Why we build

Dubai Media City

In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus conveyed a basic principle on stewardship. The parable also reveals the idea that all people are made to build – yes, in varying degrees, but we are all given the capacity to create, to produce, to multiply whatever gifts we have.

Though this blog intends to share my reflections on the ups and downs of creating a startup, I felt it apt to start with the Parable of the Talents for the sole reason that it brings us back to why we are building a company to begin with.

Given this, let’s do a recap of this particular parable. I encourage you to read the entire thing by going through Matthew 25:14-30.

The story begins when a master, who was going on a journey, entrusted his servants with his property. One was given 5 talents (the currency used during those days), one was given 2 and the other one was given only 1 talent. The distribution of talents was based on the servants’ abilities to manage them.

The first two servants, the ones who were given 5 and 2 talents respectively, were able to invest the money and yielded 100% ROI upon their master’s return. They were commended in the same way for being able to make the most of what was entrusted to them. The last one however merely buried his 1 talent, and ended up immensely displeasing his master.

Building a Startup

Starting a business is difficult. Starting a tech business is even more of a challenge. Seems like the hottest hirees right now are web and app developers.

There’s a lot of pressure to form the right team, lock in the perfect concept and continuously iterate because things move. so. quickly. in this industry. Even then, you never know what will happen once you’ve launched – creating a tech product means that you want to build something for the future and you can only predict so much as to how that future will unfold.

Peter Thiel, the first investor of Facebook said this, “A startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed…Bad decisions made early on – if you choose the wrong partners or hire the wrong people, for example – are very hard to correct after they are made. It may take a crisis on the order of bankruptcy before anybody will even try to correct them. As a founder, your first job is to get the first things right, because you cannot build a great company on a flawed foundation“.

Nevertheless, I find it incredibly exciting to start and build something of value. It’s exhilarating to discover answers to questions that have not been dealt with before and to find solutions to problems by viewing them through a different lens.

As mentioned by Peter Thiel, “A startup is the largest endeavor over which you can have definite mastery. You can have agency not just over your own life, but over a small and important part of the world”.

Motives matter

Everyday I ask myself this question, “Why do you want to succeed so bad?”.

The answer is very important because I believe motives matter. And yes some days, I am not too happy with the answer I give myself.

Going back to the Parable of the Talents, the only motive I aim to have is that I desire to build, create and contribute something of great value because I want to multiply whatever talent God has given me – for His glory and His glory alone.

The end goal is contribution for His sake.

Keeping this in mind frees me from pressure because it prevents me from being too attached to the outcome. It helps me focus on the things that I have control over – my work ethics, my attitude, and how I manage the challenges that come along the way.

In addition, I know we are often taught to have bigger, more noble goals than merely pursuing power, wealth and fame. However, a realization that I had is that we can have seemingly noble goals and still miss the point. I can aim for mastery. I can aim to contribute. I can aim to do my part to help the poor. But if I don’t do any of that for God’s sake, then I have not planted on solid ground.

Keeping this perspective is humbling because it takes the focus away from myself and enables me to work towards something much greater.  I know I  have a long way to go in internalizing this but I do hope that one day I will be able to confidently say that in all my endeavors, the primary goal has been and always will be to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.


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