Posted on July 26, 2016 by staff

Wakelet founder on importance of ‘product before profit’


Wakelet founder and CEO Jamil Khalil says that the time is not yet right for his flourishing start-up to make money.

Wakelet is a platform that allows users to ‘organise’ the internet – collating links, images and notes into handy files named ‘wakes’.

However Khalil is focused on building his product before seeking to monetise it.

“SnapChat, WhatsApp, Pinterest – they did not make money in their first three, four years,” he told BusinessCloud’s ‘tech entrepreneurs changing the world’ event at the International Festival for Business.

“Let me give you a scenario. If I have a burn rate of £50,000 per month, and I’m able to generate £50,000 this year from 50 paying customers, it’s going to cost me £100k-150k to develop the features to make it billable. It’s a waste of my time at this stage.

“The best thing I can do is build a product that’s got great features, get people using the product and grow it – I can monetise it later on.

“There are a number of options: one is a subscription-based model similar to LinkedIn where you provide additional value-added features for people who want more specific features – perhaps adding physical documents and videos straight into Wakelet instead of linking it off.

“It could be encrypted collections, so people can protect their stuff.

“There are lots of opportunities – it’s just not the right time to do it now.”

Khalil has big plans and even believes he could be the next billion-dollar business.

“If I look at Pinterest, in simple terms it is like a human version of Google images.

“I’m able to create a board, pull images together – and that company’s had $1.3b of investment and is valued at over $11bn.

“When I look at our potential, I see it as being much bigger – we should get into that range at least if we do it well.”

Khalil found that securing investment was a struggle early on, but once he has built his platform, interest from investors was renewed.

Wakelet initially secured £150,000 in convertible notes and then an additional £1.1m in the first funding round – all from angel investors.