Immersing Yourself with Shah Suhail, Co-Founder of Tactiveo
Immersing yourself into the world of an entrepreneur, taking advantage of the opportunities around you and having a strong support system are a few ways that Shah began his entrepreneurial journey.
Finishing up his final year at York University for Business Marketing, he began by running a non-profit to educate students about entrepreneurship through events (Journey to Entrepreneurship) to help entrepreneurs know about the resources they have available to them. Bringing in professionals for learning and teaching opportunities, Shah was a connector for people and the opportunities that lie ahead of them.
We jumped right into our discussion with Shah, to understand what it’s like to motivate and be motivated by the entrepreneurial mindset.
When asked where his passion for entrepreneurship began, he stated that motivational books and family were a factor. He always read about owning your own business and being your own boss.
He recalls, “2 years ago, I joined the Entrepreneurship Development Association as the Marketing Director and I got exposed to all these different resources, all these different entrepreneurs...My whole family is self-employed.”
We dived into his journey and the current venture that he is developing, Tactiveo. A company that specializes in video production and marketing to assist small businesses and realtors with their marketing and video needs throughout a subscription based service. Before the summer of 2018, Shah realized there are all these resources available that he was not taking advantage of. He applied to the summer company program, a program from the Government of Ontario Grant. As a student, Shah received $3000. He got accepted, went through the interview process and that started his first official business that lead to him incorporating. At the same time, an accelerator called LaunchYU, in partnership with Schulich Executive Centre provided another resource. He was given $2000 to start, and the program ends with pitching your business in a competition. Though this process, Shah remembers rebranding constantly and furthering his goals.
We asked, “How do you overcome self-doubt and/or fear? Were you hesitant in your venture?”
He replies, “For sure. Especially in the beginning when I wasn’t getting any sales, or I wasn’t getting any traction... you hear about all these other companies around you, that either are getting sales, developing their app or whatever they’re working on and then you look at yourself and you’re like woah...there’s no progress at the moment.
However, Shah finds the light in the struggle. He states,
“It’s a tough ride for sure, personally what always kept me going since day 1 and is always my drive of making sure I’m always developing myself personally is...that is I listen to a lot of motivational speakers, and not just like a quick 5 minute video on Youtube, I actually listen to seminars, I attend seminars. Aside from that, also reading books. That motivation is not permanent so I have to make sure that I’m always refreshing my mind with that. Whenever a doubt does come up, I spark up the motivation again by either reading or by listening to a role model of mine. That keeps me going.”
“Can you recall a time in your journey when you were feeling down?”
“Recently, this is actually a recent experience. I just had so much on my plate. As I mentioned before, I’m a full time student, final year at York University...so all the pressure of school, obviously you have these deadlines, you have these assignments, you have exams...but then on top of that you look at your business and you want to keep seeing that grow so it’s like okay..how do you balance all of that? On top of that, being involved with my volunteer position, for example running EDA and making sure everything at EDA is running smoothly but then on top of that also being involved with LOI Labs and then not just labs but being in connector. So I was just sitting down and I was like woah...this is too much for me. That was a low point for me. I had to vent to some loving and close friends, they helped me gather my thoughts and feeling that pressure, having so much on my plate that was one of the biggest low points.”
Most times when in a slump, it’s easy to get lost in the noise. Shah gives us some advice to help us out of those moments of chaos and figuring out the balancing act.
He says, “But what helps me personally is making sure I organize everything. I use this app called Trello, to make sure I have a specific to-do list every single day. Pretty simple to use, it’s a very easy to use app but on top of that using Google calendars making sure that I have something to do and it’s organized.”
Not only is organization important, but a strong support system is as well for those times when things seem confusing or progress is not what you projected it to be.
Shah tells us about his partnership, “Working on a business by yourself, I was working on the entity before by myself but just recently I joined my venture with a really good friend of mine Sham. We’re both managing partners at Tactiveo. Having that other hand there to help, as well as you know it’s not just business help but also emotionally as well. If something goes wrong, I’m able to openly go ahead and tell him ‘I have this situation I’m dealing with...Can you help me out? Can you tackle this? Can you hold onto this?’ That itself, I feel like if you’re an entrepreneur by yourself, find somebody to help you.”
Finding a business partner can be hard. Sharing a vision, your goals, and your fears. We ask Shah how he found his business partner and why he chose to partner with someone.
“At first when I approached him for a business partnership, he was not down. He did not want to. I said okay, that’s fine. I still have that passion for video production and marketing because that’s what I love to do. What happened later down the down is that we realized we do have the same vision. In fact, Sham has actually been a good friend of mine ever since high school.”
He told his friend a quote by Napoleon Hill, “You can achieve more in one year with a team, which you would have achieved in a lifetime by yourself.”
We asked for advice for full time students who wants to execute their idea but don’t have the time or think they can’t handle it?
Shah doesn’t hesitate when he tells us it’s all about jumping in. Be around the people you want to become.
A good way to do this?
“Attend your local entrepreneurship events. You know you get put around those type of entrepreneurial minded people, that ambition gives spark.”
That initial push, and jumping into something new is terrifying. Shah has us covered by relieving some of our fears. He remembers going through this when he says,
“I have to make a choice, it’s tough, you have this guaranteed income..you’re just going to drop everything and start your own business which might or might not work?...If you go ahead, start your own business, get incorporated, gain even a little bit of traction? You have the guts to do something that majority of people want to do, but will never do.”
“If somebody doesn’t want to take that leap...just attending events like the ones hosted by the League of Innovators, like the one hosted at York, there’s such a huge ecosystem of events going on...no matter where you are, there is something going on. There’s so much value that comes from them. Let’s say you don’t have time to start your own business..what if you found a co-founder? You may find somebody that has the same vision as you. Getting into the space is the best possible advice.”
“Get involved with entrepreneurship organizations. Keep yourself motivated - who do you listen to? Listen to people who have what you want...find your mentors.”
Pushing forward and taking leaps requires a mindset that not many realize they need - or even have. We wanted to know what is Shah’s definition of the entrepreneurial mindset? He states,
“It doesn’t mean you have to start your own business. An entrepreneur is somebody that is faced with multiple problems and is able to solve them. As long as you’re facing problems and you’re able to find innovative solutions to that, you are an entrepreneur.”
Overcoming that doubt and pessimism around you? He asks us...“How do you face doubt? What do you do with doubt? His theory is that you face it right head on, and you just make that doubt completely obliterate.
Whatever that doubt is, you completely prove it wrong.”
He emphasizes the importance of constructive criticism and what it will take for you to reach your goals. He tells us,
“I control my situation, I control my reality and my circumstances. The moment you start believing that doubt and you start doubting yourself? That is when you have to figure something out or change course. You’re putting your success at risk.“
Shah’s family story is purposeful, impactful and helps us to understand his drive and his passion. We asked him what makes him want to get out of bed everyday? Where does this fire come from? We were fortunate enough to hear the story of his mother and father who instilled these values through hard work, love, and embracing opportunity.
“I came here in 2001, when I was 4 years old. My father came a little bit before us. We’re an immigrant family from Pakistan. When we got here, life was tough...My dad, his brothers were all living in a small one bedroom apartment in Montreal...I grew up in Canada but my parents never let me feel like we didn’t have anything. My father, my mother...they gave me everything they could possibly have. Now we look at it like, we’re so blessed, we have our own house now, we have our own vehicles, we’re able to get around, I can start my own business, my dad’s doing great in real estate. Seeing that transition, seeing how far he brought us -how far both my parents brought us- I just feel like I owe it to them to make sure that they’re living good. If they brought us this far? It’s kind of like a baton, like you run a lap and you pass the baton over and your keep running.”
“Financial freedom, that’s my goal. And not just because money rules the world, it’s not just that. It allows for freedom for me to spend time with my family, to be able to have the freedom to go wherever we want, whenever we want. That is what keeps me going everyday. Once I reach that point I’m also able to give back.”
Carrying on a family legacy of hard work, having faith in yourself and taking advantage of the opportunities around you are a few ways that Shah encompasses the entrepreneurial spirit.
“A legacy I want to leave is motivating people… talking about the mindset and trying to impact as many lives as possible in that way.”
To learn more about Shah and Tactiveo, be sure to follow up below!
Shah Suhail // @Shahzebsuhail
Tactiveo // @tactiveo
Written by Amanda Monisha