A Budding Entrepreneur at Gangplank Chandler: Amena

Amena, one of our Gangplank regulars, is launching her own business: An educational game for kids.

Over the last year, she’s create a business plan, designed the prototypes and built her own website. To get her business to the next level, she’s started an IndieGogo campaign as well:

Link to IndieGogo campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/celebrate-the-salah-game-pre-beta-campaign#/

amena_screenshot2 amena_screenshot

She explains:

The Heart Story

As a Muslim growing up in America, I learned my faith through the traditional methods of watching my parents, relatives, family, and friends. I remember watching my mom helping people in a selfless way. I remember vividly witnessing my father’s interaction with people with a warm and welcoming smile. However, as I didn’t have that interaction, I  learned my faith by watching my parents. Having that connection with my mom and dad while learning my faith was missing.

So when I became a mother of two beautiful children, I wanted something different. I wanted to offer something for my children that will build a bond around my faith. Like any mom out there, I bought DVDs for my children to watch at home, or in the car. I also purchased many books about being a good Muslim, and to understand the basics of Islam. My children did learn, but buying books and DVDs still had the disconnect I once felt when I was a child. These ways of learning did not help me as a mom to interact in a fun hands-on way with my children.

That is the heart of how my venture began to start a company called Aspire Learning Tools,  that creates mindful games for spiritual kids. I wanted something engaging, fun, and interactive, while learning their faith! I wanted my children to experience making their own connection with Allah (God). I wanted them to understand their faith and how to practice their faith.

The Project

I began developing the Salah(Prayer) Matching Game around December 2015. I did so with one goal in mind, to bring more fun faith based games for Muslim families, Islamic schools, homeschoolers, and anyone who wants to learn more about who we are as Muslims and what Salah (Prayer) is in Islam. Since then a lot of work has been done to the game…both the physical box and visual design. Also, this two-year journey has lead to much traction in Arizona and all over the USA. I have worked with two schools in Arizona, created 20 prototypes that where sent out in the USA, and worked with local families. I have also created a Facebook Page to allow awesome folks like you to rate and write a review about the game. After hundreds of surveys and interviews from a speech therapist, Muslim, Non-Muslim educators, and families, the game is ready to go to the next level!

A Mentoring Profile: Derek Harris

Meet Derek, one of our mentors at Gangplank in Chandler:


As a seasoned business analyst & business developer, Derek Harris is successful at executing corporate vision and strategies that help increase your company’s footprint, expand market share and generate sustainable revenue and EBIT gains.  He has over 25 years business experience in transportation, construction, pro sports & entertainment and management consulting. Specializing in startups and emerging companies, Derek co-founded Zagg Media Partners – Strategic Growth Advisors. He serves as senior business strategist.

Derek is available the first Tuesday of the month from 1:00-4:00pm. Email or click on this link: chandlerbusiness@gangplankhq.com to schedule a session.
1. What projects are you working now — and excited about?
Well currently, I’m developing our Sirius Bookkeeping & Tax Strategies Brand and working with contractors, freelance professionals, and smaller businesses.  A lot of newbies and quite a few oldies in business really underestimate the value of detailed financial operations and metrics. For example, for many companies, a 2% reduction in waste or financial restructure could equal the net profits of a 10% increase in new sales. There are hundreds of strategies and techniques used by Fortune 500 & 1000 companies that are applicable to smaller businesses.

I’m excited about this brand because we’re combining the disciplines of basic-level bookkeeping & accounting with high finance strategic consulting and creating accessibility on a non-corporate level. It’s a fresh and disruptive approach.

 2.  What’s your favorite part about mentoring?
My favorite part about mentoring is when aspiring entrepreneurs talk about their ideas and then, seeing the excitement on their faces and hearing the passion in the voices.  And to be able to add some value to that through ideas, guidance, and referrals gives me great satisfaction.

3. Are you a Star Trek or Star Wars fan?
Both.  But, I’m from the old school.  I remember when the first mobile phone prototype was revealed on television…  Captain Kirk whipped out the fictional device known as the “communicator”.   It’s the perfect throwback and reminder of just how powerful the human imagination and innovation through technology has become.

4. What do you know now …that you wish you had known earlier as an entrepreneur?
I started my first business at age 12. And then later, my most successful business right out of college. Having very little resources and no network, my climb to success was a very long and drawn out process.  I learned a lot on my own and through trial and error. There was no internet or knowledge base access that many take for granted today.

But, even when I achieved a certain level of success, I didn’t realized that that was just the beginning of my entrepreneurial education and that you can’t do it on you’re own.  To maintain success you have to rely on your inside people and outside advisors.  This really hit home when I joined a management consulting firm years later and worked with several “hard-headed” business owners who were just like me and making the same mistakes.

 5. What do you do for fun and relaxation?
What’s that?  No really, I like to hike, travel, cook, catch a good game, or take in a live music set.  My goal is to take 2-3 months off each year for travel. I think that offers me the most fun and relaxation. I’ve always loved exploring different cultures, cuisines and architecture.

A New Mentor at our Chandler Location: Kevin Walsh

Kevin is a business attorney at Quarles & Brady LLP in Phoenix who focuses on providing practical legal solutions to his clients. He concentrates his practice in the areas of start-ups and emerging growth companies, capital raises and general business counseling. Kevin represents clients in a variety of industries in a wide range of business transactions, including business entity formations, joint ventures, commercial contract negotiations and intellectual property licensing. He received both his JDA and MBA from Villanova University and his BA from the University of Notre Dame. In his free time, he enjoys home brewing and spending time with his family. Email or click on this link: chandlerbusiness@gangplankhq.com to schedule a session.