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Moe AlKadi of Sibly: “Find the problem you want to solve”

Find the problem you want to solve. This is important to consider when building a startup because you’re putting at least three years in before really knowing if it will succeed or fail, and 90% of new startups ultimately fail. So I had to ask myself in 2016 before starting Sibly if it was a […]

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Find the problem you want to solve. This is important to consider when building a startup because you’re putting at least three years in before really knowing if it will succeed or fail, and 90% of new startups ultimately fail. So I had to ask myself in 2016 before starting Sibly if it was a problem I wanted to spend at least 3 years working on without knowing the outcome. My answer was yes.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Moe AlKadi.

Moe AlKadi is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Sibly. Under AlKadi’s leadership, Sibly continues to rapidly expand its team of human coaches who use technology, scientifically based techniques and guided interventions to help users address a wide range of emotional, mental and behavioral health challenges. He is passionate in the belief that everyone should have someone to talk to at any time about their well-being in a compassionate and helpful way.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was born and raised in Saudi Arabia. Growing up in a conservative society, I found it difficult to truly be myself and express my feelings. I was portraying a different person than who I truly was, and that took a toll on my mental health. That led me to drop out of college and start my journey to give people a space to talk about their feelings.

I moved to the US in 2014 while I was working on my first startup, Feelit. While Feelit served over 200,000 members, we couldn’t scale it to be a successful business, so we had to shut it down. That was the worst time of my life. I felt like a complete failure in a country where I had no family or friends. I was longing for a human connection, but didn’t have anyone I could talk to. That’s what led me to found Sibly; to build a future where everyone would have someone to talk to, and to help them navigate life’s challenges.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Right now, mental health support is designed for mental illness and not mental health, which alienates those that do not have diagnosable conditions. Interconnected issues are treated in isolation, and support is often unavailable in the moment a person needs it. Sibly is a relationship that provides every member with the right help at the right time.

The member experience is as simple as texting “Hey Sibly.” Every member is assigned a team of Heroes who serve as a single voice and are available 24/7. Heroes are empathetic coaches that are uniquely trained by Sibly and are highly proficient in Motivational Interviewing, a science-based methodology that drives positive behavior change. Sibly supports the whole person throughout their life’s journey and provides them with personalized resources to help them meet their goals. Because we know that everything affects our mental health, Sibly integrates with all services, solutions, and benefits to help the multifaceted needs of each member. All of this is delivered through a single relationship; we call it the Sibly Relationship.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I was always wearing a hoodie and had taped-up glasses that would sometimes fall and break apart in the middle of a meeting. I learned that I needed to look sharp in order to be taken seriously, especially as I am often the youngest in the room.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

From a young age, my older sister has served as a great mentor to me. She always fought hard for the values she believed in, regardless of the cost. She’s also the most compassionate leader I’ve ever known. She would return from work and tell me all about her experiences and what she had learned. I found myself applying a lot of her learnings to my own work. I named the company Sibly, from sibling, because I thought it would be great if everyone could have a relationship like that.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption is certainly not always beneficial and can sometimes leave us worse off as a society. One example is Facebook, which disrupted our social lives and yet failed to keep our personal data safe from manipulation.

I believe Tesla is a positive example of disruption because they were able to take on a legacy industry and deliver a superior product that also happens to be much better for the environment.

The only thing we know about time is that it’s constantly changing. Some industries that many believed would ‘withstand the test of time’ fell victim to the pandemic and are still struggling to recover.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Find the problem you want to solve. This is important to consider when building a startup because you’re putting at least three years in before really knowing if it will succeed or fail, and 90% of new startups ultimately fail. So I had to ask myself in 2016 before starting Sibly if it was a problem I wanted to spend at least 3 years working on without knowing the outcome. My answer was yes.

Hope is not a strategy. Fundraising for a startup can be very difficult and challenging in every way. It’s an emotional roller-coaster, but what I found to be most helpful is developing a fundraising process and strategy. While it can take more time upfront, it ultimately makes the process much easier and more effective in the long run.

You only need one yes. Sometimes hearing a lot of no’s can be disheartening, but in many cases, you really just need one yes to get to the next level. In 2017, I sent a cold LinkedIn message to Shawn Leavitt, who was the SVP of Total Rewards at Comcast. Out of about 200 messages I must have sent at the time, Shawn was the only one that responded — and that translated to a multi-million-dollar deal that took our company to the next level. Unfortunately, Shawn passed away in March of this year, but his impact will always live on.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I love what we do at Sibly because the idea of scaling human empathy continues to be relevant and important. It’s fulfilling to see a vision being manifested, but we’re just getting started. Sibly has the potential to be in everyone’s pocket and I won’t stop until we get there.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I came across a Guardian article when I was in college that had a major impact on my life. The reporter interviewed individuals who were nearing the end of their lives and asked about their biggest regrets. The most common response was not living a life true to themselves, and instead living to meet others’ expectations. It was in that moment that I realized I was attending college to meet the expectations of those around me rather than for myself. This realization led me to drop out and pursue my own path from that point on.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Who You Surround Yourself With, You Become.” Our time is short, and I’ve had to learn how to double down on the friends that I care about and not waste time with others. I also apply this thinking to my business. Surrounding myself with the smartest people I can find helps me grow as a person as well.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Too often, social media is filled with negative debates and arguments where everyone is shouting but no one is listening. I would love to see a movement that raises awareness of the importance of empathy and how to practice it with the people in our lives.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can follow me on LinkedIn, and follow Sibly on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @SiblyApp, or visit our website at sibly.com.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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