Busy as a bee: Experiences that are more valuable than money?

Who doesn’t know her, the busy worker bee? She works hard, performs countless tasks, and never sleeps. The fascinating thing about this little superhero is that she performs these tasks instinctively, without having learned them beforehand. And that’s precisely how I would describe Ali Haidar. A man behind whom lies years of sacrifice to provide a good life for himself and his family in a collapsing Lebanon.

The hive: a complex building process

In 2020, Ali Haidar founded his startup company. However, he began building this hive years earlier, piece by piece, or rather honeycomb by honeycomb. His building materials: Lots. Of. Effort. Combined with a lot of time. After all, such a complex construct is not built overnight. The first foundations were laid during his studies.
His academic career began at the American University of Science and Technology (AUST) in Beirut, where he majored in Computer & Communications Engineering. It was not long before he dove into the world of programming for the first time – and was swept into its depths as if by monster waves. Long story short: he changed his major to Computer Science and really flourished in it. The mandatory internship during his studies later opened his first door to the job market: the busy bee was born.

When the time is ripe…

The original three-month internship then turned into almost a whole year. Free of charge, mind you. What drove him to do it? “My goal was to gain as much experience and skills as possible. That’s why I also accepted the lack of salary. I had the farsighted conception that these experiences are infinitely more valuable than money. Besides, I was able to organize my working hours flexibly, which was particularly beneficial during my studies,” explains Ali Haidar.
The result of this mentality can now be marveled at with one’s own eyes. “The money will undoubtedly come later, when the time is ripe.” With this in mind, he exhorts the up-and-coming talents of this industry to always strive for more knowledge. “Learn, learn, learn. Never think about money when you are young. Use your time to gain experience, not to make money.”

Time to say goodbye to the job

During his first professional experience, the web developer learned a valuable lesson: as soon as he stops gaining new knowledge at a job, it’s time to say goodbye to it and find a job where he can grow professionally. He has made that experience often enough; went from one job to another; was swarmed by interested employers; and acquired skills that now distinguish him as an adept CEO.
Thus, the fresh alumnus found himself working as a web developer for various marketing agencies, which entrusted him with the responsibility for much more than just this position. He was called into important meetings by his superiors, learned to hire appropriate personnel from them, explored the depths of marketing and technical sales. And although he lacked the years of professional experience that others could demonstrate, he invariably ended up in managerial positions as a result.
It wasn’t long before he was bringing in customers himself, taking their requirements, determining the value of the products and pitching them sales quotes. “I got to a point where I was teaching people with more work experience. That’s when you realize it’s irrelevant how long you’ve been in the profession. It’s the character traits that help you succeed in your job – I like to learn, I learn a lot. And also things that don’t come directly within the scope of my profession. That’s also how I’ve always been able to impress my superiors.”

The busy bee and its countless tasks

For that very reason, he also used his spare time to capture more skills. Like a bee, which is always on the lookout for pollen and nectar. These acquired skills were then transferred to freelance commissions, which he carried out time and again since graduating from university. “In the beginning, it was acquaintances who hired me. But through their referrals, my clientele eventually grew at an increasing rate,” Ali Haidar revealed.
“At the same time, I was getting plenty of new job offers. Especially abroad – Europe, America, Asia, you name it. The compensation would have been top-notch. But I was not willing to emigrate. And remote jobs didn’t really exist pre-Corona.” Why not take such an opportunity when it is well known that Lebanon’s economic and political situation is doomed?
“Why would I leave my country, my family, and culture without a valid reason?” he counters. The Lebanese people are resilient; they learned long ago how to deal with crises and not surrender. They prefer to leave their nest only when there is no other choice. “As long as we are still doing well here, I prefer to stay and travel for pleasure,” he adds.

The logical consequence

This makes him all the more motivated to carve out a quality life in Lebanon.
The only logical conclusion Ali Haidar could draw from the need for security, the increasing freelance jobs and the decreasing appreciation as an employee, is to start his own business. Immersing himself in various business sectors equipped him with the necessary know-how and prepared the ground for the step towards independence.
To realize this dream, he thus devoted himself unconditionally to planning his start-up idea – resigned from his job and from then on, only carried out projects of his own. However, the execution was put on hold for the time being by Lebanon’s October 2019 protests, a crisis whereby many processes in the country were forcibly halted. This movement, locally referred to as “Thawra” or “revolution”, was the interim hope of thousands of Lebanese for an end to the dysfunctional political system. But political change failed to materialize, and the situation got worse. Then came Corona, which, while it blocked the future for many industries, opened up new worlds for the IT market: “Because of the Corona restrictions, any business that sought to survive had to rely on a digital presence. And that’s where we web developers came in. Our business boomed.”

Quality enhancement through technology?

And so, in 2020, Codeloops was born. A software development company that promises to raise the quality level of its customers. How? “Depending on the industry, not everyone knows what technological service their business is lacking. We have the right tools to decipher that.” This may concern an old company that is still struggling with the technological revolution. But it may also concern entrepreneurs who know exactly what they’re missing, but are working with all the wrong people, causing them to fail in their efforts to implement it. “That’s where we come in. We identify their problem, and solve it by bringing in technology that makes their day-to-day work easier and more efficient. Also called Value Added Services & Technology (VAST),” explains Ali Haidar.
The company, which together with Ali Haidar was initially comprised of three employees, met great success with its offerings. And thus managed to grow. The team is now composed of professionals from various fields: Graphic Designers, Marketing Experts, Web Developers. Everyone has certain duties, which allows Codeloops to offer different services. Website Development, Mobile Applications, E-commerce Solutions, Search Engine Optimization and Digital Marketing. “Through my previous work experience, I also learned to screen out which jobs or clients I should accept and which ones I shouldn’t. Every so often, I would do a project for someone who may pay me less than the project is intrinsically worth. However, I will gain a long-term partner who will continue to bring me promising projects later on.”

People with vision

Yet, this only applies to hand-picked people. “There are many who come in with a basic idea and plenty of money to implement it. But they lack a sophisticated plan, making the chances of success very slim. I can’t cooperate with such people.” At the same time, there are visionaries who have the right mindset to make their idea a reality. They know what tools they need for this purpose; they just lack the necessary capital. “I once had a collaboration with a start-up company in the gaming industry. They required someone to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for them to pitch their idea to investors. I was willing to create that for them, even though they couldn’t pay me the going rate. I recognized their potential from their rock-solid presentation. And I was right, as today they are well recognized in their industry,” he adds.
They are the ones who, just like Ali Haidar, are willing to pull all-nighters, work until dawn and turn the office into a nesting den. “Anyone who wants to work with me has to be willing to sacrifice themselves just as much for their business.” In the future, however, he intends to avoid taking on jobs where he has to pay most of the expenses. “Then we’ll agree that if they only pay half, I’ll get the other half as equity in the company. Such that we no longer make losses and can achieve important milestones.”

Overlooking the big sharks

“In the past, I have not been able to achieve some set ambitions as quickly as I would have preferred.” That’s due in part to the state of the country, the world and also financial hurdles, the CEO explains. “Some investments were not possible simply because there were other priorities. These include traveling and attending globally recognized conferences.” – The hubs of major companies. The place to meet new people, do PR work and forge new collaborations. “For some of those contacts I established years ago, I’m working on projects now. Every so often you don’t see the results right away, but in the long run it brings benefits,” he says proudly.
For the future, Ali Haidar hopes to secure government contracts. “We are striving to take over government platforms. For instance, for a telecommunications company. The big sharks, so to speak.” For his company, it would entail one thing above all: they would no longer take on small contracts, nor would they take on digital marketing clients, but would instead focus only on the software sphere: “Our marketing department would then only take care of the company’s own branding. In other words, we would stop being a digital agency and instead start serving as a pure VAST company.” As for Ali Haidar, he would stop handling thousands of tasks: “With enough employees, I can delegate the various duties and then focus solely on technical sales.”
When Ali Haidar recapitulates his achievements to date, it becomes clear that he not only has a vision, but also knows how to implement it. “Patience and hard work lead the way to the goal,” he remarks. Is there any more suitable proof that he is as diligent as a bee? (signals/futureorg)
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