Mentor Nasir helps self-improvement site to help others to help themselves

18 April 2012

SMILE-Wishbomb

Nasir Zubairi – Sloan Fellow, technology consultant and mentor – and Ricky Cooper – former TV producer and new entrepreneur – are now good friends as well as business partners. This follows a successful and ongoing mentoring relationship through UCL Advances’ SMILE programme.

Nasir has helped Ricky, founder of goal-setting website Wishbomb.com, to recruit a CFO and draw up a financial plan to send to potential investors, and expand his marketing strategy to include the commercial as well as consumer market. Nasir is in turn learning what makes a good Internet business and, such is his confidence in the concept, he has invested in it.

A desire to “do things better,” says Nasir Zubairi, led him to leave behind the stifling bureaucracy of large financial services corporations and embark on a career in innovation. He studied at London Business School before setting up Defrere Consultants (www.defrere.com) in 2010. He is now concentrating on a new venture, an online marketplace called EuroTRX (www. eurotrx.com). Nasir connected with SMILE for the “chance to work with other people wanting to innovate.” He says: “People have great ideas, but can lack the knowledge and skills to go about marketing them. That’s where I can help.”

One of those people was Ricky Cooper. With a background in TV production, Ricky had founded his company, Wishbomb.com (www. wishbomb.com) as a result of a goal-setting exercise he had carried out with his best friend a decade ago. Wishbomb.com allows users to list personal goals, invite friends and family to become supporters and then publish a ‘Wishblog’ telling everyone how they are doing. It also suggests books, videos and other products to help people achieve their goals.

Ricky, winner of an Innovation Central bursary, admits that before he met Nasir, his enthusiasm far outweighed his experience. “I was spending hours at my computer in the evening after work,” he says. “I had never run a business, never built a website. I knew I needed help from someone with expertise in tech start-ups.”

Ricky says Nasir has “rolled his sleeves up and got dirty,” helping him to draw up a business plan and marketing strategy, introducing him to a network of connections and helping him to recruit a CFO. Ricky originally envisaged www.Wishbomb.com as a B2C business only, but Nasir encouraged him to explore the B2B market and, as a result, Ricky has created an entirely new revenue stream for the company. Once Ricky had worked up a solid financial model, Nasir spent time transforming it into a slick and polished financial forecast that has now been sent to selected VCs.

Nasir, who has become an official advisor in exchange for share options, says that for his part, he is learning about what makes a good Internet business. Ricky is now working part-time to devote more energy to Wishbomb. com, which he intends to turn into “the No. 1 destination for anyone who wants to change their lives. That ambition is a little more achievable thanks to SMILE and a mentor like Nasir. You can’t put a price on the value of others’ experience.”