Published at Nov 20 2008 12:00AM
Category: College/Campus News
Frank IslamFrank F. Islam, entrepreneur and investor, spoke to 22 Macklin Business Institute students during their regularly scheduled weekly afternoon seminar last Wednesday.
For the first half-hour, Mr. Islam spoke about what makes entrepreneurs special and the opportunities and challenges therein, specifically in the hi-tech area. He described entrepreneurs as passionate, creative, focused, and good leaders with a high risk tolerance. And, the risks are high. Venture capitalists fund only 1% of business plans they receive, and it takes 3-5 years for an IPO (Initial Public Offering) company to succeed. In fact, 60 percent of hi-tech companies funded by venture capitalists eventually go bankrupt.
One student asked Mr. Islam’s opinion on federal regulation. He explained that he is a centrist in that he favors some regulation so as to avoid what is happening in our economy right now. But he warned that stifling regulation will smother new businesses and will not help create new jobs.
Another topic that Mr. Islam spoke of was his love of the United States. He immigrated to the U.S. when he was 10 years old, eventually attending the University of Colorado. He said that America’s greatness stems from both its business opportunity and charity, or giving back to the community. There was some discussion about whether tax incentives drive the money he donates, and he explained that there is only a 15 percent tax benefit for money given away through his foundation. And, for him, giving back is a vital part of being American. In his native India, wealthy businesspeople do not invest in their communities to the same degree as in the U.S., and poverty is rampant as a result.
Islam is the Chairman/CEO of FI Investment Group, LLC (FIIG), an investment firm he founded in 2007 after the sale of his company, QSS Group, to Perot Systems. FIIG focuses on providing growth capital to emerging companies as well as managing specialized and branded funds. In 1999, Islam was recognized by Ernst and Young as Maryland Entrepreneur of the Year. The US Small Business Administration selected him as the Small Business Person of the Year of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area in 2001.
Mr. Islam’s private foundation, whose board members include his wife, Debbie Driesman, supports educational, cultural and artistic causes worldwide. Additionally, Mr. Islam sits on the board of the Strathmore Center for the Arts, TiE-DC and chairs the StateDemocracy Foundation. And he hosts a TV show called “Washington Current Review” on MHz Networks.