Each week, Sumaya Kazi, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi-American living in the San Francisco Bay Area, puts in 40 to 50 hours at her full-time job as a social and new media marketing manager at Sun Microsystems. She then puts in another 20 to 40 hours every week as executive director of her own company, TheCulturalConnect.com.
Kazi launched TheCulturalConnect (TCC) in July 2005, only two weeks after she came up with the idea for the site. Its purpose is to connect dynamic young professionals under the age of 35 with others of the same cultural background, which it does through five weekly e-magazines, The DesiConnect, The MidEast Connect, The AsiaConnect, The LatinConnect, and The AfricanaConnect. Their readership numbers 50,000 in some 100 countries, and Kazi’s initial staff of 3 has expanded to 30.
“I oversee everything—publishing, recruiting and hiring, marketing, business development,” says Kazi. But I definitely do not take the credit for TCC’s success. I have an amazing staff that spans two countries, eight states, and 18 cities. Without them, there would be no TCC.”
Kazi, who graduated from UC Berkeley in marketing and strategic planning, was named one of America’s Best Entrepreneurs Under 25 by BusinessWeek magazine in 2006, and was the only woman featured individually in the magazine’s Global Top 75 Entrepreneurs List
Sumaya Kazi’s Advice for Young Entrepreneurs
- Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. It can only breed success.
- Make sure that everyone on your core team has a PhD mentality. In other words, they must think as if they are poor, hungry, and driven.
- Don’t sit on great ideas. Collaborate with others to get them off the ground.
- Remember that people who reach for the impossible make many more things possible happen along the way.
- Network like crazy.