From being born in a refugee camp to heading Truecaller: A peek into Alan Mamedi's story of success
According to Mamedi, when you give people a chance, it makes them work twice as hard to repay you.
As second-generation immigrants, Truecaller co-founders Alan Mamedi and Nami Zarringhalam know how hard it is to prove yourself in a new country. It’s why, when they started in 2009, both vowed to always give people a chance to exhibit their talents.
According to Mamedi, when you give people a chance, it makes them work twice as hard to repay you. “I think it’s one way of showing gratitude,” he told ETPanache over the phone. “If you give them trust and a mandate, and you spend time with them in the organisation — them learning from you and you learning from them — you will reap the benefits.”
The ‘underdog’ appeal
“As humans, we’re always uncertain of the unknown,” Mamedi said. “It could be a different nationality, a different skin colour or even a name that you aren’t familiar with. We are hesitant to put our trust in the unknown.”
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It’s a hesitation that Mamedi is familiar with, having been born in a refugee camp in northern Sweden a month after his Kurdish parents immigrated in 1984. “Growing up, there were those who saw me a certain way, who didn’t believe in me. It drove me to prove them all wrong,” he said. “It’s the same principle with an underdog. People are hesitant to put their faith in an underdog and that makes the underdog work twice as hard to prove people wrong. When you harness a power like that, magic happens.”
The turning point
Mamedi’s conviction is driven by an incident from his first job post-university. “I learnt what I didn’t want in my company during my first job. It gave me a lot of experience in building things from scratch, but I also went through a lot of abuse,” he shared.
“One of the managers there would say racist things very openly…It was shocking to hear but helpful in the long run. It made me realise what I didn’t want to be or do when I started my own company. [Today] I like to surround myself with humble, respectful people because that’s how I like to be treated.”
Asked about his own management style, Mamedi says with a laugh, “You would have to ask my employees.”