Hasan Ahmed

 
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to create something. In high school, I was constantly drifting off thinking about how to improve whatever was in front of me, to the point where my friends would just roll their eyes when they’d hear me say “why isn’t there a way to …”. These were always just ideas and never lasted more than a few days at a time. However, the summer after first year, I had an idea to create an app to streamline the process of making plans with friends, and centralize events. I started to become very invested and it was all I could think about from the minute I got up in the morning to when I went to bed.

That summer I was working a full-time job at Western’s dental school and then most evenings and weekends at Shopper’s Drug Mart. This way, I was able to save up enough money to take a leap of faith and see my idea come to life. I invested most of the money I had earned that summer, a few thousand, into hiring an overseas development team since it was less expensive than North America. It was a very exciting summer because I used every minute possible to work on this idea – from my breaks to between jobs to when I got home after work. I began studying Photoshop, learning about technology, and communicating with the team I hired during their daytime hours, which were almost inverted from ours, and then repeated the same cycle every day from 8am to 3am. I was running on a high and felt unstoppable.

Then, everything came crashing down. I found out that the software I had created was extremely poorly developed, the design was outdated, and the App Store rejected it altogether with over 30 different major errors. The live version wouldn’t even run without crashing. I felt scammed - I worked insanely hard all summer and I had nothing. All of this took an extreme toll on my mental health; I barely had any savings at this point and felt like a complete failure. I told my closest friends in September about what I was doing when I disappeared for the past 4 months and everyone told me to just bite the loss and move on. “Take it as a lesson and learn from your mistake”.

However, I still saw potential. I was frustrated I couldn’t see my idea all the way through. So, I took another chance and enrolled in a few computer science classes – both at Western and online. I learned modern design. I kept pushing with very limited resources, taught myself enough to fix each issue one by one, and then did it all again for the Android version of the app. Going through this process made me realize how much I loved to code. This is what lead me to add a major in computer science to my degree. A few weeks later, after constant grinding on each aspect of the project, everything started to fall in place. I fixed every issue and re-did the design and it finally got approved on the App Store. A few days later, Propel paid for my incorporation process to turn my idea into a company. Soon after, I was approved for a government grant which was greater than my initial investment. I finally saw my idea coming to life, and it was because I decided not to give up.

All in all, some of the most rewarding accomplishments in life are not going to be easy or quick. You have to push, tune out the negative voices, and never give up. My stubbornness and irrational passion led me to run a software start-up at 19 years old, change my degree, and most importantly, I learned that I have what it takes to make my dreams come true – and so do you.