Insights From An AMA with Magnus, Co-Founder of Careem.

The AMA (Ask Me Anything) with Magnus got interesting very fast. We got to hear plenty on what got Careem off the ground, how the founders worked together and what creating company culture really means.


Here are some quotes from the conversations we had:

On Bootstrapping & Customer Centricity

You need to be super lean, super frugal. You can’t achieve much with high burn. At the same time, you must be intuitive enough to know what are the right investments to make with what little cash you do have.
Bootstrapping forces you to be absolutely crazy about users.
If you really care about your users, you transform them into amazing advocates of the product.
Our initial growth was primarily through word of mouth.

On Failures

When we first started, we did not have any GPS technology or a dedicated customer service team. That meant Mudassir and I had to take turns to take calls and coordinate with the drivers, It was very manual. One incident is when we had a pickup for a lady from the clinic who just had a lasik surgery, she was blind so she could not see and our Careem was quite late. Or another time, when someone had requested to be picked up from the middle of nowhere in the desert and we had no taxis even remotely close to them.

On The Reason, They Decided To Start Careem

I had a brain bleeding that was life threatening. It shook my perspectives and made me rethink my objectives in life. I survived and recovered which led me to decide that I should work on something that is truly meaningful. After having a couple of ideas across healthcare & education, the challenge of transportation in the region found us. Mudassir was more into the idea while I had not shown much excitement, but over time I too got on board.

On Mindset — Scarcity vs Abundance

Most people are prone to a scarcity mindset, that creates a sense of pressure on themselves to do more for all the right reasons. I believe if you follow an abundance mindset, gratefulness replaces instant gratification and you are not only feeling better but doing better work.

Founder Dynamics

Before agreeing to have a co-founder, ask yourself is this person bringing in the same value system to the company? Or are their objectives/values different to yours?
First thing we did as founders is write down our values and then a founders agreement. This held us responsible to each other in getting things done.
You have to get comfortable in being your “full-you” with your co-founder, since this will take over your life

There’s A Founder Agreement, Then There’s A Family Agreement

In our first year of the business, we were working long days (18 hours) and we barely got time to spend with our wives. Therefore we created a family agreement, where we had to negotiate with our wives on what were activities or times we absolutely could not miss. It was great because Mudassir would make sure I was holding my end of the agreement with my family and I with his.

Purpose Driven Vs Fear Driven Organisations

Fear driven organisations are companies whose employees are driven by fear. Fear of clients, Fear of seniors, Fear of messing up. Careem is extremely purpose driven. Our primary hiring focus is not on employee skill sets but on an alignment of their personal ambitions and our company goals. Purpose driven organisations can only work when the organisation is able to deliver to their employees purpose as much as it can to it’s own objectives.

Values, Culture & Working to your best.

Creating company values is a tough job, but translating the values into behaviour is even tougher. It is necessary however, otherwise the values you wrote will only serve as posters on your wall and nothing more.
When your working insane hours, you need to find an outlet to rest your mind. My outlet is meditation, it stills me.
Document your culture, and share it profusely. Stories are a great way to share what you are building and it’s impact.

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Originally published at The AstroLabs Navigator Blog.