This year’s Forbes 30 under 30 list is shining the spotlight on Adnan Ebrahim—a tech-savvy entrepreneur, who had all the traits to be better poised to start and succeed in a new venture, yet chose to keep his dreams and ambition unknown from the world for a long time until he couldn’t keep it a secret anymore.
The young, fiercely competitive, creative, and undaunted minds featuring on 2020’s Forbes 30 under 30 are proof that the future will be promising, positive, and vastly different from what we know of today, for these youth daredevils are showing us ways to fight the pandemic, alter the course of the climate crisis, and invent technologies that drastically change the socio-economic structures of the society. Yet, there’s more to this list than just a glimpse into the overly optimistic future.
Meet this year’s Forbes 30 under 30 honoree Adnan Ebrahim
One of the not-so-conventional Forbes 30 under 30 entrants of this year is a humble 30-year-old tech wizard from Surrey who, although demonstrated an ideal entrepreneurial mindset and had his foot on the throttle from a very young age, but couldn’t open up about his enterprising plans and ambitions. Like every teenager, Adnan Ebrahim, too, was drawn to everything internet. The only difference was that this ambitious go-getter sold his first blog about digital marketing and social media advertising even before his 18th birthday.
By the time he turned 20, he was the founder of an online car community with over a million subscribers and over 45,000 page views a month. What’s intriguing is the unassuming beginning of this now-popular venture. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live after bagging a prestigious spot in the Forbes 30 class of 2020, Ebrahim admitted that Car Throttle was, in fact, just one of the many entrepreneurial activities he did back in those days. The website was founded from his bedroom while still a student and auctioning several nickel-and-dime stuff, bought on eBay on discount, to find his feet as an entrepreneur.
Success didn’t come easy for this whizz-kid as Ebrahim admits to facing much resistance and disappointments at the beginning. Many times, things didn’t go as planned, and Ebrahim lost a great deal of hard-earned money to fraud sellers. For most budding entrepreneurs at this stage, failure is not something they consider when starting a new business. For most, it’s tough to face the truth and pick up in massive frustration. After all, there is no magic pill to turn failure into success.
Living a life away from societal stigma
For Ebrahim, however, some of his brutal business failures were only a reminder of why he ought to keep moving forward. So he chose to live a second life—away from the negative public perceptions and overly judgemental society. As he admits, the fear of embarrassment and ridicule prevented him from telling his friends and family about his new business venture, which was now starting to turn pennies into a couple of hundreds of dollars a month.
No one knew about my secretive second life. I managed to keep it a well-guarded secret from my family, friends, and even my university’s flatmate. Having a digital lifestyle was often looked upon as suspicious and shady, so I wasn’t sure how they would react if they found out.
Meanwhile, Trevor Clawson, an acclaimed journalist, and author who has studied and researched tech startups’ foundation, the young entrepreneurial mindsets behind them, and their journeys, explains that being discreet during the initial stages of setting up a business isn’t that uncommon. It’s an ultra-competitive business world, and despite spending a fair amount of time brainstorming and planning, things can go downhill pretty bad pretty fast, he says.
And when you are surrounded by people who do not necessarily believe in your idea nor have faith in your approach, fear and doubt creep in, resulting in your mind frequently playing tricks on you.
No substitute for persistence
For this Forbes 30 under 30 debutante, things started to look serious when he noticed his first million number on the spreadsheet—his first million pounds generated in revenue and the first million petrolhead subscribers on YouTube. After having has built a hugely successful online car portal empire by 2019, with over 15 million viewers and more than 2.5 billion views, Ebrahim sold his business to emerge an eminent young entrepreneur.
Ebrahim’s story tells us that no matter what the circumstances are, we must choose to move forward, recognize our mistakes, learn from them, and ultimately create a better existence for all. Given the travel restrictions and prolonged school and college closures, it is quite natural for our youth today to feel that they lost career growth and income-earning opportunities. But in today’s connected world, where technology affords us more flexibility in how and where we work, home-based businesses come in various forms.
Ebrahim started his billion-dollar business idea right from his bedroom. You can, too, pursue your entrepreneurial dreams using your existing space and means. All you need are the ideas that fill an underserved demand or make something better than what’s already out there and go for it with all your might and grit, even when everyone else tells you to give up. As 2020’s Forbes 30 under 30 claimant says, persistence is primary and the very key to keeping you going and facing overwhelming challenges.