Hey there! I'm Shanif - a young professional with a background in technology and a passion for investing and trading. I've been developing software since 1997 and have been trading options profitably since 2008.
I have a BS in Computer Science and Systems & Information Engineering, and recently earned my MBA, focusing on Quantitative Finance and Entrepreneurship. These days, I focus on generating high returns with options trading and building up a successful mobile software business.
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Startup Life A Year In
It’s been about a year since I joined up with a couple of friends from b-school to see what we could do in the world of mobile. A lot of things have progressed. The business, the technology, and especially my understanding of what it takes to build a new business from scratch.
It’s not like I haven’t been in similar situations before. I’ve tried my hand at new ventures in the past, with varying degrees of success. None of them really “made” it before. And that’s due to a variety of reasons. Product-market fit, lack of experience, not understanding the true worth of what I was building, not reacting quickly enough, not executing well, not sticking it through. Suffice it to say, none of them got far – at least, not as far as the current venture I’m in.
The startup lifestyle, and especially the tech startup lifestyle, tends to be a bit glamorized. There are a lot of stories in the media about successful exits, flowing money, and tales of success. All well and good, but the media loves sensationalism. What they don’t love is reporting on the daily life, the minute details of the process that it takes to get from A to Z. That’s often an overlooked, unimportant issue when it comes to getting eyeballs on an article or in front of a human interest piece. But in the startup world, that’s the most important thing that comes into play, each and every day.
A year in and I’ve been able to get a better understanding of what it entails.
At the beginning, there was a lot of excitement about what we could do, and we went after our ideas with a lot of enthusiasm. Interestingly enough, those ideas led to pivots, us trying out new ideas that had better potential, or a larger market, or were even further long shots than our previous idea. Those pivots pay off, but what’s interesting is what comes after you’ve found your niche. That’s the long haul.
I can’t even say I know what a “true” long haul is like, but I can say that I’ve seen what could be the start of a, hopefully successful, yet very long, process.
Working day to day in a business you actually care about is awesome. It’s freaking exhausting. It’s exhilarating. It’s draining. It’s uncertain. But it’s also exciting. Suffice it to say, it’s like your corporate daily grind times ten, mixed in with pure highs, and daily questions about how long you can survive on the cash you have (both personally and as a business), whether you’re working hard enough, whether you’ll be able to make it through the long process, all while trying to ignore how slowly your bank account is growing (and that’s if you’re lucky… some entrepreneurs are happy to have a bank account that’s in the black every month).
There’s no doubt it’s tough. When you’re working hard to release a new feature or get a new client, it’s far less than glamorous. It’s a push to get something done right, test it out, see how it works, react to the data, and improve it, all while rolling out new features, testing those out, and repeating the entire process for an indefinite number of cycles. Our CTO (and good friend of mine) said it best – “it’s a daily grind.”
It’s fun. I wouldn’t trade it for the “stability” of the corporate job that I used to have. It’s also very, very trying. It really does put your character to the test. You know that there’s a longshot of achieving what it is you set out to achieve, but in all honesty, you don’t really care. You have to keep pushing forward to see what you can accomplish.
All of that is made infinitely easier when you have the right team. Working with smart people that you really like makes it all possible. It makes a big difference to have people around you who you know will be able to kick it into gear when it’s needed. Who will get you through that new product release, or will tell you to ignore that potential customer that just told you to get lost, or to remind you that, through it all, there’s still a solid plan.
I’m loving it all. But I need sleep!
Re-post: A Glimpse Of The Startup Lifestyle
When I worked at a big corporation, I used to imagine what it would be like to get out of there and live the life of someone that hit it big in a startup. I wouldn’t have to go in to work every day, doing something that was never going to affect anyone, at a job where I had to keep track of the number of hours I worked on every task, precise down to 15 minutes. All of the high profile, multi-billion dollar sales of companies that were 2 years old only amplified the images of expensive cars, private jets, and ultimate and unabated freedom.
Well, before any of that can happen, you have to go through real life first.
An entrepreneur is not someone that’s rolling in money, taking limos from his (or her) mansion to an expensive restaurant, going on vacations in the Caribbean on a whim. Sure, money is a factor, but entrepreneurs are thrill-seekers. We love the rush that comes from the next mini-victory (which, incidentally, is the only way to pick yourself up after those mini-disasters). We want freedom. We want the ability to control our own lives. An entrepreneur is a product of his or her personality.
So you might say entrepreneurship is a way of life. And it can be a demanding, unforgiving, ungracious mistress.
The day actually starts from the night before, because as an entrepreneur, you never get enough done from the day before, so you wake up with ten different things to do on your mind. So after forcing yourself to get in a quick workout in the morning (since doing it after work is essentially a dream) you run into the office (or co-op workspace, or coffee shop, or the public library) to finish off what you were working on the night before.
You could spend the entire day zoned in to what you need to do, and you may even be lucky enough to finish up whatever it is you’re working on, but then you look at your to-do list, which seems to never stop scrolling, and you realize you have five more things to take care of before you can take a break.
Engineers have algorithms to create, code to write, and servers to set up. Salesmen have calls to make, meetings to attend, decks to make, and strategy sessions to attend. Ops gurus have thirty forms to fill out, products to design, roadmaps and priorities to define, client requests to fulfill, customer service emails to address, well, you get the idea.
Entrepreneurs are always working. We’re always thinking about how to solve a problem, or grow the business, or what the next move is.
Part of that is because we have to. Money is tight. If we’re lucky enough to get funding, we’re allocating it to 5 new employees and 10 new projects. If not, we’re working to make some money before we have to move back in with our parents and take on a part-time job to keep going.
But part of it is because we love the thrill. When we see a positive result materializing from the hours of work we’ve put in to finishing a project, we’re on a high.
Progress is what we live for. In fact, you could say it’s what we crave.
It’s why we stay at the office late, working on a detail that we could probably tackle tomorrow, if we didn’t have a hundred other things to do. It’s why we open up our laptops on the weekend. It’s why we probably don’t see our friends or family as much as we should.
Being obsessive about what we do is who we are. We work, but unlike a lot of others out there, we like it. In fact, we love what we do. We’re a bit more reckless, less risk averse, and a lot weirder than everyone else. But it’s what defines us.
If you ever want to get to know an entrepreneur, just ask how his (or her) tasks of the day will help reach his (or her) long-term business goals. You’ll have to interrupt just to get a word in.View comments →
The Entrepreneur’s Roadmap – Step 1: The Concept And The Co-founder
I’ve been dabbling in the field of entrepreneurship ever since I graduated from UVA, and in the past two years, most significantly in the past 6 months, I’ve dived in head-first, full time into trying to create and run a business. I’ve got a long way to go before I can claim success, but I’d like to think I’ve learned enough to be able to pass along a few words of wisdom, a guide, to anyone that is interested in going down the path of running their own business.
The first step, as I see it, is actually a combination of two things: examining an idea and finding the right person (or people) to help you get started.
First, there’s the idea.
Most people that claim they want to start a business but can’t do it usually cite the fact that they don’t have a killer idea to work on.
My response to them?
It’s true, ideas really are a dime a dozen. As someone starting a business, you’re not going to have “the killer” idea when you first start. Most businesses go through many, many iterations of their core service or product before they finally find something that the market is willing to pay for.
As an entrepreneur, it’s not your job to find a killer idea. It’s your job to take something that you think may be an interesting problem to solve, or an interesting service or product to provide, and test it out to see if your assumptions about it are correct. Finding an idea is not a problem. People all around you are having troubles that they need solved. Just observe and think a little and you’ll be able to come up with hundreds of things that you could try addressing.
In fact, any time I think of an issue that I’d like to solve, or a project that could be fun to work on, regardless of whether it makes sense, it’s a high-margin business, or even if it’s completely ludicrous, I write it down. I have a whole list of business ideas that could one day work out well if they were executed upon properly.
If you still can’t see any problems that need solving, go be social. Start talking to people. Figure out what they’re complaining about. Interact with your friends. Find out what problem they’re having and see if you can come up with a way to fix it.
People have all sorts of problems, many of which they would ultimately pay to have solved. With the rapid progression of technology, it’s likely that you can find a way to create a solution and then start charging them for it. It’s just a matter of eliminating the “I don’t have an idea” mindset and adopting a mindset of “let’s try to make a list of everything that sucks and see if I can find a way to make it better.”
A lot of people will wonder why I’ve listed finding a co-founder (or multiple co-founders) as part of the very first step towards entrepreneurship. After all, these days, all you need is an idea and a computer, right?
The way I’ve seen it, though, it’s a bit of a Catch-22. You could have an awesome idea (which, by the way, isn’t worth much in and of itself – I’ll get to this later), but without the right motivation and a good support system to test it out in the market, it won’t go anywhere. It’s very tough to start testing an idea yourself. I’ve tried.
You need someone there to help strategies, bounce ideas off of, and help divvy up the work. If your idea does turn out to be something that the market likes, you’re very quickly going to have to get a team together to implement it. The fact that that need comes so quickly is why I usually consider it the first step in starting a business.
Oftentimes, the idea and the people will start and grow together. You’ll almost assuredly need a co-founder or set of co-founders to help you even begin to test the idea in the market. As you test, you learn, and as you learn, you refine. It’s very, very difficult to go through this process without people there to support you.
So that’s it, that’s what you need to get started. An idea to test and someone to help you test it. It’s really quite simple. The early stages of entrepreneurship are all about learning, as quickly as you can, what gets the market excited. In the next step of the roadmap, I’ll discuss how you can go about doing that.View comments →
The Entrepreneur’s Roadmap – Competitive Advantage
It’s said that in order for a client to switch to your product or service, you have to be ten times better than what’s already in use. 10 times! That means that someone could be using a product that absolutely sucks and you still won’t be able to get them to change it without having something that completely blows their existing product or service out of the water. That’s tough, but when you get it, that’s your competitive advantage.
As an entrepreneur, you’ll often hear that term – competitive advantage. It comes up everywhere, particularly when you’re talking entrepreneurship in an academic setting. More significantly, though, potential investors will ask you what your competitive advantage is. They all want to know what makes you so much better than the people that are already out there making money by doing something you want to do.
And really, your competitive advantage can come from anywhere and anything. Zappos’ competitive advantage was in customer service. Back in the 80′s, Microsoft’s competitive advantage was in graphical displays, then in the 90′s, it was backwards compatibility. Southwest Airlines’ competitive advantage is its ability to consistently provide low fares while still maintaining enormous profitability. Ultimately, every company that is successful does something better than its competitors do, and though that one thing may be different for each company, they all have something in common.
They took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
Time and effort
When it comes down to it, competitive advantage is just a manifestation of one thing – good ole fashioned hard work, which comes down to time spent and effort exerted. Competitive advantage is the realization of tons and tons of hours of hard work.
Everyone that has developed a competitive advantage has spent time researching their market, figuring out what works, what doesn’t, experimenting with different services and products to see what customers like, building products, throwing away products, and refining products until they’ve created something that, due to the sheer number of hours behind it, has progressed so far beyond what their competitors provide that they have something that can’t be beat for a long, long time.
When a company is able to create something that is so beloved by its customers that they can’t imagine switching away from it, they’re benefiting from the result of hundreds and thousands of hours of work that has been poured into finding and building something that people want. Plain and simple.
The best companies can then take that competitive advantage and pour even more hours of work into it to make their competitive advantage so much better than whatever their competitors are offering that it’s almost a given that their customers will switch to whatever product or service they’re offering.
So, plain and simple, when you’re asked about competitive advantage, you’re being asked about how much work you’ve put into your business.
Yes, it’s an oversimplification. Yes, there are a hundred other factors (including luck) that determine what your advantage turns out to be, and yes, you’ll be laughed out of an investment meeting if you try to tell a venture capitalist that your competitive advantage lies in your ability to persist, but deep down inside, you know that if you really have put in the effort to find something that just plain works for your customers, you’ve found your competitive advantage.
How do you do that? You have to be passionate about what you do. You have to find happiness from your work. You have to be able to derive satisfaction from the product or service that you deliver. And that, my friends, is a subject for another Entrepreneur’s Roadmap post.View comments →
There has been a lot of talk lately about jobs: the economy has lost a lot of them, and they don’t seem to be coming back. The unemployment rate is at 8.1%, but it should be above 11 if you include everyone that has stopped looking for work. Youngest workers, those between 16 and 24, have been hit hardest. We have the lowest proportion of people under the age of 60 in the workforce in more than 30 years. Globalization is increasing competition. Suffice it to say, things don’t look good.
What’s interesting to me, though, is how ignorant I’ve been of this entire situation – at least from a first-hand perspective. I’ve been fortunate enough to have not had to worry about finding my next job. I get inquiries from headhunters on a pretty frequent basis.
No, I’m not trying to brag. Quite the opposite, really. I’m in shock. For all the talk of a lack of jobs, there’s such a massive demand for programmers and software developers that, were I less inclined to read about the rest of the world, I’d think that the economy was booming.
It’s really weird for me to hear about the lack of jobs across the country and still have people emailing me about how badly they need a Rails developer, or how they want a .NET architect, or even a SharePoint administrator. As a software developer, I’ve never had to experience the harsh reality of finding a job. For that, I’m lucky. But that also presents an interesting observation.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that becoming a software engineer can provide insurance against the unemployment woes of a recession. In fact, becoming a software engineer seems to be a perennially safe, in demand career path, with the one exception possibly being the dot-com bust (and even then, I’m not entirely convinced that engineers weren’t in demand).
Say what you will about all of the outsourcing of development projects – domestic engineers are still heavily in demand, and that trend hasn’t really changed in the past decade. On top of it all, the pay’s not too bad either (especially these days in Silicon Valley).
There’s no doubt that it’s a tough profession, and staring at glowing monitor that contains hundreds of lines of cryptic code is definitely not for everyone, but for anyone looking to go into a relatively safe industry with good pay and fairly good job security would do well to take a look at becoming a software developer.View comments →
Why Outsourcing Your Development Is Terrible For Tech Startups
The new blue collar
When I was going through four years of hell, also known as engineering school, at UVA, I was continuously bombarded with propaganda about how important a programmer/analyst (I did CS and Systems & Information Engineering) was to the overall functioning of a company. In fact, I even had to take several nonsense classes on how important an engineer is to society as a whole. Those classes stressed the importance of considering the larger societal implications of any actions we took as engineers. Throughout my four years of school, my professors and classes continuously reinforced the idea that being an engineer, a data scientist, a software developer, was a demanding, and critical position.
So you can imagine the unease I felt when I recently that one of the professors in business school called software development the “next blue collar job.” In fact, there seems to be a common conception that development has gotten super cheap, and that anyone can buy a coder and have a web or mobile app up and running for almost no money or time.
Do I think that they’re all wrong? Yes and no. Am I biased? Probably. But I do think that outsourcing your development isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Buying a coder vs. building a business
There’s no doubt that the cost of developing a new tech product has gone down exponentially over the past few decades. Software developers used to be a hot commodity – highly sought after and respected, and save for everywhere but Silicon Valley, that esteem has degraded. Now you can buy 2 weeks from a college student in Indonesia for the cost of a month’s rent and have the next big viral social network/hot web app/e-commerce solution.
But it’s important to make the difference between outsourcing your development (essentially, buying the rights to a piece of software), and getting the right people to build a tech business.
When you build a business that revolves around tech, you can’t expect to spend a couple of weeks writing code and then have a final product that you can go out and sell. No, when you build a tech business, you need to expect a rapidly changing, highly dynamic set of technical requirements, customer requests, bug fixes, and new research and development efforts in order to stay competitive in the market place.
These are things you don’t get when you outsource.
When you pay someone that’s not a core part of your company’s internal tech team to develop something that you’re going to sell, you face a mountain of risks. First of all, if you’re working with an overseas team, it’s going to be a hassle making sure that they understand just what it is that you want built. The language barrier, combined with cultural differences and differing expectations can all make the development process a nightmare.
For example, I was talking to a friend of mine that had to manage an outsourced development team for his job. He was telling me how he would develop a set of requirements for his system and then pass them on to his team in India. The requirements were fairly standard, and both parties agreed that they would use the requirements as the authoritative product specifications.
I can’t remember the exact details of his situation, but I remember him telling me that at one point his team of outsourced engineers had built a feature that allowed the user to add information to their system, but not delete it. When he went back and asked them to add that feature, they refused, since that request wasn’t in the requirements or specifications. When he finally got them to agree to build the feature, they created something that was so counterintuitive that no user would ever know how to delete an item from the system. When my friend called them out on it, they said that the specifications had not explicitly detailed how the delete functionality should work.
If you worked with an in-house tech team, they wouldn’t refuse to fix their error simply because the specifications document didn’t explicitly detail what they had to do. In fact, they’d probably feel embarrassed that they produced a sub-par piece of software and want to fix it right away.
They’d have skin in the game. And on top of that, they’d probably understand from the start that there are certain features that a system needs to have, regardless of whether they’re specified or not. They’d understand the context in which their application would be used. They wouldn’t see the process of writing code as a client’s job, they’d see it as their company’s product. There’s a big difference in the quality of product that’s produced with these two mindsets.
In addition to risking a lack of understanding with your outsourced development team, you run the risk that you won’t have a dedicated, specialized group of people to make changes and updates to your product as they become necessary. Normally, when you outsource a product, you’re making a one-time transaction whereby you exchange money for code. Once that transaction is complete, the outsourced development team may be under no obligation to change the code they’ve given you.
If you’re in an industry where technology is rapidly changing, you can’t afford for your product to be left behind when the market moves past you and you don’t have a team ready to respond.
There are a slew of other issues that come with outsourcing, including challenges in coordinating meetings, having your development team not understand what the product will be used for in the US, causing them to miss asking the right questions, and being delivered a crappy product with no way to change it (yes, believe it or not, outsourced developers may not be as good as what you find in the US).
What it comes down to
The big issue with outsourcing your code is that you lose the ability to work with your developers in an agile, rapidly-changing, high-context environment. For large companies that have a lot of time or money to spend on the development of new offerings, outsourcing may be a good way to cut costs. After all, they already have a developed brand name, customers, and product set.
But for a startup, outsourcing the development of your first, core product could be a fatal mistake. If you’re building your company on the quality of your initial service or product offering, can you really risk trusting the development of that product to a guy thousands of miles away?
Be careful with your outsourcing, and really examine if you need to pay for someone else to do the dirty work for you. Skimping on good developers now could cost you your future multi-billion dollar company.View comments →
Reposting: Where To Find Strong Talent (From Fred Wilson)
A few days ago, I wrote a post about the importance of good hiring early on in a startup. Ironically enough, Fred Wilson, arguably the most important VC in New York, wrote a post yesterday about how to find the right people for your startup. Check it out here: http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/05/mba-mondays-where-to-find-strong-talent.htmlView comments →
European Socialism Can Help Explain A Major Entrepreneurial Concept
One of my good friends at Stern, not to mention one of my partners at oGolf, is a Spanish national. He’s probably the most popular guy at school, super funny, highly energetic, and incredibly bright. Over the course of the past two years, I’ve learned a lot from him. Yesterday, he made a comment that I thought embodies a very important entrepreneurial concept – the importance of good early hires.
So how does Europe play into entrepreneurial hiring?
My friend, Jordi, was telling me about a couple of small business owners in Spain that he knows. You can imagine they’re having a hard time there. So hard, in fact, that they’re worried about generating enough sales to pay for their three employees over the next few months.
Now, in America, if a business couldn’t afford to pay its three employees, it would probably just fire them.
That’s one of the reasons America is great.
How can I be so cold, you ask? Well, let’s look at the situation in Spain. Jordi’s friends have to worry about paying their employees, or firing them. What I didn’t tell you, though, was that there are (or at least, were) strict employment laws in Spain that prevent the willy-nilly firing of employees. It makes the entrepreneur truly love the phrase “at will employment.”
You see, if Jordi’s friends end up firing their employees, there’s a real risk that they could end up suing, and there’s also a real risk that they’d end up winning. If they were to do so, they could bankrupt the entire company. Now, comments about the greater good and economics aside, this is terrible for the entrepreneurs. Not only do they have to worry about making money, but they also have to worry about their very livelihoods and ability to survive, financially.
These guys don’t sleep at night!
Early hires have to be outstanding
That little anecdote exemplifies the need to hire your early team very meticulously. Your early hires not only need to be super smart and productive, with significant potential and experience, but they also need to get along well with your current team, and there needs to be a good level of trust between the founders and the new employees.
We may not have to worry about as many frivolous lawsuits in America (hah!), at least not when it comes to at-will employment, but we do have to worry about cash, expenses, clients, sales, product, operations, marketing, and a slew of other startup-y things. We can’t have unreliable employees on top of that.
A lot has been written on the importance of early hires, so I’m not going to rehash it all. What I will say, though, is that it’s important to not force a new employee into an open position just because you’re hurting for bodies. It’s better to take the hit now, work 14 and 15 hour days (I have), and generate an awesome product and great rapport with your customers, and then hire an all star at some point in the future.
Early hires really can break a company. If you start a new venture, be careful about them breaking yours.View comments →
The Importance of Urgency
Let me ask you a quick question – are you familiar with Parkinson’s law?
No, you say?
Let me ask you something else – have you ever heard the saying “work expands to fill the time allotted to its completion”?
Well, let me ask you something else. Have you ever procrastinated, rushing to complete a task right before it’s due, and then regretted your earlier laziness?
Yes? Good, then you’re familiar with Parkinson’s law, and hopefully this post will strike a chord in you.
People don’t like to do work. We like to laze. We watch TV. We go to movies. We avoid the expenditure of effort like the plague. When we’re not constricted by hard deadlines and due dates, it’s too easy for us to fall into a cycle of complacency. Think about it. How easy is it to put off a task that’s important but not urgent, especially if there’s no deadline? Something that’s more urgent but possibly less important will always take its place.
That’s why when you’re working in an entrepreneurial environment, or you’re working without structure and guidelines, you not only need to be self-motivated, but you need to also have a sense of urgency.
Having a bit of pressure from knowing that time is running out “lights a fire under our butts.” It makes us act. It makes us do. As unpleasant as it is to be stressed by a deadline, it’s better for us in the long run because it makes us productive.
Me 2 years ago
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
When I got into business school two years ago, I arranged for my last day at my old company to be at the beginning of March. I didn’t start school until August. I told myself that I’d use the resulting time off to be super productive – work on Intigril, become a better trader, travel, make myself a better person.
But, at the time, I was under no pressure or stress from anyone or anything. I had plenty of money saved up from working. I knew I’d be moving on to something else in a few months. I had no stresses whatsoever.
So how did I spend that spring and summer?
Well, I did trade a good amount. And I did go to Switzerland for a few weeks. My friend Alain just told me that I even threw a couple of really good parties.
But other than that, I can’t remember anything else of note that I did. I had all this time and I squandered it!
Now let’s contrast that with my current situation. I’m 2 years older, smarter, wiser, and broker. Well, I’ve done okay with my trading, but I have nowhere near the same level of stability and cash cushion that I did when I was working. This is the first time in my life that I don’t have a solid, set in stone plan for the next few months. I’m thinking about my expenses and income every day.
There’s definitely a sense of urgency. That urgency has driven me to get involved with a lot of different ventures that could generate income. It has also focused my trading activities, since a loss now will hurt me far more than it would have before graduation.
I’m working a lot harder, and every day since graduation has been extremely productive so far. It’s because I need it to be. There’s always the thought in my head that if I don’t start making a lot of money soon, I’ll have to either leave New York (gasp), or get a job working for someone else. Both are far from ideal.
My suggestion to anyone that’s spending this summer figuring out their next steps is to develop a sense of urgency. Start thinking about what will happen if you’re not successful. Use those negative emotions as driving forces that, each and every day, will propel you towards productivity.
You don’t want to come out of this summer without anything to show for it except a lot of debt and a desperate attempt to find a job before your rent is due.
Give yourself aggressive deadlines. Learn self-motivation techniques. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals, and know what it is you’re working to do.
When you’re on your own and without structure, you’re taking a lot of risk. Don’t add on to that risk by being lazy.View comments →
The True Cost Of An MBA: Passing The 300K Mark
Total as of 11/27/2011: $314,874.98
Only five months ago, I wrote a post “commemorating” the point where I passed $200,000 in business school-related expenses. That was not a particularly joyous thing to recognize, and, somehow, less than half a year later, I’ve hit an even more impressive milestone.
This past month, I surpassed $300,000 in expenses. Unbelievable. They never told us this in the application prep process.
Though, it’s not unexpected. Like I’ve said before, these costs include both actual incurred costs, as well as the opportunity cost of not working, which is by far the largest expense in the whole process. Of the current total of $314,000, more than half ($171,000) is made up of lost wages from not working. Tuition accounts for about another $100,000, so it’s not like there were a lot of unexpected expenses along the way.
But for anyone debating whether or not to go to business school, this is important to keep in mind. At this point, I could rationalize how future earnings can account for this number, or how business school is a priceless incredible life experience (it is), but I won’t diminish the true, gargantuan magnitude of this number.
That’s a lot of money. Make of it what you will. Fortunately, my last tuition payment has been made, and soon I get to start working on the startup full time, not to mention, I’m able to support myself by trading, so, all in all, I can’t complain. Below is a link to the spreadsheet where I keep track of all of my expenses. Feel free to see for yourself.View comments →
I manage, implement, and utilize big data, business intelligence, automated analytics, and large scale technology at TapCommerce to help companies retain and acquire their best mobile customers, increasing their ROI on investment in mobile technologies.
TapCommerce is the leader in mobile retargeting. We're trusted by the most successful mobile brands to deliver customers, revenue, and return on investment across mobile platforms. TapCommerce is a venture-backed mobile technology company headquartered in New York City's Union Square. Learn more at tapcommerce.com
• Design, architect, implement, test, and monitor the company’s core real-time demand-side platform, handling 40,000 requests per second. Implemented concurrent, multi-threaded Java code, enterprise grade application servers, and big data systems on the AWS cloud infrastructure
• Designed and implemented the analytical and technical process that enabled the company to advertise to mobile web users, enabling the company to increase its product offering and client base by 2x
• Optimize campaign performance through the use of statistical methods and machine learning algorithms
• Set and manage the company’s roadmap for expansion into features centered on data analytics
• Key driver of the company’s technical interview process, designing coding challenges, questions, and cooperative work sessions designed to determine a candidate’s technical aptitude and cultural fit
• Manage financial costs and create projections for the company’s technical infrastructure
• Drove thousands of dollars of weekly revenue by developing e-commerce capabilities for the company’s flagship app. Used Java and Objective-C to create a mobile app for displaying and selling products, integrated with a payment gateway, and managed software and server infrastructure used by hundreds of thousands of users every month
Founded an investment club focused on generating consistent, periodic income by using the aid of custom-developed analytic methodologies and computer programs to trade options
• Generated an average annualized return of 40%
• Coordinated the research and analysis efforts for myself and two partners
• Developed and automated several quantitative analysis algorithms that assist in the investment process by providing rankings of publicly traded companies based on financial fundamentals, listings of stocks with the highest options premiums, and predictions of stock movement based on trending and momentum criteria. Created the algorithms using the fundamental principles of weighted trade studies and later automated them using Ruby on Rails
• Created a website that enables the publication of investment articles and provides access to the aforementioned automated algorithms, a portfolio management tool, and educational resources
• Performed market research on publicly traded companies, focusing on industry standing, historical performance, competitive advantage, and future prospects
• Managed legal, financial, accounting, logistics, long-term strategy, and investment objectives
Software developer and member of founding teamoGolf
Member of the management team on an early stage startup that developed technology to provide data analytics and game management software for golfers.
• Created a website allowing golfers to review a comprehensive set of analytics about their game
• Developed financial projections and investor presentations, presented the new business and software at conferences, pitched to potential investors, and demoed the product to customers
• Developed strategy and marketing plans for growing the business
• Recruited new talent to assist with software development, marketing, and operations
AssociateBooz Allen Hamilton
Provided information and communications management solutions to public and private organizations as an IT consultant at a large, multi-national consulting organization.
• Managed timelines, resources, and a staff of up to 10 software developers and testers in the technical implementation of a project management application that allowed over 4,500 users on 500 projects to easily collaborate on key deliverables, organize project schedules, review budgets, and create financial projections. Coordinated the efforts of staff from multiple departments across the firm to implement a new development process that reduced the number of hours needed to create and test new software by more than 50%, eliminated the need for overtime work, and ensured the timely delivery of new functionality. Received a performance award for ensuring product quality, meeting deadlines, and effectively managing personnel
• Led and managed the technical implementation, logistics, timelines, and activities of myself and two other developers in the delivery of a web-based traffic simulation engine that provided a testbed for industry-specific application developers to test their proprietary algorithms. Received a performance award for “leading the team and ensuring critical deadlines were achieved without sacrificing quality.”
• Assisted in domain administration for a server farm consisting of SharePoint front-end web servers, Microsoft SQL Servers, domain controllers, and a SAN
• Lead developer for a Ruby on Rails and Flex-based application designed to automate the deployment of SOA-based military service offerings. Implemented a RESTful methodology for saving and delivering data to a Flex front end
• Participated in university recruiting and interview efforts for the firm. Provided recommendations that led to the hiring of approximately one-quarter of the total staff on sub-team, as well as the hiring of approximately 30 junior staff straight from college
• Progressively increased managerial responsibilities over the course of two promotions in three years
Software DeveloperWamily, LLC
Member of the management team on an early stage startup that developed web-based group communication, management, and coordination software.
• Worked with a team of web developers to create an Internet business centered on a website that would allow its users to easily manage and interact with their real-life groups in an online setting
• Developed widgets for communication and collaboration, permission models and security implementations, and user interfaces for site features
• Assisted in recruiting 500 alpha users and raising $20,000 in angel investments
• Participated in board meetings to determine long-term strategies
Intern Research AssistantBooz Allen Hamilton
Provided research and development support as a technology intern to a large, multi-national consulting firm.
• Provided a fully functional, database-backed web application for use by overseas military personnel in a shortened timeframe of 3 weeks as part of a 3-person development team
• Created a collaboration site that provided Navy leadership with near-real time critical information to streamline the decision making process in the Navy Gulf Coast Region in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
• Designed and created several web part solutions using APIs from Active Directory, Microsoft MapPoint, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft SharePoint
• Created a Macromedia flash proof-of-concept dashboard for a status reporting application integrated with SharePoint
Researcher and Lead DeveloperUniversity of Virginia
Developed software, created algorithms, and analyzed information management processes that would optimize the battery life on micro-sensor hardware devices as part of a university thesis project.
• Coordinated the efforts of a five-member team focused on developing an approach to optimize the use of resources on wireless sensor networks
• Designed, implemented, and maintained a simulation engine capable of simulating enemy solider movement and sensor network functionality in customized, loadable, user-defined scenarios. The application was written in C#, supported XML-based loadable scenario files, and utilized various optimization algorithms (such as Dijkstra’s algorithm and A*). The simulation engine provided users with an intuitive graphical user interface for simulation control as well as the ability to view and report on simulation progress
• Performed statistical and quantitative analysis on results to determine optimal resource allocation policy for the tested scenarios
• Lead author and presenter of a paper at the IEEE Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium describing results
Researcher and DeveloperPersonal and Academic Projects
Developed a variety of software for a myriad of purposes on several different platforms and programming languages.
• Developed and tested a C# desktop weight management application using Access as the database backend, and later migrated it to the Internet using PHP and MySQL
• Lead developer on a team that created, documented, and tested robot control and communication software for the Evolution ER1 robot. The software allowed users to remotely control the robot by way of a specially created communications protocol
• Developed a prototype for an interactive Macromedia Flash map that retrieves external data and allows users to easily view them in a geographically organized format
• Created a discrete event queuing model simulation of a dining facility located on campus using Rockwell Arena, based on data gathered and interpreted by the project group
• Created a prototype Peer-to-Peer application based on the Gnutella search and communication protocol in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET using C# and TCP/IP socket programming
Branch ManagerCollege Works Painting
Participated in an internship designed to hone and cultivate the entrepreneurial skills of college students by allowing them to run their own local branch of a large, nationwide business.
• Operated a local house painting business, which generated over $15,000 worth of gross revenue in contracts with 25+ clients
• Responsible for sales, payroll, recruitment, operations, customer relations, and marketing
VolunteerAmerican Red Cross
Volunteered as a member of the executive management board of the youth community service organization of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Red Cross.
• Served as president (2001-2002), vice president (2000-2001), and member of a local youth community service organization as part of the National Capital Chapter of the American Red Cross
• Managed and coordinated the execution of various community service projects and their logistics, including fund-raising, logistics, marketing, and management of personnel
• Served as one of five United States youth representatives to the international Youth Exchange in 2000
• Received various formal volunteer recognitions
• Gained skills in leading multi-person projects, effective communication, and time management
Master of Business AdministrationNYU Stern School of Business
Completed two years of a rigorous MBA program at a top business school, focusing on acquiring the skills required to improve my trading activities and start a new business.
• Graduated with specializations in Quantitative Finance and Entrepreneurship and Innovation
• First Year Activities: Associate Vice President of Technology for the Stern Hedge Fund Association and Associate Vice President of Communications for the Entrepreneurs Exchange Club
• Member of the Technology and New Media Group and the Association for Investment Management and Research
• Completed one course on Doing Business in China at the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University
• Studied abroad at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy
Bachelor of ScienceUniversity of Virginia
Completed four years of study in the engineering school, focusing on acquiring software development, statistical analysis, modeling, simulation, and data analytic skills.
• Received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and double majored in Systems and Information Engineering
• Received a minor in Math
• Part of a team-oriented effort to improve resource usage in sensor networks. Main author of a paper published at the IEEE Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium
• Graduated with distinction
• Achieved Dean's List in 3 different semesters
- Name: Shanif Dhanani
- Address: New York, NY, USA
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 703.477.1438