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Ariz Shafi, Co-Founder of Shafi Education

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25 Year old Ariz Shafi, who moved to Brampton (Canada) at a very young age with his mother and sister for a better life. He was an immigrant in a whole new country that he knew nothing about. Ariz started working his first job at the age of 14. Throughout his school years he worked several jobs, from delivering newspapers, to working in factories to working at parks and retail. He noticed his mother needed support hence he knew he had to do something different. His mother, Zeenat Shafi is very well known in the education field and has contributed to several books on higher education. Ariz teamed up with his mother and sister to start their first business venture, Shafi Education. Neither one of them had any experience in business. However, Ariz’s uncle Asim Fehmi who is the owner of Fehmilights, has always been Ariz’s go to person till date. Fehmi Lights is one of the biggest wholesaler of crystal chandeliers in Toronto. With his guidance they were able to build Shafi Education into a house hold name. Shafi Education today caters to hundreds of students from all over the city. It is one of the only academic learning centre providing students with guaranteed improvement. Shafi Education also runs summer camps and many more activities for kids. All teachers at the academic learning centre are Ontario Certified and have a passion towards helping their students succeed. From Shafi Education, Ariz started several other businesses such as Detail Legends, Aja Investments, etc. He is a high believer in giving back to the less fortunate, every year Ariz makes it a point to provide meals for hundreds of people back home. Thousands of meals have been provided till date and Ariz aims to grow that number every year.

In your own words what do you do?

My main responsibilities include but are not limited to Brand creation, marketing, partnerships with various organizations to help the growth of business.

What led you to your current business?

Shafi Education was started due to my mother being a teacher. She was teaching at another learning center. I noticed a need in the market for highly trained teachers to provide an excellent after school program. It wasn’t easy as we dint have a huge amount of money to start. However, my family believed in me and we invested all that we had. We took a big risk at that point however we knew we would do whatever it takes to make it work.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties in the beginning and how did you overcome it?

One of the biggest hurdle we got was finances, we got rejected for a loan from the bank due to our lack of business experience.

What is your long term plan?

Our long term plan is to grow Shafi Education into a brand that it will provide high level of educational services to students all over the country.

Could you share with us some industry insights?

The need for education after school is extremely important in the industry these days due to a high number of students in each class, teacher not giving that individualized attention. Every student is different, they have their own unique ways of learning. At an academic learning centre after school we are able to cater to their individualized needs. We create individualized programs for our students to ensure we give results.

What are some important lessons you’ve learnt about business?

In the business world, you need to develop rhino skin. You need to know exactly what your goal is and how you will get there. There will be friends lost, you will feel alone at times but you have to stay strong.

Any tips for achieving success?

One of my greatest tip would be, take advice from the right people. Associate yourself with people who have what you want in the future, people who have the experience, learn from them and that would help you grow. Never let your ego get in the way, EGO stands for Everyone’s Greatest Obstacle. If you are doing great its because of the people who have helped you, its due to your customers, your staff your team. If you are not doing great never blame anyone but yourself. Ask yourself how can you change this situation, what is it that you can change about yourself to ensure you do better. Never be scared of failure, fail forward and learn from your mistakes.

Whats your connection to Asia?

I was born and raised in Old Delhi (India), I completed middle school at Cambridge School in Delhi. I have a beautiful house in Delhi built on architecture. We recently renovated the mansion and also built a beautiful rooftop café called The Walled City Café.

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Website: www.arizshafi.com

 

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Callum Connects

Jasmine Tan, Director of Stone Amperor

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Jasmine saves her clients time and effort when doing kitchen fit outs with her biz Stone Amperor.

What’s your story?
I started working in the industry in 2003. I was in a marble and granite supplier company for 5 years. Even though I left the company, I still had customers calling me for my services. I referred them back to my previous company but they refused to because they loved the fast response service that I offered. I realised that customers do look at prices, however most of them prefer quality over quantity. Thus I have decided to establish a sole proprietor company also known as 78 Degrees which later rebranded as Stone Amperor in 2014.

What excites you most about your industry?
The kitchen countertop industry is a very confusing market. There are many brands, materials and prices to choose from. What excites me the most is my ability to help clients choose the best materials and brands within their budgets, whilst saving them time and effort.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have been in Asia all my life and I love Asia. No matter where you go there is no place like home.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. This is because Singapore has always been a stable country and it is great for doing business. However as it is a small country, it can be really competitive. I believe that if just do your best and give your best to your customers, you can overcome this.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Take actions. Learn and improve continuously. An idea without action is just a dream.” This was really good advice that I received from my partner.

Who inspires you?
A very down to earth billionaire from Malaysia, Robert Kuok

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Property is the foundation of every business.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Own instead of renting property for my business.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy going shopping, watching movies and hanging out with friends. I am quite a simple being.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love going to Taiwan as I love the culture there. Everyone is so polite and the weather is great.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Sun Tzu, Art of war

Shameless plug for your business:
Perfect top, Perfect price, Perfect life from Stone Amperor

How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@StoneAmperor

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy

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Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (https://www.chillicrab.com/nationalday)

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/djtehkh) or visit www.rebirthacademy.sg for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @ www.tinyurl.com/dexclar

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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