Khalid Parekh arrived from India with $100 in his pocket in the late 1990s. He is the Founder & CEO of FAIR, an ethical, socially responsible neobank launched in 2021. In addition to Fair, Khalid Parekh is the Founder & CEO of AMSYS Group, a leading global technology and investment firm valued at $350 million. In its 20th year, AMSYS continues to extend its investments and expertise across multiple business sectors, including Energy, Technology, Finance, Logistics, Engineering and Healthcare. All AMSYS work is backed by seasoned teams of experts with decades of experience in their respective fields. The company prides itself as a long-term business partner based on the principles of integrity, honor, and mutual gain. All AMSYS decisions are made keeping in mind the prosperity of the AMSYS Family, including employees, clients, or partners. Khalid is also. a member of the respected Forbes Finance Council and an occasional writer, including for Fast Company.
Where did the idea for AMSYS Group come from?
AMSYS Group is a leading global investment firm. In our 20th year, we continue to extend our expertise across multiple business sectors, including Energy, Technology, Finance, Logistics, Engineering and Healthcare. The idea for AMSYS came to me since I had expertise in information technology, and realized that if I worked hard, I could create a company that could help tackle the information technology challenges of individuals and companies in Houston. I also figured that over time I could grow it across the country. I also realized that as I developed additional skills, I could branch out into multiple the related areas, such as healthcare, cybersecurity and financial technology, and that’s actually how things turned out! Regarding Fair bank, upon arriving in the U.S. from India with just $100 in my pocket, I struggled to not only get a loan but to even open a bank account. Based on this experience, I felt there was a need for a consumer-first, ethical financial services company that could help encourage financial independence as well as teach our customers financial literacy, in their own language. And when we could not identify a financial institution that met these values, we decided to launch FAIR. So, in many ways the Fair mission is very personal.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day always starts off with family. I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife and children and I make sure to spend quality time with them as much as possible in the mornings, preferably having breakfast and then driving them to school. After that I head to the office to tackle the challenges that most CEOs face on a daily basis. I know that my employees are our most valuable asset and obviously the company could never run without them. So, I try to focus my time on making sure they have the tools necessary to do their jobs correctly and to make sure they understand that they are appreciated at AMSYS. And of course, all companies have to make a profit, and so I spend a good deal of my time making sure that our bottom line is healthy and that we’re constantly looking for interesting new business opportunities.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I do my best to bring ideas to life at AMSYS by working closely with my team to brainstorm the best products and services we can provide our customers and clients. I also spent a lot of time doing my research to make sure that we are able to move into new and exciting business areas quickly enough to make sure we get it on the ground floor as frequently as possible. I find you have to be driven and smart, but you also have to be fast, and that can be hard.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m excited about many different business areas, but FinTech, or financial technology, is a field that’s really caught my imagination. As I mentioned, when I arrived here from India 20 years ago, I really struggled with the American banking system since it was and still is to a certain extent quite hidebound, traditional, and bureaucratic. Financial technology allows individuals to do their banking and their other financial business in a manner that is less complicated, and paperwork driven. I honestly believe that financial technology will have the capability to improve our lives dramatically, if it’s used correctly. So that’s my goal.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m not sure if you could call it a habit, but I have a restless mind which is constantly on the lookout for interesting ideas and trends, and I believe that this makes me considerably more productive as an entrepreneur. Even though it often feels as if there are not enough hours in the day, I do my best to tackle as many outstanding issues in any given 24-hour period as possible. That way I know that I am making sure that time is my ally, not my enemy.
What advice would you give your younger self?
If I had the ability to give my younger self some advice, I believe it would be to enjoy the journey. As somebody who works hard and plays hard, ambition was never a problem. The trick is to be both successfully ambitious and also enjoy every day. Of course, when you’re young and have all of your life and challenges ahead of you, it can be tough to not sweat things.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m sure there are numerous things that people disagree with me about, but I seem to have the ability to think calmly and effectively late at night. I know a lot of people do not agree with that and really want to go to sleep, which I completely get! After all, there’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. But there’s something about the wee hours of the morning that allows my mind to focus, and to thrive on the calm.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur, one of the things that I do over and over again is look for business opportunities in other sectors of the economy. And I that recommend it to other people as well. This practice has led me to expand AMSYS into areas including banking, healthcare, energy and cyber security. I honestly believe that as entrepreneurs we develop a set of skills, and that those same skills are applicable to most other areas. Basically, there’s no reason to pigeonhole yourself.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy that is help me to grow my business year after year is identifying strong staff members and bringing them into the fold in such a way that they feel invested in our shared success. I really don’t believe that a company can be successful if its people don’t believe that they stand to benefit from its success. So that’s an area that I’ve been really focused on, and I think it’s paid off.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I’m not sure I’d call it a failure but early on in my career I didn’t always see the value in consulting with more senior entrepreneurs who had “been there and done that,” so to speak. Getting a little age and experience under your belt has the ability to make you understand that even though it’s important to gain wisdom through your own personal experiences, there are lots of people out there who’ve been down similar roads and they’re often willing to share their learnings. So, I try to pick people’s brains who have something to offer on a regular basis, and that has been very valuable for me. I urge other entrepreneurs to do the same.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I don’t usually give away what I consider to be great business ideas, but I do believe that the aging of the population coupled with the advancement of new technologies create a business opportunity to bring healthcare to people where they live, and work as opposed to making them travel to it. In some ways this harks back to the way healthcare used to be provided, namely via house calls, giving birth at home, etc. With the advent of hospitals, doctors’ offices, laboratories, managed care, etc., we’ve seen a lot of people spend a lot of time and effort traveling to get their healthcare. But I think that there is an opportunity for people who want to utilize technology and innovative thinking to bring tech healthcare directly to patients. Just an idea!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent was a gift for a friend. I knew they had their eye on something, and so I went out and got it for them. It doesn’t really matter what it was. I’m a big believer that giving is better than receiving and if you know what somebody would appreciate, and have the means with which to purchase it, small gifts to people that matter to you are always a good idea.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I would say that the most productive piece of software that I use almost every minute of every day is WhatsApp. As most of your readers are most likely aware, it is a freeware, cross-platform centralized instant messaging and voice-over-IP service owned by Meta Platforms. Between the privacy it provides in the convenience and the ability to stay in touch with multiple people regarding multiple topics at all times, you really can’t beat it!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There’s a book out that I recommend called “The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business.” The author is named Erin Meyer and she explains how to help people from very different backgrounds and from different countries around the world work harmoniously together, including at companies. Based on her research she provides real world examples of how to do this which I found to be very interesting and practical.
What is your favorite quote?
I have lots of different quotes that mean significant things to me, but I do like this one from Lucy Ball: “Ability is of little account without opportunity.” I find that this is so true. It’s important that we keep it in mind that some people have less opportunities than us. Helping provide opportunity to people can go a long way to allowing them to reach their potential. I try and do that the best of my ability, whether it’s via employment opportunities at my companies, or via the financial benefits they can derived through Fair bank.
- Financial independence and financial literacy are important to any entrepreneur. Work hard to build up your skills in this area, as well as identify a company that can help you do this.
- Do not pigeonhole yourself into one field. Chances are that as an entrepreneur you have developed skills and contacts that apply across multiple areas, and you should put them to good use.
- Do not forget that some people have less opportunities than us, and that this can really limit their ability to thrive. Successful entrepreneurs do not lose sight of this fact and try and provide opportunities as part of their journey.
- There can be great value in consulting with more senior entrepreneurs who have “been there and done that,” so to speak. Even though it’s important to gain wisdom through your own personal experiences, there are lots of people out there who’ve been down similar roads and they’re often willing to share their learnings. Do not hesitate to ask if you can pick their brain.
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.