I was always good at computers from a young age in the early 1990s. I could see even from then (this is pre-internet) that computers impact every industry – whether you are creating shoes you have a computer somewhere in the factory or you are serving coffee you would have a computer taking your money.
When I turned 16 and people started asking me what I wanted to study at University, I said I wanted to do some sort of business so maybe a business degree. A friend whose dad was rich advised me, though to do some sort of engineering degree as if you did that you could always go into business. I was a “B” student in school except for Computer Science, which I aced without even studying for the tests. So I decided to study Computer Science with Business and Management in University.
My real passion for the Internet started in 1999, a year after I graduated from University. Although I was the top graduate in my whole university at computer science in Manchester, UK I still didn’t really “get” the opportunity of the Internet until I started my corporate day job.
A year into my corporate job at Accenture, and I was damn bored of life. I had turned 21 and was now in a corporate career. School had been so structured. I knew I would be in middle school for three years, high school for four years, and University for three years but now in my corporate job I had to fill the gap between 21 to 65. 44 years seemed like too long of a prison sentence. I went through my first depression of life as I was miserable – I was getting paid really well, and had loads of friends as consulting in a social career, but inside, I was miserable. It would be hard to explain to my parents that on the outside, everything was great but in the inside I was miserable.
I started exploring various businesses to try and escape the corporate rat race. I knew I could become a dollar millionaire if I stuck it at my job for ten years, as Accenture had a great career path and I was getting promoted very quickly. But corporate life just wasn’t my calling in life. Helping multi-billion dollar corporations save or make an extra 0.01 % with my efforts would make my company and me rich but it wasn’t fulfilling. Large corporations were paying millions for my advice and in turn we were helping them make or save tens or hundreds of millions.
Although I had heard the buzz about the internet I didn’t really know how it would help me make money. It was in my desperation to leave my corporate day job that I started seeing why the Internet was so great. Whereas I looked at starting various businesses such as a restaurant or a gym, they all required money to start. I didn’t have that much capital saved at that stage, nor was I passionate about the restaurant business.
When I explored the Internet, I got to learn about affiliate marketing. This was where Amazon would pay me 10 % of any revenue I would help it generate. This was in 1999 when I came across this affiliate’s link. Once I made my first dollar selling for Amazon, I was hooked. I got hooked enough to leave my day job to pursue my internet dream.
I was so passionate about it as I came from a developing country of Pakistan and was a first-generation immigrant to the UK. I could see that the Internet would not only help people in UK but in developing countries like Pakistan too. After all the first dollar I made was through my computer and I could have done that from anywhere.
This was going to change the lives of my cousins and family and so much of society. I was “all in” on the internet. I was supposed to take a two-week vacation from my corporate job at Accenture in London to visit California in 1999. While there I sent them an email saying I wasn’t coming back. I had simply too many ideas to work on.
First I started a reality TV show. This was going to document my life of making money on the Internet. In those days (pre-smartphone) I had to buy video cameras with tapes, which cost me hundreds of dollars. To upload my content on a server cost me first thousands to buy the server and then for every megabit of video I was paying something like 5 cents to upload and download.
The reality TV show was going to be awesome as I had a bunch of really cool 20-something friends doing various careers and I thought would make interesting viewing along with my digital ventures. The advertising from Amazon and other affiliates would pay for it. I got an apartment in Las Vegas and started building these sites, along with a bunch of other ideas. I didn’t have anything concrete or a business plan, but I knew I wanted a piece of the Internet in 1999. I didn’t have much in savings and hadn’t heard about venture capital and didn’t even know the word entrepreneur, but I knew I was sick of my corporate day job and wanted the independence to work for myself.
I was a smart kid – so I thought. I had won a bunch of computing awards in school, was student council president, topped my University, and was rapidly promoted at Accenture which was one of the best-paid jobs for graduates. I got this “internet” thing I thought. How wrong I was. I burned through my savings. And spent USD 100,000 on credit cards. And by end of 2001 had to come back to Accenture and beg for my job back. Fortunately, they took me back on.
I suffered my second major depression as not only was I back in my corporate day job, but I was also now in USD 100,000 in debt as my Internet dreams had vanished. Cash flow, investing and money was something I didn’t really understand at that stage. It was humiliating to have told all my friends I was going to be a dot com millionaire but have to come back to the same day job.
I stuck it out for another two years got my promotions and paid off my debt. But I was miserable as I really knew that corporate was not my calling. Then Accenture started to scale down their business and was looking to make people redundant. They were offering USD 50,000 for people like me to leave. This was perfect – so I took redundancy and now had USD 50,000 capital to invest in a business.
This was 2003. I didn’t waste a single day. As soon as I got the money I started going to tech fairs around London, buying tech magazines, and looking for ideas. I knew I could come up with something and as a single guy I could probably survive 18 months on this kind of money if I conserved the cash well.
I started working from home. I realized that SMS text messaging was going to be big and so started looking for ideas on how it could be used. The first idea I had was a simple one in that every doctor in the UK (and the world) would send an SMS reminder for appointments so that the 25 % of patients that missed doctors’ appointments (and eventually other fields as well) would less likely forget if they had a simple SMS reminder. It was much cheaper to send a simple SMS reminder than having a secretary make a phone call.
When I started selling this though I realized that it was hard to know who would buy the product. Especially in the UK where most doctors surgeries were run by the government, I thought selling to the government would be too difficult as even if I pitched everything and got them onboard they might then tender it out and a bigger company would get the contracts.
I then had a vision that you could buy things using SMS (this is 2003 and before smartphones). Books were a great way to start as they had an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) number so anyone could type in a 10-digit number like 1234567890 and I could have a deal with a book distributor and somehow take payment and ship them the book. This way consumers could be at a physical bookstore and buy it cheaper from me.
I started building relationships with book warehouses and retaught myself to code. Although I was a computer science graduate, I didn’t really know how to code a complete product. I bought a 1,008 page book on PHP and MySql and read it cover to cover. I then built the site and the brand.
I eventually discovered APIs – this was a way for software to communicate to Amazon and get the data. I wrote code so that I could send a query like “1234567890” and Amazon would return all the information about the book with that ISBN number. I eventually expanded to other categories so I could, for instance, send them a request like “Sony digital camera” and they would give me back the top results with their prices.
I formatted these results so they fit into the 160 characters that an SMS message would take. The first time a user would use the service it would ask them for an email address. From that point on whenever they sent an SMS with a request like “Book Harry Potter” it would return them a result like “Harry Potter philosopher’s stone by JK Rowling for $11.99 ships in 1 day” and also send an email with the top 10 results.
In those days people didn’t have emails on their phone so when they would go back to their laptops they would have an email with the top 10 results. If they clicked and bought a book for USD 10, I would make USD 1. Not so great for books but was much better when comparing the prices of a USD 500 digital camera.
This innovation went on to win the European prize for innovation. Because of this and the PR it generated, I got clients such as Apple, Google, Samsung and Xbox. These clients didn’t magically appear, but for many of them, I had to cold-call, use my network, and basically teach myself about selling so I could attract these huge companies.
After four years of running the business I had an offer from a larger company to sell my business for a cash and equity deal, which I did. I wanted to go do something even bigger and thought it as my purpose to do something for the developing world.
A part of me is really British and I like going for the underdog so that’s what I wanted to do. After selling my business, I invested USD 100,000 to do an MBA from a top Business School in IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. My parents lived in Geneva at the time so being close to them while learning about business from a theoretical point of view was my goal.
This was the fifth time I saw real wealth. The first was in my high school, which was a USD 50,000 a year school in Brussels, Belgium. The second time was working with senior executives in my consulting career at Accenture. The third time was in my entrepreneurial career in my early 20s meeting wealthy entrepreneurs. The fourth time was hanging around with my father who was the Ambassador for the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. And then this IMD Business School had only 90 students, but I knew at least 6 billionaires sons and daughters in my class.
Despite access to all this wealth, I wanted to move to Pakistan and teach people about digital wealth creation. As I had created a digital business from scratch I thought I could go “back” to Pakistan and teach digital wealth creation. My theory was that with the Internet anyone could create wealth from anywhere. You could be just as successful from Kabul, as you could be from living in San Francisco.
After my MBA, I decided to take up an opportunity in the United Arab Emirates to consult the Dubai Government on improving education in their public and private schools and universities. I then took up a similar position with the Abu Dhabi government.
As a side hustle, I started Webpreneur Academy, teaching people about digital wealth creation. My dream was to move to Pakistan and teach it. I did end up moving to Pakistan in 2012 and teaching people to become internet entrepreneurs. Although I was successful in many regards, as many of my students created wealth, I eventually got disillusioned with teaching “Webpreneurship” as I realized it was not for everyone and I realized that certain cultures, like the American culture, make it much easier to create wealth than other cultures.
In fact, most people are better off getting a good-paying job than becoming an entrepreneur. There are fewer “wacky” people like me who are passionate about working for myself than there are other people who just want to live a good life. Especially if you come from a developing market where you have families to feed if you go broke and no government to look after you. A lot less access to capital.
I eventually ended up returning to London in 2014 and had to rework my way into a corporate career where I worked for companies like Deloitte in the daytime and tried to figure out digital wealth creation in the evenings and weekends.
I published my first book in 2009, and it ended up generating over USD 400,000 in sales for me, not in the traditional way but in some unique ways that I ended up figuring out for myself.
I then started getting more students who wanted to learn from me. I decided that I wanted to be the world’s best digital wealth creation teacher. I sold at different price points, from free to USD 37 to USD 30,000.
I learned that the more I charged, the more likely the student was to get good results. There were a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, the student was more invested with me when they spent more money. Second, I could give them more attention as I didn’t have to worry about paying my bills doing something else. Thirdly, if the student had a few thousand dollars to spend on their education it meant that they already had some sort of business success and had access to resources if I recommended them to do something. Helping a billionaire make an extra 1 % creates much more value in the world than helping a millionaire create an extra 10 %.
For instance, when I charged USD 99 for a course and in that course, I told the student to spend USD 9 per month to buy hosting for a website, they would think three times before doing it as USD 9 was a big investment for them. If I told someone who paid me USD 5,000 for coaching to pay LinkedIn USD 70 for some special software, they would have the resources to do it and be likely to try it out and experiment.
I also moved away from teaching younger teenagers about starting businesses to teaching people over 40. I am now 46 years old, and there is a whole world of people who are smart, hardworking, and experienced but need someone to guide them about creating digital wealth as they are overflowed with ideas.
I started various ventures, such as building apps for people. But, I realized that apps and software take time and not everyone is patient enough to innovate and stick with it. I started teaching people about creating a personal brand and monetizing that. This could be as CEOs (Elon Musk is a stronger brand than Tesla, Bill Gates’s brand helps Microsoft, and the last thing Steve Jobs did before his death is release an autobiography on his life). It could also be teachers or people with knowledge who have something to teach and sell, such as coaches and consultants.
For instance, I package up my knowledge and expertise and sell it. Most of my knowledge is free. You can download any of my six books and learn from them. You can watch hundreds of my videos for free or join my WhatsApp groups.
I only charge a small minority of my students. Maximum 16 new students a month to help them reach their goals faster. These are the actual ones that pay my bills. I decided not to charge for most of my content as whereas in the West, people might be used to using a credit card and paying USD 9 for a book or USD 99 for a course, in the East even if you charge a single cent you will stop most people from learning as they never pay for content or coaching.
I work with senior executives – usually over the age of 40 as they have business experience and knowledge to sell but need someone to help guide them and speed up their implementation. If you have ideas that you want to bring to market such as a coaching business or a software than give me a call.
The initial discovery call is free so you can see if we would get along. I only ask however that you only call me if you can afford to invest a few thousand dollars for advice or services – I had many students from developing countries who wanted my time but could not afford to pay me. Please respect as just as you wouldn’t walk out of a Mcdonald’s without paying for a Big Mac, you shouldn’t ask creatives and teachers for free advice (beyond a certain limit!)as it takes away time from fee-paying clients or working on our own innovations, books or content.
Thanks for reading my story. I hope to help as many people as I can so as you avoid the many years of depression I spent in failed business ventures and personal heartaches that most of us inevitably go through.
My team and I will basically help you build a personal brand online and achieve your goals faster – I started with a digital agency but found that my personal social media sold much more than my agency. I realized that on social media, people follow people more than they follow brands. Your brand might only get hundreds of followers, but you could still get dozens of high-paying clients out of those followers, and this is what I teach.
I am a great coach to bounce off ideas, help you formulate your own thinking, and to execute everything faster.
Book a FREE discovery call or just WhatsApp message or call me now to get started on +447733003930.