Festival CEO takes his business to new heights with help from Verizon Small Business Digital Ready
Anwar Dougsiyeh says Verizon’s free learning portal was a game-changer
Northampton, MA –News Direct– Verizon
By: Kweli I. Wright
Anwar Dougsiyeh, co-founder of the Lotus Rosery Music Festival, in his office in downtown Atlanta. Credit: Cliff Robinson
Over the past three years, Anwar Dougsiyeh and his team have worked hard to build his events company into one of the biggest international touring music festivals in the world – “bigger than Coachella”, says the young co- founder of Lotus Rosery Music Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. They’ve done a lot of “free labor” building other brands and hosting gigs, but now, after learning new business skills through Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, Dougsiyeh finally feels ready to take off.
“I feel more confident in business after taking these courses,” the young CEO says of Verizon’s online portal designed to help small businesses thrive in the digital economy. Through the portal, Dougsiyeh and his team learn key business skills such as financial management and marketing, and dive into opportunities to grow their brand.
New skills in demand
Dougsiyeh and co-founder and creative director Oni Culbreath started Lotus Rosery in 2017 when they were teenagers in high school. Tiryk Borrego, Head of Graphics and Marketing, joined, and soon their mission to spotlight and unite Atlanta’s young creatives grew to include bringing artists together globally.
But the team needed key skills to move forward. “It was hard to figure out accounting and bookkeeping, email marketing, and improving our SEO,” says Dougsiyeh. “It was a whole world that had to be learned.”
To fill the gaps, the CEO sought a business education at a prestigious university, but said it was too expensive. About to hire an entrepreneur, Dougsiyeh was introduced to the Verizon Small Business Digital Ready portal by a friend, who found him while searching for grant opportunities. That the portal was free immediately pleased Dougiyeh. Once logged in, Dougsiyeh found a surprising array of resources. “It’s so in-depth,” he says. “There are classes for everything.”
“Another nice feature is that you can go at your own pace,” says Dougsiyeh. “You are able to take your time and really learn the content. Right now I’m making sure we have financial knowledge, and in the future I’m also thinking about the legal structure of the business.
Giving small business owners like Dougsiyeh the tools to succeed in the digital economy is the mission of Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, a key initiative in the company’s Citizen Verizon plan to move the world forward for all. The portal not only offers personalized courses, but it provides access to expert coaching, networking opportunities with various companies, and an exclusive pool of grants available only to program participants. To get started with the portal, it’s simple to sign up using your email address. From there, small business owners answer a series of questions that generate a program tailored to their business needs.
An overnight transformation
Two weeks after taking the Track Your Finances course, Dougsiyeh landed a marketing contract with a major beverage company. The course encouraged him to finally get his business bank account and paperwork in order. Without it, he says, he couldn’t have closed the deal. “I was like, ‘Oh,’ he said. “I hear this all the time, but it wasn’t clicking until I took the course.
After taking a digital marketing course through the portal, Dougsiyeh launched an email campaign that sold 1,000 tickets to his “You Are Here” music festival overnight. “We’ve finally started putting our contacts into Mailchimp,” he says. “We had all this data, but we never used it. We sent the email to 7,000 people. We sold 1,000 tickets. It was crazy. We were shaken.
Dougsiyeh now has more confidence to approach new ways of doing business. And that confidence inspired his colleagues and his family. “I know he’s going to be very successful. He is on the right track,” says Dougsiyeh’s father, Muktar Dougsiyeh.
‘You are the’
It’s the night of the “You Are Here” music festival and Dougsiyeh is buzzing, checking the lights and sound, as a line swells outside.
Two hours later, Dougsiyeh joins SURF on stage – ready to dive into the crowd for the very first time. The music pumps harder and Dougsiyeh leaps into the crowd as dozens of greedy hands float him in an unforgettable leap of faith and trust.
“Like a lotus flower is born in the mud under water, it grows in the water and comes out of the water to stand above it, undefiled,” Dougsiyeh recalled after the show. “For three years, I felt like we were immersed in mud. This recent sold-out show made us feel like we were thriving above water.
Verizon Small Business Digital Ready offers on-demand courses, live coaching events, networking, planning aids and grant opportunities for eligible learners. To register for this free program, visit verizon.com/smallbusinessdigitalready
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