Hard work doesn’t always pay off — my life
My name is Khalid. If you know me then you probably have a good idea about what I do, if not, I’ll give you a quick insight into my life. I’m a 25-year-old mobile developer working for a start-up based in London called Holiday Swap. I also run my own software agency which I started with my friend during University and with the same friend, we’re working on a new startup called Foodly. You’re probably thinking why and how does he manage 3 “projects”, “work”, “tasks”, whatever you want to call it. I’ll explain and the realities of it.
Let’s go back way back.
Back to when I was a young 17-year-old. Ambitious. Confident. Hardly any money. But I loved one thing — photography. I had a pretty good eye and I worked on some local projects in my community so I thought I’d invest into it and start a business. But I didn’t have any real knowledge or equipment. So I found a local photographer who charged me £80 a month to teach me. Bearing in mind, at this time I was working in Odeon Cinemas and I made £300 a month. Fast forward 4 months, I took a loan from my parents of £1500 and invested into a Canon 5D Mark II and a flashgun. I was ready to take on weddings and portraits. Fast forward 1 years, I made £900 and realised no one wants to hire a student with a fancy camera.
My second venture was Zawiyah. This was a non-profit organisation that helped teach traditional teachings of Islam taught by my local Imam — Shaykh Zane Abdo, an Imam who studied Islam in Yemen for 8 years. This time was interesting. There was a lot of extremism within Cardiff and Islam was portrayed shown in the media to be a very extreme religion. A religion of hate, war and murder. Which it wasn’t. So we worked together to bring about a more accurate representation of Islam and what it truly means to be a Muslim. During this time, I feel in debt — twice. I ran 2 big events for more than 300 people. But tickets didn’t do so well and I lost £2000 over 2 years in just 2 events. I was lucky to have family and friends around me to help cover these costs but a lot came out of my own pocket.
So you’re probably thinking. This guy really knows how to lose money. Aren’t businesses meant to make money? Honestly, I was 20 years old, and I thought I knew how to run businesses. But I didn’t. And I haven’t gotten into detail of the lows I had on these occasions and the pressure I had to deliver. However, I had a passion for the creative industry. A passion to build and create. A passion for the risks of not making it but with that small margin of success. That kept me going. I guess you can say I always believed in myself no matter how many times I failed.
Fast forward to university in 2017. I got into Cardiff University to study Computer Science. I was kinda ok with computers but programming was a whole different ball game. This is where I met my good friend and brother Dheeraj. He, on the other hand, was an amazing programmer. He loved it and lived it. So we formed a software agency where we built websites for clients. We moved into design, consultation, planning, research. All things related to software. I used all the mistakes I made and flipped the table to make sure I wouldn’t do them again.
In our first year of trading, we worked with over 20 clients — as students! It was amazing and to this day, we still work on projects but we prefer to work on our own ideas.
Once I finished University, I got a job offer in Redditch, next to Birmingham, where I developed mobile apps. Long story short — I hated it and started applying for new jobs. I was lucky enough to find a start-up in Cardiff, formerly known as Pressd, and was hired. It was actually perfect timing because my contract ended in 6 months and my new job started on month 7. Big win. Except for the fact that I lost out on 6 months rent, furniture and the emotional pain of living by myself. (if you didn’t realise — I really really hated it there.)
I worked for Pressd, now known as Aceworks, for 2 and a half years building and Android and iOS app. The business pivoted about 3 times into different fields and, personally, there wasn’t enough quick movement so I had to move. I got offered a new job and I accepted where I do the same — Android and iOS app development and maintenance.
I continue to work on Code Gurus but I’m slowly taking fewer projects on as I’m working on Foodly a lot more. Foodly is an AI Nutritionist. A fancy way of saying we find recipes for you depending on a number of factors including your diet, allergies, macros, search queries etc.
Now the realities of doing all that with everything I’ve gone through since the age of 17.
I guess you can say I’ve come a long way from doing £100 photoshoots.
I guess you can say I’ve learned how to manage businesses.
I guess you can say I’ve learned how to manage my time.
You’d guess wrong.
I mean, I’d say it’s better than when I was 17 but it’s hard.
A lot of sacrifices.
Like a lot.
More than people think.
Just think of it like this, it’s hard enough having to wake up 9 am in the morning to do an 8-hour shift. But then you have to think about having client meetings during lunch for Code Gurus then 9 pm have to either program or having in-depth conversations about architecture and features.
Programming isn’t a couple of hours of work. To make good progress you need to spend at least 6 hours behind the screen, writing, perfecting, editing the code and UI. It’s 2 am right now as I’m writing this and I have work in the morning. This has become a normality for me now. Working 10–12 hours a day to get “things done.” To make progress. Why do I choose to do this? Freedom. One day to have the freedom to work when I want, how I want. We have a lot of people who have dreams, ambition but don’t put the work in. They’re not willing to go the “extra mile.” They’ll say you work too much. Which is fine, if that’s the life you want to live. However, for me, I know the moment I’m resting, there’s someone else, somewhere in the world — working. To reach their dream of freedom. To create something that is unimaginable. So I’ll continue working, day and night if it takes, to get to where I want. And when I get there, I’ll continue to work, for the betterment of myself, my friends and my community. To show people that hard work is the only way to get to where you want. I’m not there yet so I have no right to say that this is the correct path. But when I get there, you’ll find a blueprint of sleepless nights, long hours of work, sacrifice with family and friends. Will it be worth it? I’ll let you know when I get there.