October 4, 2017
Founder in Focus: Will Kanaan, Co-Founder of Bellgram
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have started my career as a software engineer and worked for several startups in the valley, but spent most of my career at Google where I held several managerial positions in engineering, product & partnerships.
How did you become an entrepreneur and how did the idea for Bellgram come about?
I was tired from the corporate atmosphere where decision making is slow and new ideas take a long time to implement. I had always ambitions to work on products that can potentially change people’s lives. Having the Lebanese entrepreneurial DNA, it was not too hard to make the switch. After many years working as a business executive, I realized that phone and message apps today (whether native iOS, Android or any of the available third party apps), do not offer the business person the integrated communication capabilities needed by a modern company.
What has been the high and low of creating Bellgram so far?
Building a startup is a challenge by itself. I was blessed to have an amazing team with a diversified technical skills. Fundraising was a challenge for a product that is introducing a new user behavior where product market fit is questionable. Getting people to use it to run their business was another big challenge that we were able to overcome. Having people to pay for the product once they liked it was easy once they saw the value and used it for a while. I would say every stage has its own challenges, and they get bigger as you scale.
What is your ultimate vision for Bellgram and your team in the next 5 years?
Bellgram’s vision is to augment the conversation experience of business people and make it intelligent and useful. I believe we are well positioned to drive a massive shift of paradigm in the workplace and to become the new communication standard for businesses.
What idea, mentor, or book influenced you the most throughout your career and why?
I have read a lot of books about startups (The lean startup, the hard thing about hard things, Crossing the Chasm, etc). I have also listened to tons of lectures and attended tens of events. But I believe that every startup is unique and it’s hard to learn what I learned from a book or from a mentor. The most valuable lesson is the experience itself. I think the best mentors/advisors are the ones that have done it before and it’s even better if they have exited successfully. Getting feedback from advisors / mentors is essential, beneficial and everyone should do it but you should have your own filters. Nobody knows your startup and business more than you do yourself.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring Lebanese entrepreneurs?
Don’t become an entrepreneur because you want to become rich. The vast majority of startups fail. Build a startup if you are passionate about solving a problem that can potentially have a huge impact on people’s lives. The most interesting part of the startup is the journey itself. I also believe the knowledge you get from building a startup is unmatchable in any corporation. If you emerge alive, your life will never be the same whether you succeed or fail 🙂 We all love to make tons of money but it shouldn’t be the main reason for building the startup.
How can LebNeters support Bellgram?
Please sign-up to Bellgram and use it for your business!