The Force Behind Profits

Meet Shafaat & Amna, the power couple leading Stalliongates Investments & Brandbeat Global, turning around businesses to profitable and investible ventures.  

In the dynamic world of business, where volatility is the only constant, the quest for sustainable and profitabile growth often seems like a mirage. Yet, there are those who not only chase this elusive dream but seize it, molding it into a tangible reality. With a combined experience spanning 25 years, 17 exits, 28 board seats and operating across 32 business sectors with a global footprint of 14 international offices, their firms have  served over 250 brands. Shafaat Hashmi and Amna Razzaq are the epitome of such rare business acumen who work through the business ideation phase, product architecture development, brand marketing, channel development, sales management and raising investments. As the driving forces behind Stalliongates Investments & Brandbeat Global, this power couple mastered the art of turning complex equations into simple profitable solutions, all while balancing the demands of rapidly changing market conditions and expanding their empire.

In the following interview, we have taken a deep dive into the minds of these extraordinary individuals. Shafaat, a fourth-generation serial entrepreneur, Founder & Chairman of both Stalliongates and Brandbeat opens up about his vision for the future, his knack for spotting potential in founders and ventures, and his commitment to creating sustainable, job-generating businesses. Amna, Board Member Stalliongates Investments and COO, Brandbeat Global shares her unique approach to breaking down complex ideas into actionable tasks, the influence of motherhood on her leadership style, and why systems trump plans in the long run. Their partnership has contributed immense value from multiple business angles across the startup eco-system, small medium businesses, non-profit organizations and corporations.

Together, they reveal how their individual strengths create a synergy that has been instrumental in their combined success. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, a seasoned business leader, or simply someone intrigued by the mechanics of profitability, the insights from Shafaat and Amna offer invaluable lessons in business and life.

Let’s dive into the minds that are truly the force behind profits.

Insights from Amna Razzaq;

As a COO, how do you break down complex ideas into actionable tasks? What’s your secret?

I genuinely believe that most ideas which are market relevant and address an urgent pain point for which people are ready to pay, are executable but the question is timing, resources and learning curve. Then it becomes a math equation if it is affordable doing it now or not. It starts with valuing your time and energy, honestly calculating if something is worth that dream. Dreams are like empty promises, beautifully lazy.

Raising 5 children and leading 14 offices is no small feat. How has motherhood shaped your approach to managing teams and systems?

Motherhood is the secret sauce! Motherhood taught me some hard truths: embrace full responsibility with no turning back, teach and train but don’t expect overnight maturity whether its teens or teams, do your best and have faith that it will all turn out good at an unknown point in the future, and last but not the least patience, patience, patience.

Many talk about plans, but you emphasize systems. Why is a system more crucial than a plan, and how do you ensure it’s foolproof?

You said the magic word! ‘Foolproof’. In my dictionary that is a synonym to perfection or  zero risk – It does not exist. We can keep on planning to take out all risk while convincing ourselves for guarantees and KPIs,  or we can roll up our sleeves and adopt a system that has worked in business, tweaking on the go. Project too grand? break down the task into manageable sub-tasks and apply your system on that. I do spend a fraction of my time in what I call ‘feeding my innovation FOMO’. I love learning how successful ventures have innovated/scaled and what was their team structure like, how did they bootstrap and their GTM. The idea is not to reinvent the wheel but continuously figure out how this wheel can run more efficiently.

You’re known for your giving nature, always keeping your founders and clients under your mentorship wings. What’s the most rewarding part of this journey for you?

The position of mentorship is not demanded, it is gifted by others to you because of your giving nature, empathy and wisdom. I still remember Shafaat’s words early on in our partnership, “Amna, always race towards giving first but never without measure. This is the secret of creating value.” The most rewarding part of my journey is the journey itself. The knowledge and experience I accumulate over time, I leave it as an open source for others to invest their time and money and leverage their success. When I see my contributions as a catalyst and an element of someone’s success, I feel blessed.

Do you believe in push or pull strategy when it comes to marketing and advertising? What is your advice to businesses when it comes to investing in marketing?

A brand is actually a beautiful balance of a magnetic pull and a subtle push but prior to this comes a solid foundation, the composition of the brand itself. A brand is your idea presented in a way that is immediately understandable, memorable, resonates and attracts the right investor/team/customer. In my books, the first step is vetting the idea and second step is creating that star brand. My advice is to be careful who’s advice you seek as we live in a loud, chaotic world where everyone is selling something. Personally, I always seek and invest in a professional advice which is a smart business decision.

Insights from Shafaat Hashmi:

Legacy & Vision:

Being a 4th generation entrepreneur, how have the lessons of the past shaped your vision for the future?

The fundamentals of business always remain constant and they require consistent calibration ahead of time. The moment continuous innovation, creativity, communication and improvement halts, the heartbeat of any business stops. My vision has a central theme, which is never to break hearts and always join them, be it my partners, customers, stakeholders, vendors or competitors. The magnetic force which joins them has to be love, a brand everyone loves and the success everyone desires.

The Deal Maker:

You have an uncanny ability to assess any founder’s or venture’s potential instantly. What do you look for in a deal or a founder?

I split the weightage given to the business idea and founder equally. Within a business idea I evaluate demand, urgency, innovation, efficiency, brand marketing, strategy to scale and how independent is the product from the power of suppliers, buyers and competition. When evaluating a founder, I always look for strong values, ethics, integrity, honesty, emotional intelligence, creativity, presentation skills, humility and learning aptitude. At the end, it’s not about the deal on the table but how the deal is executed.   

Job Creation Crusader:

Your goal is to create jobs. In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, how do you ensure that the businesses you invest in are sustainable and job-generating?

There is a general sentiment these days that AI will be a job-eater, but the flip-side is that if people invest in themselves and learn AI or how to leverage AI, they will be high in demand. So every innovation brings job opportunities and jobs are sustained if the businesses are profitable. Businesses are made sustainable through diversifying risk, which can be achieved through new brand lines, new markets, new customer segments or targeting a new niche while staying ahead in creativity and innovation with a laser focus on your star brands. One has to make its customers fall in love with the brand and turn them into brand advocates. This is exactly our focus when we launch or acquire businesses and startups.

Global Ambitions:

From ideation to going global, what’s your strategy for taking a business to the international stage?

The brand has to solve a problem which has global customer appeal. It starts with the vision during ideation stages and achieving market validation with a geographically diverse customer base. The key to scaling globally is strategic partnerships, pushing the brand forward with aggressive market penetration strategies and simply showing up when the market tide is high. Brand communications plays a key role which must check mark inclusiveness, respect all cultures and value local market knowledge.

Mentorship Philosophy:

With your vast experience, you’ve mentored countless founders. What’s the one piece of advice you find yourself giving again and again?

Focus on delivering real value wrapped in emotions, the brand will sell profitably. If a business is not profitable in 3 to 4 years of operations, its not investable. I advise founders to build a life-long learner mindset and understand the cycle of markets. If you are not obsessively in love with your customer, soon you will embrace failure. Small innovations or strategy adjustments make a huge difference just like completing small tasks help you to achieve the bigger vision. Always position yourself as a contributor to the universe and community, do not become a liability. Pursue excellence, so your reputation precedes your name. Business is all about building credibility and dependability.

Joint Questions for Amna & Shafaat:

The Magic of Partnership:

How do your individual strengths complement each other, and how has this synergy led to your combined success?

SH: We play soccer everyday in the office, bouncing and tackling ideas until one of us hits the goal and wins through the defensive line up of ideation, relevance, monetization model, scalability, profitability and more. We leverage each others’ perspectives and respect each others’ wisdom, intelligence, logic and emotions. Frankly, it takes courage and strength to always keep a united front on the outside and every evening untangle it to start our next morning with a fresh, crisp, positive canvas.

AR: Many of my strengths were unknown to me before I met Shafaat. Him and I are equal partners in many ventures but he will forever be the mentor, teacher and the genius who cracked my code. We all evolve over time, but to really grow at a fast pace you need the right environment, support and encouragement and I got all that in this partnership. This partnership is my ever-growing confidence as well as motivation to set higher targets and envision bigger ideas. Our success is because we value not just the share of responsibility we are undertaking but what we have contributed in each other’s evolution.

Words of Wisdom: For budding entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts reading this, what’s your joint message to them?

SH: Intention and action are two wheels of the same bike. Always keep them inflated with love and intelligence.

AR: Value people and relationships, before profits and fame.

Clearly Shafaat Hashmi and Amna Razzaq stand as beacons of calculated risk, giving first mantra and visionary leadership. Their journey is a masterclass in how to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship, all while maintaining a harmonious balance between professional aspirations and personal commitments. From Amna’s transformative approach to systems and mentorship to Shafaat’s keen eye for sustainable, job-generating investments, their individual brilliance shines even brighter when combined. As we’ve seen, their partnership is not just about complementing each other’s strengths; it’s about elevating them to create something greater than the sum of its parts.

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