By Alex Lamp
Syed Hassan, a determined City College honor student, is studying business and entrepreneurship with a specific goal in mind.
“I want to open my door to success so I can help guide others to do the same,” he said.
Hassan, 21, was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and moved with his family to the U.S. at the age of three. After graduating from George Washington High School in San Francisco, Hassan pursued a professional soccer career overseas.
He briefly played for a soccer club in northern Italy, but felt that he belonged in the Bay Area. Hassan made the decision to return to San Francisco to start something new.
After returning from Italy in 2011, he planned a return trip to his hometown, Dhaka. While on vacation, Hassan experienced poverty in Dhaka that was caused by cheap labor in the textile industry.
Hassan could not overlook this problem and went out to find a solution. He became acquainted with many levels of the industry, from workers to business owners.
The Bay Area tech boom beckoned to his growing interest in technology and startup businesses. Hassan returned to San Francisco with a business plan and enrolled at City College in fall 2012.
Since his arrival, Hassan has simultaneously dedicated time to multiple startups, honors classes, and has started his own club at City College while maintaining the position of Global Ambassador at Startup Socials.
“Just because you are in junior college doesn’t mean you can’t be doing things that students are doing when they’re graduating,” Hassan said.
Hassan remains determined to establish a fair trade business in Dhaka.
“I’m going to have handmade garments from Bangladesh sold to people in the U.S.,” Hassan said. “The people who personally make these garments will get a big chunk of the profits that are made.”
Hassan presented his plan to City College economics instructor, Michael McKeever who has been teaching economics at City College for twelve years.
“His idea was something that I was impressed with because it was a socially conscious idea,” McKeever said. “He is very concerned with the very poor wages and conditions of the people in Bangladesh.”
Hassan and City College student Sasha Tetra co-founded CCSF Entrepreneurial Group to bring aspiring entrepreneurs together. The club’s membership has increased exponentially since its inception last semester.
“When I started this club, we first got around thirty people, then we built up to around 300 students,” Hassan said. “It’s a pretty good increase for just a few months.”
Hassan claims the club could not have been made possible without the support and guidance of McKeever. McKeever said the club’s purpose is to cultivate student’s startup ideas providing them with a pathway to success.
“I was hoping that we would find a number of students with specific ideas that they want to form into a company; we haven’t yet,” McKeever said. “The idea was to get a structure so when they have that idea, they can take the next steps, and get funding to form a business.”
While running his club, Hassan was networking with hundreds of startup CEOs and entrepreneurs through LinkedIn. Brian Hoskins, CEO of Ario Living, a Seattle, Washington based startup featuring Ario, the “World’s First Healthy Lamp,” took a particular interest in Hassan.
Hassan is thrilled to work with a startup company that positively influences students health and wellness.
“I thought about how it would affect students, and later on I found out that it not only had the benefits of balancing your circadian rhythm but it would also help students with memory,” Hassan said.
Hoskins hired Hassan in February. Hassan is now managing public relations and marketing development at Ario Living.
“It’s great that Syed took the initiative to reach out, and I think it is important for students as they’re networking and building careers to take that leap of faith,” Hoskins said. “Syed did that and it worked out.”