Starting your own company
An interview with the founder of See it yourself - the app for your next move
The phenomenon that some expat partners take the plunge and start their own business abroad has interested me since we moved countries a couple of years ago. I have already talked about the phenomenon of Expat-Preneurship here. Today, I want you to introduce you to an inspiring entrepreneur who actually started a business that might be of benefit to a lot of us before moving places.
Hi Umamah, thanks for sharing your story with us!
Please Tell us a little bit about yourself, your company, and your entrepreneurial journey.
I’m a born and bred New Yorker who has always had a passion for entrepreneurship. After having dabbled in entrepreneurial endeavors from a young age, I launched my first business at 16 (while in High School). My second business was launched while pursuing my undergraduate degree, and my most recent business was launched after graduating with my Masters from the University of Southern California. Once you get bit by the entrepreneurship bug, you just can’t quit it!
“Once you get bit by the entrepreneurship bug, you just can’t quit it!”
What does a typical day of the life of Umamah look like?
A typical day in my life is ever changing. Some days I’ll have the chance to take an hour before I get started on my daily tasks and other days I hit the ground running from the moment my feet touch the floor. The core focus of each day however, is to accomplish something new daily and achieve results that place you in a stronger position than you were in the day before. On days where I feel I’ve taken on too much or even hit a slump, I like to remind myself to: “Work to achieve, not work to just work.”
on social media!
How did you come up with your business idea?
Like most businesses, I experienced a problem! I was moving from New York to Los Angeles without really knowing what the homes were like in certain areas. I was relocating to pursue my Masters degree, with my brothers. Since we couldn’t decide if the homes we were seeing pictures of online were worth the investment or were being depicted to be true to their actual nature, I sent my brother out to LA about 2 weeks before classes started. He went to homes and recorded his findings while relaying his personal opinions to us. From a shortlist of 10 homes, we canceled out all but 1 within 2 days. Shortly after, I began performing customer discovery – speaking to individuals and determining if this problem existed beyond just myself. Once it became evident that individuals from all around the world were experiencing similar issues, I decided to pursue my idea as a full-time venture. That’s when See It Yourself (SIY) was born! We allow individuals looking to move to the United States to see their homes before they move.
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When did you start to outsource some tasks? Maybe hired the first employee or company to contribute to your business and what was your learning?
As a solo-founder, there are times when you think you can handle everything on your own. You realize fairly quickly that there’s only so much you can take on at once and that seeking out external support actually adds to your efficiency and productivity, as opposed to taking away from your performance. I hired my first UI/UX designer during the early stages of my apps development process. As someone with little to no design experience, being able to assign another individual these integral tasks and turn my attention towards more pressing issues for my skillset was a decision that has helped shape the way I operate. When something is outside my wheelhouse, I seek external support while trying to understand and learn as much of it as I possibly can. It’s all about finding that balance between doing what you can while also expanding your capabilities.
“When something is outside my wheelhouse, I seek external support while trying to understand and learn as much of it as I possibly can.”
What would you recommend expat partners who just moved abroad and are thinking about starting their own business?
Ask for guidance! Send those cold emails, use your existing network and make connections. The best way to move forward in any industry is with the help, support and guidance of someone who knows how to operate in that space. Creating a business-like support group greatly increases your chances of success and ultimately facilitates your growth. Personally, I’d be happy to assist in any way I can!
Thank you Umamah for these great insights! I can only confirm that a support group of like-minded entrepreneurial people can really help with your own project! It’s like having colleagues to brainstorm ideas, only that you are actively connecting with the right people.