Dr Tausif Malik is an Indian-American entrepreneur based out of Chicago, USA. He is the founder of America’s largest community based SpeIIing Bee competition, MuslimSpellingBee.com, IndiaStartUpFest.com, GCCStartUpFest.com, Schoolpreneur.Biz and AIMBSN.com. He has been nominated and shortlisted for the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, USA and the Global Islamic Economy Award promoted by Dubai Government in association with Thompson Reuters. In a conversation with MAEESHAT, he speaks about his journey and shares his insights. Here is the excerpt.
Let me begin by asking you why did you come back to India?
And let me begin by thanking you for this interview. Coming back to your question, I think there were two reasons that prompted my ‘ghar wapsi’ if you allow me to use the phrase. FirstIy, India is a happening place and offers plethora of opportunities for business. Secondly, my family circumstances, especially, my mother’s health made it easy for me to take the decision. Here, I would also like to add that I have always believed in the Indian economy because of the sheer size of the population. Huge population means more demand and huge demand means more business. So, we wanted to setup Indian operations to establish our flagship brand MuslimSpellingBee.com competition.
You’ve initiated and established so many projects. That puts you in the league of ‘serial entrepreneurs. How would you respond to this?
It is just a beginning. We’re a specialized events management company with special focus on South Asian community and Muslim market. According to a research conducted by JWT and OgiIvy Worldwide, the Muslim market in the USA valued at over $170 Billion. Based on our estimates Indian Muslim market is valued at over $300 Billion, hence we are focused on these two markets.
So many Startup Events and festivals are happening these days? Why did this come about?
The Holy Quran and the Hadith strongIy support entrepreneurship. At our event Zafar SareshwaIa sahib said that Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) had the motivation and dedication and Ummul Mu’mineen Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) had the capital and together they started a company.. This could be termed as the first startup in IsIam.
According to another saying, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Out of ten parts, nine parts of one’s sustenance is in business. This only shows the important place entrepreneurial spirit enjoys in Islam. . It also helps the economy and reduces unemployment. It is very important for Muslim to imbibe this entrepreneurial spirit and look beyond public sector jobs.
Our Startup festivals are geared towards spreading awareness about government economic initiatives. There is no English language barrier, no technology barrier, no gender barrier. We support the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra bhai Modiji’s policies such as Make in India, Startup India, Digital India, SkiII India. We want everyone to understand and benefit from these policies.
You are in India since last year only but you are speaking at major Startup Festivals…Masha AIIah, how come you have become a star speaker?
To be honest the answer is my mother’s blessings (dua’s). I didn’t win even one competition though my mother took me to over 100 competitions. Every-time I lost a competition, she would have said, “Your time wiII come” Time has proved her right: now I’m the creator of America’s second largest competition.
So, since early days of my career I have been a pioneer because I spotted opportunity and grabbed it with my both hands. Over the years I have been featured in various local and international media. Thanks to the Internet, now everyone can access all kinds of information through Google, and various social media sites. Organizations and individuals connect with me and offer me to speak at their events. My topic is very simple. It is Hope and Hope comes from Blessings that ultimately drives individuals to success. I always thank Allah (SWT) for accepting my mothers dua’s.
What is a startup?
Many people assume that a technology company is a startup. But for me it is entrepreneurial acumen spotting an opportunity and converting it into a profitable venture. Technology can be harnessed to achieve our goals.
How is the Muslim community embracing this new paradigm in business or the so called startup culture?
Muslims have been great entrepreneurs. The Arabs first arrived in India as traders. There are sub-communities among Muslim like Bohras, Memons, and Ismailies who have been very successful in business. So entrepreneurship is not something new for them. Since the Independence, however, the Muslim community focused on small scale businesses or SME. Muslims failed to turn these small business ventures into something big. Of course, people like Azim Premji of Wipro, Dr. Hamid of CipIa, Khorakiwala of Wockhardt are exceptions. . But change is in the air. I’m pleasantly surprised to see many young educated Muslims following the national trend of venturing into startups. I have met many of them or interacted over phone and sociaI media. So Muslims are becoming active in the Startup scenario.
Tell me something about AIMBSN ?
All India Muslim Business & Startup Network (AIMBSN) is a platform for Muslim businesses, investors & startups to connect with mainstream business ecosystem. The AIMBSN’s theme is “Connect, Support, Inspire & Grow,” expressing the vision of the India’s Muslim community becoming more involved in stimulating the business sector and developing opportunities for the next generation.
AIMBSN’s vision is to connect with the Prime Minister Narendrabhai Modiji’s vision and policies of Make India, Startup India- Standup India, Digital India & Skill India.
What are your future plans?
In sha ‘Allah we are planning to expand AIMBSN’s activities in India and abroad, connect the NRI Muslims with the startup ecosystem of India through events and networking. We are in process of establishing Venture Capital (VC) fund and invest in the Indian startups. There are many NRI Muslims who want to support their motherland INDIA through investment and growth.