Founder’s Journal Updates
Clockwise: Qiana Hicks, Nick Alm, and the Sajady family

Founder’s Journal Updates

Three early-stage startup founders reflect on their entrepreneurial journeys.

Yasameen Sajady

Yasameen Sajady and four co-workersCo-founder and CEO, Maazah, which makes Afghan-style chutney sauces

“The journey from scaling a small farmers market staple to a nationwide brand has been a huge learning curve. This year we’ve implemented new marketing strategies, strengthened our relationship with Kroger [grocery store chain], and have found a wonderful partner for co-manufacturing. We are excited to announce that we will expand to Atlanta and Texas in October. 

I feel motivated to take what we’ve learned and execute. We’ve accomplished our goals of increasing manufacturing and regional marketing efforts, and setting salaries for staff. We’ve put practices into place to expand upon these goals as the company grows, and I am grateful to see the structure of the brand develop. We recently hired a marketing agency to support our regional campaigns as we grow into a national brand. This investment gives us a dedicated team that can help us drive this work forward.” 

Maazah is a 2022 MN Cup divisional winner; at press time Sajady was prepping for the Grand Prize Awards Showcase.

Qiana Hicks

Qiana HicksFounder, Pathway Forward, a digital platform to connect at-risk youth with career development advice and opportunities 

“We have had the pleasure of joining the BETA cohort [startup accelerator] and competing in the 2022 MN Cup education division. Although we weren’t selected as the division winner for this year’s competition, we are ecstatic to have been chosen as a semifinalist among other great business startups.

This fall will be a season of hope and anticipation as we roll out the first MVP (minimum viable product): our career and postsecondary education readiness curriculum. We will roll out a scaled-down version to see how the market responds and to ensure the expected outcomes are being met. While our goal is to gain momentum—quickly—our highest priority is to meet the needs of our markets and prospective customers.

As we look toward 2023, we plan to take the opportunity this fall to reflect on our journey this year—to review our plans, goals, and strategies to see where we should make adjustments based on what we’ve learned thus far as we strive to build collaborations around career and higher education readiness and achievement.” 

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Nick Alm

 Nick AlmFounder and CEO, Mossier, a consultancy focused on workplace equity and inclusion for everyone LGBTQ

“My word for the foreseeable future is going to be ‘surrender.’ Surrendering to the fact that my first full-time employee got poached after three months to go work for a corporation that can pay them double what I can. Surrendering to a falling out with a potential business partner. Surrendering to the fact that doing good enough is good enough. I think as entrepreneurs we get caught up in chasing these goals that we think will officially validate who we are and our work. For me, that’s always been having a big team and raising a bunch of money. But none of my core ‘whys’ have anything to do with superficial growth targets. I gave 17 talks during Pride month to over 1,000 attendees, and in those moments I realized that I already have all the things that money can’t buy: a community of people who are fighting with me, the immense privilege of being a support to those people, and the daily opportunity to focus on how I want to impact the world in a positive way. Did I mention my bills are paid? I’ve already won.”

Read more Founder’s Journal stories here.