We’d like you to meet Omid Hajishirmohammadi. Member of the Venture Café Rotterdam community.
Omid believes that to connect the circular economy principles, geodesic structure system, and bio architecture by creativity will escalate the triangle of change, in the construction sector, on Earth and beyond. That is why after 18 years of preparation, as a solo-founder, bootstrapped entrepreneur, and immigrant architect, he launched 4 OMID in Rotterdam, during the Covid 19 lockdown, in 2020.
Omid’s entrepreneurial journey is nothing short of inspiring and a lesson to anyone in perseverance.
In December 2019, Omid (which means hope in Persian) arrived in the Netherlands. He had planned for this moment for 20 years. Back home in Iran, he had worked successfully as an architect but always with a seed of an idea to create a positive impact in and for the world through architecture and geometry. He had big plans and big ambitions.
Eventually, after visiting a number of European cities, Omid chose Rotterdam as the place to settle and launch his company, 4 OMID. Why Rotterdam? “Because”, he explains, “Rotterdam has a strong foundation for immigrant entrepreneurs working in the circular economy. Here, you have organisations such as Venture Cafe Rotterdam, Blue City, UpRotterdam, Erasmus Enterprise. It’s an attractive place to connect, communicate and collaborate in English – which is important for any immigrant.”
The first connection
But then COVID changed everything. As the world went into lockdown, Omid could not believe that his big plan was being challenged almost immediately. He admits that for the first 2 weeks of lockdown he struggled. He knew nobody, and was in a new country. A familiar story that many expats can relate to.
Never one to give up, Omid took part in an online course which encouraged him to think about his strengths and since then, he embraced every opportunity that he saw. Joining Venture Cafe Rotterdam’s Venture School to develop pitching skills he met Sheila Schenkel, a pitch coach, who was to have a lasting impact on Omid’s journey. He asked why he wasn’t being heard and what he could do to make people listen to his story and ideas. Sheila’s advice resonated clearly: “Omid, at the right time, the right people will hear you.”
Connect with like-minded people
From thereon, Omid realized that he needed to connect with like-minded people. He had been branching out too far and wide, trying to connect with people who were in completely different industries with different goals. Instead, he began connecting with the Impact community via organizations such as Venture Cafe and Impact Hub and sure enough the right people not only heard him but opened up new pathways.
Omid describes his journey as a series of dots that all connect and subsequently create more. From Venture Cafe he connected to Innofest Nederland, becoming the only innovator outside of Utrecht to be chosen for that cohort’s program. Innofest Nederland helps innovators bring their innovation quicker to market through testing labs. It was a crucial stage in 4 OMID’s development. Not only could he test its assumptions, prototypes, and business strategies but also, to introduce the 1st Sustainable Circular Sculpture (Pyramid, Scale: 1:10) and the 1st Sustainable Circular Furniture (Table, scale:1:10). With valuable feedback from this experience, Omid then refined his idea to make it manageable and scalable.
The future is exciting for Omid. He is one of 7 innovators, chosen from 140 submissions, to join the Circular Together Berlin’s Incubator Program, part of Impact Hub Berlin. His company is at the customer discovery, product, and team development stages and he has a co-founder to strengthen the business even further. In 6 months from now, when the program comes to an end, Omid hopes to have made new connections that will lead to collaboration with a corporate partner.
The journey is far from over but Omid has had time to reflect on his progress so far,
“Me alone, I would have given up”
And for any other startups out there, Omid advises:
“Connect your dots. Target your connections and don’t choose too big a niche market. But ultimately, believe in what you are doing. Don’t give up”.