Cherif Habib has been a lifelong entrepreneur. He started his first business at just 16, has taken startups full cycle, and has now raised $100M for his latest healthcare venture.
During our interview on the DealMakers Podcast, Habib shared his experiences fundraising, what he considers the foundation of a successful business, the differences between raising capital in the US and Canada, and his top tips for other entrepreneurs.
The Foundations Of Success
Cherif Habib was born in Cairo, Egypt. When he was 10 years old his parents decided to move their family to Montreal, Canada to open up more life opportunities for them. It was a move that has certainly proven to improve the odds in their favor. They left behind a very comfortable life, and embraced the uncertainty and challenges of moving to a completely new environment and culture.
It was tough, but it certainly helped Cherif become very adaptable from a very early age. Most notably, being adept at making new friends in new places and holding onto those from where has lived.
He also had the great benefit of coming from a family of entrepreneurs. One of his grandfathers was a real estate developer and engineer. His wife owned a furniture factory. His other grandfather was a farmer. His wife has a successful flower business.
They had very vertically integrated businesses, and dinner table conversations were often focused on business and taught him the lingo.
Most notably he recognized that they built these successful businesses without ever using traditional bank finance, venture capital, or going to business school. Those things he considers micro-optimizations and adjustments.
What Habib considers the real foundation of a successful business is the mix of extremely hard work, good judgment, and integrity, doing the right thing for employees and for their customers.”
You’re Never Too Young To Start Your Own Business
Together with a friend in high school, Cherif Habib started his first real business at just 16 years old. They yearned for their own financial independence and a way to afford the things they wanted and activities, without having to rely on their parents for an allowance.
Both being self-admitted nerds, they found this opportunity in starting their own small IT consulting business. They helped businesses with websites, networking, printer problems, and more.
Soon they were making far more money than anyone else their age. Cherif’s dream of becoming a doctor quickly shifted to being hooked on being an entrepreneur.
His father had also been one of the first people in Egypt to own a home computer. Even before they were being used in businesses and the military. That led Cherif to study computer science in college.
The Mobile Phone Business
This was a time when there were many more choices of mobile phone brands and devices. A friend of theirs was traveling to Dubai during the holidays and they had him pick up a couple of their favorite phones that were only available overseas. They were instantly the coolest kids in school.
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