“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else.”

30th Mar 2012
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This is a guest post by Hong Kong based entrepreneur Mikaal Abdulla. After working for 15 years the corporate world, Mikaal cofounded 8 Securities where he is the CEO. His journey has taken him through Silicon Valley, New York, Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore and now Hong Kong. Mikaal holds an MBA from both Columbia University and the London Business School.In this post Mikaal shares his experience of starting and running a 'lean startup'. On April 3rd Mikaal will share his experience at the AWS Regional Premier Lean Startup Event in a session titled 'Success Story: A Lean Startup Journey to the Cloud' . 

Last week my team publicly launched our startup, 8 Securities. Full of ambition and fight, we started the venture with a very focused mission. That mission was to challenge traditional brokers and advisors by building Asia’s first socially networked online investing service. The consumer financial services industry in Asia is simply huge and attacking it head on excited and motivated us.

By creating a private social network & trading portal where fellow traders can share ideas, ask & answer questions, track community trends and trade on one screen, we have made a statement. Gone are the days when investing ideas only come top down from institutions, unreliable financial bulletin boards or from your even more unreliable Uncle. The future is about empowering the individual investor with the world’s most advanced Social Trading Portal and the power of transparency.

The idea was the easy part but executing it was always going to be the real challenge. Our technology strategy posed huge challenges not faced by the average software or consumer internet startup. How do we handle the heavy load of social transactions, global real-time market data & content feeds and trades sent to stock exchanges around the world and around the clock? Furthermore, we operate in a highly regulated industry where there is no room for error when it comes to client safeguards and record keeping. Only a lean, scalable and global solution would do. We would be dynamic where our competitors were largely static and encumbered by legacy technology and infrastructure. For 8 Securities, lean equates to speed and speed combined with customer insight is the killer of traditional industries.

Our very creative technical founders had a big idea. 8 Securities was to be born in the cloud. For any lean startup, the cloud simply makes sense for the following reasons. First, its ideal for rapid product iteration and deployment. Second, it requires no upfront cost and is a variable rather than fixed expense. Third, it scales globally. We felt our core competitive advantage would not come in the form of features, but in our ability to build a truly agile product and culture that was fast to learn, adapt and evolve. "Lean" is as much a state of mind as it is a methodology and we stopped at nothing to build an environment that would empower us to deliver it.

On Tuesday, April 3rd we will have the opportunity to share our story at Amazon Web Services “Lean Cloud, the Startup Revolution” conference in Sydney and via live webcast. We speak right after Eric Ries, the author of the “The Lean Startup”. We have adapted his ideas to our own business and circumstances. From the very beginning of our journey one quote he made has always stuck with me. “The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else”.

Note: YourStory is a partner of AWS Regional Premier Lean Startup Event.
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