May 7, 2024

Mentor Corner: Meet Amer Abu Khajil

Mentor Corner: Meet Amer Abu Khajil

Mentor Corner is a monthly feature highlighting the incredible contributions made by our mentor network to our venture community.

At entrepreneurship@UBC, we are privileged to work with a pool of 250+ mentors across the Vancouver and BC innovation ecosystem who invest their time, expertise, and insights into growing the early-stage ventures of tomorrow. From entrepreneurial leadership development to scaling venture creation, our mentor network is fundamental to what we do here, and we are excited to introduce you to them in our monthly feature, Mentor Corner!

Meet Amer Abu Khajil

Meet  Amer Abu-Khajil! Amer is the Founder of Perceptional and is a highly driven entrepreneur and product manager with a passion for transforming complex problems into simple solutions. With over five years of experience in leading end-to-end product development, Amer excels in navigating the initial stages of ambiguity by bringing clarity and direction through continuous customer discovery, strategic roadmapping, and empathetic leadership. Amer’s past work experiences have allowed him to ideate, validate, and launch products as part of small startups and large enterprises. These experiences have led him to launch his latest startup, Perceptional — a SaaS platform that allows product teams to deploy a conversational chatbot to conduct qualitative user interviews, merging the scalability of online surveys with the depth of human-moderated user interviews.

Learn more about what Amer has learned through being a mentor, some words of wisdom and what podcasts he's been listening to. 

How has your background in engineering influenced your approach to product management and entrepreneurship?

My early career in civil and structural engineering was instrumental in shaping my approach to product management and entrepreneurship. I brought the analytical skills, rigor, and attention to detail required in engineering to product management and entrepreneurship. In short, I went from building buildings, to building products!

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your mentorship career?

It’s key to provide ventures with the space to explore, experiment, and iterate. As a mentor, it's about striking a balance between offering guidance and encouraging mentees to explore their own paths, thereby enabling them to unlock new insights and directions for their ventures. The most important lesson I learned is that asking a thoughtful question could act like a small rock that creates a series of ripples - conversations, discussions, and actions.

Working with early-stage startups, you have the opportunity to make a huge impact on the founder's you are working with. What impacts have founders made on you?

entrepreneurship@UBC founders demonstrate a high level of customer obsession. Founders came into the program with customer problems they are excited to solve. Their passion and energy for solving those problems reignited my own excitement for innovation and entrepreneurship as I dive into working on my next startup. The founders' enthusiasm serves as a constant reminder of the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the importance of staying connected to the core mission of solving customer problems.

If you could impart one piece of sage wisdom for our community, what would it be?

Don’t stop talking with your customers! It’s easy to do user validation and market research at the early stages of startup discovery then take a step back to focus on building. In the fast-paced world of startups, people tend to get caught up in the cycle of product development; however, continuous customer discovery and validation are essential for refining your product and ensuring it resonates with your target audience.

What podcasts are you listening to?

I’ve been listening to two podcasts on repeat - ‘Startups for the Rest of Us’ and ‘Practical Founders’. They are both focused on sharing stories about bootstrapped startups - including stories of failure, struggle, and success. I’ve been enjoying them as the industry often focuses too much on venture-backed startups as the ‘ideal’ whereas there are thousands of successful, profitable businesses without external funding. On the flipside, another podcast I can’t stop listening to is ‘Acquired’ by Ben Gilbert & David Rosenthal - they deep dive the origin stories of some of the world’s most successful companies over lengthy 1.5 - 3 hour episodes

As a mentor, it's about striking a balance between offering guidance and encouraging mentees to explore their own paths, thereby enabling them to unlock new insights and directions for their ventures.


- Amer Abu Khajil


Thank you Amer for your expert insights and continued impact on our community!

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entrepreneurship@UBC propels UBC innovations out into the world through venture creation, providing UBC students, faculty members and staff with the resources, networks, and funding they need to succeed.

We are a part of Innovation UBC in the Vice-President, Research and Innovation (VPRI) portfolio

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