Survival Is The Best Motivator

Philip Manzano • Mar 24, 2017

Excerpts from Nejeed Kassam’s Keynote Speech at the Pacific Venture Capital Conference & Competition The post Survival is the best motivator appeared first on Keela.

Hustle Academy.

I can’t think of a better term to encompass exactly what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Yes, it takes talent. Yes, it takes treasure. But it’s the sweat equity that you put into your idea that is the difference between success and failure. As cliché as that sounds.

Keela is the hardest, most exhausting, frustrating, amazing, inspirational job in the world.

Everyday I come to work (and yes, that includes most Sundays) and help do good in the world. I’m surrounded by an amazing team of human beings, who ride the ebbs and flows of Keela with grace and passion.

But everyday of our life can be aptly explained by one word: HUSTLE .

I have had the immense please of having spent 27 years working in the nonprofit sector. I’ve been a volunteer, a donor, the founder of a national charity, an executive director, a board member, and a non-profit lawyer.

Through all of this, I’ve seen the sector from all sorts of perspectives. And in all of that I noticed one major theme: nonprofits weren’t being run efficiently – and the tools that help them achieve efficiency were way too expensive.

Think about that: Nonprofits and charities, which are doing life-changing work in the sector, often have to make a choice between expensive tools, or helping more people. The choice is easy. You choose to help people.

But the great irony is: by not investing in tech and infrastructure, by not running effective operations, nonprofits are shooting themselves in the foot. Inefficiency prevents organizations from helping more people and better advancing their cause.  I realized one thing:

I have to be able to build a solution to help nonprofits do better. It wasn’t a choice, it was a moral imperative for me.

From that point, Keela started to form in my head – an all-in-one platform that helps nonprofits do good work. A tool that that is simple, beautiful and powerful. Today, Keela serves hundreds of nonprofits in 13 countries. It is a tool that combines donor management, project management, and communications tools . And most importantly, it’s AFFORDABLE .

Powerful, but not complicated. Game-changing, but inexpensive.

It took a while to get to this point. We had our fair share of bumps and bruises along the way. Here are a few things that I learned:

1. Bad things will happen. How your team responds means everything.

Surround yourself with the smarted, most courageous, hardest working people. Put them in the room with you. Those people will make or break your growth as a young company. Their minds should always look towards overcoming barriers.

2. The start up life has growing pains.

Yes, it’s true that I get to wear a hoodie to work sometimes. But I’ve also run into haters and people who just didn’t believe in me, the product or the company. I even got so mad at one point that I punched a hole through a wall. There will be ups and downs. Accept them and learn from them.

3. Being a CEO is HARD.

While it’s a dream of many to be a CEO — it’s a tough job. I feel everything that happens with Keela — with a 10x multiplier. I feel every win, every loss, every challenge. And it takes a toll on your personal life. It places stress on your family, your friends, your health. But I think the most humbling of all, is that you become responsible for people’s lives in a very real way. If my company fails — people will be out of jobs, missing mortgage payments — this is a very real thing that I take with me to bed every night.

Don’t get me wrong. I have complete conviction that Keela will be a huge success. I’ve staked everything on it. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t eat me up inside. And, right now, it’s my opportunity to be honest, and share with all of you this very real reality.

Let me end with this:   Survival is the best motivator . You have no choice but to do it. It’s our duty: to your cause, to your constituents, but most of all: to your convictions.

Your product has to be great – your team has to be phenomenal. But it’s the struggle that’s going to make you a success.