Ali El Gamrini is an established entrepreneur based out of Windsor, Ontario. Originally from Cairo, Egypt, he is the founder and owner of four successful companies, Pushers Collective, Blanche Lounge Night Club, NoChillMedia, and Gamrini Homes and Construction.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
AEG: I always had a sense of hustle. When I was just 13, I moved from Dubai to Queens, New York to live with an uncle. I started working for him in his restaurant, bussing tables and going above and beyond to help the wait staff. At the end of the night, they would each give me a cut of their tips, on busy weekend nights I was bringing home over a hundred dollars in tips, sometimes up to $700 a week, which was a lot of money for a 13-year-old. But I’ve always feared being broke, so I put in the work.
How did your first company, Pushers Collective, get its start?
AEG: In 2011, I had recently graduated from St. Clair College with an engineering degree and I was working as a manager at a processing plant. I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do forever. I briefly dabbled in the music industry before I realized the potential selling merchandise had to offer. I realized how much exposure I could bring to my brand if I had celebrities repping it, so I started networking with celebrities and bringing them out to events, my clothing line was booming and it was around that same time that I realized how lucrative the entertainment industry could be.
What was the experience of opening your first nightclub?
AEG: After I had sold out a few venues for other nightclubs I decided to set out on my own. There is a lot of money in alcohol and the entertainment industry. In 2014, I’d bought a huge building for my clothing line, and the top floor had sat unused for almost a year. I decided to use that space. When I opened the Blanche Lounge in 2015, it almost immediately took off. There were certainly hurdles to overcome, having never run a club or been in the hospitality industry before. But I remained confident and soon it grew to become the hottest nightclub in Windsor. We had plans to open a second location in 2020 but those plans have been delayed because of COVID-19.
How has COVID-19 impacted your businesses?
AEG: It’s been an interesting year. When COVID-19 entered the scene in early March, we had to temporarily close the nightclub, it remains closed still today until we feel we can safely reopen. Although I had to close my two brick and mortar Pushers Collective stores, in both Windsor and Atlanta, the online store is still thriving. Fortunately, I had joined the real estate and home building industry in early 2019 so that has been a saving grace during this season in which entertainment and retail have suffered a blow.
Is the real estate industry still doing well in Windsor?
AEG: Gamrini Homes and Construction has taken off over the last 2 years. In 2019, I was new to the game, but I was curious about the industry, I spent time chatting with a builder friend of mine and he shared some valuable knowledge about building homes with me. That same year, I built and sold my first two luxury homes and I was hooked. I’ve developed a robust portfolio, buying and selling single-family units, and renting out multi-family units. I’ve certainly found a passion for the industry. Most recently, I purchased 34 acres of property that I plan to build 100+ homes on. It all comes down to being dynamic with investments, I like to be involved in multiple streams of income.
Why do you think having multiple revenue streams is so important for entrepreneurs?
AEG: COVID-19 is a perfect example of why having multiple income sources is a good idea. You never want to have all your eggs in one basket because we never know what the future holds. When I was forced to close my nightclub and brick and mortar stores, I still had my online store, my real estate business, and of course, my media/meme account.
What is the backstory behind NoChillMedia?
AEG: I acquired the Instagram meme page, NoChillMedia from an acquaintance when it was just beginning to grow in popularity. At the time, I saw it as a means of directing traffic back to my online store. It certainly does that but has also become a lucrative source of income for other brand deals. Social media isn’t going anywhere so it has proven to be a worthy investment. With the right management and content creators, we’ve been able to grow the page in a short time.
How do you manage 4 businesses and stay sane?
AEG: I have a great team behind me! While each business is a lot of work upfront, particularly in the first year of being operational, once we develop systems and get things running, I can afford to be more hands-off and strategic with how I spend my time.
What is your greatest piece of advice for a new entrepreneur?
AEG: Invest in your personal education, take the time to learn all you can about your industry, whether that means online research or developing a mentor the more you know the more you’ll grow. Second, think long term, don’t chase short term gratification. Find your end goal and work back from there. Lastly, don’t depend on one source of income! Like I said, having multiple streams of revenue protects your financial future.