While it’s possible to work a 9-to-5 job and still flex your entrepreneurial muscles, there’s nothing quite like going out on your own.
Prior to starting his own business, Ismail Attitalla worked in Sales in Montreal. A self-described “intrapreneur,” he quickly rose through the ranks to eventually manage a team of 32 doing $82 million in revenue.
Still, despite enjoying the unlimited income potential of working on commission, he knew he wanted more. More specifically, he wanted the freedom that comes from being your own boss.
“Freedom to do things my way, to go away for as long as I want, to change directions quickly. But more importantly, to solve problems that I want to solve,” says Ismail.
Fortunately, his sales experience translated well to entrepreneurship and gave him the confidence he needed to make the leap.
“Since I knew how to execute in business, I wanted to start executing for myself with my own money,” says Ismail. “The stakes were higher but so were the rewards.”
Ismail started his first business at 24 and his ventures haven’t stopped growing since. In addition to founding Edmonton Brewery Tours and Startup Menu, he’s also the founder of Stashii, a peer-to-peer storage marketplace based in Edmonton, Alberta.
“Stashii connects people who have space with people who needs space,” says Ismail. “It’s cashless, convenient and insured.”
Like Uber and Airbnb, Stashii is giving people the opportunity to earn extra money from what they already have. However, just like those apps, Ismail and Stashii struggled at first with building the trust of potential users.
“People did not just want to depend on other users being ‘good people,’ says Ismail. “They wanted some added protection in case things went wrong. But I was having a really hard time convincing insurance companies to provide coverage to our users since there was no way for them to control the space.”
Finally, after eight months of rejection, he was finally able to strike a deal and get and insurer on board for his app. Today, Stashii is active in five major Canadian cities – Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal.
From clothes to cars and even trailers, Stashii offers storage options that are secure, convenient and up to 50% cheaper than its competitors.
Before starting Stashii, Ismail turned to Futurpreneur Canada for its financing, mentoring and resources for young entrepreneurs.
“My local Futurpreneur contact provided me with some options in terms of mentors that fit my business,” says Ismail about the mentor matching process. “I did some quick research and agreed that he was a great fit.”
His current mentor is Saher Ghattas of marketing company Flawless Inbound and Ismail says he could not have asked for a better mentor.
“It does not feel like a mentee/mentor relationship but rather like two entrepreneurs who are at different stages sharing ideas. I like this a lot because my need for mentorship is not “How do I do X?” but to bounce ideas and get second opinions,” says Ismail. “Many times, I already know the answers but when you can get some reassurance, you take your steps much more confidently and thus, can move much faster.”
He continues to stay in contact with his mentor and his local Futurpreneur contact Hussam Tungekar, Business Development Manager in Alberta. Ismail even got the chance to travel across Canada with Futurpreneur was selected as a GEW On The Road Ambassador.
“I always recommend others to look into the programs!” says Ismail.
Even though Stashii is well on its way, Ismail is a testament to the continued impact Futurpreneur can have on the entrepreneurs it supports. For aspiring business owners, Ismail leaves us with these parting words of advice:
“Just start! There’s no time like the present. That perfect time or place will never come and you will only ‘know what to do’ once you take the first couple steps. No one starts off knowing what to really do, most just start and figure it out as they go. And last, you don’t need to quit your job and go all in or nothing. You can easily start a side hustle and grow that first.”