As a part of our series about cutting-edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Haider Nazar.
Haider Nazar is the Co-Founder & CEO of MAHA Global. Nazar has over two decades of leadership experience growing dozens of companies, leading four exits, raising over $200M in combined equity and debt financing as well as working with world class brands such as Salesforce, Pfizer, Accenture, IBM, P&G, NBC, Boeing and SAP. A serial tech entrepreneur, Nazar’s journey has culminated in the belief that the fastest way to solve many of the social & environmental issues in the world is by helping companies tie their reputation to their profit motives.
Prior to starting MAHA, Nazar was Managing Partner at Full Throttle Ventures, a private equity firm, where he led due diligence on over 70 deals within the New Media, Clean Tech and Real Estate industries. Other roles earlier in his career include Head of Alliances at Crossworlds (acquired by IBM) and VP of Business Development at Recipio (acquired by Satmetrix). Nazar was also Senior Consultant at Accenture, where he led the creation of an eBusiness Offering at the company’s Center for Strategic Technology as well as managed, sold and delivered to several Fortune 100 customers.
Nazar holds a BA in Economics from the University of California, Davis. He has also spoken at Davos, the UN, WEF and advised dozens of boards on Reputation, ESG and Purpose.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was a management consultant with Accenture, I’m a two-time venture-backed startup veteran, investor and operator, and then I had a health scare that shifted me from achievement to fulfillment. On that journey, I started seeing authentic brands delivering financial and societal value to their stakeholders. I wanted to help drive that movement by leveraging my tech and consulting background to help corporate reputation teams more effectively influence and guide their organizations to building more trust, value and relevance for their brands.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I think it was having the opportunity to help the people of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the region. I was part of a team that activated some of the most influential professional athletes in the world to leverage their brands to build awareness and raise money simultaneously for disaster relief. The money was raised and deployed within a month to erect several solar battery installations and bring power to the island. It was an inspiring story of how social media influence, private enterprise and citizens from all over the world came together to make a difference.
Can you tell us about the cutting-edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
Historically, corporate reputation has been measured using sentiment analysis. This outdated approach — using surveys, polls and media metrics — unfortunately provides reputation teams with only a fraction of what’s needed to effectively manage their company’s reputation. The main problem with this approach is that it doesn’t consider facts linked to corporate behavior, creating a ‘perception-only’ framework for analysis, requiring constant polling, which is a slow and expensive process. It also does a poor job predicting future reputational risk.
That’s where MAHA Global’s reputation intelligence platform, Darwin, fills the gap! MAHA is a leading evolutionary AI SaaS company and a global leader in its field, helping companies track and predict corporate reputation and business outcomes. As a Public Benefit Corporation, MAHA is devoted to helping organizations positively transform and build more trust with their stakeholders.
What’s particularly exciting is that it’s now possible to generate data that go beyond what people think, feel, and say and instead, provide an analytical tool to inform what companies need to do — by obtaining real-time clarity, a multi-stakeholder view, competitive intelligence and predictive insights.
How does MAHA do it? Darwin provides a much needed scientific approach to help reputation teams improve their business outcomes by helping them better align their organization’s interests with their stakeholders. The power of Darwin’s analytical method comes from the pairing of newly available big data with a deep bioscience intelligence engineered by Dartmouth scientists who are using the same mathematical models to isolate attributes among species that lead to survival, adaptation and extinction. For the first time, these methods can be applied to corporate data sets.
As companies are all looking for better ways to reach and persuade those who matter most, the reality is that persuasion rarely works, instead, a much more powerful approach is to lead with facts followed by action — which we refer to as reality-based reporting, addressing disinformation head on.
How do you think this might change the world?
The obvious takeaway is that if companies can measure and predict how intangible assets (e.g., employee satisfaction, greenhouse emissions) can impact their bottom line, it can change the way corporations allocate resources. For example, this technology will have a positive effect on how companies treat their employees, the environment and their communities. Furthermore, not only is it the right thing to do, it’s also financially advantageous to do so.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks of this technology that people should think more deeply about?
Any AI model must adhere to privacy and quality data standards, which unfortunately are not followed by many. We have gone to great lengths to be compliant and curate quality research and regulated public filing data into our models. Embracing the big data era and moving beyond reliance on surveys, we aggregate extensive datasets — incorporating Environmental Social Governance, DEI, employee, customer and financial metrics. Our dual quantitative approach, blending publicly and privately held data with first-party surveys, enriches analysis for more accurate and actionable insights.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
One of our clients, Salesforce, asked if we could benchmark their data against other companies. That led us on a journey to find the best third-party benchmark data. The result was a meeting with three Dartmouth professors — Paul Argenti, Professor of Corporate Communication at the Tuck School of Business and Ryan and Brittny Calsbeek, two evolutionary biologists. They were using Darwinian adaptation mathematical models applied to large corporate data sets to determine what factors help companies gain competitive advantage in a rapidly changing world. We joined forces 18 months ago and from there, we’ve been off to the races!
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
We need to build awareness, letting reputation teams know that there are new ways companies can scan, measure, monitor and predict reputational risk. The way companies have measured reputation historically is through surveys. Surveys are fine as an input, but with social media, news media, forums and blogs, all of this information needs to be aggregated. As does the behavioral data of public disclosures. Normalizing and then analyzing all that data has never been possible. Until now.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
We have been focused on fine tuning our deterministic models with our early clients. Now that they are referenceable, we will be focusing more on building awareness among our key audiences (e.g., CCOs, CMOs, CFOs) — developing thought leadership content, designing educational salons and webinars with prominent leaders in the field as well as working with aligned research partners (e.g., the Institute for Public Relations) focused on important topics such as disinformation and climate communications. We’re also working closely with our exceptional team of CCO advisors to identify reputation teams that are interested in improving how they manage their reputation.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Yes, a particular person that stands out was my first boss at my first job at Accenture –
Mike Kobayashi. He taught me so much about how organizations work, think and act. He also taught me that the most important product to focus on was the team. And I feel that the team we have assembled at MAHA is our strongest product. Mike showed me that.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Well, I shared the Puerto Rico story. I am also passionate about entrepreneurship and have invested my time and resources supporting other entrepreneurs on their journey for decades.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Life is in segments and we value different things at different times in our journey. When I was 25, I thought the rules of business were just to make as much money as possible. Now I feel it is a corporation’s responsibility to avoid maximizing profits at all costs.
People like to tell you what you want to hear. It is important to do the work on your personal growth, to have the self-awareness to really understand what is presenting itself and where to spend your life force.
Executives want to be data driven until they don’t agree with the data. We see this all the time in our business. As soon as we deliver an insight that is counter to a leader’s agenda, they push back on our science. With that said, no one yet has been able to break our math.
Don’t care about what other people think. Worrying about how you will be perceived is a guaranteed route to mediocrity. Instead, it is better to do things that are aligned to your belief system. I had to learn this lesson the hard way by not having a clear set of beliefs earlier in my career. That set me up for failure. I have made a shift and running MAHA is the manifestation of that course correction.
Be intentional with the relationships you invest in. I’ve had personal and business relationships that have come and gone. But prioritizing certain people that spark joy in me and spending time with them is a tremendous source of inspiration and fulfillment.
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. 🙂
I touched on this earlier, but if corporations were truly able to align purpose and profit by optimizing their reputation, we could solve so many environmental and social issues in the world with the vast resources of private enterprise.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
An old mentor of mine said you know you’ve made it when you’ve achieved high influence and low accountability. I always laughed at that but when I work with boards and senior leadership teams, I’ve come to see that those who wield influence are the ones that have the opportunity to lead and better serve their stakeholders.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Imagine if your company could effectively leverage AI to quantify financial risk and build more trust with key stakeholders. With MAHA’s Darwin, corporations can experience the convergence of multi-stakeholder sentiment, corporate behavior and comprehensive competitive and financial analytics. Furthermore, management teams are now able to gain real-time insights into their actions and reputation relative to competitors — pinpointing reputational attributes that influence performance and drive significant financial risk.
With real-time clarity, Darwin can help guide a company’s team, C-Suite and board of directors, providing reputation teams with a forward-looking analysis grounded in financial models, AI and science — a scientifically oriented research product to bring into their boardroom. For example, Darwin makes it possible for organizations to more effectively prepare for their earning calls as well as build more trust with its workforce (e.g., when working through labor relations issues). Additionally, if handling a M&A transaction, MAHA’s predictive analysis can help companies better understand their reputational risks associated with the company that’s being acquired.
Bottom line, a company’s reputation is its most important asset, without it, a business cannot be successful! Corporations need to rely on mathematical models to fully comprehend what they need to focus on to improve their reputation. MAHA is unique in that it enables companies to truly understand the evolving drivers affecting their business performance.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.