As the CEO of Excelledia Ventures, Muhammed Farooque built his award-winning international brands anchored in management consulting, digital innovation and artificial intelligence, working with large organisations and government agencies around the world.
The company has a digital innovation arm called Dezign Space whose services Excelledia is offering, free of charge, to develop prototypes of potential business ideas for budding entrepreneurs. His philosophy is simple.
“Our aim has always been to inspire people, and we would like to encourage, universities and schools, city councils, business centres, innovation hubs, and communities’ organisations to be a part of our story,” says Farooque.
“We invite anyone who thinks they have a good business idea to come and talk to us. By working behind the scenes with technology experts, business growth advisors, and the local council, we will test your idea, putting it into a technology platform, and providing you with a pilot or prototype.
“If you are happy with it, and want to take it forward, we will help with finding funding and investors in order to build the tool. It is only at this point that there would be a charge. We have multiple commercial models to bring your ideas to life, once you have decided to go ahead and develop a minimum viable product. If you don’t like the prototype, you don’t have to take it any further.”
Based in Leeds, Dezign Space was created during lockdown, and the company has already converted twelve prototypes into eight live projects, which Farooque is proud to say is contributing to the area’s social and economic development. His ambitious plan is to create around 500 prototypes in the UK over the next two years, which could result in 300 new businesses nationally.
His initial digital initiative plan is to invest 1.5 million GBP to complete 100 digital prototypes as part of the company’s social commitment.
Farooque grew up in a small village in the state of Kerala, India, as one of six siblings, and cites his parents as his biggest inspiration. He studied for an MBA in Total Quality Management and Marketing, in Bangalore, and recently completed certifications on Artificial Intelligence and Venture Financing from the University of Oxford.
Initially, he worked in Dubai with a holding company as a business development and management consultant, before setting up his own software company in 2007. The business went well until the recession hit in 2008, and the company didn’t survive. Farooque went back to Bangalore to work with his family in their chain of restaurants, while he regrouped.
“I come from a typical hard-working business family, and I knew I had to start again,” he explains. “ My wife, Shabnam, has worked in the company with me, through the good times and the bad. The early days were not easy – especially with a young family – but she has stayed strong and supported me.”
After a year, the family moved to Doha, Qatar, and it was there that Farooque identified a huge gap in the market for quality training and consulting services that could deliver on time.
Excelledia was launched in 2010 – a ‘one-man-band’ training and consultancy company, using specialists from all over the world to deliver the level of service that he could see was missing in the industry. Very soon, the company secured a prestigious training contract with Qatar Petroleum – the largest company in Qatar, and one of the biggest oil and gas companies in the world.
This – and Excelledia’s reputation for delivering high-quality training and consultation services – opened the door to other important clients.
As of today, the company is present in eight countries; 70 plus international partners; and more than 150 employees. They work with government agencies and international corporations across the globe and across different industries and comprise two distinct initiatives – the original Excelledia Consulting, which offers training and consulting; and Excelledia Ventures, through which they offer the digital innovation and tech services.
Farooque believes in having the best talent in the company to inspire and serve his customers, which, as well as Shabnam, includes partners Mohammed Shabeer and Harish Nair. The team has been further strengthened with the appointment of Renjith Paulose, as Chief AI Scientist, and Omar Rashid, who joined as Managing Director of Excelledia Ventures.
The regional team has been further strengthened by the appointment of Mark Richard Burns as Managing Director of UK & Europe.
He says: ‘’I love my whole team – they are the reason for our success. Without them, we could not have inspired so many clients.
Further down the line, Farooque wants to establish an Artificial Intelligence Centre of Excellence (AI CoE), in collaboration with Universities, to offer AI services and AI Learning to everyone; businesses, working professionals, business leaders, and students.
The intention is that it would be rolled out locally at first, then regionally, and, ultimately internationally, targeting the social and economic development of the region.
Farooque thinks big. He sees it as part of Excelledia’s social responsibility, as a successful business, to give back, and support communities.
Our Vision is to Inspire and Mission is to Serve.
Farooque can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Whatsapp: 07999 399 981