Fred Mouawad, founder Taskworld
Diamond billionaire Fred Mouawad could easily qualify for the title of Most Interesting Man in the World.
And the thing that interests him most these days is a brand new app he created called TaskWorld that helps enterprises manage employees and projects.
Mouawad was born the eldest son and heir to the world-renown Mouawad diamond jewelry company, founded in 1890. He grew up "traveling with my father to different places in the world," learning the diamond business, he told Business Insider during a phone interview while en route between Bangkok and the Maldives.
He studied business and gemology in college and assumed he would enter the family business straight from school and stay there.
That plan didn't work out when it became clear his dad wasn't ready to retire. Rather than spending decades in his dad's shadows, Mouawad left the diamond business and launched his own series of companies.
They didn't all succeed as planned, either, but one project always lead to another, he told us.
For instance, during the dotcom bubble, he launched a B2B Internet diamond exchange hoping to get retailers to conduct business online. It died when the Internet bubble burst in 2000. But the magazine, Instore, intended to be a marketing vehicle for the B2B exchange, survived and thrived.
Mouawad also launched a bunch of restaurant chains, a commercial bakery, a construction company specializing in retail and a venture fund. All told, he runs eight international companies as part of a conglomerate called Synergia One Group.
"The number one advice I have is that it's all about people," he explains. "If you are building a venture, you need the right idea, sure, but you need to put the right people around the table," he says. That way, even if the original idea goes south the people will find a way to succeed.
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In 2010, Mouawad's father retired and he and his two brothers took over the family diamond business, too. The Mouawad company is best-known for its watches. But it also garnered attention for creating seven diamond-studded bras for Victoria Secrets, ranging in price from $7 million to $12 million.
The bras grabbed four Guinness World Records as the most expensive pieces of lingerie ever made, Mouawad laughs, even as he admits, "No. We've not sold any of them. We've had people calling us and asking us if they are available in different sizes. And yes. You can get them in different sizes."
All of this is just to say that Mouawad is capable of investing in anything and everything. Yet it's the world of enterprise apps that has grabbed his attention these days.
Taskworld is a project management, collaboration app that he created himself to help run his conglomorate of companies. He even went into Stanford's Executive MBA program to work on the project. (Stanford's MBA is the Valley's petri dish for tech startups, providing instant connections to everything from engineers to VCs.) Mind you, Mouawad already has a Harvard MBA.
Taskworld lets managers assign tasks to employees and provide feedback during progress reports. Companies can monitor things like on-time completion rates for people and departments
"I wanted a way to make my divisions accountable and clarify expectations," Mouawad says.
The best part about the app is that it helps bosses figure out what tasks individual employees are good at so "organizations can use use people for their strengths," he says.
But it's entering a crowded market with dozens of competitors: Asana, Salesforce.com's Do, AtTask, Producteev, Trello, Teambox, HiTask, Basecamp, Huddle, and Evernote, just to name a few.
Mouawad says his app is a unique combination of project management and feedback. He's even applied for a patent.
The free version of Taskworld is available now, with premium and enterprise versions to arrive in early 2014.
Here's a screenshot:
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