The Globe and Mail had an excellent profile on Well.ca founder Ali Asaria in Friday’s edition.
Well.ca is a Canadian website that focuses on highlights health and beauty products, along with a few other products you might find in a drugstore. The Globe’s interview with Asaria focuses on some of his early struggles, particularly with finding investors. It wasn’t until David Ceolin and Jordan Banks, two angel investors, infused his company with $1.1 million that things really took off.
When other would-be entrepreneurs ask Mr. Asaria to instruct them on the art of the pitch, his answer is not what they might expect. He learned a hard lesson, he says: “Traction speaks louder than words."
“When I started, I did meet investors right from the beginning [in early 2008], and I would talk about the idea of building the biggest e-commerce company in Canada, with this really large vision. I think a lot of people thought it was a little funny. Who is this guy with the big vision?"
“I would meet investors and they would just stare blankly and never call me back. I had the extreme where I was literally insulted in meetings, where they would call me names," Mr. Asaria said in an interview at his company’s spacious digs. “It’s challenging for an entrepreneur because when you meet an investor, especially in the beginning, there is a power imbalance where they have access to a lot of capital, and you might be very desperate. I think sometimes investors abuse that."
It’s an interesting case of the power of a good idea and a little hard work. Asaria’s idea wasn’t really a revolution, but the way he carried it out, by writing personalized notes to repeat customers, not charging for shipping, and cutting down on overhead, he was able to show investors that he was the real deal.