How does a high school kid who speaks no English immigrate to America, overcome racial tensions, graduate from college and go on to earn millions with WordPress (among other things)?
That is just part of the amazing story of Syed Balkhi. I had the honor of meeting Syed two different times in 2015. He joins me on today’s podcast to talk about his impressive entrepreneurial journey.
Syed is a 25- year-old, award-winning entrepreneur with several 7-figure online businesses. He was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by the United Nations.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, he started his first business at the age of seven, selling holiday greeting cards. His mom gave him the initial funds to start, and he tripled her investment within a month.
At age 12, his family immigrated to the United States, where he had to learn a new language while dealing with racial tensions from the 9/11 incident.
He turned to the internet to find a hobby, and found himself spending the majority of his time playing online games. Then he discovered the domaining industry and jumped right in. With a little guidance, he was able to buy and sell domains.
But high school life remained tough, and when he sat in the library trying to play online games, he found most gaming sites were blocked by the school firewall. So out of frustration, he learned how to bypass the firewall and created his first web proxy.
When other kids saw him playing games in school, they asked me how I was doing that. A lot bulb went off, and Syed decided to control the entire chain. He created numerous web proxies along with arcade sites. This way, he could maximize my advertising revenue.
To promote the web proxies and arcade sites, he started creating web directories.
Next, he found himself deep in the SEO industry working with some very large brands.
At the same time, he started a freelance web development business.
Fast forward few years, he graduated from high school and attended the University of Florida, graduating with Honors in Anthropology and Religion.
Throughout college, he further expanded his online businesses but couldn’t keep up.
In 2008, he decided to migrate all of my clients from static websites over to WordPress, to get rid of the maintenance part of the business.
All of his clients started asking questions on how to use WordPress, so in 2009, he created WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site!
In 2011, he created an entertainment site, List25, with his college roommate David Pegg.
Currently, they have 1.9 Million subscribers and over 380 Million video views on their YouTube channel!
In 2013, he launched a product called OptinMonster that helps businesses grow their email list.
In 2013, he acquired ThemeLab, which sells high quality premium WordPress themes.
In 2014, he became a partner in SoliloquyWP, the fastest responsive slider plugin for WordPress.
He also became a partner in Envira Gallery, a responsive WordPress gallery plugin to help you showcase your photos.
In 2016, he launched WPForms, a drag & drop WordPress form builder with a single goal: to make the most beginner friendly WordPress forms plugin.
On the personal side, Syed is happily married to his wife, Amanda Balkhi. They currently live in Gainesville, Florida, as Amanda finishes her p.h.D in Clinical and Health Psychology.
Thanks for listening!
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