Podcast with Raja Mawad and Saif Akhtar

Ep 2 - Saif Akhtar

Hear from co-founder & co-host Saif Akhtar about being a 1st-gen Pakistani-American, finding his identify, and love for supporting early-stage startups.

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Welcome to the Podcast, featuring people who build startups!

This week, co-founder &co-hostSaif Akhtar shares his story and journey as a 1st generation Pakistani American finding his way in the US and Pakistan. We discuss what it was like growing up in two different cultures (the Bay Area and Karachi), finding his own identity as an “American born confused desi”, and how imposter syndrome helped Saif refocus on what matters to him the most. From studying mechanical engineering at SJSU to diving head-first into startups his senior year, Saif details what first got him interested in entrepreneurship and has kept him trying again and again.

Wearing many hats and being a 0-1 generalist made Saif realize early on that he needed a community of entrepreneurs to learn about success and failure from. When he couldn’t find any that would work with him, he built one using his fraternity and alma mater. What started as a bi-monthly meetup group inviting interesting people from LinkedIn would eventually become a formal incubation center and accelerator program in downtown San Jose supported by the city and SJSU. After running Spartups part-time for 5 years while building other startups, Saif developed a passion for venture capital and set his sights on building a fund to support early-stage founders. Once OrionCKB, an adtech startup where Saif was an early employee got acquired, he was finally able to live out his dream with Planet N Group. Planet N is a social impact investment firm in Pakistan where Saif was part of the founding team, leading the fund’s accelerator program and operations to support a portfolio of over 40 investments in Asia.

After 4 years as a VC and generalist for Planet N, Saif started as a consulting firm providing product & sales support to early-stage founders. Eventually, with the help of Raj, Chris, Rob and a group of other friends, StartupStudios turned into an advisory firm connecting early-stage founders with a vetted network of people and partners who grow startups. If you’re a pre-seed to series-A startup, there are very few situations the StartupStudios network hasn’t seen or assisted with as a co-founder, early team member, or investor!

Thank you Saif for sharing your story!

Every Tuesday at 10am, your co-hosts Raj and Saif publish a new episode featuring unique founders, advisors, investors, specialists, fractional executives, and ecosystem resources who work with early-stage companies every day.

We highlight the person, their background, failures, and successes while building companies in an unfiltered space. Our intention is to showcase their experience & problem-solving skills for Founders and their core teams. Many of them are part of your favorite entrepreneurship communities and can accelerate your growth.

StartupStudios also organizes free and paid resources, credits, programs, and office-hours for early-stage Founders. Like a concierge for your startup, we'll understand your needs before matching you within our community. Use office hours for personalized support or visit the directory to contact people on your own.

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Need help? Talk to us!

Every great early-stage VC fund and accelerator program usually has someone responsible for "matching" Founders with problem-solvers within their network. That's what Saif and Raj do for Founders through office hours. We have a big network of specialists, advisors, investors, and resources that we love matching with our people, so if you're stuck or need a solution fast, try us!

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