BY DOLA ADESANYA
In 2004, Pakistani born Ahmed Khattak arrived in America, his intentions – to play squash for Yale University and take an advantage of the full academic scholarship which the university offered. Arriving at a new territory, Khattak’s prime concern was to buy a cell phone through which he could keep in touch with his family in Pakistan. He was however disappointed that no one would sell him a cell phone, reason – Khattak had no Social Security number nor established credit to get a cell phone service contract.
While in American, Khattak observed a few things. He observed that consumers paid too much to own a smartphone – consumers were being forced to commit to pricey two-year contracts, with onerous fees for cancellations. He also observed that even after paying an early termination fee, consumers were not free to move to another service provider, this was because the phone had been locked to a particular carrier or network provider.
Fast forward a few years, in 2007, the Yale student stayed briefly in London United Kingdom for an internship. While in Europe, Khattak observed that Europeans had the alternative to use cell phones free of contracts. He compared this to what applied in American – “I thought, why can’t America be like this?”. That right there was his eruka moment!
In 2008, 22 year-old Khattak took this idea to America and turned it into a multi-million dollar business. Simply put, Khattak saw what was missing and filled in the gap!
Upon his graduation from Yale in 2009, Khattak moved forward with his idea for an e-commerce site that would show Americans the money they could save by approaching mobile the way most of the world does. The e-commerce site was to sell manufactures unlocked mobile devices direct to consumers, which can be used with any wireless network. Consumers then sign up for significantly less expensive month-to-month voice, text and data plan.
In March 2010, Ahmed Khattak launched GSM Nation with friend Junaid Shams, a student at George Washington University. They started with $150,000 of their own and families’ money, plus free office space and support from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. In the first year of operation, GSM Nation grossed almost $9 million and in its second year over $35 million. For 2012, Khattak expects to gross over $50 million in sales!
“When I got to America, I had no intention of becoming a millionaire,”the 26-year-old says. “I started GSM Nation simply to show people a better way.”
Today, GSM Nation is one of the fastest growing wireless retail and services startups in America, has 12 employees and have just hired a Harvard Business School graduate who worked previously at Goldman Sachs – as an intern.
The 2011 America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs Finalist had this to say “if you have a chance, go out and make a difference”!
Dola Adesanya || is an astute lawyer with a good business acumen. She loves everything motivational.