Jamil Khalil, the founder of Wakelet, is an example of what hard work and determination can yield. Wakelet is a content curation platform based in the UK, which allows users to organise videos, blogs, tweets, and virtually anything else online, into collections – or wakes – that can then be kept private or shared with the public.
The inspiration for Wakelet came while Jamil was working at Airbus. A supplier asked him to gather current and historic information from the web that took a lot of time and effort to locate and organise. This was not the first time he’d experienced this problem, when he was studying and when he was travelling, he found it difficult to easily save, organise and share web content in a meaningful and visual way. That’s when it occurred to him; what if there were a platform that made it all easy? If you’re someone who has felt that the growing wealth of information on the web is making the data mining process near impossible; Wakelet is the solution.
Leaving a secure job to start something new comes with its own set of challenges, of course. “I pitched the idea to numerous investors and, while they liked the concept, they also considered it high risk, so they passed. But I wasn’t ready to give up. Through LinkedIn, I managed to get a core team in place and offered them shares in the company in lieu of salary. I’d been working on Wakelet for approximately two years before I quit my job. About 10 months after I quit, we completed our initial prototype and I finally met a number of investors that understood the vision and loved what we were doing. We raised £1.1m,” says Jamil. “After being rejected by over 100 investors, it worked out. The way I see it is, Google helps people find the world’s information; Wakelet helps people to organise it.’
The Wakelet team has ambitious expansion plans. They’re looking to expand internationally, grow the team, and add a new rewards-based system to the platform. As of today, Wakelet has raised over £2m and are backed by people like the original publishers’ of Angry Birds. And, they’re just getting started.
Given Jamil’s global experience, we asked him to comment on the differences between the European and Asian markets. He highlights the integral role Asian developers, engineers, and tech entrepreneurs are playing in Silicon Valley, a fact he attributes in large part to the region’s reputation for hard work, dedication and focus. Even so, the European market is starting to keep pace with the US, rapidly evolving in terms of design and tech.
So, what advice does Jamil have for businesses considering entering the global market? “Create a product that people care about and that is actually solving a market need,” he advises. “The audiences are different everywhere, so make sure you understand their individual needs and communicate with them accordingly . Something that’s really helped me network along the way is LinkedIn. Spend some time getting familiar with it – it can help you in various ways.”
For Jamil, the key to building a successful business is passion. Every business faces challenges and the only thing that’ll stop you from giving up is your passion.
Wakelet allows you to share your passions and tell your own stories. Join the community today by visiting www.wakelet.com