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Mustafa Syed: Transitioning from corporate to entrepreneurship during the pandemic

Updated: Aug 1

Mustafa Syed was a double certified coach, counsellor, applied practitioner in neuroscience and has led global L&D teams. He also has author and entrepreneur added to his list of roles, after resigning from his job during the pandemic.

Mustafa Syed, author, entrepreneur, and CEO of Vani.Coach
Mustafa Syed, author, entrepreneur, and CBO of Vani.Coach

He made the tough decision to leave his corporate job in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdown, when job security was an issue for most. The pandemic allowed Mustafa to rediscover family time. The time usually spent commuting to work was then used for breakfast with his family. "Breakfast conversations opened my eyes to how world affairs were impacting our young minds with negativity. To do my bit for the future of our world, I converted the stories I narrated to the young minds in my family into an online bookstore for children aged 3-14 under the category of Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing." The author wrote, published and distributed the books which went on to win an award for the Micro - Small and Medium Enterprise category from Emerging Bookstore of the Year in 2020.

As a rookie in the publications field, Mustafa had to do end to end research about book publication and distribution to expand his knowledge and broaden his perspectives. He made use of available digital resources and single-handedly registered the business, acquired trademarks for the books, filed tax returns and even designed his own website.

Meaningful user experience is a priority to Mustafa. Positive experiences have evolved into an expectation and are conducive to the success of a business. "I focused a lot on the experience of how a user feels when they receive the book." To the author, books are not just printed works. Mustafa's books come with a recycled tote bag, themed ceramic children's mug and different coloured wooden gift boxes. He has also personally delivered books to recipients in fear of a missing delivery. "The customer mustn't bear the brunt of your roadblocks. It is important to me that the children get their books on or before the promised delivery date," he said.

He attributed his success to his spouse. "My wife was the backbone of my success. Apart from handling her own job, she was actively involved in helping me pack the books for delivery and provided me with a listening ear for my raw manuscript. Her project management skills allowed me to keep things on track and not get overwhelmed with everything on my plate. She was a fierce critic of my work and this open and honest critique allowed me to be better prepared. Being open to change is a critical success factor."

Apart from being an author, Mustafa is also the co-founder of Vani.Coach, an asynchronous digital & human coach led communication program that provides observable behavioural change for business organisations to upskill their workforce.

Mustafa met his current business partner, Ashish Jha, at his former office. Ashish shared his motivations for starting Vani.Coach. He struggled to communicate in English during his younger days, and could not find holistic and effective help to learn the language. Ashish then decided to pick up the language through self-learning and went on to impart his knowledge to people who had no access to education. His love for coaching saw him become a consultant to corporates but he struggled to scale.

After months of providing pro-bono consultation, Mustafa was inspired by Ashish's drive and decided to join the company as a co-founder to oversee the business' strategic growth. During the pandemic, Vani.Coach migrated to a digital platform through innovation and has completed a successful pre-market fit in under 7 months with 22 large enterprises.

The team of Vani.Coach
The team of Vani.Coach

"Being open to change is a critical success factor."

- Mustafa Syed, Co-Founder and CBO of Vani.Coach

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