Student Entrepreneur Ibrahim Firat Creates Firat Educational Solutions
This story is part of a four-part series featuring Cameron School of Business student entrepreneurs.
Ibrahim Firat, ’06, MBA ’08, took advantage of a group project in an MBA Marketing Seminar to develop the marketing plan for his company Firat Educational Solutions in 2007. He had already started his tutoring and academic consulting service for high school students, so when his group was tasked with creating a marketing plan, he convinced them to use his business as the subject. They set targets and Firat was able to exceed his expectations later in real life.
Firat works with students as early as eighth grade through senior year to provide academic tutoring, coaching for extra-curricular activities and volunteer opportunities, career and aptitude counseling and preparation for college acceptance. Now, with 11 consultants who work part-time or contract, FES has served about 300 students since it began. The company is currently working with 60 students on a one-on-one one basis, and sometimes their 4-room office suite is so full of students and consultants that the tutoring spills over into a local coffee shop.
While studying at UST, Firat was working for another educational consulting service. His then girlfriend and now wife Josephine Gough Firat, ’04, MBA ’06, MIB ’08, had experience starting a company, Uzo Umbrellas, and she encouraged Firat to step out on his own.
“He had so many ideas, so many ways to make things better, and innovations he couldn’t apply where he was working,” Josephine said. So she convinced him to start his own company.
“I dragged him to the court house to get a DBA,” she said. With an initial investment of $16, they were in business, but Firat still hesitated to get the business cards. So Josephine bought his first marketing materials. “I’m going to invest in your business,” she said. Now she is a partner in the company and handles the operations, public relations and finance tasks, including business strategy.
“She always comes up with new ideas,” Firat said.
While owning a business together can be difficult for some couples, Firat attributes their success in working together to their shared dedication. “It’s great that we’re on the same page with running a business,” he said. “We support each other.”
Occasionally the stresses of work permeate the relationship. “We do not have personal arguments,” Firat said. “We only have arguments related to the business.” Josephine agreed: “It’s none of the ‘Pick your clothes up off the floor,’” She said. “It’s none of that. It’s always, ‘Did you bill that customer?’”
Firat and Josephine also support their community by sponsoring a small college scholarship for a career day event. They volunteer their time and sponsor books for an SAT preparation course at the Nehemiah Center, an after-school program for underprivileged kids.
Today, Firat helps others grow their businesses by teaching Small Business Administration as an adjunct professor at Houston Community College-Northwest, where he reviews business and marketing plans for his students. He is also the lead faculty for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program at HCC with the City of Houston, part of a national, five-year investment to provide small business owners with training, capital and support services to grew their revenue and create more jobs.
UST Resources for Entrepreneurs
For students who are looking for more resources for starting and growing their own businesses, UST offers an undergraduate class, MGMT 3330: Small Business Institute, taught by Andrea Condon, and a graduate class, MBA 5362: Entrepreneurship, taught by Dr. Cristian Morosan, assistant professor of management and marketing.