Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Bassem El-Rahimy, who co-founded e-learning platform GVE Online Education to teach people the speaking and listening components of the English language. We caught up with him to find out what advice he would share with other young professionals and what gives him the greatest FOMO…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m the co-founder and vice president of corporate strategy at GVE Online Education, a Toronto based e-learning platform that specializes in teaching the speaking and listening components of the English language. I essentially assess where we are and where we want to be.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
I always wanted to do something with my career that was meaningful and that I could also have fun with at the same time. When I was introduced to the idea of GVE, it was the perfect combination of both. The idea of having one group of people teach a language to another group of people across the globe living in an entirely different culture was enticing and exhilarating to me. In addition to fundamentally impacting the lives of young Chinese students, GVE is a growing start-up. We experience the stereotypical growing pains and excitement that comes along with building a company. It makes each day entirely unique and a fun challenge.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Seeing the prototype of our product for the first time was an incredible and inspiring day. It reminded me why I started doing this in the first place. More importantly, it gave me the motivation to keep pushing just as hard as when we first started. It’s one thing to create and build a product, but when you see it in action and get to play with it the whole project becomes very real.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
It’s a hard question to answer given how our society is constantly evolving. I can definitely say that I’d love to see GVE grow into new markets and become a global leader in English language education for both adults and children. Ultimately, I want to see GVE as the go-to brand for innovative English language learning.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Travel. Travel as often as possible. I was very fortunate in that my father’s work allowed me to have a fairly nomadic upbringing. Traveling allowed me to appreciate new cultures and to learn new languages along the way. It definitely shaped my perspective on the world and made me into a more tolerant person. Travel experiences are both eye opening and applicable to work – they allow you see problems from a fresh perspective and make you a better communicator.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I support Habitat for Humanity. H4H strives for individuals to have the fundamental right of home and security. I firmly believe the work they do positively impacts those in need.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Our product aims to help students in China. As you can imagine, a lot of the business is conducted in Mandarin. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Mandarin, so one of the biggest challenges I face is finding non-verbal ways of communicating with people I do not share a language with. I haven’t yet fully overcome this challenge but I’m definitely working at it. Luckily, laughter is a universal language.
8. What does the word notable mean to you?
Notable describes something that stands out. Whether it is bringing something new to the table or a fresh perspective on an old issue, notable work pushes the boundary.
Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Definitely Playa Cabana on Dupont. You can’t really go wrong with their delicious burritos and mojitos.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Reddit and/or Feedly. It allows me to consume much of the news or blogs I like all in one place.
I’ve been listening to Catch & Release (Deepend Remix) on repeat lately.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Roger Federer on Facebook. I’m not really a tennis person, but it’s inspiring to see the extensive charity work that he does. His drive to be the best tennis player in the world definitely motivates me to be the best that I can be.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
Spain is my home away from home. The people, the culture, the lifestyle, and of course the food is incredible to say the least. There is a distinct joie de vivre, and it’s so vibrant that it just makes it my happy place.
I would definitely love to visit Sweden.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
I try my best to not have FOMO so I very much love to live life by ‘winging it’ and see where I land. That being said I do get FOMO whenever I Skype my parents and they are on the other side of the world.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
I not so secretly love watching Grey’s Anatomy.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I wish I spent less money on speeding tickets. I wish I spent more money on my photography gear.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success and happiness are synonyms to me. If you are happy to be where you are, when you are there, then you’re doing it right!