Week in Review: Why we should applaud Zafrul Noordin

  • Not a success yet but ‘paying it forward’ already
  • Shows admirable traits of tenacity and deep self-belief  

Week in Review: Why we should applaud Zafrul NoordinTENACITY, a stubborn refusal to accept defeat and deep belief in what they are doing – these are the traits that have kept Zafrul Noordin plugging away at building Code Army, the startup that he has invested RM800,000 of his own hard earned cash into.
And we should applaud him for showing us what it means to really believe in ones’s self, because he believes and his co-founder, Riz Ainuddin, believes too.
This despite many around them who once believed in them but then faded away when the going got tough, very tough.
His struggles over the past two years would have been made worse by the fact that he started out very strong with support (not financial) from both Multimedia Development Corporation and the Performance Management & Delivery Unit (Pemandu).
Yet, for various reasons, Zafrul could not execute on his idea of building a platform to match the right talent to the companies seeking them. The fatal flaw though was in not validating his idea and the product he was building, until after he launched his platform.
While he has quickly recognized that mistake and has made a pivot, I can tell you it is not easy to admit to such a mistake and then to go public with it as Zafrul did in my story on him this week.
But talk to him and you will sense that while he is angry at himself for making such a mistake and wasting so much time and resources, he is equally determined that some good come out of that and hence his introducing the Lean Startup Model into Malaysia with the workshop he is running on May 25-27.
In a way, it is his ‘Pay It Forward’ contribution to our bubbling ecosystem. While that term, coined in the Silicon Valley, is typically associated with giving back by those who have made it, in an infant ecosystem like ours, we certainly can’t wait for this to happen.
Especially not when Zafrul sees many of his fellow entrepreneurs in danger of making the same mistake he did with late validation of the idea or product.
Interestingly enough, this is also a problem Bikesh Lakhmichand, chief executive officer of 1337 Ventures Sdn Bhd sees and he has launched, with MDeC’s support, Alpha Startups as a pre-accelerator to help correct this major problem at the idea stage itself.
So, let’s applaud Zafrul for his tenacity and let’s support him in any way we can as he now focuses on building Code Army into a platform that matches founders with chief technology officers.
That’s a global problem too and will be tough to execute.

As for Zafrul, when I asked him if he regrets launching Code Army, he says, "It is probably the most rewarding experience in my life (after becoming a father). It has made me a better entrepreneur by 10-fold, which is probably an understatement."

He also finally understands what he heard in the Silicon Valley back in 2012, that "You've got to be out of your mind, f***ing insane to want to start a startup!" 

One things he learned along the way (he credits Steve Blank), is that a startup is not miniature version of a company. It's an entity in constant 'search' mode.

"That's why you're always experimenting and pivoting. Only when you've 'found' it, you'll start being a business," he says. This is why he realised having about 11 years of experience running a traditional business has meant for very little with his startup.

But would he discourage others from jumping in? "How about I answer that in this way: So, if you're f***ing insane and passionate about changing the world, launch a startup today!"

Editor’s Picks:

TM: P1’s WiMAX can be a profitable business
Brighter days ahead for Maxis’ Home Services
Malaysia to appoint chief data scientist?
2yrs and a pivot later, Code Army marches on with Lean Startup Machine
US$5.6mil Mida grant to boost Soft Space to next level
2yrs and a pivot later, Code Army marches on with Lean Startup Machine
MBAN hopes for mindset shift among angel investors

Previous Instalments: 

Week in Review: Yet another bid to help SMEs, using IP
Week in Review: Diversity our strength, contradiction our weakness
Week in Review: MaGIC will enrich our ecosystem
Week in Review: A home run missed by GrabTaxi

Week in Review: DNA’s exclusive with Mr Dell himself
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