Syed Obaid

Kill your bias that you’ll develop from your past experiences.


Syed Obaid, entrepreneur and young leader, is the Co-founder and CEO of The Jacket Maker, which combines years-old bespoke tailoring with today’s technology to make finest quality ready-to-wear and custom jackets, and leather accessories accessible to everyone.

The Jacket Maker aims to simplify and shape personalization in fashion industry. In its short run of operations, The Jacket Maker has already received over 20,000 custom project requests and served over 10,000 customers in more than 50 different countries across the globe.

Before The Jacket Maker, Syed Obaid was a Channel Marketing Manager at a major e-commerce venture for Rocket Internet. He is obsessed with creating value for customers. In his free time, you will see him playing table tennis or games on Playstation. He likes to meet with new people, discover latest trends and happenings.

Where did the idea for The Jacket Maker come from?

During my time at Rocket Internet, I learned about the potential and short-comings in e-commerce industry. That’s where I realized there are still major gaps in this sector which can be filled, especially in fashion. So, I teamed up with three of my school friends to start The Jacket Maker.

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

I have two major excel sheets that helps me in planning for the day. First one is labelled as strategic dashboard; it has all the strategic objectives written that we plan to work on. I start my day by going through it.
Then, I have a daily schedule sheet, where I schedule tasks after going through the strategic dashboard.Tasks are different on different days but are determined by the strategic goals we’re trying to accomplish. This week, I am mostly spending time with my marketing team for marketing automation.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Any idea which I think has a potential, I write it down. Then I review it and try to judge how big an impact it could have. Lastly, I make a roadmap to execute the idea based on available resources .

What’s one trend that excites you?

Actually I am excited about a couple of trends:
• Seed-funded startups making huge impact and challenging conventional ways of doing things in different industries always excite me. Even in my industry, I am excited to see underdogs fighting and eating the market share of giants.
• Personalization
‘Personalisation and curation will become more important to the customer. We expect personalisation to be one of the major themes in the fashion industry next year. Fashion companies will deliver personalisation in many forms – from more-customised products, to curated recommendations, to communications and storytelling that connects to individuals.’ – Excerpt taken from ‘The State of Fahion 2018’ report by McKinsey & Company and The Business of Fashion (BoF).
The Jacket Maker is in a prime position to capitalize on this trend; as we’re shaping personalization in leather outerwear by providing our customers with complete personalization in experience and in product too. So, these are exciting times for The Jacket Maker.

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

Planning – Everything from bigger picture to daily tasks, I plan it all.

What advice would you give your younger self?

To my younger self: ‘Kill your bias that you’ll develop from your past experiences.’
Before The Jacket Maker, I was working as Channel Marketing Manager at one of the ventures by Rocket Internet. We achieved exponential growth by primarily using paid marketing with a multi-million dollar budget. I developed this bias that the best way to growth for an e-commerce business is through paid marketing. I implemented the same thinking at TJM and didn’t focus on other marketing channels to an extent I should have.

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

Great ideas, great execution, great products, great team and great timing; solely can’t win it all for you on their own, one needs each and everyone of these factors to be in sync for success.

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

I reflect on past experiences but my stance changes, on any particular point, based on the merits of current situation. It’s the same in business, the idea is to keep learning and this is exactly what I would advice to other entrepreneurs.
Even If you are having a bad time and you are not seeing financial situation of your business improving, the only thing you have to consider is what learning have you extracted with this experience. Situation may not have improved, but you may have learnt something to change that.

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

I won’t call it a strategy but rather a simple principle or idea of being obsessed with creating value for the customer has helped us grow exponentially. In terms of strategy, we’re not afraid to test new things like category diversification & product diversification.

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

We launched an affordable luxury fashion brand two years back and it wasn’t a huge success (I won’t call it a failure either). Based on the experience we had, we’ve extracted some key learning points that are necessary to successsful launching of fashion brands with a D2C approach.
A. Great Story: This is the starting point, everything else follows. You have to come up with a compelling story, as to why people would care about you and your product offering.
B. Great Products: Based on your story, you have to create great products. What are great products? Which are totally in sync with your philosophy and provide exceptional value.
C. Great Content: Even if you have a great story and great product, how do you communicate that to your target audience? You would need to create great content that promotes your brand. When we say content, we are referring to everything audio, visual, textual. Anything you are using to communicate to your customers.
D. Great Coverage: You have a great story, products that provide value and content to market your product, but how do you get people to see your products. The integral point to understand here is that coverage comes at a cost. You have to spend money, time and effort to get people to know about your brand.

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

I have had this business idea of social TV. I want to be able to experience live football match with my brothers living abroad. I would break that into bullet points, if someone can create a simple website with following features:

• Live Streaming of sports/matches/events.
• You can create your thread and set a password.
• You share the password with the ones you want to enjoy match/movies/content with.
• You get connect on a window where the match is being streamed, you can talk to each other through typing or speaking (though it may interrupt commentary).
• Facebook live stream allows some of the above points, but there is still room for improvement. I want something which is simpler, better and authorized.

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

A table tennis racket!

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

Google sheets ???? – Easy to access, share and edit.

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

“Delivering Happiness” by Tony Hsieh.

What is your favorite quote?

Truth is stranger than fiction‘ – By unknown.

Key learnings:

• Make planning your forte. From strategic goals to daily routines, plan for everything in advance. It will help you to better execute your ideas, both personally and professionally.
• Judge everything on its merits, do not let your bias dictate your decisions.
• Get obsessed with creating value for your customers.
• Write down your ideas, review them thoroughly, gather feedback from others, make changes and improvements on initial idea, and implement them.


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