Emadeddin Muntasser was born in Tripoli, Libya. When Libya began to experience oppression, his father sent him and his brother to America to experience living in freedom and democracy. He arrived in 1981 and began attending school, eventually earning his Bachelor’s of Science degree with honors and a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and Artificial Intelligence from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After graduating, he worked for Analog Devices, where he specialized in Operational Amplifiers and analog multipliers.
Later Emadeddin Muntasser started his own business in retail and real estate. Both businesses grew rapidly over the past twenty years. His retail business grew from one small location to five locations and was eventually sold, but his real estate business is still active with commercial properties owned and managed in and around Boston, stretching from the South Shore all the way to western Massachusetts. Emad Muntasser’s extensive marketing experience allowed him to maximize the return on investment and provide a solid base for expansion.
His ingenuity is perhaps best seen in Roof Safety Markers, his company that distributes four patented roof safety products to help alleviate the hazards of working on rooftops in dangerous environments. His current focus now is expanding his real estate holdings by providing opportunities for investors to pool resources and invest in larger properties. Recently, Emadeddin Muntasser has invested in a few startups and is constantly looking for more opportunities for growth and expansion.
In addition to his business activities, Emadeddin Muntasser is an activist that works with Washington, D.C., on behalf of human rights causes in Libya, North Africa and the Middle East.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
The idea for my roof safety markers company came from my own experience with safety on roofs after a snowstorm. After a winter storm with a heavy amount of snowfall, all the pipes, conduits and solar panels become covered and camouflaged with snow. Anyone trying to access the roof for repairs or maintenance could trip and fall because all these obstacles on the roof have become covered in snow. This has actually happened and led to physical harm. I had an inspiration to find ways to protect people and property owners in these situations.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I subscribe to a specific time management system that requires one to prioritize and plan goals and tasks on daily, monthly and yearly tracks. I have been using this system since I was in college and it has been very helpful for me. When one works from a plan, it becomes easier to focus on priorities, track progress, and get things done. Productivity is proportional to planning and prioritizing.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My engineering training comes in very handy when I am thinking about projects or products I want to develop. I write everything down. I draw diagrams and make lists. When a problem seems too large, I break it down. This engineering methodology works on a lot of ideas and problems. The path from conception to realization becomes shorter and a little easier when these steps are taken.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Artificial intelligence is exciting. I did my Master’s thesis on artificial intelligence. At that time, the field was relatively young and unproven. It has been a pleasure watching the progress being made and how it has become a reality.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Focus on the numbers and keep emotions out.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn the fundamentals because there are no shortcuts.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Most people do not make money buying stocks. Many are trained that investing in stocks will almost always make them money, especially if they are in it for the long term, but I think if you dig deep, you realize that fewer people make money. Some people do, of course, but the majority of people make very little or no money. I read a book about this when I was in college, and I looked around and asked people and it seemed to be true. They make money one year but lose it all in a couple years. I believe you make money by investing in real estate and ideas and startups and in yourself, but buying stocks is not the best way to make money. When you tell people that, they scratch their heads because it is not the conventional wisdom.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I read books and watch educational videos. The wealth of knowledge gained from just 30 minutes a day of reading or watching informative videos becomes handy when you are strategizing, negotiating, or making a presentation. Everything has a science behind it, and everything about that science is available for you to learn.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I believe that it is better to be first than it is to be better. There is no other concept in marketing that is more powerful or true than this concept outlined by Al Ries and Jack Trout in their book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Get to the market first and own the concept in the customer’s mind. Make improvements and changes later.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At one point, I got into business with the wrong partner. This partner wanted to take shortcuts and not work as hard. You cannot do that in business. Rather than struggle for years trying to change something that is a character issue for them, the absolute best strategy was for me to cut my losses and get out. I sold the business fast.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A device to detect air leaks in dry fire sprinkler systems. Many of these systems will leak air and it makes them ineffective. This is a huge problem in buildings with dry sprinkler systems. Any way to detect these small air leaks early can become easy to fix and thus the problems are minimized.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I purchased a transmitter that tells me when an air compressor is working too hard. When I receive this signal, I know that the compressor that is powering my dry fire sprinkler system might fail.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Skype a lot for business meetings with associates all over the world. It can reduce the need to travel since it offers the video conferencing feature. Skype is great for negotiating agreements, holding meetings, or giving an interview on live TV. With a good quality camera, a professional microphone, and proper lighting, my videos look great.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really enjoyed Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. It describes the history of the Native tribes in North America and the conflicts between the settlers and the Natives and how eventually the Native tribes could not stand the cost of war and were relocated into lands that did not provide what they need. It documents the role of the government and some very unkind military officers. It’s considered one of the best history books of all time. We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past.
What is your favorite quote?
“Never Again.” This saying came about after the full extent of atrocities were revealed after the ending of World War II. We need a commitment to human rights and protections of people who are vulnerable and weak, because once you look the other way when a group of people are being persecuted, essentially you allow that to happen again and again. You never know when it will come close to your own home. We must all stand together and say “never again.”
• Learn the basics well. There is no substitute for knowledge.
• Apply what you learned to the problem at hand while focusing on what matters and forgetting what is not.
• Use technology to your advantage.
• Do not follow the herd when looking for business or investment opportunities.
• Give back to your community so that you will enjoy real happiness.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.