Through her company AngelHack, Sabeen Ali created a global network of 50,000 programmers in 52 cities across the world. She has partnered up with major companies from Hasbro and the Hearst Corporation to HP, Cisco, and Conde Nast. She has spoken at two TEDx Talks on both sides of the world and has teams in Singapore, Mexico, Buenos Aires, the Philippines, Europe, Dubai, and India, and on both of the coasts here in the United States. She has close to 20 employees to help her with her business.
But how did she do it?
Sabeen revealed all her secrets to me. She laid out the framework on which she made her business the success it is today. The outline is so simple that you could do it too.
By following these seven steps, you too can bootstrap your way to millions.
1. Provide quality work.
When Sabeen first started her company, she understood that her reputation was everything. If she didn't provide quality work, then she wouldn't have any repeat business. To offset any future problems, she outlined and created events that were well thought out and executed properly.
2. Deliver on your promises.
Sabeen started her business by connecting programmers and business leaders. She also gained sponsorships from some of the biggest names in the tech industry. These parties demand to see their expectations met. Sabeen not only met these expectations when she started her business; she exceeded them. AngelHack had the only event where you could get formed and funded within 48 hours. Now, her business model has changed a bit, but she has delivered on her promises in an unimaginable way.
3. Build support systems.
Everyone goes through tough times. Sometimes, you feel hopeless and need direction. In the past six months, Sabeen has seen a new competitor pop out of the woodwork every two weeks. Shocked at the amount of competition and unsure of what to do, she reached out to her adviser Mark Cuban for direction.
Sabeen wrote, "Mark, we have competition. New companies are popping up every two weeks. How do we handle this? Should we go confront these people? What should we do?"
Cuban responded with advice that resonated with her, saying, "Competition is good. It keeps you on your edge. The thing you have to do is to ensure that your relationships with your clients are solid. Not only does competition keep you on your edge, but it shows that there is proof of concept for your product."
The direction Cuban provided to her put her back on track. He helped her overcome the new obstacles that came her way and refine her vision of the company until it was crystal clear.
4. Invest in your team.
You don't get ahead by taking all the fame. Instead, you have to invest in your team. Sabeen created an elevator theory with her inner circle. An elevator goes two ways, up and down. She goes down on the elevator to bring someone else up. Then she asks that in return, her team members do the same for others.
5. Delegate tasks.
Sabeen is a big thinker who moves fast. She lays out the foundation and grand scheme of things. She is not very detail oriented. On the other hand, her team members are. She tells her team, "I have the 5,000-foot view. I'm going to do things in broad strokes. You're going to fill in x, y, and z."
By laying out a solid foundation of building blocks, others can come in and put up the walls. She guides her team halfway, and then has them finish up the project. This style of delegating tasks has always worked out for the benefit of AngelHack.
6. Embrace adversity.
"If I don't have a monkey on my back, then my mind gets lazy and I don't make sharp decisions."
Being comfortable in adverse situations isn't something that everyone can do. Most people freeze up or feel fear. But adverse situations are what drive Sabeen. With each move she makes in business, she calculates the risk, and if the reward is hefty enough, she goes for it.
7. See failure differently.
It is not uncommon for people to dwell on the feeling of failure. In fact, they are often critical of themselves. If they fail, they hold themselves back and become very cautious.
Sabeen started her life at the bottom. She was raised by a single mother who spoke hardly any English and juggled many jobs to support her family of three. Because of this, Sabeen finds it hard to be fearful of anything. She has already seen how bad it can get and understands how resourceful she can be and knows just how little she needs to actually survive. Instead, she just keeps pushing forward.
In turn, Sabeen was able to create a huge global network and has had much success in her career. Now, she is expanding the education wing of AngelHack with a 10-week front-end coding course called the Whole Developer. She is looking to empower many others who are seeking out a career in programming with help in preparing their coding and interviewing and communication skills, problem solving, negotiating, and team building.
Have you been able to bootstrap your way to millions or take your company global? Share some of your insights in the comments below.