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Adnan Ebrahim – Creating Popular Brands For A New Breed Of Digital Natives

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Adnan Ebrahim bought the domain carthrottle.com in 2008 and spent three years running the site part-time while attending University. Back then, it was more of an experiment that paid for itself through ads.

Three years later, he jumped into full-time “entrepreneurship” (aka unemployment) and that was when things really started to take off!

Whenever he’s not eating or sleeping, he’s replying to emails, messaging the team or thinking about his strategy. More recently, he’s even started dreaming about Car Throttle – I know right, what a freak!

Running a business is all-consuming, but Adnan Ebrahim wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s currently running one of the fastest-growing internet car communities…

And in just over a year, CarThrottle has grown from less than 100,000 unique visitors per month to over 2.5 million.

They’ve signed exclusive deals with YouTube, have been featured in TechCrunch, DailyMail and Bloomberg, and are even backed by London’s most prominent investors including Passion Capital.

adnan-prof-picQuick Fire Questions

Book Your Currently Reading?

The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Ben Horowitz 

Best Business Purchase?

MacBook Pro Retina (for the 22 years prior, I was an adamant Windows fanboy!)

Favourite Business Resource?

The Car Throttle business bank account… 😉

Biggest Inspiration

Elon Musk – a true risk-taker and visionary. And he loves cars, so he’s basically faultless.

Favourite Business Website?

Hacker News and BothSidesOfTheTable

How I Started

In the early days (2006, when I started my first blog), I was mainly inspired by the “probloggers” who had managed to turn content creation into a full-time living. Two guys instantly come to mind – Darren Rowse and Yaro Starak – whose sites chronicled their rise.

After leaving University, there were definitely some tough times. Eliminating the fear of failure was the single most useful thing which encouraged me to keep going. I basically asked myself “What’s the worst that could happen?” When the answer wasn’t death, I knew I was worrying for no reason!

The Best Thing I Did For My Business

Without awesome investors (specifically Eileen Burbidge from Passion Capital who sits on our board), I wouldn’t have been able to hire my amazing team. Without my team, I wouldn’t have been able to create such a fast-growing brand. Both have been equally as important.

How I Make Money

adnan-ebrahim-mclaren-prof-pic

Finding our target audience has been absolutely crucial to our success. We’ve created a brand that resonates with young, 18-34, male car enthusiasts, and we know exactly where to find them online. Advertisers are willing to pay more money to speak to this hard-to-reach demographic. Find your niche and know what you stand for.

How I Work

A typical working day starts late and finishes late. With our HQ in London, this allows us to miss the worst of the infamous rush hour, and means we’re still working when our American audience starts to wake up.

As a team we’re constantly communicating, whether it’s on Slack, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, calls or via good old face-to-face conversation. As the official “jack of all trades, master of bugger all” hat-wearer. I spend the day talking to advertisers, touching base with our investors, bug testing, reviewing unreleased YouTube videos, monitoring stats, and making sure the ship is sailing smoothly.

I’m much more removed from the content creation process now, which is great, because others in the team are far better at it than I am!

The Day I Realized I Made It

CarThrottle YouTube

As the team will tell you, I never think we’ve made it. It’s just not who I am. I’m always looking for more, thinking of ways to be better, and striving to hit the next goal.

But breaking 100,000 subscribers on YouTube was an amazing feeling of vindication as was hitting 1 million unique visitors per month. Check out this great guide showing how to make your YouTube videos interactive.

I Would Have Been Successful Sooner If…

It took us a while to find our growth formula; using Facebook as a distribution tool. But “what ifs” don’t exist in life and I prefer to look forward, rather than backward!

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”  Albert Einstein

What YOU Should Be Focusing On

Getting more users is key for any consumer internet business. Once you have engaged users and attention, you’ll be able to monetize without a problem. But the hardest part for any startup is getting those first 1,000 hardcore users. Find them, and listen to what they want. If user engagement is something you’ve been struggling with, check out the 10 unique writing tips for more engaging content

Why I’m Successful And You May Not Be

Thanks to the rise of internet publications, there are a huge number of emerging car blogs and social media ‘gurus’. All are aiming to become the next TopGear. Whilst it’s great to dream big (we certainly do), the most successful new media brands have an edge and a different angle that help them attract a different kind of audience.

Creating The Next Car Brand For A New Breed Of Digital Natives

Given the industry we’re in, we have a lot of fun.

Whether it’s reviewing the latest cars, attending glamorous launches, creating awesome videos or developing products which are instantly used by millions of users, working for Car Throttle definitely has its perks. And we can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us!

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Comments

  1. Siraj Wahid says:

    Hey,

    Creating products is a crucial thing, that’s what everyone should target. Adnan Ebrahim has targeted a single field for creating products that’s why he i successful. If we are going to target a single field then we are more likely to achieve success.

    -Siraj

  2. Nice cars, and I agree with the part about getting your first 1,000 users, it seems a lot of VCs are valuing startups on the # of users now days, it’s the currency of choice, gets users dialed into your platform then monetize later, guess FB was the best at doing this right….

  3. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Hi David,

    Adnan’s story rocks. The cool thing is, anybody can do this. Anybody can succeed, by providing massive value, and sharing something useful, and by building a huge, responsive network of friends around them, by promoting others and helping people whenever they could.

    The secret lies in first, knowing it’s possible. I was a fired security guard 5 years ago with zero direction. I hopped online, started a business, the came across guys like Darren and Yaro, a few years in….these guys were succeeding and both had humble beginnings. Even though I was struggling, I could see success was possible, and these folks put a little spark in me, to keep going.

    I’m typing these words from an ocean front home in Savusavu, Fiji. Yes, the bum, fired security guard. I worked smart, and persistently to get here, but more than anything I learned from the best and surrounded myself with winners to make my journey easier.

    Sure I created massive value through posting to my blog but I vibe with the “What if” advice offered above; that “what if” train left town for me, and all, and it never returns, so simply let it go and you’ll grow all the more quickly.

    David, love this interview. Adnan is an inspiring dude. I enjoy stories like these because it proves that if you’re hungry, you’ll find a way to succeed.

    Thanks so much for the share.

    Tweeting in a bit.

    Ryan