This Pakistan-Origin University Drop-Out Owns Multi-Million Dollar Businesses in Australia

Where there is a will, there is a way.

The famous saying proves true to this young Pakistani-origin Australian businessman who is the owner of two multimillion businesses in Australia.
Ahmed Haider, a university drop-out, was struggling at $7 per hour wages at a Pizza Hut shop, after university hours until ten years ago. Sometimes he had to do double shifts to afford university fees. That was when a surreal moment changed his life for good.
Ahmed pictured in his early 20s during his Pizza Hut days.
Ahmed, during the times of Pizza Hut.
One day, one of Haider’s friend convinced him to attend an event on entrepreneurship. But, Haider was reluctant because he could not afford a $500 ticket. So, his friend paid for the ticket.

The Life-Turning Moment

Uni drop out Ahmed Haider is now a rich lister. Picture: Supplied
Arriving at the event hall early, Haider got to grab one of the front seats and there, he bumped into a guy who drove off into Ferrari.
He ended up walking to the front of the stage because he was one of the speakers who had built a company worth $300 million and he drove off in a Ferrari. He didn’t see me as a young student who knew nothing, he treated me like a colleague and said he couldn’t wait to see me on rich lists – and I thought maybe there was something there.
Motivated from the event, Haider began to attend more of such events which strengthened the entrepreneurial instincts in him.
It was a very surreal point in time but I was so motivated, I started hustling on the side and any spare time I had I’d start thinking about problems I faced on an everyday basis and how a business could solve them.
He began to think of a possible startup idea – scrutinizing every problem and annoyance faced by the students, and soon they thought of one – university textbooks.
It was horrible – you had to line up for two hours at the local Co-op Bookshop, pay overly exorbitant prices only to sometimes be told it was out of stock… So I started to look at the education business as a whole and how to solve student services which were a universal problem.

Launch of Zookal

The first ever Zookal meeting in 2011.
In 2011, Haider launched Zookal – an affordable learning platform for students which offered online textbooks at very affordable prices.
He was just 25 and in the first year of the university. The startup did just good to make ends meet, but it didn’t thrive until Haider secured a US$1.2 million investment from Silicon Valley to scale-up his business. He dropped the university, working 17 hours a day, seven days a week to get it through.
Then in 2014, he launched another startup, a drone delivery service called ‘Flirtey.’ The two businesses combined are now worth more than $250 million.
Once a Pizza Hut daily-wage worker, Haider is now a bona fide businessman. For his achievements, he was named in the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia: Consumer Tech list in 2016.

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