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The Secret to Growing a Successful Startup Without Investment

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Ever since our Co-Founder, Leon Milns, listened to Amman Ahmed speak at an Insider event, he has been captivated by the young entrepreneur’s business journey. And with good reason.

Amman managed to turn his part-time “side hustle”, Music for Pets, into an international business with a vast and loyal customer base.

We were thrilled to have Amman join us for our Adam Asks podcast, seizing this opportunity to ask him how his business became so successful. Discover the highlights from our eye-opening discussion in this blog.

The power of music

Amman always wanted to start his own business. He loved the concept of following his own path and the freedom that comes with it.

So, while he was at university, he dabbled with a few business ideas. But it wasn’t until his final year that he struck gold. Amman was struggling to concentrate when it came to writing his dissertation. The only thing that really helped him focus was listening to classical music.

This got him thinking, what is it about music that can help you concentrate when under stress? He decided to explore this further based on a gut feeling that it could lead to something big.

To test the waters, Amman kickstarted a YouTube channel called Relaxation Records. He did this with the help of a music producer from El Salvador. The channel’s aim was to help people like Amman study and sleep.

Through Relaxation Records, Amman started to make a bit of money on the side. At the time, he was also working at a recruitment agency which specialised in high-level contracting for IT consultants.

He remembered reading how the skills you get from sales are invaluable when it comes to running your own business. So he committed himself to working long hours in a sales-based recruitment role for the next 8 months.

The inception of Music For Pets

Music for Pets is Amman’s current business, a TV and music streaming service for cats and dogs that helps them overcome stress and separation anxiety. 

He developed the idea while he was working at the recruitment agency, and it was inspired by his music producer partner who was living in a dangerous, gang-run

Due to all the noise outside, his dog and cat were experiencing a lot of anxiety. This encouraged the pair to explore how they could help pets relax in similar situations without the need for medication.

They conducted more research into the ways music can impact an animal's wellbeing, and shortly after, Music For Pets was born. Despite it being a new business, it was an instant hit with customers. Amman went from making £100 to £500 a month.

Even though he wasn’t making as much as his salary, Amman decided to quit his job at the recruitment agency. “I knew Music for Pets was going to develop into something really meaningful” explains Amman. “It meant a lot to me, and I felt like it was more important to be driven by an emotional purpose than money.” 

Building a large and loyal community

Back then, Amman read a book called Delivering Happiness by the founder of Zappos, Tony Hsieh.He discovered a valuable message within the book: the importance of being obsessed with your customers. As Tony Hsieh puts it: “We’re not a company that sells sneakers, we’re a customer service company that happens to sell sneakers.”

This really resonated with Amman so he took a data-driven approach to find out exactly what made his target market tick. From there, he was able to engage with his fanbase on a personal level.

His marketing strategy (which he still uses today) was all about sparking meaningful conversations about customers’ pets. This was incredibly effective in boosting engagement: “Our customers would reply to our questions with paragraphs. They were stunned that someone actually gave a damn.”

Today, if Amman wears a branded t-shirt, strangers will walk up to him in the street, explaining how the service has transformed their pet’s wellbeing, and as a result, their lives. For him, The Music for Pets community is the most rewarding thing about running the business: “Just knowing that I’m having a positive impact on people’s lives makes me feel incredibly fulfilled.”

Success in numbers

75% of Amman’s time working on the business is spent engaging with his customers. It has been the best approach to building a community and igniting sustainable growth.

Thanks to this strategy, Music For Pets now has a monumental following. In 2019, 35 million pets around the world consumed content on the platform. He also calculated that customers are consuming 1,000 years of content every 28 days, with monthly views at around 10 million. These astounding numbers show how valuable the business is and why focusing on customer engagement has been vital.

What’s really amazing is that this has mostly been organic. Amman hasn’t spent hundreds of thousands on PR support. His simple strategy for customer engagement has resulted in a lot of user-generated content - people love posting videos of their pets enjoying music or shows provided by the service. Certain videos have gone viral, which has generated interest from the press, including BBC World News, Forbes, ABC and Fox News. In 2019, Music For Pets had 60 different press outlets.

Practising gratitude

In the entrepreneurial-verse, it’s very easy to compare yourself with others. To stop himself from getting distracted by other people’s achievements and losing sight of what’s important, Amman practises meditation and yoga.

“This allows me to take a step back and feel grateful for the life I’ve built. So, whenever I feel stressed or anxious about the things I haven’t achieved, I can remind myself why I’m doing this. It’s not in it for the money or success, my goal has always been to have a genuine impact. Reminding myself of this ensures I can keep enjoying the journey.”

Amman’s advice for new business owners

“I recently listened to an audiobook called Anything You Want by Derek Sivers. Derek emphasises the fact that you don’t have to raise millions when you first start out. You can always execute at least 5% of what you’re trying to build and you don’t need lots of money to do that. Just build on that 5% rather than going through the whole
plan, focus on the customer, and allow the business to grow organically.”

Eager to hear more about Amman’s incredible story? Listen to the podcast in full.