The process of landing meetings and pitching investors can be burdensome for time and resource-strapped startups. Brothers Ashfaq and Anil Mohammed wanted to come up with a solution to that problem for other entrepreneurs like themselves.
The result was Waccal, a Kirkland-based startup that launched last month. Waccal is a platform where entrepreneurs can post their pitches and get feedback from other users. Investors can scan startup profiles and connect with entrepreneurs that catch their attention.
Waccal also allows investors to manage their portfolio companies and collaborate with team members on potential investments.
“Entrepreneurs have a tough gig,” said Waccal CEO Ashfaq Mohammed. “They must validate if people actually want their product or service, be nimble enough to pivot via customer feedback and market testing, pitch investors to raise capital, manage current investors, gain momentum behind them and their brand, oh and of course, build their product or service. Waccal makes this process efficient so founders can focus on what’s important — growing.”
He shared details on the brand-new startup with GeekWire for this Startup Spotlight, a regular series. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Waccal is a launch pad where startups come to pitch their idea, find the right investor, and build a strong capital foundation before it takes off and grows.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We realized that the private equity market is inefficient and old. Founders make it their full-time job to raise capital for their startup, going meeting after meeting only to realize that there was no alignment with them and the investor, after the fact. This type of ecosystem increases the cost of capital and inadvertently reduces a startup’s chance for success.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrapped from the beginning for research and development of our technology. We have been gaining a lot of traction and are developing strong relationships with Angels and VCs. Can’t wait to have our profile up on Waccal to seal the deal with the right investors.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “The Waccal community. It’s the entrepreneurs with startups that are going to change the world as we see it, investors who want to help startups succeed by providing capital and asking tough questions, and surfers who are the early adopters of new products and services. An investor once told us “’t takes a village to raise a child,’ the village is the Waccal community.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Is to not fall into the trap of creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). We instead created a Minimum Loveable Product (MLP). We invested time and energy in creating a great experience for our users, that is rooted by efficiency, accuracy, and beautiful design. This is what will motivate our users to come back to our site and continue from where they left off. If we didn’t provide a great user experience, we aren’t fixing the problem that we intended to solve.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We didn’t use the right tool, in the beginning, to create a mock-up for our website design and functionality. When we found the right tool, it caused a bunch of rework and we lost two weeks of precious time.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos! He is an amazing strategist. He started from an online bookstore and ended up with the world’s largest online retailer. If you were to draw an activity map of all the things Amazon is involved in, such as AWS, films, and online retail, it will look like all of this is unrelated. But it’s not, it all ties into big data analytics. Amazon can leverage this data by sensing what the consumer wants and pivot its corporate strategy accordingly. Similarly, at Waccal we are just as focused on our users and want to continue to build on providing technology that will make them more efficient in the private equity market.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Golf! It’s always fun wearing golf attire, smacking golf balls as hard as you can, and driving golf carts.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “If you can think big, are curious, self-motivated, disciplined, and eager to take on fresh challenges, then you are a future Waccaler!”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “If you are making excuses, then find something else to do because you will always find excuses that limit the growth of your startup.”