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Don’t Keep Your Idea a Secret | Yasmine Mustafa at ROAR for Good

In part one of my conversation with Yasmine Mustafa, the co-founder and CEO of ROAR for Good, she talked about the inspiration behind her company and their product, AlwaysOn, a wearable tracking device that enables hotel staff to alert security.

In this second part of our conversation, Yasmine tells how she took that leap from having an idea to actually quitting her job and starting her own company—and she shares some important insights on how she continued to develop her client relationships in one of the most challenging markets in the past hundred years.

More information: https://www.roarforgood.com/


Yasmine Mustafa is a social entrepreneur and the CEO & Co-Founder of ROAR for Good. Based in Philadelphia, ROAR is a woman-led and mission-driven technology company dedicated to cultivating safer workplaces. Their staff safety platform, The AlwaysOn™, is specifically designed for the hotel industry. Fueled by a passion to leverage technology for good, she leads the ROAR team in its mission to create safer workplaces and empowered communities.

Dedicated to fostering inclusive opportunities in business and education, Yasmine draws upon her own experiences as an immigrant and woman in tech to create a platform for conversation and igniting change. In addition to ROAR for Good, Yasmine launched a Philly non-profit providing affordable opportunities for women to learn software development. She also serves on the board of Coded by Kids which provides free tech education for underserved youth.

Her role as a leader and advocate has been recognized by the BBC, CNBC’s Upstart 100, Philadelphia Magazine, Philadelphia Business Journal, Technical.ly Philly, and the City of Philadelphia, among others. She is a 2x TEDx speaker with a roster of speaking credits that also include SXSW and CES.

Prior to launching ROAR for Good, Yasmine founded and sold her first company to a prominent content marketing firm in Silicon Valley. She graduated summa cum laude from Temple University with a Business Management Degree.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Yasmine Mustafa 0:00
We love our ideas we want people tell us they love our ideas too. But talking and listening to people who don’t right off the bat can be just, if not sometimes even more helpful.

Alexander Ferguson 0:18
In part one of my conversation with Yasmine Mustafa, the co founder and CEO of ROAR for good, she talked about the inspiration behind her company and the product always on a wearable tracking device that enables hotel staff to alert security. In the second part of our conversation, Yasmine tells how she took that leap from having an idea to actually quitting your job and starting your own company. And she shares some important insights on how she continued to develop her client relationships. And one of the most challenging markets in the past 100 years. Yasmine, I’m excited to continue our conversation. This isn’t your first venture. So I’d love to hear what are some insights, things that you have learned that another entrepreneur and other leader could maybe glean from whether it’s the initial startup, how do you get from idea to launch or getting your first couple clients won’t be some of the hurdles that pop in your mind, you’re like, that was difficult, but you were able to overcome,

Yasmine Mustafa 1:13
I would say one of the things that I see a lot when entrepreneurs come to me, especially for some entrepreneurs, is they want me to sign an NDA, before they share their idea. And I will say I was like that at the very beginning, where I was really afraid that someone was going to go steal my idea, and I didn’t want to share with other people. And what I learned over time is actually the more I share my idea, the better it becomes based on the feedback that I get from people, but also based on the connections they might have from people that I can talk to sell to get advice from and so on. So I think that’s that’s a huge 1123 Lincoln, my first company, I had the idea for almost eight months. And before I went and what on my own to work on a full time, I would actually go to all the blog meetups, and I would talk to people and say, Hey, do you advertise on your blog, you know, why not? And, and told them ID and that feedback on the idea. And I felt like I had enough validation from from doing that primary research, to allow me the reassurance of taking that next step and quitting my job to go focus on my first company for the first time. So I think that’s a huge one. And then related, as those meetups, what I would do is I would always look for disconfirming evidence. So I didn’t want people to tell me how great the idea was, I mean, I did, but I always would go and find out. For my first company contacts, what we did is we help bloggers make money from their content. For people that didn’t advertise, I would ask them why, like, why I wanted to get a better understanding of what what would what got in the way of them advertising. And that really helped me in terms of being able to create segments of customers that we can go after to truly understand the pain points of not just the people who do advertise that I’m definitely going to go after first and foremost, but also to try to get a sense of the people that don’t what’s stopping them to explore other opportunities. So disconfirming evidence, I think, we love our ideas we want people tell us they love our ideas, too. But talking and listening to people who don’t right off the bat can be just if not sometimes even more helpful.

Alexander Ferguson 3:23
What then to be able to get your first couple clients, once you got the ID and you’re moving forward. How were you able to with your first company? And now as you’re working with your this next second venture scale, like what some of the tactics that you found have worked?

Yasmine Mustafa 3:38
Yeah, good question, I would say foreign above. At the beginning, it’s all about learning, standardizing. It’s looking at, okay, what’s working, what’s not working. And then once you get enough touch point that things are working, and you can actually build repeatable processes, then it’s time to scale because then you build up the documentation, the standard operating procedures, and so on. We’re actually going through that right now at more for good, especially within this pivot. So we, we pivoted in November of 2018. We had our beta in May of 2019. And right before COVID hit, we were right in the process of I keep saying right before COVID hit, but it you know had definitely had an huge impact on our business. We were looking we were actually struggling to to keep up with demand. We had all these installations lined up a huge pipeline in the works and when you that in order for us to be able to scale appropriately, we needed to have the foundation set in place so that we make less mistakes and and grow faster. So without getting into more specifics. I would say it’s it’s exciting because your whole company changes now it’s not just a handful of people in your company now. It’s not just generalists in your company now you bring on more people. As you grow roles become more specialized. There’s more men managers directing people working on the business versus in the business being more proactive versus reactive. So it’s really an exciting time. But it can be just as challenging if you’re not taking the time to really dot your i’s and cross your t’s.

Alexander Ferguson 5:15
For you, obviously, constantly looking for new ideas and innovating is just part of what you have to do as a leader. Where do you look for insight, any books or audiobooks or podcasts or places that you read that have helped you grow as a leader and keep innovating?

Yasmine Mustafa 5:33
Yeah, I will, I would say the first and foremost, healthcare wasn’t really on top of my mind, because I was all focused on hotels. But the first thing that we did is we actually went into the leads that came into our website, and we bucketed them by industry, and we saw that health healthcare was at the top. So that’s why we decided to focus on the top. But in terms of where I get my inspiration, I belong to a couple peer groups of CEOs. And that’s been wonderful, not just to provide me an outlet where I can get feedback when challenges that I’m looking to overcome. But also, the other CEOs share their challenges, and we all get to participate and learn from their responses. So I think it’s been a really great place to be able to grow my skills, and plus, CEO, I mean, the role is a very lonely role, like knowing other people being able to talk to them about the struggle, you really do where most of the burden. So it’s always nice to have that support. And then reading books, I used to read a lot more. I don’t as much but HBr, Harvard Business Review, I get their newsletters, and I make sure I take the time to go through those every day. So those have been incredibly helpful as well. I really believe COVID has really elevated the level of what more companies need to do to protect their employees. And so before COVID, unemployment rates were the lowest we’ve ever had in this in this country. But also, they don’t tell the full picture. When you look our gig economy, when you look at how many people have part time jobs multiple part time jobs, which then means they are not being able to survive from one from one job or have opportunity to have a full time role, which then means they don’t have the benefits, to also be able to have health insurance and the basic access to health care. I think that, especially with COVID, that there is going to be a change where workers and employees are fed up with employers trying to extract as much utility from them while not taking care of their needs while trying to make as much money from them. And I think power is going to start to shift to workers where they’re going to demand that protection, they’re going to demand the fair wages are going to demand health care, and that companies are going to have to adapt and listen. One of the things I’ve been very encouraged by is Patagonia, our Ei, Ben and Jerry’s, are basically going through an advertising freeze from Facebook. And they’re saying to Facebook, hey, like unless you make your platform more inclusive. We’re not going to spend our money here. I think there is going to be more demand of transparency from companies to do the right thing. Versus focus on profit. And I think that’s a good example of big companies pulling together to use their leverage to seek that demand. People want to spend money that aligns with their values. And I think companies hopefully are much more aware of that. But also, employers or employees want to work at companies that also align with their values.

Alexander Ferguson 8:58
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.

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