All I wanted to do was code my life away, as someone who graduated with Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. However, my desire to build something to help all the people I love, is what got me into entrepreneurial life. I have always lived an economical life of uncertainty, where I saw people that I knew struggling to sustain their small businesses. Coming from a family who always sought opportunities in the local economy, has made me understand what a local business means to a neighborhood.
The family business is family
While I was working in my family business, I felt I was a part of a bigger family with people that I didn’t have a blood relation with them. Our customers weren’t just customers. We shared important moments in our lives; happy, sad, loved, and hated. Sometimes, they’d share their darkest secrets. Without realizing it, I’d share my secrets with my customers as well. We felt safe. We became a community more than just a business.
Coming from my Yemeni background, I always tried to learn about my customers and make sure that I didn’t miss out on special occasions without at least expressing myself to them. Our customers used to make an effort to learn about our culture. Not only that, but I was lucky to get great advice and mentorship from some of my customers.
Money is not Entrepreneurship
Over the years, I was attracted to the idea of success. I also loved to listen to successful people. I realized that success meant something different and wasn’t only about money. My pops, the provider of our family, wouldn’t do more work for the money, because for him, it was enough for him that he can provide for our family and spend time with us. Whatever my parents had, was invested in our education.
Business changed. Everyone was shocked because of the change. I couldn’t work fewer hours in the store and am still able to make a living while I go to college. I had to start working as an Uber driver. Some of our customers worked in local car services dispatch. But, with a raise in Ubers’ popularity, they weren’t doing great. Most of those dispatches got out of business. The demography in our neighborhood changed. A new generation is emerging. The old ways of doing business were not working anymore. Startups that were backed by big VCs and deep pockets started taking over businesses even in my small neighborhood.
I saw how everyone raced to find the next unicorn or create one. This next unicorn will be created on the basis of solving a problem, a problem of a lot of expenses into that business. This expense could be the food on the table for a family somewhere, or it could be lunch money for a college student, or it could be extra money for Christmas gifts.
My way of entrepreneurship
My way of entrepreneurship might sound different from most of what I see. Here’s what I love. I love humans. I like to see them thrive in their homes and business around me. I have always thought about being there for my family, friends, and that guy who I buy my delicious bagels from. I’d like to see those people sustain their businesses.
I found myself pulled away from the people I love. More and more ways, these companies try to separate me from those people. Big corporations have invested a lot of money from us to make us order things with a fully automated system, or buy from the self-check-out computers.
I’m not an entrepreneur
I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m just a guy on a mission to bring back the local economy and prioritize people over machines. And, if you see me once looking like another guy who’s trying to make a dollar, the reason is that I’m a guy on a mission and I’ll try to do whatever it takes until I see my mission breaks through.