Farrukh Mahboob

Founder of VisionX

Farrukh is a visionary entrepreneur, digital technology leader, and life coach in works. He holds MS and BS in Electrical Engineering from Canada and Pakistan. He spent 15 years in the industry across B2B technology sales, management & technology consulting, and product management & strategy with established global companies such as Ericsson, Commscope, Accenture, and Staples. He lived and worked on four continents across Australia, Canada, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, UAE, and the USA.

Farrukh started VisionX – a machine vision product company in 2017 and grew it to a few million dollars in sales with zero external investment through a globally distributed team of 170+.

He is a strong advocate of borderless technology development and innovation. He and his team proved it by building, deploying, and supporting digital products in many countries through his global organization with world-renowned brands such as McDonald’s, Staples, WeWork, Emaar, and many more.

He is always pushing himself, his leadership, and the team to deliver and achieve more by building a unique culture. He has instituted mindset principles at the company that serves as a north star for the day-to-day operations and decision-making.

Farrukh gets up every day to uplift his people, build outstanding products, and provide value to the customers. One of Farrukh’s passion project is to convert sick care to healthcare powered by digital. He is enabling this mission through Sehr Foundation.

Farrukh is a firm believer in life with no regrets. He puts in hard work, stays patient, persistent, always learning, pushes himself and others to get out of the comfort zone, and always on his toes to sense changing global dynamics and adapts at personal and business level.

He lives in New York City and frequently travels.

Where did the idea for VisionX come from?

The idea for VisionX built up over time connected to my passion for cutting-edge technologies and the range of experiences I acquired in B2B tech sales, consulting, and product management. One day, I sketched a platform on a piece of paper while sitting at home on how to make any camera see the world as a human eye to read, understand, and act on text, images, and video feeds. A few folks I consulted at that time said it could not happen. I took a leap of faith, we started small & experimented in a few different directions. Today, one of our products, PackageX, is the best in class to read the text, barcodes, and QR codes and automate inbound and outbound packages management at any multi-tenant dwelling. Likewise, our brand-new product Sight, processes video feeds from the existing security cameras to understand, describe, and act. It is like creating a physical clickstream for smarter and faster decision making. We went one step farther in our journey to use machine vision for space intelligence and context understanding for 3D rendering in augmented powered through Spatial Studios at VisionX.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s through reading a lot of information and staying very observant every single day. Over time, I have developed a muscle to connect various news and insights to build my signals or point of view.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m very excited about the next human interface beyond the smartphone screen that will be smart glasses. It will be fantastic to see information overlaid in front of you. Someone once said to me; there is one area of real estate that is underutilized. I asked what, and the answer was: the space above our head. Smart glasses will make us hands-free, and hence super-efficient and productive. For businesses, it will turn customer experience super immersive. This trend pushed me to keep investing in Spatial Studios at VisionX that is all about 3D, augmented reality, and immersive experiences.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I guess it would be pushing myself continuously to expand my horizon on self-awareness. I always want to know if I am doing good. I am a big critic of my work. I indirectly pick up signals from others that point out the areas I should work on. Staying very self-aware and always attempting to improve and make things better is the answer. There is a downside to it, though. It raises my expectations from others that makes me frustrated at times. Thus, I installed ten mindset principles at the company that I instituted after running three years of my life as an entrepreneur and noticing what needs more work as an input to what we do at VisionX. We are self-aware is my favorite principle out of those ten.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Seek a mentor and listen to them. They can put on the right trajectory and fast track your dreams. I relentlessly give this advice to anyone who joins VisionX. I tell the folks to take everything that I acquired over 16+ years, run with it, and be there where I’m now in 4 years. It’s just not everyone gets it. I am recently identifying the individuals who want to grow and excel, so I spend my time on those who have the drive to make a difference.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

You can build yourself and a great company by staying humble and helping others – humility is the word. Corporate America is all about being aggressive, super-fast, and breaking things. It disregards the essence of respect, integrity, and truly delivering value or building something that matters in many ways. We have become very transactional and too much focused on things that do not matter. COVID has exposed it all for us. Marc Andreessen’s article on ‘It’s time to build’ articulates it very well. When we eliminate the core of human values from how we think and what we do, it is not sustainable. I try to balance myself out with all the forces out there. What goes up fast comes down faster. I am attempting to build a sustainable business that must carry a legacy of growth and expansion and build many more.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Uplift your people. It’s all about building meaningful relationships, investing in your people, and making lives better. The company gets the benefit with a much more evolved workforce delivering value for our customers. At the same time, we contribute to providing an impact on society when people at VisionX decide to move on. We want to become an authentic life and career accelerant for anyone who joins us. It’s hard, but we are doing the best we can each day.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

VisionX became 170 people company with a couple of million-dollar in revenue within three years. The growth till this point came in through a geographically distributed team that helped me with managing the cost base, to building products in partnership with customers, so we get the feedback from the field and develop the edge cases, and signing up strategic partnerships with a few large customers to generate enough revenue to fuel the development of own products. This model has served us well. It has got its challenges, and we are always finding new ways to pivot. The next wave of growth will surely require a whole different focus, and we are preparing for it.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I have been fortunate not to encounter significant failures during the journey. It does not mean I have done the best. To answer your question, I will say it is the failure of my judgment and expectations from people at various levels. Besides others, I have managed this failure to introduce a due-diligence period on any key folks who join the company for about 90 days – ideally 180. Everything seems very optimal until the relationship goes through various situations and circumstances. I have backed it by introducing OKRs at the company to set clear goals and expectations on the key results. One connected area I am still working on is to compartmentalize personal relationships and business dealings. In the startup world, it is hard, but I am addressing this sooner than later.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

VisionX products resonate very nicely with logistics due to the nature of machine vision powered automation and associated AI technologies. We worked very closely with the world’s largest co-working space company to help them with their inventory management. It involved warehouse check-in, check-out, in-transit visibility, reconciliation, and reverse logistics for returns and re-cycling or dispose-off. We brought it to a pretty decent point, but I decided not to build it further as a full-blown product due to other pressing priorities. I do see a significant pain-point out in the market to uplift inventory automation and raising its visibility in real-time. In particular, post-COVID, small shop owners who never used tech in the past, would want to get online. Without real-time inventory visibility, you cannot enable successful digital commerce transactions. I invite anyone who’s reading this article to get in touch with me. I am happy to arrange for them to take it from where we had left and turn it into a full-blown inventory automation solution.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I will pick something for that I paid more than $100. Staying active and healthy is critical more than ever during these COVID times. I bought a home fitness mirror named Tempo (similar to Mirror that Lululemon recently acquired). I was pleasantly surprised by the machine, equipment that came with it, their machine vision technology, and the content. Before COVID, I was paying Equinox a lot of money for my membership and training sessions. I’m able to breakeven that with Tempo in less than 3-months. I’m so far enjoying it, and it has pushed me in the habit of doing more each day, which adds not only to the fitness goals but also increased my productivity and focus.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

It’s a subscription to Abundance 360 that is a community of global entrepreneurs working on exponential ideas. I follow their newsletters, attend panel discussions, and join community sessions. When I have to dive deep on any specific topics, their content portal comes handy. It goes back to my habit of reading – reading a lot of content.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

What You Do is Who You Are” by Ben Horowitz. This book is one of my recent favorites that talks about various perspectives and techniques on culture from the past and their application in today’s world. It has helped me put together a very deeper perspective on what does having a culture means and how what I should focus on at my company.

What is your favorite quote?

There’s something immoral about abandoning your own judgment.
– John F. Kennedy

Key Learnings:

  • Staying very self-aware and always attempting to improve and make things better is the answer.
  • Get 6-7 hours of sleep, eat healthily, do exercise each day – even if it is for 15 min, work hard – put your best foot forward, pray, help others, and never keep any regrets.
  • Smart glasses will make us hands-free, and hence super-efficient and productive. For businesses, it will turn customer experience super immersive.