Kareem Elsirafy – Managing Partner with Modus Capital
If you can think of building a company synonymous with building a team, you’ll have a much greater success rate.
An entrepreneur who has enjoyed immense success through the development and introduction of technological solutions, Kareem Elsirafy’s latest venture has him serving in the role of Managing Partner with Modus Capital, an investment studio based out of New York City. Providing a variety of services to companies ranging from early-stage startups to Fortune 500 brands, Modus Capital both invests in, and services early to mid-stage companies providing value acceleration through strategic, technical, creative and market execution services.
A graduate of Columbia University who holds degrees in political science, Middle Eastern studies and economics, Mr. Elsirafy has been able to manage his professional responsibilities while continuing to pursue further academic enrichment. While at the helm of Modus Capital, Mr. Elsirafy is also working toward an executive MBA in technology management from Columbia University, a demanding program that requires an impressive level of commitment considering his already vast professional duties.
Mr. Elsirafy is also a military veteran, and he has applied his military experience to entrepreneurship by founding Unite US, a platform dedicated to helping veterans make the difficult transition from military life to civilian life. In addition to developing this SAAS platform, Mr. Elsirafy also founded a marketing consultation firm called M1 Marketing in 2007. With vast professional and academic experience, Mr. Elsirafy has utilized his vast knowledge and expertise in achieving consistent success in his varied entrepreneurial endeavors.
Where did the idea for Modus Capital come from?
After running through the startup gauntlet a few times, I wanted to apply my experiences and the methodologies I developed to different use cases and continue to strengthen my skillsets. Several companies were constantly reaching out to myself and the other Modus partners for strategic tech consultation. My partners and I worked together on a lot of projects; we saw ourselves as hired mercenaries brought in to accelerate company valuations and target acquisitions. After a couple years, we decided to formalize our operating methodology and introduce capital to our deal-flow. The capital allowed for upside to both our GP’s and make a very attractive investment opportunity for LP’s.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I start with an early gym session every day to get the engine warmed up before work. At the office, I block off time to chat with customers and teammates which help me keep a pulse on the company, then into production mode tackling my to-do’s. I am constantly juggling responsibilities, so I take it old school a have a handwritten list I’m constantly looking at, completing tasks, and crossing them off.
How do you bring ideas to life?
It starts out like any other process: ideation followed by research and testing. Ideation is the only place where any macro assumption is acceptable. Ultimately, it’s the data that drives the go / no-go / pivot process until a fit and/or formula for growth is found. This approach is what drives what we call engineering success.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Believe it or not, I’m a big fan of when capital gets tight. This forces big and small companies alike to devise more creative of ways to grow and provide a better service to their customers. It really provides opportunities for companies and brands to flex their creative power.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think it’s taking the time to perform proper discovery and research, most importantly from the team members who are on the front lines. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of the grind or excitement of something new but constantly having a pulse on your company via the team gives you the information you need to make the right decisions when it counts.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
“Worst” defined as “liked the least” I’d say was selling office supplies door-to-door (closely followed by selling cars, sponsorship, and financial products). Sales of this nature is tireless and very mentally and emotionally demanding task. However, it teaches you how to listen to a customer, understand what makes them tick, extract their true wants and needs from properly handling their objections, and how to read their body language, tone, and inflection all the while mastering yours. I’m a firm believer that having a sales-type role early in your career will build a great skillset for your to be successful in any career.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Although I learned a lot from founding and growing my previous start-ups, I probably would have moved on from my last venture a bit sooner to get started on Modus and have the ability to apply what I’ve learned to several business use-cases.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Understanding that building a company is simply gathering individuals who share a common goal and bringing them together. If you can think of building a company synonymous with building a team, you’ll have a much greater success rate.