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Hack To Start
Episode 194

Waqas Ali

Making the One & Only shoe you’d want to wear

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Music

Waqas Ali is the co-founder of Atoms, one & only shoe for every day. Waqas started building a startups and businesses after discovering the internet and realizing you could sell products online. While there were a ton of insurmountable challenges, Waqas and his co founder Sidra persevered - launching a custom dress shoe company called Markhor. They eventually made it to the US, ran a massive kickstarter campaign and got into YC on their second attempt. Today, Waqas & Sidra are at it again, working on an everyday shoe for the new creatives called Atoms. Waqas joins us to share his story, how he discovered the internet & startups in his home country of Pakistan, all the challenges they had to go through just to start a company, his advice for getting into YC, what really goes into creating a product and story, how they’ve approached launching Atoms, and much more.

Main Objectives For This Episode

  • Learn more about how Waqas got into startups
  • Learn more about what it like applying to Y Combinator
  • Learn more about what motivated Waqas to create Atoms
  • And more!

Episode Overview

Waqas Ali is the co-founder of Atoms, one & only shoe for every day.

Waqas started building a startups and businesses after discovering the internet and realizing you could sell products online.

While there were a ton of insurmountable challenges, Waqas and his co founder Sidra persevered - launching a custom dress shoe company called Markhor.

They eventually made it to the US, ran a massive kickstarter campaign and got into YC on their second attempt.

Today, Waqas & Sidra are at it again, working on an everyday shoe for the new creatives called Atoms.

Waqas joins us to share his story, how he discovered the internet & startups in his home country of Pakistan, all the challenges they had to go through just to start a company, his advice for getting into YC, what really goes into creating a product and story, how they’ve approached launching Atoms, and much more.


Some Of The Questions We Ask

2:26
Can you tell us more about yourself - where are you from and what did you study?

3:35
Where did your passion for startups and ecommerce really come from?

12:01
Diving into the story of re-applying to YC. Can you tell us what that experience was like?

13:43
You’re actually the founder of two startups: Markhor which is the craftsman dress shoes, and now Atoms. So what’s Atoms all about and what motivated you to launch it?

16:01
On that mission to make the best shoe possible, you guys have had a bit of a unique launch or pre-launch. Can you tell us what stage your at and why you decided to go this route?

21:37
With both brands you guys have gone the ecommerce, direct to consumer model. Is that something that you want to keep doing or is it just a strategy for starting out?

24:18
Diving into that a little bit more, specifically with the first point - getting to 10,000 passionate customers. What tactics or channels are you using to grow and get to that milestone?

27:54
You guys have just gotten started, but what’s next for you and Atoms in 2018?

30:48
We’ve covered a ton of different things over the course of the episode. So do you have any final thoughts or advice to leave us with?


Here are some of the most important links and resources mentioned throughout the show.

Twitter Handles & Websites

Waqas Ali on Twitter
Markhor on Twitter
Markhor on the Web
Atoms on Twitter
Atoms on the web
Tyler Copeland on Twitter
Franco Varriano on Twitter

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