Keela’s Nejeed Kassam says founders must curb their ego when running a startup


At the latest TechVancouver event, Keela CEO Nejeed Kassam talked about a particular incident that burned down his ego.

The week before, his office had caught on fire when one of the developers microwaved a muffin and forgot to take the paper off. At the same time, there was a sales call happening, and the server was being updated with the newest version of their software.

“My first thought, believe it or not, was ‘let’s not screw this sales call up,’” said Kassam. “My second thought was, I need to keep my staff safe. These are my family, these are the people who give me and our company everything and their entire lives.”

Kassam related his story to how running a business is anything but ego-driven. “If I had an ego, that story burned it. If I thought I had any amount of control of anything I do, beyond what I actually do, I was wrong.”

He said that any leader looking to run a successful startup would need to learn to mitigate their ego. Anyone from investors and shareholders, staff and clients, to the market, deserves the leader’s respect.

Kassam also talked about trusting your team and trusting the power of data. The job of a leader is to find the most passionate people in the world and make them their team. On top of that, Kassam said to look at data, but not to just do what it says; instead, data must be used to inform business decisions.

“Instinct is really, really important, but data-driven decisions are something that is so important, even when they aren’t what you want,” said Kassam. “Too often, the data is gonna tell you something different from a) what you’re doing or b) what you want to see.”

Watch the full presentation below:

The next TechVancouver takes place on April 18. Get your tickets now!


Madonna Dennis

Madonna Dennis is a staff writer at BetaKit. She’s a fourth-year journalism student interested in healthtech. She’s passionate about tight-knit teams working together, which is why she’s so fascinated by startup culture. Madonna’s hobbies include dragon boating, singing, and hosting a YouTube show about cat news.

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