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Creative

Mar. 17, 2014 10:15 am

How I Work: Saad Alam, cofounder of edtech startup Citelighter

This is Technical.ly Baltimore's "How I Work" series, where we take a look at the tools and tips the region's startup founders and creative leaders use to get through the day.

From left: Citelighter cofounders Lee Jokl and Saad Alam.

(Photo by Amanda Nolan)

This is Technical.ly Baltimore's new "How I Work" series, where we take a look at the tools and tips the region's startup founders and creative leaders use to get through the day. If you'd like to be a part of this series, e-mail us.

Saad Alam is the 31-year-old cofounder of Citelighter, an edtech startup that creates a research and writing platform for students to help them construct bibliographies.

Based out of the Betamore incubator in Federal Hill, Citelighter — which relocated from New York City to Baltimore over the last year — is used in 2,200 schools, said Alam.

This is how he works.

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What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any startup-related work?

Thank God for good health, my family and my friends. After, its rise and grind.

How often do you check your e-mail, and do you use any program to get to “Inbox Zero“?

I check my e-mail every 30 minutes unless I am in the middle of an important task/conversation and then refuse to touch it. I have to answer anywhere between 100 and 150 e-mails a day, and delete about 200.  

How do you keep track of your revenues and expenses?

We use QuickBooks.

SaadDesk

Alam’s desk at Citelighter’s sales office in Redding, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Saad Alam)

When you need to take a break, what are you turning to?

Hah, there are no breaks during the day. Early-morning gym sessions a few times a week and then I work straight through the morning until midnight many days. Every other weekend I take some time off when I visit my family.  

Where do you turn to for founder’s inspiration when you’re feeling low?

I have to self-motivate numerous times a day. Being a former athlete, I love to watch “How Bad Do You Want It?” on YouTube. I am very fortunate to have the best family and friends who are always giving a helping hand and pushing me in the right direction.

My co-founder is much calmer than I am and when we talk, which is numerous times per day, I’m always recharged.

I am also blessed to have the greatest job in the world in that we impact students and teachers’ lives. I hear success stories every day, which really gives me the fuel to keep on going.

What’s your gear?

I live out of my work bag so I make sure that it accommodates everything. I am a huge TUMI fan since I feel like I can fit another universe within it. MacBook Air, Beats by Dre (single best productivity-related investment I have made), Apple earbuds for conversations, and obviously an iPhone.

What’s one time-saving tip you have?

Take a moment the night before and look at your schedule. Prioritize what you need done and make lists. (Trello might be one of the greatest assets here.) I am huge fan of using my morning workout to bring my iPad and catch up on reading in the morning. Just don’t stop.

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Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist in Philadelphia and the former lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. Before moving to Philadelphia in June 2014, he was a contributing writer to Baltimore City Paper and a Tech Check commentator for WYPR 88.1 FM, Baltimore city’s National Public Radio affiliate. He has written for The Atlantic, Outside, Richmond magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore magazine, Baltimore Style magazine, Next City, Grist.org, The Atlantic Cities, and elsewhere.

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  • Moe Lowe

    This article was truly inspiring and most importantly, now a motivational tool for me. I will be returning to this article quite often. Great Job.