Jahn Karsybaev – CEO of Stranger Watches and Amir Watches

Have a visual representation of your Goals. I keep my This Year Goals and Goals for next 3 years in front of me all the time and see that list several times a day, which serves as a constant reminder what I am working towards to.

Jahn Karsybaev is a serial entrepreneur with a portfolio of companies ranging from Software Development and Social Networking, to luxury watches segment, tequila production and distribution. Having worked for Fortune 500 companies for 10 years, Jahn decided to make the difference by creating his own company and left to pursue entrepreneurial projects. Jahn accumulated substantial experience managing and leading teams while working for major companies and still actively travels the world consulting the leadership levels of top companies on Project Management, Strategy and Leadership.

Currently, Jahn is on the Board of Directors of the company which is the primary shareholder in the following companies:
Moomkin, Inc
Amir LTD – watches & jewelry
SJ Time Distributors – manufacturer of Stranger Watch Company
El Mostacho Inc – maker of the high quality organic Tequila
Sana.moda – luxury womens and mens dress shirt manufacturer

Where did the idea for Stranger Watch Company come from?

Watches and horology in general have been a passion of mine since childhood. When my wife moved down from NYC to Florida, she promised me that she will buy me my Grail Watch upon getting a job. Upon getting an offer, I took her up on the promise but we were not able to afford my Grail Watch (AP Royal Oak A Series) at that point and could not find anything that was matching what I wanted in a watch. So, she had asked me “what is your ideal watch?” We started sketching some ideas on a napkin during one of the dinners and that is how our first Watch Brand – Amir Watches was born. Since then, we’ve launched several successful watch collections, with the most recent one – Thoroughbred Collection by Stranger Watch Company. The idea dates back to early 80’s to the city of Taraz (Kazakhstan) – the city with 2000 year old history which was one of the main stops on The Great Silk Way, the city where I grew up. My uncle owned a horse ranch and his primary business was domesticating wild horses. He would turn wild horses into these beautiful galloping horses and most of them were later participated in Equestrian and Polo. Growing up, I visited his ranch every summer and was truly amazed by these elegant yet powerful creatures. The most amazing part was seeing the wild stallions turn into these gracious horses. This was quite an inspiration and I really wanted to pay tribute to that in some shape or form, and this collection was a perfect opportunity. With that, I am proud to present you with the Thoroughbred Collection (Akhal Teke, Andalusian, Mangalarga, Oldenburg). These were the actual breeds that I’ve got a chance to meet in person at my uncle’s ranch.

We just recently launched a new crowdfunding campaign via IndieGogo which allows fellow watch enthusiasts get one of our timepieces at a substantial discount (30% off) as a gratitude for early adoption.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Before going to bed, I do my best to take a few minutes and come up with a ‘Done List” instead of the standard To Do list. It keeps me honest with regards to what I was able to accomplish. As far as the typical day goes, it would be impossible to describe as not a single day is the same. Some of the most common activities are our design sessions, meetings with vendors and suppliers, sales meetings with existing clients and prospects.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Having companies in 3 totally different sectors, we always have to innovate and come up with ideas for new products, features or just new marketing campaigns. Each of us on the team comes up with our own ideas and then we bounce them off each other. If it makes past our internal circle, which can be vicious, then we add it to our boards for further consideration.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Crowdfunding, hands down. Although it may not be as new as other trends these days, but it still excites me every time we launch a new project or when we get to back others. It is such a team effort to get everything ready and then it keeps everyone on their toes for the entire duration of the campaign.

We have actually just successfully completed one of the campaigns on KickStarter and launching another one on IndieGogo for a recent watch collection by Stranger Watches.

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

Not being afraid to fail and constantly trying new things. Trial and error is the best way to experiment and find the best ideas that make it to the next stage.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

While in college, I worked as a Weekend Custodian cleaning bathrooms 4am – 9am every Saturday and Sunday. This was a humbling experience and taught me important lessons of doing what you need to do to get to where you want to be. Not everything gets handed to us on a silver platter and there are times when you have to suck it up and just get it done.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

There have been several projects that we have failed miserably, and one of the most important lessons learned is that being the first to launch or the first in the market is not a competitive advantage whatsoever. Never rush and take your time. We try to keep this in mind in everything that we launch these days.

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

Have a visual representation of your Goals. I keep my This Year Goals and Goals for next 3 years in front of me all the time and see that list several times a day, which serves as a constant reminder what I am working towards to.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is the most important thing that has helped our businesses grow. You have to pick the people that will give you 120% for every 110 that you give them. People that will not just praise you all the time but instead keep you honest and constantly try to find ways to improve.

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

I recently purchased several Case Studies from Harvard Business Review on Project Management and Company Strategies (such as Zara) and it really opened up a whole new world of how successful companies grow and overcome obstacles.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

We’ve recently adopted Slack for all of our team communications and its extremely useful.
Other services such as Imgur, SnagIt help us with bringing our creative ideas to life.

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

0 to 1 by Peter Thiel was one of the best books I’ve recently read and I would recommend it to any entrepreneur whose trying to make it happen.


Stranger Watches on IndieGoGo:
Stranger Watches on Instagram:
Amir Watches on Instagram:
Jahn Karsybaev on Instagram:
Facebook: strangerwatches | amir.watches | moomkin