Risks, Rewards, and Resilience: This is how Mohamadi built brands.

Risks, Rewards, and Resilience: This is how Mohamadi built brands.

This podcast will unlock the secrets of successful SaaS businesses. INSIDEA’s Founder and CEO – Pratik Thakker, will talk to Mohamadi Tapsoba (CEO and Founder at TAW Theme) with his co-host Chris.

We’ll investigate the strategies and tactics that made their success possible and explore how their products can help you grow your business.

So join us as we explore the world of SaaS and learn how to unlock the potential of your own business.

You can watch the full episode here as well as on Spotify.

But, if you are more into reading than watching, HERE YOU GO!

Pratik: Hey, everyone. This is Pratik. I am the founder and CEO at Insider. We are here to inspire you with amazing stories across the globe. We have invited one of the amazing founders’ today. Joining me today is also my co-host, Chris Cowden. Welcome, Chris. 

Chris: Thank you, Pratik. Thank you. Another great podcast interview with another phenomenal founder, a dear friend of mine, Mohamadi Tapsoba. We’ve been working behind the scenes on a different project for podcast websites. But today, it’s all about Mohamadi and TAW Theme. And congratulations. Last week was your one-year anniversary of the TAW Theme. But, I definitely want to get a deep dive into more about TAW Theme.

Pratik: Before TAW Theme, I would love to know Mohamadi, and his backstory. Tell us something about yourself which you did not share until now with the world. Inspire us with your back story. 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: This is interesting. Yesterday I had the content team here. We’re shooting some content, and they asked me a question close to that. And I’ll like one of the best lessons I’ve received as a kid is for my dad. He told me you’re the big brother of the family, and if you don’t take full responsibility and ask yourself, you will be the little brother of the family. 

Do not rely on anybody to make your decisions. And I was like, wow, this is interesting. And I thought about it deeply last night. I was like, wow. In some ways, this has been, like, the main driver of my, you know, of everything that I’ve done. Because in 2013, I came to this country, supposed to go to school. And long story short, there was a revolution that happened back home, and my dad was deeply affected, so school was no longer an option. So I found myself in a new country where I barely spoke the language and literally did not know five good words in English. 

Pratik: Hello. Thank you. Goodbye. 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: You need some job. I’m like, okay, going back home is no longer an option either. So I have to figure this thing out. I’m stranded in a brand new country, very speaking the language. And if you don’t speak a language – the language in America, for some reason, ever, I think you’re an idiot. Sadly, you know, so the only thing I could do was get a job in the sneaker store in the basement, stacking shoes, barely coming across anybody. Just in the basement. Have like a couple of minutes where I go up on the floor to go to the restroom, and I feel like, wow, this is amazing just being on the floor, seeing other people. So that was where everything started. I would work twelve hours a day in the basement and go to English school for a couple of hours to learn the language. I did that for two years, and I was, like, from 2013 to 2015, 16 even. And this amazing lesson can be derived from this, right? Everything that I started doing in 2016, I could have started doing it in 2014 or even 13 when I first got here. It’s just the awareness and the belief you have in yourself. 

Pratik: One of the things when you say about belief, it’s all about, like, why did you think that you want to become an entrepreneur, and what was something that you always wanted? 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: Pretty much the main driver. I believed that I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit because my dad is a businessman. Literally, if there is no school, if I come back to school, because I started with I left the family when I was eight. I came back at 18, officially. 

But I would come like a month out of the year or two months out of the year, and I’ll go straight to my dad’s business so I’d be able to see him grind. Never took a day off until today. And as long as I saw him, he never took a day off for any reason. Even on holidays, it would open in the morning. You have everybody open in the morning, and they come back midday for the holidays, but every single day going to be open. You know, so I derived that from him a lot. Like, okay, this is who we are, and this is who we are to identify ourselves as we show up every day, no matter what. 

Pratik:  No matter what. Yes. 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: So that’s, like, I always had that. But coming to America and saying, you know, it’s shocking, right? Like, I think that you know, from back home, I’m like, okay, one of the elite. My daddy was super successful, and top five in the country in 2000, and everything is, like, straight to the top. But he sent me a way to study. So I was always humbled by living below my means, by living with people that are having a party, and I would have had it back home. So I’ve always held that. Held that, you know, like, ability to accommodate myself to any situation, right?

But when I came to America, I was like, wow, this is, like rock bottom. Rock bottom. So it shocked me, and I think I got a spoon. It scared entrepreneurship away from me, and it took me two years to get it back. 

Chris: You had to swallow the humble pill? 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: Yeah, it took it out of me, like, instantaneously because I was like, I don’t speak the language. Everything is like and there are some jobs that I didn’t want to do. And I was like, wow. So he literally scared the entrepreneurship out of me for the first couple of years in America. And I went to the sneakers store in the basement to work. And as luck would have it, a lot of time. We think that something happening to us is the worst thing that could have ever happened to us. But there are a lot of things that we don’t know. We only realized later that that’s the biggest blessing that could have ever happened to us in our lifetime. 

So I was in the basement for two years, and got super good at everything. He just showed me. Sure, I know what part it is, what room it is, and what shelf number it is. So I was super good at my job. And instead of taking 12 hours to do the job, I would do it in 8 hours or less. It’s. And the manager got a good idea, like, oh, this kid is finishing early, so why don’t we send him home and save 3 hours of pay? 

And I was like, wow. It hit me that your hard work costs me a lot before, I took 12 hours because I didn’t know much. Now it takes me less. The only way I can benefit from being a hard worker is by being an entrepreneur. Because at your job, they’re never going to pay you, and they’re not going to pay you. They just pay you enough to keep you. And most of the time, people work hard enough not to get fired. Yeah. So be lazy. 

 Chris:  If you’re lazy and take your time, you’ll get paid more as an employee. But if you’re efficient as an entrepreneur, you can get paid what you want to get paid. 

Pratik: Maybe there’s something that I would add to this part, right? Entrepreneurship is, is kind of like planting a seed that grows over time. In, in the job, you are like, you know, stuck at a certain level of growth. But when it comes to, like, long-term success and financial freedom that you’re looking for, after ten years, it’s possible through entrepreneurship and business!

Mohamadi Tapsoba: 100%. So it took me two years to find out when I realized that I’m going home one day. Like one of the last one that broke the camel’s back. That’s what they call it. I got sent home at 04:00 a.m. And I usually get up at nine, so 5 hours. And I realized that this week This is going, going to be a hard month because. 

It was going to be a hard, hard month financially. And I was sitting on the train going back to the Bronx. I was living in a three, like 300 shared bedroom, which I was living with somebody in the same bedroom. I was going back, and I’m, like, sitting there just thinking about my life, and my tears are coming down in the train, you know, like, just you see the chairs running. No sound, nothing. The chair is running like it’s the heart. Just like I’m hard work. Why is this happening? And I started listening to something whenever you’re down, even today, I categorize a lot of books according to my feelings. I read about most of them. And if I’m feeling like, okay, everything is fucked, I would go listen to Mark Mason’s Everything is Fucked, and get a nice perspective about life. Right? 

And I started that routine, that habit back then. Every time I feel some type of way, I always try to hear something that would lift me up, because that’s a secret that many people it seems so obvious that many people don’t leverage it. I started listening to wow. The name got off of me. I’m going to come back to it. And I heard him say, in life, in the business world, you get paid by the amount of value you bring to the marketplace, not the amount of time you invest. Jim Ron. 

Pratik: Jim Ron. That’s it? 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: Yeah. Jim Ron. It’s like in life, in the marketplace, you call it the marketplace, you don’t get paid by the amount of time that you invested. You get paid by the amount of value you invested. And what I was looking to get paid is on the amount of time that I invested. And I was like, wow, if I’m going, to be honest, it myself. It doesn’t make financial sense for the store owner to pay me another 4 hours to walk around the basement like I’m cleaning everything that is already clean, stacking something that is already stocked. 

So I have to keep to that realization. Like, okay, now the journey. I have to find a way to add more value to the store. If I can do that, I can for sure work less and get paid more. And the idea of creating a website for eCommerce website to sell sneakers came into the picture. Did not know anything about marketing until that point. I never thought of my life being in the marketing world. Never thought of my life being in the website design world. Nothing. I just know I’m going to be a business owner. I’m going to be an entrepreneur. Selling people stuff all day, and that’s all I know. 

Pratik: There’s one thing I want to stop you for a moment. This is exciting, right? There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there who have such ideas, and they want to do something, but the problem is they feel that they don’t have the resources to do that. Right? So first and foremost, I would love to learn from you. How did you start with no resources, basically, and you learnt the skills that were required to be successful in your journey? I think that will be specifically like telling a story, which actually can inspire people to bring their ideas into reality.

Mohamadi Tapsoba: Oh, definitely. I was at the event a couple of weeks ago, and I was listening to David John’s talk to ask him a question, like, in the business world, how much money do you think it’s necessary to start a business in a specific type of field? It’s surprising for an investor. It’s going to sound super out of place for an investor to say that. But he’s like, most people don’t need money. Yes, that’s a better way to do stuff. I really do. He’s like, if you’re doing that, if you, if you, if you, if you need money to put a billboard. Bye. And you don’t know how to do a billboard. You put a shitty billboard up. When you spend money, invest money on shady things, so you’re not going to get anything out of it. You just waste things, and money. 

When he said that, it really hit me, and it took me back. I thought when I was working in the sneaker store, I have some always set up an amount that I didn’t want to spend over that, and I always just put the money on the side, right? So when I started, like, okay, this online store thing, where should I go? I went to find the Google website design and stuff. And long story short, I bought the domain. I call it megasized.com. And I got something that I call it built when I saw Bill. Yeah, I went to the car. Boom. And I just paid a month. I think it’s 300 for whatever it is. I don’t even remember. And I went back and kicked my legs up. I’m like, Very soon, something is going to happen. The whole concept of creating a website was completely new to me. 

And I came back to the URL a week later. It’s like nothing is happening. Maybe it’s your story. It should take some time. Two weeks in, nothing is happening. And I was like, okay, I get on support. It’s like, oh, I bought a website a couple of weeks ago, and nothing is happening. Nothing is on the website. And they’re like, no, you just bought a URL, and the builder, you’re supposed to build it. I was like, wow. 

The next thanks. How do I build the website? That was the next thing. I was like, okay, let me Google. And then I came across the platform. It was up, Upwork, but the name was different back then. And they’re like, oh, you can find this person. This guy here is from Germany,2 and they’re going to build a website for you. And I saw, like, some website that he has, like, this looks beautiful. Let me work with him. I made a deposit, you know, go back 17, my legs up. 

And a few days later, he sent me, oh, this is the link to your website. And look at it. Like, what is this? I’m building a sneaker store. What is this? This is like, oh, you need to provide content. You need to do this. You need to take pictures. I’m like; you should go online. You can Google any picture, and find a picture and put it. I pay you to do this. I want to see a store. Done. 

Long story short, I never understood. I’ve never got anything of value from him to the point where I feel like, okay, I have a website. So I’m like, you know what? There is a saying in our word. I don’t know how it’s going to sound, but I’m not going even to try. But I want to try it. It says that if you go to the market yourself, you get the outcome you want instead of sending somebody. Right. That’s the closest I can get it to the right. 

But in my language, it sounds so different, and profound. So I was like, you know what? I’m going to do this myself. Yes. You can get the job done by yourself. Yes. I roll up my sleeve; I’m like, how do you build a website? I went into a rabbit hole that I never got back from until five years later. Wow. Adobe is one of the few videos that I saw. My building website is not a problem. Getting people to the website is the problem. Wow, that’s a smart idea. 

Maybe I don’t even need a website. If I can get people, I can send them to the store straight. How about that? Do you know? And I feel like the cool kid just bringing people out of nowhere to come and spend hundreds of dollars on sneakers, right? And I gave him 1% of the goods. So I started, okay, how to get people to your store. Another rabbit hole. The SEO world. And it landed me into a nice video of Mic Long talking about OMG, talking about how SEO can create free traffic, how you can write a video instantaneously, get a lot of traffic, and sell products. But we’ll show you everything you need to know about it. We’ll show you exactly how to do the same, but you have to pay $8,000. 

Everything sounded good until then. I was like, okay. Okay. I have, like, three accounts. This is the money I used to pay for my school. Fifteen hundred dollars a month or whatnot? And this is the money that I spent on rent. Like, you know how things are in a separate way? And I was like, you know what? Let me put everything together and see what’s going to happen. So, let me just sleep on it first and not do this instantaneously. I slept on it. I woke up the next morning. It was March 15. March 15, 2016. I slept. In everything that I do, I always pray for god for guidance. Pray to god for guidance because I believe it’s very important to know things we don’t know. And I was like, you know, god, this is my two-year saving. 

If this is something that you believe would be good for me don’t even put a second dot in my head when I wake up in the morning. And when I woke up, it was like, literally nothing just on the way. Like, oh, just get the money. Put the money together, just click on the link and put the card number in, and make it happen. Boom. By 12:00, I’m in. And I look at this login to the platform, to the car. 

So this guy speaks really fast English, number one. And they speak about terms that I don’t even know. Like, English was a big barrier, and the SEO language was a completely different language. Yeah. I was like, wow, let’s see how we’re going to make this happen. And I started like, okay, one week in, I’m like, this is the worst decision of my life. Everything I’ve worked hard for the last two years for, I dumped it into this, and I don’t even understand it. And I was like, if the investment was not that much, I would have probably walked away. 

Chris: Yeah. So how important do you think the risk is? It’s massively important. Like, burn the book up a situation. We hear it all the time. You’re going to see only a few people that you will hear about that have burned the books and made it happen. It goes back to the ability to take responsibility. Right. 

Pratik: There’s a lot of things, maybe just to add to what you said. Entrepreneur’s journey is less about success, and more about failures, and learning from those failures and going about that makes you a successful person. So, again, taking risks without having a fear of failure is something very, very crucial skill that every founder entrepreneur should possess. And really, your story beautifully tells this part of the journey. Amazing. Continue. 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: It’s very interesting when you say that open and not a gate. How do we create fear? Fear is created from, like, us, paralleling a current experience that might potentially happen in the future to an experience that happened to us in the past. Yeah, I’m reading a book right now, call by Mark Douglas called Trading in the Zone. And he beautifully, explained how everything in our life that will ever explain the experience is never going to be the same. Like, this call. We’re now going to have this call ever again. The last minute that we had is gone. If they tell us to go and sit and say the same things, we will not be able to do it. 

But for some reason, we think that the experience that happened in the past with us. If you are like, dating someone and something happened, and the person has a red car, you automatically see the other person has a red car, too. So your mind can just hold on to that and start activating the fear factors. So understand that nothing, I learned from that book, and it’s like nothing in the past would ever replicate itself. But when you understand that, it’s like, oh, it happened back then; it didn’t work. 1s There is no reason why it shouldn’t work, or it should work, but the only way to find out is permitting me to try it. 

Pratik: Yeah. Following through. Right? 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: So back to the story, right? I was like I was literally ready to drop the towel. That’s what I’m telling people. Commitment. If you’re going to commit to something, commit in a way that it’s hard to back up, and when you don’t have any order, you’re going to make it happen. 

Pratik: I have a story to tell. Okay, very quick, two minutes. I committed to 1000 days challenge to be posting on LinkedIn consistently. And I announced it to the world. You know, sometimes we proc procrastinate on certain things of taking actions, but if we make other people accountable or if there’s something online for me, it was my reputation online with all of my networks. I said that I’ll show up every day for 1000 days, and I showed up. And this is the journey I was able to achieve through LinkedIn. So anything you do in life, you have to put something on the table which is significant enough that won’t let you give up. 

Really amazing thing that you said. Everybody, you know, like everybody I know in my network who are founders, entrepreneurs, they possess the skill. This is what separates them from the 99% of people. So this is a lesson for anybody who’s at the beginning of the journey. 

Chris: And just like Mohamadi, it’s not knowing how to do SEO or not knowing how to do web development, investing such a large amount of money, and then just going in into saying, I can do this. This is my attitude, I have a work ethic. This is going to succeed for me one way or the other. 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: 100% and going, sitting back now and looking at it, it’s like it allows us to create a clear picture, right? But for us to be able to achieve anything, we have to be someone that deserves to achieve that thing. And number two, do the things that someone deserves that time to do, and then you get to achieve it. But you cannot do without being, and you cannot have without doing. 

So that’s like like what I realized that, wow, who is crazy enough to invest $8,000 to try something that I don’t know is the same exact person that will do what it takes to make it work? And it’s the same person that will achieve the success that somebody that does that work, which is achieved, you know, so. Yeah, like, I figured, like, a couple of days in, I’m like, okay, I cannot back out now. And I made that commitment till day doesn’t matter. Every single day, I’m on edge, and that’s a commitment that I’ve made. And I was talking to my, like, somebody like that I see as a coach. And it’s funny. We meet every four years. Last time we met was four years ago, and I just met him a couple of days ago. And every time that we sit last time I sat with him, I took some stuff that I still have to mention to today. And he’s been living in Maryland for a year and a half too, and I didn’t know, and I realized, and I went and saw him. He’s like, okay, so when do you want to meet? I was like, today. Calm down. And I went, and I was telling him about everything, right? Like, for the last five years, six years. My business career is extremely short, but I have tried many things. I have done a lot of things, and a lot of them were brick walls. 

And I told him about I have done so many things in the last four, like three years alone since COVID, And I felt like somebody like, you’re fighting, right? And somebody just keeps holding your hand, tying your hands together, and you cannot even break loose. I believe my entrepreneurial journey has been that most of the time, and he’s like, you are experiencing it, you’re experiencing it. And everything, like, nothing else matters than the experience of being able to experience this. Do you ever open your bank account and sit and say, oh, I have this account? No, but whenever you go through, you’re going to sit here and talk to people about it, and what you have in the bank account is like, oh, a lot of people have more than that in the bank account. So when you can sit and tell your story or share some insight about what you are going through, many people will listen, and many will get inspired by it. 

Pratik: There’s one thing that I want to ask you. You’re on your journey of being an entrepreneur. Why don’t you share what you’re doing with TAW theme and how and why you build this product for people around the globe? 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: It’s interesting, right? When you listen to my story after disconnecting with the website thing, the website is what got me here, and appreciation of that made me walk away from it with my toes between my legs to dive into another world of SEO. But two years in, like, when the company started, like, okay, thriving clients coming in, I would get prospects like, hey, I need SEO. I was like, okay, beautiful, send me over a website. We’ll do some quick analysis and see how we can get started. I don’t have a website. You don’t have a website, and you need SEO? I was like, oh, yeah, I was thinking about it, and I was like, you need a website? It’s like, do you do websites? No, absolutely not. We don’t do websites. Find somebody to do the website for you. And once the website is done, let me know so we can get your SEO going. So what happened? I would not hear from these people again and the consistent website, but what if I devote a good amount of time and figure this out, right? Get the people who can execute flawlessly and build a nice solid team around it to stop losing clients because I don’t do website design. And I started that back in 2019. And I put a group of incredible developers. From different platform developers and, you know, an incredible UI UX theme as well, and a graphic design team, and everything just came in flawlessly. So, website design, 

Pratik: What technology is this website built on? Is it WordPress? 

Mohamadi Tapsoba: WordPress. WordPress. 

Pratik: So WordPress is taking almost 40% to 50% of the market when it comes to, like, website development. If you are a listener who wants to bring their ideas into reality, you should definitely check out TAW theme. They are doing some incredible work. It’s pretty inexpensive when it comes to brainstorming the website structure, images, and all of the content-related stuff. It’s like an easy step to get started, right? So really big help for all entrepreneurs and founders out there to use TAW Theme for bringing their ideas to life. Now, before we end this session, there’s one more thing that I want to do quick-fire around. They will ask you five questions, and you can simply say what pops into your mind first. 

Let’s save the Rapid Fire and the stunning wrap-up exclusively for the Podcast. You can hear and watch the full episode on INSIDEA’s YouTube Channel as well as Spotify.

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