessons along the way. Mokhtarzda says that although they did many things right, they also made many mistakes.
In an effort to monetize their users, they placed a lot of advertising on the site which brought in plenty of revenue. It got to the point where the focus was more on making money and not on the users which shrank them for almost a year.
They needed to focus on the users who were paying them and using the site, and this helped them to get back on track and grow once again by making the customers central to the company.
In March 2015, he launched the app called Minder, to encourage Muslims to meet one another, similar to Tinder. He said that the app is not an Islamic app but one suited to Muslims.
It was not long, and thousands signed up, with millions swiping through profiles of individuals, and thousands more finding suitable matches. Minder has now been launched in various countries across Europe and is sure to be another of Mokhtarzda’s success stories.
Mokhtarzda’s advice to young entrepreneurs is to remember one important message: “Most businesses fail because they never get their first customer.” He says that a business cannot exist as a business until you have at least one paying customer. He goes on to state that, “A business and a product is a promise. And a promise is a very powerful statement.”