Each week, Female CoFounder features a female founder in the community. Follow along each week and learn from different founders and their journeys.
FcF: Tell us about yourself?
Farzia: I graduated from Lassonde School of Engineering, York University with a degree in Computer Science. When I was in my second year, I got selected as one of the top 30 female students in Canada to advise the former CEO of BMO on the future of the workplace. Shortly after, I was offered the role of a Business Tech Specialist/ Consultant at the BMO by a senior executive so I started working full-time while also taking a full course load. I got many other great offers closer to including getting a golden ticket to one of the top consulting firms but decided to stick to my company as I had a great boss. As of now, I'm a Senior Manager of Employee Tech Experience and also the Chair of Women in Tech initiative. at BMO.
In addition to my full-time job, I also run a blog called "TopStudentAdvice". I'd always used to get a lot of messages from students asking for advice so I decided to just start my own blog so that I could help more students. I also run a mentorship program for students from underprivileged and under-represented backgrounds and currently have some great mentees from different countries.
FcF: What is MyGuideBox?
Farzia: MyGuideBox is a bi-monthly subscription service that delivers boxes of curated educational materials on topics that are not normally taught in school such as investment, personal finance, mental and physical health, nutrition, career development, relationships, digital marketing, self-development and personal branding among other topics to help subscribers accelerate their learning process and grow as an individual. There are also many other stationery items and other fun items that are included in the box.
In addition to this, MyGuideBox also educates subscribers on United Nation's 17 sustainable development goals and in each box there's information included on how they can contribute towards achieving these goals in little ways. At the end of the year a portion of the profits will also be donated towards causes that support the sustainable development goals. Lastly, subscribers also get the chance to join an online community where they can share their goals and progress and also meet other like-minded individuals who can support them and become their accountability partners in helping them reach their goals.
FcF: How did you come up with MyGuideBox?
Farzia: My passion for technology and learning led me to creating MyGuideBox. After studying the lives of many successful people, I found out that one thing common among most successful individuals is that they never stop learning, however most of their learning takes place outside the classrooms. I have also had the pleasure of having a very strong network of industry leaders, entrepreneurs and senior executives and having so many successful people as my mentors this early in my career has not only helped me accelerate my career but has also taught me a lot of a valuable lessons which I'd love to share with more people through MyGuideBox.
Most of us don't hesitate to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes, shoes or makeup but not many are willing to invest on self-development and simply rely on formal schooling to learn, however, the current education system is mainly focused on teaching outdated skills which is designed for the industrial era and doesn't do a great job in preparing individuals for the real world. And while there are many sources available today to learn about different topics on the internet, one has to be super disciplined and motivated to continue learning on their own.
With MyGuideBox, subscribers automate that process by making it easier to get access to the right educational materials on a regular basis with minimum effort and also continue to stay motivated and become life-long learners through the help of a community. To sum it up, the main reason I created MyGuideBox is because I aspire to help individuals especially youth reach their true potential by making learning fun and easy while also providing them with opportunities to pay it forward by giving back to the community.
FcF: Any tips for entrepreneurs/founders about starting a subscription service?
Farzia: Your customers are not just paying for a subscription service, they're paying for an experience so make sure that you create an experience that will leave a long-lasting impression on them. Also when you're identifying a niche for your business, don‰Ûªt just try to do what others are doing but rather look at areas in your life that you're really passionate about such as your hobbies and interests because not only are you most likely to be the most knowledgeable about things that you're actually interested in but also your passion will help you keep going when things get tough in your business . Lastly, I'll also suggest learning how to design. You can definitely outsource this part or hire a great designer but when you're starting off it's better to save money on the design costs and use it elsewhere and also because it's a very useful skill to have and there are so many resources available today from where you can easily learn how to design like, I created the design for all my boxes and that not only saved me money but also a lot of time as I didn't have to go back and forth with a designer.
FcF: What were the first 3 steps you took after you knew you wanted to pursue this idea?
Farzia: Here are the three main steps I took:
1. I first determined my purpose for starting this business and what I wanted to get out of it. Then I did some research to better understand the market for subscription services.
2. I assessed how much money I would need to invest in order to get started and started drafting a rough business plan.
3. I then designed my logo and created my website.
FcF: What advice do you have for other women who have a start-up idea or side project idea?
Farzia: Trust yourself and just get started. Don't spend too much time trying to reach perfection because you never will. Don't wait to learn everything before you start, the best way to learn is by doing so if you have a good idea, start taking steps to turning it into a reality instead of overthinking.
Also it doesn't matter if other people believe in your idea or not, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't validate your idea with others before launching your business but just understand that the only person who needs to really believe in your idea is you yourself because if you don't believe in your idea, others won't either and the only way you're going to be successful is if you become your own biggest champion and advocate.
FcF: How can the Female CoFounder community help you?
Farzia: I'd love to be part of the community and connect with the readers and fellow women founders, learn from them and also get feedback about my business. I'd also appreciate any help in promoting my business and getting the word out there.
FcF: How can people contact you?
Farzia: The best way and the fastest way to contact me directly would be through my personal or instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/farzia_121/
You can also DM @Farzia Khan in our Slack Group!
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