Uplift’s mission is to create and sustain public schools of excellence that empower students to reach their highest potential in college and the global marketplace and that inspire in students a life-long love of learning, achievement, and service in order to positively change their world.
Life After Uplift: The Story of Fahim Ahamed
Life After Uplift provides an in-depth look at what Uplift Education alumni experience after graduating and going off into the real world.
In this edition of Life After Uplift, we learn about Fahim Ahamed, founder of Hold My Chai, a chai business set to open soon in Frisco.
“When I was at North Hills, I was nowhere near as confident as I am now, especially when it comes to business,” Fahim said. “I was a very quiet, very intimate person. I didn’t open my mouth or talk unless someone spoke to me.”
It wasn’t until Fahim started working in retail that he began developing a voice and becoming more comfortable talking to people. As a first-generation Bengali American, Fahim built his network by working internships and full-time jobs while he attended college at UNT. Fahim realized he wanted to work towards something that he could call his own.
“Hold my Chai was a concept I came up with six years ago while a student at Uplift North Hills, and I have talked to my friends about the concept for years,” Fahim said. One of my best friends, Sanjida Rahman, recently asked me why I was waiting so long to execute my business plan and encouraged me to pursue my dream.” His business model for Hold My Chai resembles that of Starbucks. “Starbucks is killing the game with their coffee,” Fahim said. “They provide a quality cup of coffee while building a community at the same time.”
Fahim plans on doing the same thing with traditional Chai. “Starbucks sells Chai tea or Chai latte, and I don’t mean to burst your bubble, but unfortunately, it’s not traditional Chai,” Fahim said. “You might find Chai at Indian cafes, but it comes in a Styrofoam cup. Now, if we’re talking about authentic Chai, like my mother or the aunties and uncles make, it’s more authentic, so it provides the opportunity to flip the narrative. Watching my mom make Chai growing up, many cultural aspects come with it. It’s like a family connection extension, my roots. If I can create a melting pot within the Frisco community, that would make me so happy.”
“Age is not something that needs to be a determinant for business,” Fahim said. At the end of the day, if you simplify what business is, it comes down to having something to sell and someone to sell it to. So, if you have both of those things, you can succeed in business.” One of the most important things driving Fahim’s success is the support he’s received.
“I’ve probably sat down with more friends, just the last few months alone, than maybe the last three years combined,” Fahim said. “When people come by to hear about my vision, I give them free Hold My Chai stickers, and I sit with them and tell them my vision. Having that human connection with people helped me establish that foundation and a following.” Fahim’s advice to other Uplift scholars interested in starting their own business is to develop a supportive network.
“If you have an idea, reach out to people; have people hear what your ideas are,” Fahim said. “When you’re very passionate about something, you’re often blinded by what you’re doing. That’s when you need a third voice or a separate opinion to understand your thought process. Get with someone you trust who will tell you what they think and be honest and upfront with you.”
“If it’s the right time and the right moment, you will flourish. If it’s not, well, that’s how business works, it’s not always butterflies and rainbows, you will have downfalls, and it’s up to you to get back up and hold yourself accountable. Dream big, work hard, and do whatever it takes to achieve your vision.”
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