When an idea sparked in Ismail’s mind a couple of years ago, he knew it was the right time to pursue it. As he came into his 30s and wasn’t getting much fulfillment from working as a General Sales Manager for a large corporation, he moved his life from Montreal to Edmonton and began his entrepreneurial path. His biggest motivator was never wanting to regret anything, to not look back when he gets older and think “I wish I had done that”.
Have you ever had considerable amounts of stuff and nowhere to store it? Maybe you didn’t want to get rid of it, or didn’t want to rent a whole storage locker? Ismail had that problem, and he set out to solve it. He thought it was a good idea, but did everyone else? To validate the idea, he started talking to strangers. He found his target market on classified sites like Kijiji and Craiglist, and asked them to list the space they had in their homes or garages on his website. After getting invaluable feedback from about 100 people, Stashii was born. The company connects people who have space with people who need space, making the process convenient and safe.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE
As he was getting his idea together and completing his research, Ismail reached out for support. Looking for financing for his business he found Futurpreneur, which provides loans and mentorship for young entrepreneurs. They ended up helping him in that aspect, and directed him to Business Link for further support and guidance. Since then he has been engaging with us constantly to get ongoing support with each startup step. We’ve helped him in finding the right answers without him having to spend a lot of time aimlessly researching. Ismail also found it was a great experience using ATB BoostR’s crowdfunding platform to get exposure and further validate his idea.
Ismail at one of the storage units available on his website
FORGING HIS OWN PATH
For Ismail, success doesn’t mean being financially free as it does with many. For him, his success lies in bringing something of value to people. A year and a half ago, Stashii was just an idea, and today it is out there and people are talking about it and using it.
His idea came at the right time with the sharing economy really taking off, but Ismail still found some challenges with the legal side of things. The infrastructure just wasn’t there to support everything he wanted to do and provide to his customers, so he had to work hard to put it in place. One big challenge was renters wanting insurance while no such insurance option existed. After talking to insurance company CEOs and working for eight months, his company will now be offering first of its kind insurance for the renters that use his site.
As he’s moved his business from idea stage to being operational, Ismail’s challenges have changed. Now his main focus is driving more renters to the site, by learning how to use Google AdWords, Facebook, and other advertising means.
When interviewing Ismail, it became clear that he was really open to sharing his valuable advice and experiences with other entrepreneurs. Take a peek below for some great tidbits of wisdom:
Researching and testing an idea is #1. There is nothing worse than trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Research on Google – a lot of the time the answers are there, you just have to go through the different pages.
After researching, try to find the best way to make the idea happen. For example, do you need to have a physical location, or can you sell online?
The Business Model Canvas is a hugely helpful resource.
Ismail really values the support he received when starting Stashii, and loves to pay it forward. If you want to talk to him about your idea and can relate to his story, feel free to reach out to him on his social media profiles below.
THE FUTURE IS FULL (but with Stashii there’s always room for more)
Stashii is a long term game for Ismail, so as they finalize the insurance, cross-Canada promotion will begin. At the same time, he’s also working on a second venture, Startup Menu. He built a team to help him with various marketing tasks for Stashii, and now wants to help make it easier for other Canadian entrepreneurs to find professionals to complete those tasks. This venture is also really taking off, and they are hiring some MacEwan University students to move that forward even more.
All of the hard work Ismail put into his ideas is really paying off for him, and we can’t wait to see what he does next. Make sure to keep updated with what he’s doing on social media. And if you made it this far in the blog, lucky you! Ismail has offered a discount for you to use Startup Menu as you start your business. Just click this link and enter the code BUSINESSLINKAB20 to receive 20% off!