Sabirul Islam is a young entrepreneur, motivational
speaker and author. Here's how he went from unemployed teenager to
trader and teenpreneur (at just 16).
I grew up in the Borough of Tower Hamlets in London: the City
and Canary Wharf were just a 10-minute walk from where I live.
Despite being so close to these huge financial industries, there
was a lot of inequality around the area in which I was raised. So,
at a young age, I learned that you need to have confidence and
belief to be able break the barriers of being the 'everyday youth'-
especially in a borough that sees crime and violence as a way
forward. I decided to try something unique and different to make
myself stand out from those around me.
At the age of 13, I was given the opportunity to work for my
cousin. He was only 14 years old at the time. His business idea
involved designing calendars for teachers in school; I felt this
was a very simple task. Two weeks later, I received a letter
through the post. It simply stated: "Dear Sabirul Islam… You're
Fired!" It was the most daunting thing I've experienced to date.
But I feel that it was that moment of failure that opened my eyes
To prove my cousin wrong for firing me, I started my own website
design business called 'Veyron Technology' at the age of 14. This
won an award for "Best Inner East London Company". My aim was to
make more money than my cousin: he made £60 profit in a year of
running his business (but that was a lot of money to me at the
time!). By designing websites for corporate businesses, I became a
thousandaire in less than two weeks! My client list included big
names like Merrill Lynch, ABN Amro and Morgan Stanley!
At the age of 16, I was given the opportunity by Merrill Lynch
to fly to New York and learn the basics about investment and
trading. The two-week programme inspired me to take risks and put
what I learnt in New York to action, and three months later I
became a part time trader for a period of nine months.
With a wealth of knowledge and experience as a young
entrepreneur and investor, I was continuously approached by young
people to talk to them about how I achieved such success at a young
age. This gave me the vision and desire to inspire young people
across the nation and led to me writing my first book, The
World at Your Feet, aged just 17. The launch of my first book
presented the opportunity to become a motivational speaker, sharing
my message and selling over 42,500 copies of the book in nine
As a young entrepreneur, I did not only want to inspire young
people, but to educate them about the world of entrepreneurship and
taking risks. This led me into launching my own business board game
called Teen-Trepreneur at the age of 18. The vision behind
the game is to teach young people the basics of running a real
business and all the daily costs and risks involved. The game is
currently being piloted in schools across London, as it introduces
15 of 25 units taught for BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Business.
Launched alongside the board game was my second book, The
World at Your Feet: Three strikes to a Successful Entrepreneurial
The journey which I've experienced has enabled me to meet many
famous faces and receive many prestigious awards such as the Mosaic
Entrepreneur of the Year, which I was awarded by HRH Prince of
Wales and HRH Princess of Jordon in 2008. Other awards include the
Growing Up CEO Award which I was awarded at Harvard Business School
and it was recently announced that I am an honouree of the JCI
World Top 10 Outstanding Young Person's Award, which I'll receive
in Osaka, Japan this November.
Now aged 20, my vision to inspire young people has expanded to a
global scale. I have reached out to millions of people across the
UK, USA, Nigeria and South Africa with a world tour following this
November. From November 2010, I will also launch my own
Teen-Trepreneur Speakers Bureau, which will include young speakers
from the UK and around the World. It's been a very strong passion
of mine to give young people the belief that ordinary individuals
who do something unique make them extraordinary.
To find out more about Sabirul, check out his TEDx