Asif Nawaz is what we might call a serial entrepreneur, having launched seven businesses in the past eight years following his graduation from UCCS in 2004. His dual degree in Accounting and Information Systems combined with priceless lessons learned from unsuccessful business attempts have given Asif a foundation upon which to launch his newest idea: a management software solution for art collectors and museums. We caught up with Asif to hear more about where he is today and his plans for the future.
In February 2010 from his home in the London, England, Asif launched a management software solution call Vesica developed specifically for art collectors and museums. The software is unique in that it is web-based, whereby all information is stored in a virtual “cloud” rather than in a traditional desktop software. From an IT standpoint, using a cloud is a great way to allow remote users, avoid unpredictable hardware crashes, and bypass cumbersome updates. From the user’s point of view, the software allows art collectors of all shapes and sizes to manage, modify, and manipulate their inventory virtually. With this idea, Asif has thus begun to acquaint the age-old art industry with the brilliant ease of technology.
So, how did an accounting and IT guy get into the art industry? “Vesica was born out of one of [my wife’s] consulting projects to document an antique textile collection in the Middle East,” says Asif. His wife, Nausheen Sheikh, is a professional artist with an Islamic art and textile business also based in London.
Like many entrepreneurs, he saw a need and decided to create the solution. Museums across the globe, particularly those in Europe that do not charge admission, carry large overhead costs with thin cash flows. By integrating virtual management software, Asif claims that they can potentially save millions of dollars over the next 10 years.
Since launching the business, Asif cites that financing has been the biggest barrier in growing the business, which now employs six people. “The business has grown slowly, so it has been a mix of raising investment and generating consulting income. I’m involved in consulting on three-four projects a year…so we can keep the Vesica operation growing.” Among others, his clients include Open University and the National Health Service in the UK.
In regards to his recent consulting ventures, Asif states, “I’ve been able to work on redeveloping/redesigning the architecture for the system emergency call handler’s use in England and directing both patients as well as emergency services. It was a great experience, but the best part was that I was able to put what I’ve learnt at UCCS and later to build something that might actually save someone’s life. You don’t get that chance very often with a business degree (particularly with an account or IS focus)!”
His Time at UCCS
There are several professors whom Asif credits as being a memorable contributor to his time at UCCS: Ben Martz, Gordon Stringer, Morgan Shepherd, Kirk Wilcox, and Scott Butterfield.
“My degree has been invaluable – the business background I got along with accounting and technical training has allowed me to setup businesses across 3 countries over the last 8 years. They haven’t all been great successes – but they’ve only added to the skills required to build one that will become the big success. I was also lucky enough to have some great professors – they were there to answer questions and help every step of the way.”
1. Keep plugging away – you have to put in the time and effort before you’ll see the reward as there really is no such thing as easy money or overnight success (the legal way, anyway!).
2. Seeing as how I finished my degree in just about three years, Dr. Wilcox said he could only give me one bit of advice – to stop and smell the roses. At times I’ve learnt this the hard way – money and success aren’t all that important – happiness is! And happiness is not in having what you want, but always in wanting what you’ve already got.
His Vision for the Future
For the future, Asif hopes to “grow the Vesica business internationally and help museums take full advantage of tools and technology now affordable via the cloud.” Personally, he wishes to start a family with his wife and move back to the Middle East. He enjoys traveling, having lived in the Dubai for a year and a half, then the US, then Pakistan for one year, then finally ending up in the UK where he currently resides.
Please click HERE if you would like to connect with Asif on LinkedIn.
This Alumni Profile was featured in Open for Business, our monthly eNewsletter for the Alumni and Friends of the College of Business. To subscribe, please email Samantha Bruner by clicking HERE.