Interview with young entrepreneur Akash Sharma from OfficiallyTheHottest.com
Cristian: Hi Akash, and welcome to www.entrepreneurship-interviews.com you are 16 and already started your own business. What is about?
Akash: OfficiallyTheHottest.com is an entertainment blog that reports news on music, celebrity gossip, global news and we also do interviews.
Cristian: When I got a look at your profile I noticed that at 12 you were able to code HTML, CSS and PHP. That is amazing, so how did you learn to code?
Akash: I think it runs in the family, my uncle in England is very tech savvy and my dad used to be on the computer till midnight, now it’s like I’ve inherited their skills. HTML, CSS and PHP came naturally to me, I just took baby steps and my knowledge for coding just expanded.
Cristian: Before http://officiallythehottest.com you started a few things that faded away. What exactly did you try before? Do you think about them as failures?
Akash: I owned my own personal blog and I made my own forum. I did see them as failures at the time, but when I look back and compare my projects I see them as life lessons. If I didn’t make my own blog I wouldn’t have the knowledge on running my own entertainment blog. My past failures are helping me succeed now.
Cristian: What’s your take on failures? Most people are afraid of failing.
Akash: Obviously most people are afraid of failing but its life; you can’t succeed all the time. If you fail at something take it as a life lesson and make sure you improve.
Cristian: So what exactly does http://officiallythehottest.com do? What makes it special?
Akash: OTH does not only report news but we work with upcoming artists. I talk with many artists and I help give them a few pointers, I can’t reveal too much information at the moment, but if you continue to follow what I’m doing then you’ll eventually see what I have planned for upcoming artists. What makes us different is that we keep the youth updated on the entertainment scene, but we’ve added global news to keep the youth up-to-date on what’s happening around the world. It’s obvious that teens don’t pay attention to the news and are way more concerned about “Justin Bieber’s new haircut,” hopefully OTH can change that.
Cristian: I’m not going to ask you how did you come up with the idea, but how did you get started? What are the steps to make a business out of a site?
Akash: I was actually inspired by music, if you know me then you know that I love music. I guess with my music knowledge and blogging skills, OTH was formed. There is no “steps” to making a business; however my advice is to don’t think about turning a hobby into a business. If you’re passionate about something then continue doing it. Eventually it will take off on its own and turn into a business. Just go with the flow and don’t stress too much on making it into a business. Anyone can give you advice on running a business but it’s not you that made the business, it’s basically them. I didn’t have anyone helping me make this business of mine, I did it on my own and I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished.
Cristian: You have a team put up to work on the portal. How do you choose your first co-workers?
Akash: OTH expands every day; if you want your business to do well then you’ll have to make the right decisions. Don’t pick someone who says that they’ll work for you and then end up not doing anything. It’s your business and it’s your decision on picking the right co-workers, get to know them and don’t be afraid to ask them questions.
Cristian: I guess you also had a bit of work for the legal/financial part. Where did you get advice as a young entrepreneur?
Akash: Experience. Like I’ve mentioned before, I don’t go up to anyone asking for help. I do it myself and if I fail at it, I’ll do it again and make sure it’s perfect. If I need advice I’ll research about it.
Cristian: You told me you have interviewed some celebrities. Can you name a few? And how did you get their attention?
Akash: Karl Wolf, Gudda Gudda, Mia Martina, Christina Grimmie, Megan Nicole and the list goes on. OTH receives a great amount of views and I guess the fact that I’m young and managed to build a site that receives that amount of views gained their attention.
Cristian: What are the most interesting things people can read on OTH?
Akash: Honestly I find the music news interesting because I love music! Not just mainstream but also upcoming music. OTH will only report news that we feel will get our viewers wanting more.
Cristian: How does a portal work as a business? What can you actually sell?
Akash: Simple, you can sell ad space. Sounds lame but most sites have made thousands, even millions from ad sales.
Cristian: And how do you find customers?
Akash: I don’t really find customers; I guess the website attracts people itself.
Cristian: As a young entrepreneur, did you get any support from your family?
Akash: My parents really want me to live my dreams. They don’t want to control my future because they have faith that I’ll become someone. I would also like to include my best friends in this as well. They’ve also helped support me and they know who they are. Whoever supports me will also have my support.
Cristian: How does a young entrepreneur convince the family that this is not just playing but a real business?
Akash: I didn’t actually have to convince them, most parents will not allow their child to pursue something like this at a young age. My parents have been supporting OTH since day one. My parents are actually the ones that keep me motivated on what I do. My dad encourages me to expand the site and my mom always listens to what I have planned next. They’re the first people I can go to. I can’t ask for better parents and I respect them so much.
Cristian: And how do you balance your teen years with work? Aren’t you missing the teen experiences?
Akash: Actually I’m not missing my teen experiences. I’ve been invited to concerts, I get to meet the celebrities, I get to hang with my friends and I just love what I do. If I didn’t have OTH then life would be boring. I tend to get my school stuff done first and then I would work on the site.
Cristian: What do your friends at school think about what you do?
Akash: I never actually brag about my site, however all my friends know about it through other people. They find it amazing that I can manage a website and school at the same time.
Cristian: Any plans for 2012? Most people are afraid to do anything because of the crisis.
Akash: I have so much planned for 2012 and not to sound too confident, but 2012 will be a great year for OTH in general. I wish I could tell you everything but it’s a waiting game and you’ll just have to wait and watch. Stay tuned!