We've shifted our focus many times and it was always the right decision
Today's entrepreneur is Faris Masad, co-founder and CTO of Repl.it. Repl.it's platform lets users start coding in the programming languages they choose, build and deploy apps right from their browsers.
Faris was studying Chemical Engineering before dropping out to pursue a career in his passion for Software Engineering.
He started off as a technical support engineer in Jordan, Faris was expressing his love for software by attempting to and successfully automating most of the work done by the technical support team.
He then moved on to build custom solutions for small to medium size companies and some larger companies and NGOs.
Faris joined Repl.it as a founding engineer when Amjad and Haya decided to build it out. Nowadays he mostly works on the IDE and development experience of Repl.it users.
I am a(n):
My favorite startups:
Paypal. A very inspiring story, with a founding team that went on to be the most successful people in the world.
Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?
Our users were just pulling us into our side project. It felt more like a duty than anything.
Why did you start your current company?
I joined the team Repl.it because I saw a special idea that I wanted to work on: making it easy to start programming for everyone. Repl.it is solving the problem I was experiencing when I started my career.
While working on Repl.it, we discovered that people are using the product for use cases and to solve problems that we haven't completely anticipated. Instructors were using Repl.it to teach, users were using it to self-teach and some were finally able to use their low-end computers to write production-ready software. Joining the team and starting the company was a no-brainer.
What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?
Frustrating: You have to explore and carve your own path. Your feet are dangling off the edge.
Rewarding: You get to explore and carve your own path. You might be able to fly.
What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs make?
Definitely what Amjad and Haya said, to merge and reiterate over what they said, building a startup is not easy, and if your motivation is not in the right place you are very likely to give up. So build something that is solving a problem you care about and don't give up.
What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?
1. Don't get fixated on one thing. Explore and try new things that may help you achieve your mission. We've shifted our focus so many times, and it was the right decision almost every time.
2. As an engineer I always strive to fix things wholesale, generalizing problems and creating a "1 solution to rule them all". Unfortunately, that doesn't work when you're working on a real-life problem if you do that you're likely to end up removed from the actual problem and start solving in a way that is simply unattainable.
3. Listening to your users is great and is a very powerful tool, but you need to know when to stop listening to them. Sometimes your technology is not there yet, sometimes it's just a vocal minority, sometimes they don't know what they want, other times they want to steer you away from your mission and make you solve a problem you're not interested in. There's no silver bullet for this, every business is different, you just need to adapt and learn when to look at the data, when to follow your intuition and when to do what the users are asking for.
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Joined Vator on
Repl.it lets you start coding in your favorite programming language in 2 seconds; it lets you build and deploy apps right from your browser. The founders wanted to build something to solve their own problem -- back in school they were tired of setting up their development environment on every machine they wanted to code on, and they dreamed of a world where you could just open a tab in the browser and start working. They built Repl.it to give developers access to simple, powerful tools and a community of hackers, aspiring programmers and teachers. They make it possible to learn, practice and build, all in the same place.
Joined Vator onFaris is a founding engineer at Repl.it. He joined the founding team to build a product that makes programming accessible to everyone around the world. He has a strong passion for software and is fascinated by its effect on the global communities.