Despite little expertise of the startup culture at the time, Anas Mheir Alsaadi jumped at the opportunity during the early stages of the pandemic in spring 2020 to assist a friend in launching a virtual nonprofit aimed at helping college-aged people improve leadership skills.
Alsaadi, a George Washington University graduating senior who at the time was studying computer science at Northern Virginia Community College, is a self-described “hustler” most motivated by talking with and helping others. He thought this would be both a fun challenge and a way to fill the void during periods of quarantine and isolation.
What he didn’t know was that taking on this little project would lead to a passion he didn’t know existed.
Just how much so? Well, at the time he and his friend started the nonprofit, Alsaadi had no idea what a business plan was. He hadn’t a clue how to make a logo. And he hadn’t ever heard of the word “entrepreneurship.”
“I actually had to open YouTube videos and watch them just to learn what entrepreneurship meant,” said Alsaadi, who moved to the United States from Dubai in 2018. “I started from literally zero. But this is literally how I discovered my passion.”
Fast forward three years later. He graduates on Sunday from GW, where he transferred prior to the 2021-2022 academic year, with a marketing degree and concentration in entrepreneurship, the very word whose meaning he looked up on YouTube a short time ago.
He has also spent the previous two years laying the groundwork for the GW Entrepreneurship Club, which he founded shortly after arriving on campus as a place for all innovators to create, learn and network. It’s focused more on students who are exploring the industry and interested in dipping their toes into the waters of entrepreneurship culture.
Alsaadi utilized Office of Innovation of Entrepreneurship mentorship and resources to soak up as much knowledge and information he could on the industry he hopes to be a part of for a very long time.
“He has a classic entrepreneurial mindset in that he has a fundamental confidence in himself and the ideas he comes up with, and he’s persistent,” said Bob Smith, director of GW I-Corps. “He has what we call that inventor’s mentality.”
Alsaadi has appreciated his classes and major working on real-world projects that showed him how to come up with his own pitch plans, financing and marketing campaigns. He has relayed that information on to Entrepreneurship Club members, who teamed with Alsaadi to enter ideas in both the Pitch George and New Venture competitions, becoming a finalist in the latter for the Explorer Track that appeals to students who have yet to gain experience in innovation and entrepreneurship but are curious to learn.
While other students have tried creating similar clubs, Smith believes Alsaadi’s approach has sustainability potential.
“I think he’s laid the groundwork that if someone will pick it up, he’s shown this can be a model to use,” Smith said. “I think that you’ll see years later if people follows his lead, you will see great things from the Entrepreneurship Club.”
While entrepreneurship is new to Alsaadi’s life, his quest to make the world a better place is not. He has long been passionate about helping others, and that’s further evidenced by his other job at GW, where he is a career ambassador for Career Services. There, he helps students write cover letters and resumes.
He sees entrepreneurship as a perhaps his greatest tool to helping others.
“I really like the idea of entrepreneurship because it's one of the ways that you can actually change the world and improve the world, because it's about problem solving,” Alsaadi said. “So, you find the problem, and then use entrepreneurship to find the solution and make a solution out of nothing.”
In fact, he plans to teach the entrepreneurship skills he’s learned to people back home in Dubai after Commencement. At innovative capitals like Silicon Valley, there are resources such as the Y Combinator technology startup accelerator to help companies launch. In other places of the world, including his Middle Eastern home, those resources aren’t as readily available. In the spirit of entrepreneurship, he aims to point innovative people from across the globe to those resources through his social media channels and other means of communication.
Maybe someday, and someday soon, other people searching for their way to impact the world will be discovering their love of innovation and entrepreneurship learning from Alsaadi—on YouTube.