Leaving a full-time job and striking out on your own for most people is a scary proposition but for Tarik Sayeed the hard part was deciding which dream to chase first.
In a few short months Penticton’s latest inductee into the Top 40 Under 40 has become prominent in the news for his work as inventor, designer and entrepreneur all rolled into one energy-plus package.
“I have a lot of ideas but there are three things I have always been working on and I just needed that push to help me believe in what I was going to do and then start doing it,” said the 36-year-old who previously worked in internet technologies. “It was a little frightening at first but when you see the community is actually supporting you when you are doing that work and trying to make a social difference as well, means a lot.”
He added his selection as a member of the Top 40 under 40 was not only humbling but a validation of the direction he’s going.
“There are so many people doing so many good things I’m not sure I would have ever made the top 40,” said Sayeed. “It feels good though, it’s just amazing how many good people are out there and now, with this, it’s a network we can build together.
“I feel that I have been selected not just for my circumstances but because of the decisions I have made. It feels great to be part of the top 40, it means a lot .”
When not busy with his other works, he can be found doing volunteer duties with other projects including helping with the rejuvenation of the PenMar Theatre and the upcoming OneWorld Penticton Festival.
Sayeed first showed up on the business radar locally last November when he unveiled his Zero Plastic Bags project.
The idea was to replace the disposable bags with reusable cotton mesh carriers.
Now, having partnered with the Sneha Foundation, the concept has caught the attention of Muhammad Yunus, social entrepreneur, banker, economist and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Yunus founded the Grameen Bank and pioneered the concepts of microcredit and microfinance to loan money in a different way than the traditional bank loan.
The prize was awarded jointly to Yunus and the bank for creating “economic and social development from below.”
“He’s (Yunus) going to be reviewing our plan in February and once he gives the nod the bags will be coming in hard,” said Sayeed.
His second project, which also earned him international attention, is a software design which converts American Sign Language to written and audio formats.
As well as interest from the electronics wizards in California’s Silicon Valley, his company Baby Taxi was among the top 10 presenters in the invitation-only Accelerate Okanagan’s Jump: Start: Challenge recently in Kelowna.
For that victory he receives a wide range of support initiatives for his design. The third concept he is working on, which is already in place at several area businesses, is the
installation of electronic screens in waiting areas which he refers to as digital signage. It features the use of locally produced videos from different sources including students, interspersed by short advertisements.
“This is something that is very successful in the big cities like Toronto and Vancouver, but in the Okanagan, no one else is doing it I feel proud to be the first one to bring the medium into the community,” he said.
“This is affordable advertising for medium and small businesses and gets kids more inspired in the arts at the same time.”
With the three projects running at once, Sayeed is quickly joining the ranks of multiple business operators called “parallel entrepreneurs.”
“As I said before, Penticton is very soon going to be on the map for what we are doing for entrepreneurism, not just for tourism,” he said.
Sayeed feels it is important to keep community in the forefront of the work he does.
“There is an ulterior motive to every single one of the things I am doing and now is the opportunity for me to give it back to Penticton,” he said. “It’s long overdue. There is that drive that if I can do it hopefully other people will feel encouraged to do the same, try new and different things on their own.”
The young businessman also believes failure in any venture should not be a setback but a challenge.
“The way I see it is there will be times when we fall down and what matters is how quickly and how strongly we pick up ourselves up,” he said. “To some it may feel like people are throwing bricks at you but it’s what you make from those bricks that matters most.”
Penticton Top 40 under 40 is presented by the Prospera Credit Union in partnership with the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and JCI Penticton, with support from White Kennedy LLP Chartered Accountants.
Nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Top 40 Nomination.’ Please include nominees contact info and a brief reason for nomination.