1) Let’s start at the beginning, can you tell us what encouraged you to begin your first online web design business, www.huzidesigns.com, in your first year of university and how you did it?
I had always been a science student throughout high school, but when it came time for university, I realized that my true passion was in business. Business is a very open-ended career choice. There is a lot of flexibility regarding what you can achieve and the pace you in which you can achieve. But of course, this flexibility makes business equally challenging and sometimes an unstable choice.
After finishing my first year in BBA, I started looking for a summer job that mixed well with my interests and gave me professional experience. Art and Design had always been a great curiosity of mine, a remnant from the time I spent in Nepal as a child. I had spent the last two summers in high school teaching myself graphic designing and 3D modeling from different online tutorials and videos. As a result, I worked on various design projects for student clubs, non-profit organizations, the University of Waterloo’s and Laurier University’s Muslim Student Association. I enjoyed designing posters and assisting with the marketing campaigns.
On my pursuit of the “perfect job”, I came across an ad for ‘The Summer Company’, a government initiative that encourages students to be entrepreneurs and start up their own business. I decided this was a great opportunity to apply what I had learned in my first year at university, and to get a better feel for what it meant to choose business a career choice.
I applied to the program, created a business plan and got accepted for a small grant. That’s when I started Huzidesigns and have continued it alongside my university for the past 3 years.
2) What were some of the reactions you received from your peers/mentors on it when you were just beginning?
Once I started getting projects, I would always refer to a few friends as my “official critics” for every project or design I created. I took this as a learning opportunity and always welcomed the critique I received. This process really helped me get my best work to the clients since I took all feedback into consideration. All my clients came from word-of-mouth and alhamdullillah I received a lot of clients just through that.
I did have a few odd moments through-out this process, like being asked to change my name to John or Jake so that it’s easier to pronounce, but all in all, I was lucky to be around people that appreciated my work and were always happy to see my projects and help me refine them even more.
3) What are some of the challenges you faced when building this business, and how can a ProductiveMuslim learn from such mistakes?
The hardest part for me was the business dealings and price negotiations. Most clients are friendly and easy to deal with, but sometimes you will get clients that are very difficult and often impossible to satisfy. Over the course of the years, I have learned that no matter how small a project or dealing, it is important to have a good understanding of the exact results both parties expect. Just like the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon Him) advised us, we should deal fairly and justly, but also ensure that all parties agree to contracts that are explicitly stated and signed. Having specific contracts with quantifiable measurements will definitely save a lot of stress and time in the future.
4) Can you tell us about your aims for Fundraid in the long term, and how you came up with this idea?
Fundraid is a really cool and innovative idea and I have very high expectations for it in the future. I plan on building Fundraid into a successful business that is not only financially sustainable, but also a driving force in fixing global and social issues.
I am a firm believer in the fact that an idea can change a community that in turn can change humanity. Fundraid acts as a funnel, by collecting money from the overly funded marketing industry which then can be distributed to the social causes around the world that need money. Fundraid could be a source of a continuous flow of good deeds and actions for helping the needy. I hope to grow Fundraid into a platform that will enable us to fund all our social initiatives without ever spending a penny of personal income.
5) For someone who is new to your initiative, can you sum up Fundraid and how it works?
Fundraid is an online fundraising platform that lets you collect money for NGOs and charities across the globe. The idea is simple, you sign-up to create your consumer profile on Fundraid. This consumer profile is then used to provide you with online ads that are relevant to your interests. So all the unrelated annoying ads you usually see online are then replaced with ads that are actually applicable to who you are! And not just that, every-time you click an ad, Fundraid also transfers some money in your Donation Jar. This way, you can easily raise money while you browse the web in an un-intrusive manner, and then support the various initiatives and causes that are close to your heart.
In the future, Fundraid hopes to develop even more helpful features that will let you ban specific ads or indicate the ones you want to view more, further improving your online experience and helping you make the world better place. Along with that, Fundraid plans on extending it’s compatibility to mobile platforms as well.
6) How have you managed your business initiatives while maintaining your studies?
This is probably the hardest of all challenges. Balancing education with the real world commitments is always a challenge. I am also heavily involved with various student clubs and organizations around campus that makes it even tougher. Thankfully, with an increase in technology,its much easier to achieve a productive balance. I use many web apps and software as I can to keep everything organized and connected. Constantly syncing and updating calendars, checking emails and creating task lists is very important in order to stay efficient. Sometimes I come across ideas and resources that might not be applicable to me in the present, but I write them down so I can refer to them in the future.
However, there are moments where you need to make decisions. At this point, having priorities is very important. Is a client worth more than an assignment? What’s an acceptable mark and is it worth the time and effort? Over time, I have just learned to evaluate the future value of each thing. If it provides me with the experience that will ultimately help me towards reaching my goals, I will automatically put more effort into it.
7) What are the most significant productivity lessons you’ve learned during these exciting years in your life that ProductiveMuslim readers can benefit from?
The most significant productivity lessons I learned were:
a) Surround yourself with like-minded productive individuals
b) Analyse you routines and patterns and create your work patterns around your natural flow
c) Use all the tools and technology you can to keep you up to date and on top in an organic and easy manner
d) Always find ways to keep yourself motivated, whether it be spiritually, mentally or physically, it’s important!
8) How can ProductiveMuslim readers get involved with Fundraid?
There are different ways fellow ProductiveMuslim readers can get involved with can join the movement! click here to learn more!
Sign-up for an account. By signing up for an account and ‘following’ Fundraid on Twitter and Facebook, you can keep yourself updated with all of the new features and developments in the Fundraid movement.
Test-out the platform. If you are interested in trying out our platform, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a special discount on your marketing campaigns.
Recommend it to sites. Encourage your favourite blog or website to support Fundraid and help your time count for more!
Add a cause of your own. If you have a charity or cause you would like Fundraid to support, please e-mail email@example.com and let us know!
We look forward to hearing from you!
Jazak Allah Khair and As-salaam Alaikum