Instead of being irritated by the blaring alarm like usual, Jawad Araf Khan woke up with great excitement on a February day in 2010. He was going to visit the Ekushey Book Fair with his father.
His excitement reeled him out the door. He had heard so many amazing things about it from his friends and he just could not wait to get there. A first timer at the fair, Jawad was surprised by the ambiance of the place that brought together so many bookworms under one roof.
As he moved from stall to stall, he spoke to readers who had travelled long distances just to attend the fair and meet their favourite authors.
Their unconditional love for the authors and their literary creations left Jawad speechless.
He resolved to return to this fair someday, not as a reader, but as a writer whose book would be on display in one of the stalls.
Fast forward to a decade later, his book 'Bishonnotar Choddonam,' published by Prohelika Prokashon, was not only seen at the 2020 Ekushey Book Fair, but it also earned him the 'Best Emerging Writer Award.'
However, long before pursuing his dream of becoming a writer, Jawad ventured into entrepreneurship and found success on numerous occasions.
His foray into business began with the guidance of a teacher from his school. He was one of the few people who saw great potential in Jawad's ideas.
During a recent interview with The Business Standard, Jawad recalled, "When I was in class nine at St Joseph Higher Secondary School, I told my math teacher Anthony Prince Costa that I wanted to start my own business selling t-shirts, wristbands and other items."
"He not only helped me out as an investor but also provided me with all the resources I needed to run the business," Jawad added.
He ran the business called 'Badge Troopers' for a while and was able to pay back his teacher's investment within a few days.
This was the turning point. He realised he had the talent for running a business and wanted to learn more about operating different businesses.
However, eventually, he had to shut down the business because of his SSC examination.
But, as soon as his exams finished, he launched 'Gift Theatre BD,' an online business platform that sold personalised gifts.
This venture was a success and it became a household name in Dhaka within just two years.
"We were able to amass a sizable number of regular followers on our page as a team," Jawad said, adding, "We received bulk orders from the Prime Minister's Office, the BRB company, different art gallery exhibitions and educational institutions."
Soon he was able to expand into an event management company called 'Splendid Soirees'. They would arrange big scale events like marriage ceremonies, birthday parties and anniversary events.
Unfortunately, Jawad had to discontinue both of his businesses due to the pandemic.
To make matters worse, he had made the mistake of not saving up and spent everything that he earned. And with no business to run, soon he was facing financial distress.
"I got to the point where I had to ask my parents for money to even pay for my internet bills. This really upset me, but it was the push I needed to get back on track," Jawad said.
He began to develop a new business idea and spent several months planning it.
After the lockdown was relaxed around the world, in May 2021, he started an export and import business called 'Trust Us Int' with two of his closest friends, Raiyan Azmee and Marzan Azmee.
"We import trendy home décor items, interesting gadgets and exclusive ornaments from China, Thailand, Singapore, the UK and the USA and sell them online. On average, we have sales of Tk2 lac per month," Jawad explained.
He believes that the knowledge he gained so far from his BBA degree has helped him a lot in developing and properly implementing the idea for this business.
He said, "I am currently a second-year BBA student at North South University. Choosing this degree was one of the best decisions I have ever made because it has changed my mindset about how I run businesses and how I analyse new ideas."
Now he has a better understanding of what factors contribute to the success of a business and how he should lead a team to implement them. He added, "I must thank Rahbar Al Huda Zidan and Rafiqul Haque for their valuable guidance. They have been there with me every step of the way as my mentors."
When Jawad started applying for different jobs through LinkedIn, at first, he was able to secure a position in the content marketing team of an Australian HR company called 'Brenda's Career Aid.'
In the meantime, he launched 'Let us amaze with Araf,' a live talk show, on Facebook.
He invited successful people from various fields from around the world who shared their stories with the show's viewers.
"A total of 21 guests joined me from 21 different countries and we used to have an hour of live chat," Jawad said, adding, "For instance, Dr Dawn Menge was a guest in the show who has won 41 international awards as the author of the educational series 'Queen Vernita'."
He believes that this show changed his life. After hearing about it, an American e-magazine named 'Your Success' published an article about his journey as a young entrepreneur in their July edition of this year.
This recognition led to a series of opportunities that helped Jawad excel even further.
"Monique Turner, founder of the company 'NPAP - Never Personal Always Purpose LLC' based in California, emailed me after reading the article and invited me to join their team as an admin assistant. I was promoted to admin and business development lead after three months," he happily stated.
When Jawad completed one month with the firm, Monique was very happy with his overall performance and what he was able to bring to the table. By then, he had also left his job at the Australian company.
She introduced him to two of her friends, Naomi Harmon, the owner of a consulting firm (Maddison Rae Consulting), and Megan Gamble, the owner of a packaging and project management firm (Get Level Packaging) in Georgia.
"They took my interview and I secured a job in both the companies as a marketing assistant. However, I am no longer at the packaging company," Jawad shared with us.
A few months ago, Jawad joined 'Share Your Soul Radio' as a podcast and production manager after being approached by Emma Campbell, the owner of this Spanish radio station.
He is currently working on his next book, which he says will be about entrepreneurship and will be based on his own experiences as well as the experiences of other entrepreneurs he has befriended.