Milan M. Kordestani is currently a first-year student at Colorado College, a Huffington Post writer, a nationally competing equestrian, and a young entrepreneur. Before graduating from Sacred Heart Preparatory in 2017, he ranked 3rd at the Worlds Championship Horse Show, 17 and Under Park Division in 2015, and 2nd at the Worlds Championship in the 5-Gaited Show Pleasure division in 2016. Additionally, during his time as a high school student, Milan published 6 articles for the Huffington Post ranging in the topics of agriculture, mental health, and politics. While also exploring the fields of agribusiness as a high school sophomore, he created Milan Farms–a backyard farm exploring the profitability of the agriculture industry while upholding humane, organic, and Non-GMO standards. Currently, in addition to being a full-time student, Milan is working on the development of an iOS/Android application set to launch in late August of 2018, expanding Milan Farms, running a record label, and writing a book.
Where did the idea for Milan Farms come from?
The idea behind Milan Farms is twofold. My upbringing played an important part in developing the business. I was raised by two Iranian parents who are both very proud of their cultural background. As such, they, and especially my mother, wanted to make sure my sister and I could speak Farsi, the native language of Iran. I had a Farsi tutor whose mother had been growing saffron, one of the most commonly used spices in Persian cooking. She gave me some of her saffron bulbs to grow in my own garden that I had at the time, which is how I was introduced to the world of farming. I am also fortunate to have a mother who not only introduced me to animals at a very young age, but who also always offered support and never discouraged me from my pursuits such as wanting to build a chicken coop in our backyard or carrying hundreds of pounds of soil through the house to the planter boxes in which I grew saffron. Now, as I am planning to devote my life to create a more humane world for chickens, I know it could not have been easy for my mother to explain to our tech-savvy community in the Silicon Valley that growing up I wanted to be a farmer. But she did. And she was proud of me.
The other driver behind my small garden developing into Milan Farms, raising several chickens, selling saffron, and selling eggs, was mostly a process of researching the agriculture industry, learning about what I perceived as flaws, as well as seeing where I fit in to offer solutions that led me to have a hands-on approach to learn even more.
So there is more to my inspiration to create Milan Farms than simply saying, “I just had an idea one day.” I followed my gut, my passion, and a path that felt right to me. I realized that I wanted to be a disrupter in the agriculture industry and make sure that everyone, no matter their income, can afford quality meat that is humanely raised, while at the same time offering support to humane practices as well.
The story of Dormzi is a little different from the story of Milan Farms. I am constantly looking for new ideas to peruse and pursue, and I love working on projects and bringing them to life – I think that’s the Silicon Valley blood flowing through my veins. Ask any one of my friends, and they will tell you that at some point I have asked them the question, “What is your idea about how to make the world a better place or to make life easier?” At this point in my life in particular, I am surrounded by intelligent people who have so much creativity and so many ideas. But they, unfortunately, do not know that these days it is very easy to get a business started at any age.
The story of Dormzi is the result of me asking a high school friend that exact question. Even though she had heard it from me several times, the way I phrased it on that particular day made the difference. In answering my question, she mentioned the many gaps in services that dormitories and universities offer. As she elaborated further, I started to think about it, and I expanded on how we could mend the gap in the market by using the students themselves as the workforce, and how we can do all this through an app to ensure optimal user experience. Within a week or so, I had hired a designer to help design the app, a designer for the logo, and a month later a team of three developers to create the app. Now we are less than a month away from having a testable app version ready and the tentative deadline of August 20th for the second version to be available in the app store!
The story of Guin Records stemmed from my love and passion for music as well as from the inspiration of DJ Khaled. Attending concerts is one of my favorite things to do. Every time I am at a show, I wish was up on stage, and I wonder how amazing that feeling must be. Unfortunately, I neither have the voice nor musical talent to be a musician. However, watching DJ Khaled I realized that I do not need to have a beautiful voice or musical aptitude in order get on stage and be a player in the music industry. I realized that Khaled had actually taken a pretty simple and widely used business strategy of playing middleman to become an industry mogul. I knew I had to try my hand at doing the same, especially since it seems that so few individuals are actually doing that. I contacted a college friend who is an artist herself, and I asked her if she thought my idea was plausible. She said that if I could find the talent and utilize connections to get the music I made heard, it would be very possible. That same day I contacted several artists and producers, found a couple of sound engineers, and just like that started playing middleman between all of these different players to create music.
I urged my sister Misha to join in rather early in the project as well, because I found that I kept asking her for advice on the songs. When her ideas started to influence the songs in such a beautiful and powerful way, I knew that I needed her to be my partner in this. This is also because my sister has been such an influencer of the music I listen to in my life. Ever since we were little, she would come running into my room to play for me new songs or tell me about artists she discovered, and we would fall in love with the same music together. My mother has also significantly affected the music I listen to. She has an ear for talent and always urged my sister and me to listen to the classics, as well as different genres from around the world, to broaden our perspective in music and culture. So the current album Misha and I are working on is a collaborative effort of over 20 old-school hip-hop and rap artists producers, whereby we are giving each artist full creative control to choose the sound they want to use for the story they want to tell. My sister and I wanted the whole album to have that old-school sound since we are fans of old-school hip-hop and rap. We love that the album instrumentals have very little synthesizer and are mostly dominated by raw instruments. We are just hoping the world will still want to hear that type of sound.
By working on all of the aforementioned startups and projects, I have acquired a unique perspective of being so young and having created so much at such a young age, which is why I decided to write a book. It is basically a guide that describes the process of creating a startup. It is meant to inspire young entrepreneurs to start working on projects while they are still young, and it discusses the importance of beginning at such a young age.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day begins with waking up a couple hours before class to go through all the emails and notifications that await me. I answer all of the notifications from the artists I have and my team working on Dormzi, have breakfast with friends, then head to class. Class takes place from 9am-12pm, followed by lunch with my friends. I then go back to my room where my time is predominantly spent on the projects I am working on. I devote about three hours to communicating with all of my artists, developers/designers, and partners before the workday ends. After making sure everyone is on track with their deadlines, and that everything is organized for myself, I move on to my homework and studying. I focus and complete most of my school work pretty quickly because I know that I have to get that done in order to have time for work and life. After finishing my homework, I usually meet up with friends for dinner. Of course, some days are lighter than others in terms of workload, but most days are pretty jam-packed with things to do, so I end the day at around 11 pm. In between all that, I find the time to call my friends and family, go to the gym, and spend time with my friends at school.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Through all of the various projects I have worked on, I cannot say there is one specific way to bring ideas to life, other than to just start. When I have an idea, I start working on it that same day, sometimes even within minutes. Even if that idea is going to change or develop, I start immediately and get the ball rolling so that there is no time to question whether I should try or not. The only way to make sure the idea does not fail is to work on it. That also means that the idea has ought to be constantly changed and developed as it starts to come to fruition.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
There are two things. First is establishing which days are work days and which days are not. Every day of the week is a workday for me unless I have established it to be otherwise in order to spend time with family, go on vacation, or to celebrate an occasion, etc. This element is important for the second reason, which is doing all work as soon as it is presented to you. If, for example, I receive an email or a text, if a demo or a prototype are shared with me, I acknowledge it immediately and respond quickly. That way I ensure that nothing is put on the back burner. However, doing this can be extremely exhausting because it means I am never really offline. That is why it is important to establish days off. For my birthday, for example, I took the entire weekend – Friday to Monday – off just to spend time with my friends and family. This meant not checking any emails or work notifications.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There are so many motivational books out there, but I recommend Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich to anyone and everyone! The way the stories are so seamlessly woven throughout the book, and the fact that the given advice is so applicable to anyone’s life, makes it one of the greatest works of all time. Everyone should have their own heavily annotated copy for quick referencing.
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