During the closing ceremony of Entrepreneurship: Our Culture in March, we had the honour of hosting Mr. Faizal Ahmed, CEO of a startup, FP Avante, for a sharing session. Ainna Dean interviewed Mr. Faizal to get him to share about his journey in entrepreneurship.
Mr. Faizal, share with us about some of your biggest successes?
Ultimately in business when it comes to success you’d look at the dollars and cents. But aside from that, what we are also really proud of would be the stage that we’re at right now. In terms of the trust that we have, we begun with being a small company of 3 people to over 30 people now. Also, the fact that we engage with the youth on a daily basis.
In the beginning, did you trust your staff with their tasks or were you on the ground working with them?
When we first started, I was pretty much everywhere doing everything, from as simple as carrying boxes to sweeping the floor. I wouldn’t say it’s really a trust issue, the fact is I am a control freak. Adding to that, in the beginning we had a problem with recruiting the right people. Over the years, we’ve managed to recruit more people who are talented and are dedicated to their work, and that has helped us in running the business more efficiently.
Speaking of recruiting the right people, what would be the types of employees that you would look for?
Well, for a start, I’d look for the likes of those who are APAcS committee members, because of what a student body like APAcS would have to offer. Academic would of course be a part of it, but we also look at other aspects such as communication, leadership and the ability to do things beyond academic. We look for young people with fresh ideas.
What were some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
Human capital was one of the biggest challenges that we faced. Initially we weren’t able to recruit the right people. The good ones didn’t wanna work with us so we ended up having to hire the not so good ones because of the lack of choice. We discovered that one of the reasons was because, our workplace wasn’t a cool place to work at. So we moved office, revamped the outlook and added loads of happiness to it. We realized that eventually when it comes to hiring people, things that you thought didn’t matter, matter.
When you were younger did you ever envision becoming a CEO?
Well, just like everyone, I wanted to become a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, a policeman, or a fireman. Anyway being a CEO wasn’t actually part of a choice; it wasn’t something that I decided to do. I was pretty sure I wanted to do something that I liked.
Nowadays a lot of people would tell us to look for a job that we’re passionate about. If you ask me, I’d say that the job that you’re passionate about doesn’t exist. Ultimately, whatever that you’re doing, so long as you’re good at it, along the way you’ll find that you like it, and eventually you’ll be passionate about it. At least that’s how I ended up as a CEO.
Do you mind sharing with us about your future plans in business?
I would always want to keep doing what I’m doing, I’d want to keep doing things that can benefit the youth. We have plans of creating an app that can solve major issues that students nowadays are facing. We have also started our own NGO, which has yet to be really active as of now, but we look forward to using it as one of the platforms to address the youth.
What’s your advice for young people who aspire to be entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship is not a job or a career, it’s more of an attitude. Ask yourself, do you have the attitude of an entrepreneur? Do you have an entrepreneurship mindset?
As a student, are the qualities of an entrepreneur reflected in your attitude? Procrastinating, working on assignments at the last minute, for instance, don’t work with entrepreneurship.
Having an entrepreneurship mindset and attitude is the first stepping stone.