Farhan Mohamed and His Road to Success

Vancity Buzz editor spoke to Marketing Association about how he got where he is today

Photo courtesy Vancity Buzz

On Sept. 23, the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Marketing Association, a student organization for marketing students, hosted its first event of the fall 2015 semester. Guest speaker, Vancity Buzz editor-in-chief, Farhan Mohamed, shared stories of what drove him as a young man and how those experiences helped to propel him to where he is today. He also provided advice for students and entrepreneurs who are starting to figure out their own journey to success.

As a young, innovative entrepreneur in Vancouver, Mohamed has pursued his passions in life— combining community-building, online social networks, business expertise, giving back to the community, and of course, having fun. He quickly rose to the position of partner and editor-in-chief of Vancity Buzz and provided some insight as to how he got there.

“In high school, I was that guy that wanted to get involved with pretty much anything and everything,” says Mohamed. “When I was about 14 or 15, I was finding that we didn’t really have many things to do. So I put together a basketball league for over the summer. The first year had about 40 or 50 registered players . . .  and then the following year we did it again.” This turned out to be a great lesson for Mohamed because he began to realize the value of connecting people, claiming, “That’s when I really understood the power of building communities and the power of bringing people together, and that was before things like social media.”

After switching between Arts and Criminology at SFU, Mohamed took Business Administration at Capilano University in 2011 and quickly excelled, becoming the director of media for their marketing association. Mohamed was motivated to find deviceful new ways to bring people together while considering the commodity of time, saying, “Time is probably the most important thing and time is the most precious thing when someone is coming to a website. They’re going to spend from 10 to 15 seconds to 10 to 15 minutes—what value are you giving them to stay?”

It was in 2010 that he first connected over Twitter with Karm Sumal, the Co-Founder of Vancity Buzz, but it wasn’t until two years later that they finally decided to meet. “We met in person the summer of 2012 when I was working at The Vancouver Sun, so we said ‘Hey, we’ve been following each other, why don’t we just do lunch?’”

After their initial meeting, Mohamed and Sumal sat down again and realized that they had the same vision for the future of the company, and his career at Vancity Buzz began that November. Graduating in 2013, he quickly excelled by developing a new standard for business operations, eventually creating a new position for himself. In September 2014, less than two years after starting with the company, he was able to become a partner and the editor-in-chief of Vancity Buzz.

At 23 years-old and freshly out of university, Mohamed was putting all of his energy into the company because as he continually stressed, “If you don’t do it, it’s not going to get done.”

Today Vancity Buzz is an industry-leading website and a social media hub for Vancouverites strives to “connect Vancouverites with their city.” As Mohamed says, “We’ve gone from a blog where we had a few hundred thousand views a month to now—we’ve got millions of views. And the really rewarding thing is we’re able to tell stories and see the impact.”

“You have to push yourself, you know, if you’re not there to do it, it’s not going to happen and that was the biggest challenge I would think,” Mohamed says, addressing the key to his success. Parting with a word of advice for students and entrepreneurs alike, Mohamed stressed that it takes consistent, hard work to build on your vision.

“It’s not easy unless you’re being handed the lottery. It’s not going to come to you, so all these things take time, and all these things take tons and tons of work—especially in media and marketing, when it’s such a tough business to be in. You’re getting ideas coming from left and right that you really have to try harder to figure out a way to stand out and a way to be better. That’s what we did, and that’s what I did especially. You can’t quit, you quit and then everything you just did is going to crumble.”

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