We had the good fortune of connecting with Don Mahmood and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Don, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug when I was 14 when I cut grass for my neighbor. That led me to enlist a few friends to start my first venture – a yard cleaning and maintenance service. I do recall getting into trouble for selling candy to other students when I was in grade school.
My family history of generational entrepreneurship may have something to do with it as well. My father was a businessman and I worked with him from an early age so naturally, I think that is what led me to be in business for myself as well.
In 1992 we took a family trip back to Lahore, Pakistan. It was my first time back since coming to the US in 1982. I had an experience there that would make an impact on my mindset forever. At that moment, I knew for a fact that I wanted to become an entrepreneur and put myself in a position where I could help others and have the flexibility to be with my family and work at the same time.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be in my career, but I am thankful and blessed that I’ve made it this far. It may sound cliche but, nothing worthwhile comes easy. There are a lot of moments of loneliness, more than quite a few naysayers, and not to forget false support from people that are around you that don’t understand your vision or try to tell you that it won’t work for this reason or that. Call it hard-headed, passionate, or determined – I keep moving forward with a clear vision and focused direction.
It seems that I’m always working on multiple ventures. Right now that includes MedSmarter, a platform assisting pre-med students, medical students, and IMGs on their path to becoming practicing physicians in the United States; z2 Squared, a firm that provides marketing, consulting, and development services to startups and small to mid-size businesses; Decision168, a project empowering individuals, small businesses, and entrepreneurs to perform and function at their highest levels, using their talents to impact their communities and beyond; and finally, EKGENES – Eklectik Genes Clothing Co., I’m in conversations with investors and manufacturers to relaunch the fashion brand in the Spring of 2022.
I’ve learned to adopt a student-for-life mentality, so I actively look for opportunities to learn from everything and everyone around me. There are lessons everywhere if you keep an eye out and pay attention. One of the first lessons I learned was to make sure I don’t fall into the ego trap, “keep your ego in your back pocket.”
My intentions have always been to prioritize building the relationship first. My “Why” is clear to me, and that was something my father ingrained in me while I was young. He said, “put yourself in a position to help others.” Knowing and experiencing the financial, family, spiritual, or whatever daily struggles we as humans face, especially given the current pandemic environment, empathy is extremely important to me.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Of course, we would have to take in the basics of Atlanta, such as The World of Coca-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, Centennial Olympic Park, the Mercedes Benz Stadium is nice, the views from Stone Mountain as well as Lake Lanier are unforgettable at the right times. When it comes to food, there are so many choices, but I’d probably take my friend to STK Steakhouse on Peachtree Street, Rumi’s Kitchen at Avalon, and breakfast from Husker’s Cafe is a must. A friend owns Bliss Bar & Lounge in Johns Creek, so we would probably enjoy some Hookah and Music there. I’ve grown to enjoy more intimate environments so more than likely; we would spend the majority of the time at my residence.
I’m always looking to make new friends and find ways to free up some time to network and build relationships. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
After my parents, if it wasn’t for the support and encouragement from my loving wife, I would not be where I am today. We still have a lot to accomplish and God willing we will continue to push forward and do it together.
Other: @RealDonMahmood, @Decision168, @MedSmarter, @z2Squared, @ekgenes