When he was 15, he already had two “entrepreneurial projects” on his CV. It came in handy when he chose to quit a secure job to run his own projects.
Javad Mushtaq went from a permanent job in the Aker Group to becoming a kind of all-rounder in entrepreneurship, consulting and venture capital.
Became an “entrepreneur” as a 13-year-old
The “hustler” mentality comes from his upbringing, he believes.
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In the 70’s, the parents came from Pakistan. The engineer father did not get a relevant job, and took trade letters alongside various positions in the service industry.
– Then he started for himself, and we moved to the pearl of Eastern Norway: Halden. I grew up in an average sized Pakistani family – we are eight siblings, says Mushtaq and laughs, before continuing:
– When you do not come from privileged conditions, you have to start working from a very early age. My parents taught me not to wait for opportunities to come to you. If you want something, you have to create the opportunities yourself.
Mushtaq took them at their word.
When he was 13, he started buying and selling used cell phones at a profit. As a 15-year-old, he and a friend learned to code, and created a website to compete in the ringtone market. It went so smoothly – all the way to an American company threatened with lawsuits.
– The problem was a bit that when you are 15, you do not know much about copyrighted material, says Mushtaq, who ended up shutting down the website.
Mushtaq laughs and confirms that there were some articles. I especially remember the time Halden Arbeiderblad in a “five on the street” column asked people what the mobile phone meant to people.
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– People answered that it was cool with a mobile phone and such, and then I answer «I only look at a mobile phone as a business». I was probably perceived as a bit semi-arrogant, but maybe also a bit enterprising.
Resigned from Aker
After a start as a youth entrepreneur, it was a long time before a classic career race in the business world for Mushtaq.
There were master’s degree programs in economics at BI – with several awards, positions and case competition winners along the way. A trainee position in Aker Solutions took him to a position in the Aker Group.
He chose Aker because he wanted to enter an industry that was relevant to both Norwegian and international value creation, and which provided opportunities to travel and work in different parts of the world. He was not particularly interested in the oil and energy industry itself. It gradually became a problem.
Javad Mushtaq thanks several good mentors and a broad network of contacts for getting a somewhat untraditional dream job in place. He believes that more people should dare to contact interesting people they want to learn from.
– One of the mentors asked me some questions: Are you passionate about what you do? Do you want to be here for the next five years? If the answer is no, you should not be there. And the answer was no to those questions.
Mushtaq delivered the resignation. No new plan was ready.
– Were you very awake at night during that period?
– No, not really. I was not worried that I would go without a job for a long time. So I think there is a lot of learning in that stress does not solve problems. I am conscious of trying to be a little cold, not thinking about what the problem is, but finding the solutions, he says.
– Send a message
There were new jobs.
In addition to continuing with the diversity organization MAK, he started a career in the startup community, investing in and developing entrepreneurial projects.
He says that both a broad network and several good mentors were crucial for him to get into a new industry and get in touch with the right people. However, he does not want to say that he is a super-network builder.
– I am quite introverted and do not like to go up to people. But I have forced myself to go a little out of my comfort zone, says Mushtaq.
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He believes that everyone can benefit from getting a little tougher and making contact with people you are interested in, and who you think you can learn something from.
– Send a message and introduce yourself, say that “I work here, I think you are a super exciting person and I think you have a skill I want to learn more from”, says Mushtaq.
He adds that you can write that you respect that the person has little time, but that you would have appreciated if they could set aside half an hour for a coffee and a chat.
– Worst case is that you get no, but in very many cases you will get a yes, he says.
Hear more about Javad Mushtaq’s studies, career choices and networking tips in this week’s episode of Adult Points with Nora.