Charter Member Profile: Rahim Fazal
Current City: San Francisco
Past endeavors: MailBC.com, Merchantpark, NeoEdge Networks, Involver
Current: Product Strategy for Oracle’s Social Cloud
As a serial entrepreneur, Rahim Fazal has truly "been there and done that" in the tech world. He’s started several companies, just recently sold one to Oracle, and speaks at various events on what it takes to be a startup founder. What else could you ask for in an entrepreneur? Well, to make things even better, Rahim is one of our amazing Charter Members. Most recently, Rahim was the keynote speaker at AccelerateTO and spoke at Techtoberfest in Waterloo on his experience and thoughts on enterprise startups. He will also be participating in our upcoming 48hrs in the Valley next month.
While just a grade 12 high school student, wiz kid Rahim kick started his startup success by selling his first company, a web-hosting business, MailBC.com, that he had co-founded with a friend. Rahim then decided to continue his startup journey by starting Merchantpark, a web services platform business. He took this company public, which made him one of the youngest directors of a publicly traded company in the country. Then in 2004, Rahim decided it was time to go to university. Rahim was accepted into the Richard Ivey school of Business MBA program – mind you, he was the youngest student accepted into the program without an undergraduate degree. What a rockstar, eh?
With an MBA under his belt, Rahim was ready for his next project. He met some fellow startup guys from Waterloo in 2006, which then brought him down to Silicon Valley where he decided to help them with their product for their company NeoEdge Networks. Being the hotbed for innovation that is Silicon Valley, this was the place where Rahim began his most recent startup Involver, a social marketing platform, in 2007.
Of course, we all know there are amazing tech hubs elsewhere (they’re definitely bubbling up in Canada!), but Silicon Valley has that special fairy dust. Rahim says that just as an aspiring actor wants to move down to Hollywood, many entrepreneurs, like himself, feel that Silicon Valley pull. With a ton of capital, history of tech giants, and basically being the mekka for most tech entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley is sometimes the place to be. Turns out it was for Rahim and Involver. After 5 years building up a great company, Oracle scooped up Involver in an acquisition this summer. Rahim now runs strategy for Oracle’s Social Cloud.
Although Rahim has lived the entrepreneurial dream of building and selling a company in Silicon Valley, his roots remain in Canada. When chatting about the tech ecosystem in Canada, Rahim comments that, “What I’m starting to see now when I go to Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or any of our cities in Canada, are ecosystems [like the Valley] coming up and emerging.“ He says that “when you look 5 or 10 years out in the future, we’re going to have pockets of these very vibrant startup communities in these cities - they’re going to be mini hubs of innovation.”
When Rahim got connected with the C100 through Arif Janmohamed and Yen Lee in 2010, he was stoked to find such an awesome community of similar entrepreneurs interested in helping out Canadian startups in the Valley and in these Canadian tech hubs. The C100 not only is a support system for Rahim, but he is able to give back to those entrepreneurs and startups who are struggling with problems Rahim has faced in the past.
One big thing that Rahim has learned as an entrepreneur, is when to ask for help. Everyone hits roadblocks - they get stuck and often refuse to admit it. Rahim encourages entrepreneurs to let themselves be vulnerable. When you reach out to mentors or advisors who are incredibly knowledgeable in the area you’re struggling with, that experience can be just the catapult you and your company needs. Even though failure can be a badge of honor in the startup world, in general people fear failure. Putting yourself out there to say “I’ve failed – what can I do to change this?” can really turn things around.