In his role as Managing Partner with Modus Capital, an investment studio based out of New York City, Kareem Elsirafy continues to make his mark as an insightful and innovative business leader and entrepreneur.
A graduate of Columbia University who holds degrees in political science, Middle Eastern studies and economics, Kareem Elsirafy is also a military veteran.
1.What was your best/favorite subject in school?
Economics was my favorite subject with business management being a close second. I have always been drawn to economics because I find the cause and effect relationship between different aspects of the economy to be fascinating.
2. What was your first job?
My first job ever was in the Marines; I was a diesel mechanic working on trucks. This experience helped lay some of the groundwork for my leadership, professional focus, and my understanding of how important it is to build the right team.
3. Where and how did you first get into the industry you currently work in?
We started out as consultants and advisors in the tech industry helping companies accelerate and overcome challenges. After many wins under our belt, we knew that we had a solid framework in place that could be applied elsewhere. We then took this framework and created Modus, where we can continue to do what we love, which is helping companies to succeed, and, at the same time, investing in companies that we identify as having the biggest growth potential.
4. How have those jobs prepared you for what you do now?
Through our collective experience working to develop tech companies and as entrepreneurs, we gained an understanding of what businesses really need to be successful. We began developing the right framework to allow companies that are poised for high growth to truly accelerate. During this time, we also began taking an equity stake in the companies that we were working with.
Because we had worked so well together in the past, we knew that we had the right partners in place, and then, after taking into consideration the needs of the entrepreneur and the needs of investors, we developed the Modus Model, which we consider to be the ultimate operating ecosystem.
5. Describe the best day of work you’ve ever had.
The day that I got to take our team to a company-wide off-site at a ski resort in Vermont was really gratifying. It was extremely fun working together outside of the office. When you stimulate your brain with a new environment, it really allows for greater collaboration and creativity.
6. How do you keep yourself motivated?
I am inherently driven to succeed, but as the leader of a company I also understand that I am responsible for the success and security of the professional lives of Modus’ team members as well as for the success of the companies that we advise. When I see my staff excel, or a client’s business accelerate, that is the ultimate motivation.
7. What kind of business ideas excite you most?
An idea that solves a problem or relieves a pain point is the most interesting. The hardest problems to tackle are the most exciting to solve, when there is a clear problem but no one is able to come up with a viable solution.
8. Have you ever tried any unorthodox techniques to attract attention to your business?
Absolutely, I have. Digital marketing strategies in particular have to be creative and unique in order to generate attention in what can be an incredibly crowded marketplace. The Modus Model is a new and innovative approach in the venture capital space and a lot of clients and business partners have been inherently drawn in by the fact that we have turned the traditional VC model on its head.
9. What personal achievement are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the fact that I have been able to strike a balance between my professional, academic, and personal responsibilities in a way that does not detract from each one. Making sure that I spend enough time with my wife, my family, and my friends is very important to me.
- What wisdom you would have liked to share with yourself when you first started out?
There were certainly times when I tried to do too much, so I would advise myself to place a greater emphasis on attracting the most talented professionals to tackle important parts of the business while I focused on a narrowed set of responsibilities. I place a big focus on building a team with the right people, empowering my team to be able to do well, and then allowing them to succeed on their own.