People of Landscape - Sohaib Ahmed, Founder of &facts.

Sohaib is the founder of &facts which aims to provide insight dashboards to help small business better understand their customers and market through the democratisation of data. He is based in Birmingham, UK.

How long have you been a Founder for?

2 years.

Are you a first-time or serial Founder?

First time founder.

What's your backstory. How did you come to be a Founder?

I always wanted to start my own thing one day, so I actually chose my A-Levels and University degree on the basis of what subjects I thought then would give me the best ‘business skills’.

I’d been toying with lots of ideas for as long as I can remember and I gained a lot of skills through the process.

I was in banking for a number of years, and started to ponder if there was a life beyond spreadsheets. I had seen how much data large businesses have access to and how complex data analysis was, so I had this hunch that there is an opportunity in this space given the market inefficiencies that exist. This got me started exploring the opportunity and eventually came to the &facts concept.


What has been the highlight of your Founder career so far?

Being a founder is such a massive rollercoaster, so every ‘first’ is a mini-highlight.

The ones that stick out are seeing Unilever use our insights report - and then several other larger brands after, getting the first in-bound email from a user who wanted to sign up to our platform, a user telling us how our insights helped 2x their CTR and lately signing my first term sheet.

What has been the lowlight?

Rejection is always difficult, but it's inevitable as a startup founder. Over time you learn how to take the good bits like feedback to improve yourself and your startup further whilst building resilience so you can keep moving forward.

How did you come across Landscape?

Twitter.

What's the biggest challenge you're facing right now and/or need help on?

We have a good product now that is already adding a lot of value to DTC brands. The biggest challenge for us right now is scaling our marketing and sales efforts, whilst continually adding more data and insights to the platform.
Keen to talk to any DTC brands as well as individuals with domain expertise in the eCommerce or Data & Analytics space.

What's the biggest mistake you’ve made so far and what did you learn from it?

Building our first proof-of-concept without properly understanding the user problem, what we’re building or how it will provide value. I was too eager to have something built, and it later turned out that what was built was entirely pointless.

From there onwards, I totally took a step back and spent a lot of time talking to customers, understanding their challenges and only then building something. The second time around, we understood the problem well enough that we were able to build a solution to test with users using no-code with Google Data Studio.

During this time I did learn the importance of clarity of vision.

What piece of advice would you give to other people in similar position as to you?

I learnt this from a mentor, but running a start-up is like a big science experiment. At the start, you simply have a ton of assumptions that you need to test and validate.

I think this mindset of knowing the assumptions you are making, and then formulating a plan to test those assumptions can really help you form a very clear and unbiased view of your customer, the problem, your market etc.

What is the most frustrating thing you find about the startup fundraising ecosystem?

Getting access to the right investors is something I have found quite challenging. As an underrepresented founder who doesn’t have access to a massive investor network, it took a lot of time to build connections and find the right people to speak to. I think the need for warm intros is definitely a barrier that hopefully can be removed one day.

What you would like to see change in the startup fundraising ecosystem within the next 5 years?

A recent Sifted article comes to mind: ‘Female founders need money, not more mentoring’.

Would love to see more unrepresented founders get access to capital. I feel the movement to democratise access to capital has begun. There is more knowledge being shared with many guides and articles on demystifying venture capital, which is definitely a first good step, and there are numerous programs offering amazing mentoring which partially can help towards access to capital - but in the next 5 years, it would be great to see a better distribution of capital disbursement across the startup ecosystem.




Sohaib is the Founder and CEO of &facts. His LinkedIn profile can be found here and his Twitter here. His email address is sohaib@andfacts.com and he is happy to be contacted.

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