10 Questions with Ahmed Khattak
Issue 93 June 2012
After chancing upon a simple idea during a year off spent working in London, Ahmed went back to America and turned it into a multi-million dollar business.
Ahmed Khattak is the co-founder and CEO of GSM Nation, which sells mobile devices to customers that have been unlocked, and can be used with any wireless network. In 2008, after returning from a trip to London where he came across the idea, he launched a pilot business with his friend Junaid Shams, selling unlocked phones online. In March 2010, they launched GSM Nation, with $150,000 of their own and families’ money, plus free office space and support from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute. In the first year of operation, they made $8 million, and last year the estimated revenue is $35 million to $45 million. GSM Nation currently has 10 employees, most of whom are contract workers.
Prior to this, Ahmed set up and sold two companies, one a telecommunications firm called Infinitronics, and Buraq Energy, a clean energy provider in Pakistan. He is an avid squash player, and keen supporter of Arsenal Football Club.
1. How did your education and upbringing have an influence on you?
My father was the first one in his family to go to school, so from a young age he put a lot of emphasis on my education. I went to very good schools, which led on to Yale University—one of the best universities in the world. This was a direct consequence of my father’s emphasis on education. At Yale, I studied for a double major in electrical engineering, which hardly influences what I do today. I also studied History and that had a profound influence on the person I am, and my business. It has really widened my perspective, having studied people and their circumstance from hundreds and thousands of years ago.