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UpEffect | Sheeza Ahmad | Interview

UpEffect is a rewards-based crowdfunding and support platform for social good products.
Over 50% of crowdfunding campaigns fail on the major platforms, particularly niche products as there are thousands of mass-market products launching at one time. To help social entrepreneurs effectively utilise rewards-based crowdfunding, UpEffect has analysed the market data and built a platform optimised for campaign success.
They vet companies based on purpose + profit, quantifiable metrics and founder credibility. Selected companies then benefit from their network of crowdfunding experts, social entrepreneurs, marketeers, videographers and much more to help them convert their idea into a tangible campaign.
Sheeza Ahmad Shah spoke with i-genius about setting up UpEffect and social enterprise.
UpEffect GreenBlue Logo
i-genius: Why did you start UpEffect?
Sheeza Ahmad Shah: I personally feel like each one of us was put on this Earth to serve a purpose, to create value for people, to tackle big problems and present viable solutions. Each one of us has been gifted with the world’s most powerful tool – the human brain, an organ that not even the brightest scientists, doctors or so-called experts have been able to fully comprehend. As humans, we evolve, we grow, we get better and we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of entrepreneurial ventures being set up – this is a form of evolution –  humans no longer have the patience to wait for the big guys to solve our problems. Instead, entrepreneurs are taking control and solving problems on their own by creating mind-blowing technologies and products.
There are a number of crowdfunding platforms in the market but very few doing it well. Due to minimal vetting, the leading platforms have an exceptionally low success rate (over 90% of their campaigns fail) and data has shown that 9% of campaigns have failed to deliver a single reward to their funders. Also lack of support availability means most ideas are unable to benefit from these tools, particularly social good products that get drowned by mass-market targeted campaigns. 
I set out to solve this problem to give social good companies a chance to thrive.
i-genius: Who’s/what’s been your continued source of inspiration?
Sheeza: Social entrepreneurs who are breaking barriers and are creating measurable and sustainable social impact in communities are my continued source of inspiration. These days everyone is calling themselves an entrepreneur but a true entrepreneur is one who can support his or her work using verified numbers and results. Without credibility, it is difficult to inspire.
i-genius: In what way is UpEffect a social enterprise?
Sheeza: The primary aim of a commercial business is to maximise shareholder wealth whereas the primary aim of a social enterprise is to maximise social value. To achieve this with a sustainable model, you need profit.
UpEffect is a mission-driven company, focused on both social impact and profitability.
i-genius: What difficulties did you experience setting up UpEffect?
Sheeza: We had no prior experience in building a crowdfunding platform, therefore, we literally started from scratch. I spent a lot of days studying other platforms and researching their technology to break down every detailed technical requirement. It was a huge learning curve for me but each time we overcame a hurdle, I fell more in love with the solution and the journey.
The toughest part of starting a startup is finding motivational strength when things aren’t going as planned. It’s very easy to give up, infact one of the biggest reasons startups fail is because founders stop trying. It’s important to not feel defeated during the lows of the journey and remember the original vision to keep you going.  
MC Awards
i-genius: What are the most crucial things you have done to grow/set up UpEffect? 
Sheeza: Speaking to potential users and understanding their problem as well as getting their feedback at all stages of the product. Without direct input from users, it’s like taking a shot in the dark.
i-genius: What is your favourite motto in life?
Sheeza: Whenever I’m faced with a challenge, I train my mind to believe I will get through it and believe me, we faced a lot of challenges with the technology. It was a new project for us but we got through it as we were determined to solve this problem.
i-genius: What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received?
Sheeza: The worst business advice I have received is: “there is a minimum age requirement for starting a business.” It’s simply not true. Time and time again, young individuals have shown that age is only a number and not a limitation to creating change.
i-genius: What advice would you give to those starting up a social business/project?
1. Train your mind to treat failure as your saviour – without falling down, you can’t possibly know how to rise. There will be hundreds of no’s during your entrepreneurial journey but all it takes is one yes.
2. Validate. Without getting direct feedback from your potential consumers, you will never know how useful your solution is.
3. Figure out how the business will survive without public funding, grants and donations. Build a financially sustainable model for your social venture, your impact will be limited and short-lived without an independent revenue stream to keep you moving forward without spreading resources.
This interview was conducted as part of the i-genius Getting Started interview series. If you would like to learn how to get started in your social business, then why not take our ‘Getting Started – Social Business Start Up’ online course with i-genius Academy. To find out more, click here!


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