Ammad Ahmad Co-founder of Research-as-a-Service company Atheneum tells us why you should start your entrepreneurial journey as soon as possible
What do you currently do?
I am the Co-founder and COO of Atheneum, a global insights platform that provides Research-as-a-Service (RaaS) to renowned investment firms, leading global corporations and well-known professional service firms, helping them to de-risk business decisions.
Adopting a client-centric approach to business intelligence, we have pioneered a machine-learning model to deliver the next-generation market intelligence products by utilising our network of over 450,000 industry experts, from one-to-one industry deep dive sessions to B2B surveys & expert-backed research.
Having already achieved incredible growth to-date, and with offices in 10 locations around the world, my day-to-day focus is to continue scaling Atheneum, growing it into a leading market intelligence provider globally.
What was the inspiration behind the business?
Working as a management consultant myself previously, I recognised the importance of information and the challenges the professional services industry faced in securing credible insights within a time-crunched manner. I felt that the acquisition of information could be done more effectively, and at a much greater pace.
Spotting a gap in the market, my business partner, Mathias Wengeler, who has been a phenomenal partner, and I, decided to create a technology-enabled business that would offer a more effective method for streamlining the process, providing faster insights and better data to management consultants and private equities.
Thanks to the early careers of both Mathias and I, we had built the credibility within the industry to set up the business – backed by our strong professional networks across Europe and the US.
These factors, combined with a strong work ethic, gave me the motivation and drive to put in the long hours and intense focus to get the business off the ground.
Who do you admire?
I respect anyone that has a strong sense of responsibility, is proactive in their approach and is self-driven and passionate. It’s this mindset, combined with a strong, positive attitude and ambitious aspirations that I believe are at the core of every successful business venture.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I’ve been fortunate to have a steady stream of individuals with positive attitudes playing a key role in my life, but on the flipside, I’ve also had some which have had negative attitudes. Looking back, I wish I had spent less energy on those in the latter category.
I also would have liked to have spent more time learning new languages. After working in the US, I moved to Germany to complete a joint master’s degree in Business & Law; but despite living there for six years, I didn’t quite grasp the language to the extent that I would have liked. I would have also loved to have learnt Mandarin, but perhaps I’m missing elements of the language-learning gene!
What defines your way of doing business?
For me I would say it’s a combination of collaboration and diplomacy while continuously identifying the value in any business proposition put in front of me. This allows me to make decisions quickly, in an industry where time efficiency is paramount.
Being a former management consultant, I’m also incredibly detail-orientated, often challenging the team to keep key performance indicators central to their decision-making processes.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Start your entrepreneurial journey as soon as possible and continue to refine your value proposition until you get it right. I’d also tell them to be patient on sourcing external funding for as long as you can; remain independent and invest carefully in the growth of the business in the initial stages.
Finally, never underestimate the power of networking. A strong network can be the foundation of your business and can be a real source of help during the early days of any business. Also, you never know, you might meet your future business partner, a trial client or just receive great advice which can never be undervalued…