Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Zameer Upadhya >

Zameer Upadhya, CEO & Co-Founder, BabySpot, Inc.

What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
An entrepreneur needs “Ganas”. He or she needs that deep, down fire and passion to pursue their dreams with full vigor.

What did inspire you to start your business?
A very good friend of mine, James Rivera, had his first son, Danny, two and a half years ago. He kept sending me picture after picture of his son for over two months. Danny, is adorable, but one day I was joking around with James and told him that with the 5,000 pictures he had sent me of his son, he could buy a website, call it, and put his son on it. The next day James called me and told me he bought the domain name. Turns out that James and his wife, Monica, did not feel comfortable putting their son's picture on MySpace or Facebook as they did not consider these sites to be safe and secure. We created a site for Danny and the next thing we knew we received many requests from other parents who shared similar concerns. Thus, James and I, started a social networking site for new parents and it’s been a dream ride ever since

How did you finance it?
Thus far our company has been financed internally. We received an initial infusion of seed money from James' parents and everything else has been on us. We took a major risk, but because we believed in what we were doing, it was well worth it.

Being Hispanic…Does it have any influence on your business?
My background is very diverse. Sharing heritage from Spain, Cuba, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Saudi Arabia I value many culture and moral values. Each of these cultures places a strong emphasis on family. Family is the most important thing in this world to me. With it you are everything, without it you are nothing. In business, we operate as a family. My business partner, our members, and our advertisers are all treated as family. Placing them in this regard pushes us to give them all the best service - the type of service we would give our own family. This is a Hispanic value and one that helps separate us from the rest.

In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of the death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Life is a journey - it has many peaks and many valleys. The road is guaranteed to be bumpy. I think that every successful entrepreneur has to have faith in something, whether it’s God, the universe, or whatever - they must have faith that things work out as they should. This faith when combined with passion is what drives me to keep climbing the mountain. Remember the old saying: “If the mountain was smooth, you could never climb it.”

What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
Our biggest challenge has been establishing our brand with limited resources. Since we are self-funded we have not been able to engage all of the PR and Marketing efforts that we would like to. We take this as a challenge and push ourselves to think of innovative ways to reach the market.

If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
Truthfully I wouldn't change one thing. The journey has been tough, challenging, fun, rewarding, and a blessing. I can't see myself doing anything else.

What was your childhood ambition?
To play baseball for the Chicago Cubs or to own the team.
Mi ambición de niño era jugar pelota para los Chicago Cubs o ser dueño de este equipo de pelota.

Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Richard Branson - One of the most innovative entrepreneurs ever. His willingness to think beyond the box and do things that most people would not is encouraging for all entrepreneurs.

Steve Jobs - Possibly one of the greatest marketing entrepreneurs of our time. He has built a loyal brand that always reinvents itself. Amazing

Ahmed Mohamedali - My grandfather passed away in 2003. His whole life was spent on the entrepreneurial journey. He had many ups and downs, but at his funeral was remembered by hundreds for his kindness and willingness to go the extra mile for all.

For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
None. I prefer to save meals for personal time - breakfast, lunch, and dinner for personal time.

What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
Whenever you pursue a dream you do have to make many sacrifices. I have lived on planes and out of suitcases for the last few years and taken on debt to reach a goal of imminent success. It’s been tough to balance a social life with a personal drive for success. Initially I probably sacrificed too much, but over time learned to balance it all as best as possible.

What is your favorite quote?
"Within every difficulty lies opportunity." - Albert Einstein

Is it difficult to be unconventional?
No. It is only difficult if you don't have faith in your beliefs and convictions. I heard once if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything. Going against the norm is only difficult if you don't believe deep within your heart that what you are striving for, what you are trying to accomplish, is worth it. If it is, then being unconventional is as normal as breathing.

Biggest mistake made?
By no means am I perfect, however, I don't regret any decisions that I have made. Mistakes are but opportunities to learn and grow. Every step that I have taken has brought me closer to my next goal. I have stumbled, fallen, and gotten back up through every mistake that I have encountered.

Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
Yes. I think every successful entrepreneur is an innovator. They have to be in order to succeed. Often they have to come up with innovative solutions when there is no clear answer.

About the Company and are free, safe, and secure social networking and informational sites for new parents to share pictures, videos, and parenting tips in a community specific to their needs. They were established in 2006 in response to James and Monica Rivera's desire to share their son, Danny's, pictures with family members online in a safe and secure manner.

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