Ali is the co-founder and lead engineer at Wattson Blue.Wattson Blue is a mobile app for athletes that uses elite level sport science to help them train and recover the right way in order to improve their wellbeing and maximise their long term performance. Wattson Blue is being used by athletes at Oxford University boat clubs as they train to take on Cambridge in the Boat Race. Before starting Wattson Blue, Ali was a Commodities strategist at Goldman Sachs International. Ali is a keen athlete and can be found regularly cycling, rowing or running.
What is your background? What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
When I was training seriously as a rower, I suffered from burnout, overtraining and injuries. My co-founder and I felt suitable tools were lacking to help athletes monitor their well-being alongside their training. We are developing Wattson Blue to help athletes like me avoid going through what I went through.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Someone who takes an initiative to address a real world problem.
How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
I know it is a good idea because it’s solving a problem I personally had. I know Wattson Blue has at least one potential customer. I guess we are still figuring things out, but we have had a few validations along the way: We secured an initial grant from University of Oxford IT Innovations, we have had excellent results in our athletes and really positive feedback from some of our early users. We have also managed raise further funding and have been accepted to an accelerator programme. Though it is still very early days as they say.
What would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
You need to be a able to listen to your users and show flexibility. You should care about the problem you are trying to solve. You should stay focused on solving a problem that someone has, rather than making a product and finding users later. But you should remember that you can’t please everyone.
What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
It’s fun making something people want.
What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
I admire people who are hard-working but open and kind. Being successful can go hand in hand with those traits, but some people seem to forget that. Same goes for companies.
If you had 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?
I would actually like to sit down with leaders of companies who may be abusing their user data to get their point of view and how they see the future of data and user privacy.
What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
Talk to users. Charge from day one.
How have you funded your ideas?
Initial grant from University of Oxford IT Innovations.Angel investment.
Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
IT Innovations Challenge mandate changes from year to year. In our year the focus was on student well-being which fits in with Wattson Blue perfectly.
What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire? Bad?
If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them? (Anything Oxfordshire especially!)
Any last words of advice?
Don't pitch your ideas, people will tell you it's great even if they don't really think so. Listen to your potential clients and try and fix a problem they have. Even better, fix a problem you have.