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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Spring/Summer 2009

Young Entrepreneur Profiles - Q & A With Rahim Fazal

Thursday, July 02, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of profiles of young entrepreneurs prepared for Community College Entrepreneurship by best-selling author Michael Simmons, co-founder and CEO of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (EET), http://www.extremetour.org , and a past keynote speaker at NACCE.

Michael Simmons Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour brings the country’s top young entrepreneurs to college campuses to spread the entrepreneurial mindset during a half-day conference. Started in 2006, the tour has visited over 60 schools nation-wide and has received the Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations and the Program of the Year award from Northern Michigan University.


Rahim Fazal, CEO and Co-Founder of Involver (http://www.involver.com), is a three-time entrepreneur with extensive experience in the media, marketing, and technology spheres. While still in high school, Rahim co-founded a Web-hosting company and negotiated its sale for $1.5M during senior year. In September 2008, Rahim was named one of America’s “Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30” by Inc. Magazine. Rahim is an advisor to and speaker on the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (www.extremetour.org). He attended Douglas College in Vancouver, BC, Canada from 2004-2006.

Michael Simmons Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour brings the country’s top young entrepreneurs to college campuses to spread the entrepreneurial mindset during a half-day conference. Started in 2006, the tour has visited over 60 schools nation-wide and has received the Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations and the Program of the Year award from Northern Michigan University.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of profiles of young entrepreneurs prepared for Community College Entrepreneurship by best-selling author Michael Simmons, co-founder and CEO of the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (EET), http://www.extremetour.org, and a past keynote speaker at NACCE.

Q:What do you think the most important things community colleges can do to help encourage and support young entrepreneurs?

A:Give young entrepreneurs practical training that can be applied in the real world to start – or help grow – a business immediately. I always found it harder to pay attention in classes where the information was predominantly theoretical or was something I may or may not apply in the future.

Q:What do you think the most important things professors can do to help encourage and support young entrepreneurs in their classroom?

A:Encourage students to put on the hat of an entrepreneur and walk through and discuss real business problems using case studies. The closer you can make the classroom experience to actually starting a real business, the more students will be engaged.

Q:What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were starting your business?

A:Starting a business is easy. Growing a business is a lot harder :)

Q:What were the critical success factors that helped you become a successful entrepreneur?

A:Surrounding myself with great people – business partners, team members, advisers, investors — and parents.

Q:Why did you choose to become an entrepreneur?

A:To join the adult world on my own terms. Starting at the bottom of the corporate totem pole was not appealing to me. I was much more attracted to the idea of succeeding or failing on my own terms.

Q:How did you come up with and test your business idea?

A:Talked, talked some more and talked again to potential customers. I see a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs make the mistake of spending months and a lot of money brainstorming a new idea, but never talk to the customer. I’ve found that the more advice you get from a customer, the more likely they are to purchase from you in the future.

Q:What was your biggest challenge in getting started?

A:Finding the right people who shared the dream. I actually ended up starting my first business with my best friend.

Q:How did you go about getting your first customers?

A:We gave the product away for free. We had enough confidence in our product that we believed that all our customers needed was to taste our product to be hooked to it. We were right!

Q:How did you keep yourself accountable to consistently spend your free time working on the business?

A:It helps to have a co-founder, because they keep you accountable. When you’re by yourself and don’t have any deadlines, it’s very easy to procrastinate.



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