Mokha 1450 - The heart of coffee
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I have lived in Dubai for over five years. I had a career on Wall Street in corporate law before transitioning to working in private equity, which led me to the coffee industry. I enjoy working out and I’m very active in sports.
How did you get started in business?
I have always worked at varied business ventures throughout my undergraduate and postgraduate schooling and absorbed everything I could along the way. I have also been fortunate to have some amazing mentors early in my life from whom I learned as much as I could about corporate governance and leadership.
Tell us about your business ventures to date
Most of my business ventures involved executing the dreams of others—such is the life of a corporate lawyer or having a career in finance and private equity. My own business, Mokha 1450 Coffee Boutique, is the first step forward to execute a vision that is my own.
What is your vision for yourself as a brand?
Mokha 1450 is a lifestyle brand that aims to be a leader in coffee culture. We actively nurture and cultivate long-term relationships that incorporate ethical, fair practices, which in turn, empower the farmers we work with to deliver exceptional coffee consistently.
From sourcing and roasting rarefied single-origin coffees to pouring the ultimate cup, our expertise delivers a personal touch throughout the process to incorporate ‘The Heart of Coffee’ in everything we do.
Mokha 1450 is committed to serving exceptionally rare and superior speciality coffee that remains faithful to the very origin of coffee culture. As connoisseurs, it is our obligation to deliver the finest coffee—from the most gifted growers from every part of the world.
We achieve this through our dedication to echo the sincere traditions of early coffee culture and build long-standing relationships to help support the communities involved.
What are your success habits?
My successful habits involve always attempting to do things to the highest degree possible without settling. I try not to be average in pursuing and executing my endeavours, and while I will often fail, at least I will have tried and given my best efforts to succeed at the highest level. I also try to be as inclusive as possible, to empower others, as well as interact with others with a strong moral code as my baseline.
What are you passionate about?
Coffee! I am very passionate about coffee and sharing the incredible sensory experience of drinking great coffee with others. I am also passionate about Mokha 1450’s incredible team and the pride they take in delivering a one-of-a-kind experience.
How do you determine if a business idea is going to be successful?
There is really no way of telling if a business idea will be successful. Many times, you will have a brilliant idea that is not scalable and there is no way of knowing that prior to executing the business model. However, I will say that if you identify a product or service that meets a need, then this will more likely than not be successful if executed properly. As an old axiom goes, "There are no new ideas, just proper execution."
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I think true entrepreneurship has a small element of innateness to it. The kids that ran lemonade stands, or did other things to raise money as kids, are generally on the fast track to being true entrepreneurs.
However, for the rest of us, there are two worn-out clichés that have an element of truth to them, though not necessarily how they are meant. The first is that you should always do what you love—but what if I like eating chocolate cake and sitting on the couch? I can’t see how one could generate a steady revenue stream from doing that thing that I truly love. However, the element of truth to that cliché is that if a venture is truly interesting to you, then you will apply yourself more earnestly and enjoy working at it much more than attempting a project that you find uninteresting or are merely engaged in because others advised it as worthwhile or profitable.
The second is that you should never be afraid to fail. I understand what this is meant to get at, but I think you should be very afraid of failure. If you are not afraid to fail, then you will not commit maximally to anything. The fear of falling on your face makes for better decision-making and a higher level of concentration and execution. People who are fine with failure generally fail at things. I think the more accurate advice is that you should never let failure weigh too much on your self-esteem or be the sum value of your efforts. You should attempt to learn from your failures and try very hard not to make the same mistakes again, knowing well that you will fail at some point in the future but doing everything in your power to avoid it.
Tell us about a time you had to deal with failure and how you dealt with it.
I once had to restructure a company whose business model I did not fully support. I worked hard at it as the delivery manager but failed at coming close to the desired end result. The more I failed, the more I blamed the business model instead of my efforts. I dealt with this initial failure by taking a step back and looking at the fact that the many hours I spent working on the matter at hand was not yielding anything close to the desired effect. I then asked for help and brought in a few experts in the field and only later realised that I never really understood the business model, as well as I, had assumed. It was only after being humbled and admitting my shortcomings that I was able to delegate to the right individuals and get the project back on track, but the entire experience was quite harrowing.
If you could start all over again, what would you do differently?
I would be much nicer to people.
What advice would you give to someone starting out on their entrepreneurial journey?
I would say be prepared to work harder than you would work for someone else; be driven by data and do your homework. Many ideas that seem brilliant on paper fall apart very soon once it makes contact with the real world. Know what the points of failure are and have a solution before moving forward. Any business plan that requires luck as a matter of necessity may not be the best plan.
Know when to call it a day and try something else, especially when there is time and money involved. Many times, people believe they have put too much time, effort and money into an idea to give up, but putting even more time, effort and money into a failing venture makes you feel even worse when you have to pull the plug much later. Furthermore, it violates the eternal law of the universe that says when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Always do what you love and never be afraid to fail. The ability to be self-aware, humble, and read people well are skill sets that complement each other, and when combined and practised frequently, it can take you far in life.
If you were to write a book about yourself, how would you name it?
When I die, people will all look back and say, “He’s dead now.”
How do you look after your mental health?
I run a lot. Research shows that running and exercising makes you smarter. Studies also show that daily exercise improves life expectancy regardless of past activity levels. It is also a smart thing to run and exercise with the people you love, in order to really enjoy the activity.
What’s that one quote you live by?
Generally, I'm not too fond of quotes as they encourage daydreaming more than doing. However, when I am stuck, I always tell myself that there is no problem in the universe that time and hard work can't solve. Even the most intractable problem will lose its hold over you with the passage of enough time.