Amro Maghrabi has been playing around with photography and video production for as long as he can remember.
But it wasn’t until he attended the Art Institute of Vancouver’s Digital Film and Video Program that he started pursuing his hobby professionally.
Still, while he had the passion and the talent, his time post-graduation wasn’t exactly picture perfect.
“It was a challenging year for me following film school, working the odd shoots for no pay and trying to find a way into the film industry,” says Amro.
Things took a turn when he started working as a street and experiential marketing rep. This role introduced him to the world of public relations and marketing, which lead him to pursue a PR diploma at Grant MacEwan University and start building a career in the field.
“Following my time at MacEwan, I took on roles as a public relations coordinator in non-profit and public sector organizations over the span of four years, meanwhile pursuing passion projects in video and film,” says Amro.
Eventually, he turned his side hustle into his main gig and founded Cineflair Productions in 2014.
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Cineflair is a video marketing and production agency that helps businesses, brands and organizations engage their audiences using video. They service clients across North America and abroad.
“Our team is made up of strategists, marketers and passionate storytellers who are obsessed with all aspects of video, all the way from concept to distribution,” says Amro.
He was inspired to start his business when he saw the growing popularity of online video content.
“I believed that my unique combination of skills in both video production and communications was a good value proposition in itself when working with businesses and organizations with communications challenges,” says Amro.
And he was right. Today, Cineflair is a thriving business with a team of five full-time staff.
“I’m most proud of the team I’m surrounded by today,” says Amro. “They’re so talented and hard-working – and we all share similar passion and vision. It’s incredibly exciting to think about what we’ll achieve together in the future.”
To get Cineflair off the ground, he turned to Futurpreneur Canada for financial support.
“There were a lot of hurdles, but I think the most intense ones were the financial ones,” says Amro about the early days of the business. “It was key for me to be smart about every spending decision I made, but also securing financial help through Futurpreneur helped with important investments in new equipment.”
He’s also extremely grateful for the support of his Futurpreneur mentor. His business management, finance and accounting advice was critical.
“Futurpreneur did a great job matching me with Randy Fries of Fries Financial Consulting,” says Amro. “He is worth his weight in gold. When I felt stuck or unsure about approaching an important business decision, his perspective was usually what I needed to feel confident about making those decisions.”
He continues: “The impression I always got from all my interactions with Futurpreneur is that you guys just get it. You understand the challenging journey that aspiring entrepreneurs are about to take on and do so much to arm them with the resources they need to start. All of that was so important for me to feel more empowered about what I was doing, and I owe a big part of where we are today to the help I got from you.”
For any aspiring entrepreneurs, Amro has the following advice:
“Find something you’re passionate about to start a business in. Believe me, it will make the suffering you’ll endure as a starting entrepreneur more tolerable. But also, find someone who’s going through similar experiences as you to bounce ideas off of and vent to – it’s a great form of therapy. Better yet, find a mentor who’s already gone through it all and can give you valuable insight on how to deal with tricky situations.”