Unemployed, in debt and expired work permit, this Bangladeshi youth built a US company through his Twitter feed

June 14, 2023

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In June 2020, Abdullah Al Rezwan started with 300 followers. Today, he has 1,20,000 followers on Twitter.

Abdullah Al-Rezwan, a finance graduate of the Institute of Business Administration, went to Cornell University for his MBA in 2017, after three and a half years of working in Bangladeshi financial companies. After graduating from Cornell in 2019, he landed a job as an equity research analyst at Madison Investments.

Everything seemed to be going well for him. But fate took a sharp turn. Covid-19 was raging in mid 2020 and in June, he had to leave Madison Investments due to the expiration of his work permit in the US.

He hardly had any idea about what he would do next. He had a sizable student loan he had taken to finance his MBA at Cornell. He applied for PR in Canada but because of the pandemic, the procedure was taking a lot of time.

And, then in an unusual turn of events, he found fame on Twitter. He came up with the idea of a subscription-based website/newsletter service, which would provide in-depth financial analysis of a US based company each month.

Having been unemployed in the early days of Covid, he started to use Twitter extensively – mainly to discuss stocks in his Twitter circles. He found a lot of people – from experts to amateurs, to wannabe investors – from the investment world, spending time discussing stocks on Twitter.

“When I started spending more time on Twitter, I thought that if I have like 1,000 followers by the end of 2020, it would be more fun to interact on this platform. The pandemic was raging and people didn’t have anywhere to go. People were spending a lot of time on social media. Being active around that time helped. There was also a growing interest in the stock market,” said Abdullah Al Rezwan.

“Over time, however, I kind of grew a sense of belonging in that Twitter community, which is called Fintwit, meaning financial Twitter. I was like, this is a pretty cool community, where people talk about stocks all the time,” he added.

As he started to spend more time on Twitter – tweeting, retweeting, creating threads, and discussing stocks, one particular thread of his got a lot of traction. Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator, who has millions of followers, somehow came across his thread and retweeted it. Within a day, his followers went from 300 to somewhere near 2,500. That was in June 2020.

After Paul Graham’s retweet, he became consistent in tweeting his ideas and thoughts on stocks and markets in general. He treated his followers like they were his colleagues and peers, so he kept it formal. And over time, his following kept rising. By August, he had 15,000 followers.

“Since I lost my job, I was thinking of what to do next. After this sudden twitter fame, I thought I could monetise my work with my followers. I realised that in my former job, my firm would ask me to dig deep into a company or industry, and present it before portfolio managers. And this particular firm was paying a lot of money to do that. I thought, what if I just do the same thing, but on the internet? And instead of asking one firm to pay me, what if a bunch of people pay me for a small subscription?”

He did not have a grand vision yet. His idea was simple – even if 10 people show up, that is more than zero.

“I was like okay, even if 10 people showed up out of those 15,000 followers, and if I charge them only $10 per month, that’s $100 that I don’t have. And my big, audacious goal was like 500-600 subscribers.”

In the first week of September, he launched his website – which was named MBI (Mostly Borrowed Ideas) Deep Dives. On the very first day, he had around 150 subscribers, which was way above his expectations.

He got his Canadian PR in January 2021. By then he got more than 500 subscribers.

His initial thought was that if it did not work out, he could always move to Canada when the border opened and look for a job there. But once he finally got there, he decided not to look for a job and instead decided to fully invest his time in building MBI Deep Dives.

Since the beginning, his model has remained very simple. Every month, he publishes one deep dive – in-depth analysis of that company on how a business makes money, competitive dynamics in the industry, and what the stock price implies about how the company will perform in the next 5-10 years. And people, mostly from his Twitter followers, subscribe to read his work.

Today, Abdullah Al Rezwan has 1,20,000 followers on Twitter. He has roughly 1,600 subscribers; each subscription currently costs $15 per month or $150 per year.

MBI Deep Dives runs on a simple model — one deep dive per month on a company of MBI’s choosing, which contains the full spectrum of both quantitative and qualitative research, including financial modelling, to help readers better understand the sensitivity of variables and expectations embedded in the stock price.

He also invests in some of the companies that he writes about on his website. According to Rezwan, he has written about 35 companies so far and has personal investment in seven/eight of them. Some of the deep dives he has done so far includes Uber, Shopify, Roku, Boeing, Spotify, Pinterest, PayPal, Adobe, Cloudflare, Airbnb, Meta, Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft etc.

In terms of his approach of finding, researching and writing about companies, he shared, “in the US, there are so many companies that you can write about. There are hundreds of companies that I would love to know more about. There is no possibility that I will ever run out of companies to cover. I am mostly picking companies randomly – of my own liking or personal interest at any particular point.”

In this case, he extolled the virtues of the internet – he uses the internet a lot to study companies. He starts with reading public filings, as these are publicly listed companies which publish their annual and quarterly reports. He spends a lot of time trying to figure out the business, its competition and all that.

He also spends a lot of time on Twitter and Substack to see what other people are saying about these companies. Sometimes he will reach out to a couple of people who have been following and writing about that particular business on Twitter to discuss it. At the end of each month, after an in-depth research of a company, he publishes the analysis.

He said that his number one goal has been to be consistent. That is why he has picked up one deep dive into a company per month – not two or three.

“I couldn’t convince myself that I could do two or three deep dives a month for 10 years. But I could convince myself that I could do one deep dive every month for the next 10-20 years (or more). But if I do 2-3 deep dives per month, the probability that I’ll lose interest is significantly higher, which I don’t want to happen.”

In terms of the future, he says MBI Deep Dives is likely to remain a one-person company for the time being.

Currently, he has no plan to expand his business from a one-man show. However, he might be thinking about hiring someone if he ever exceeds a million dollars in revenue. But it would still be a small organisation, he said. Even in a bull case scenario for MBI Deep Dives, he does not think that it is going to be more than three or four people.

“I started MBI Deep Dives when I was in a very difficult situation. I would have never started anything on my own, unless I found myself in that situation. That is why I feel like, even if you are in a dire situation, try to listen to whatever the world is trying to tell you,” he shared an important lesson from his journey.

“I would have been pretty happy working for a firm, and getting paid every month. That was my dream before coming to Cornell. I could not possibly create MBI Deep Dives unless I was in this situation.”

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