From an early age, Imran knew he wanted to run his own business. He started his first business, aged 16 with a £2000 loan from his father. Within days, he was trading in computer equipment, selling to college teachers and the local community.
As he neared the end of his college education, he faced a tough decision, whether to grow the business or study to become an Optometrist at University. Unable to choose, he decided to do both.
Whilst studying, he continued to build his business, almost being expelled from his course for failing to attend lectures - his passion clearly lay in business!
Having successfully completed his degree and professional exams, Imran opened his first optical practice in his local community of Bolton, recruiting a University colleague as his first employee. He decided to set up a locum recruitment company employing the services of many of the students he had met at University.
Imran has gone on to build a portfolio of businesses, including the fastest-growing group of independent optical retail practices in the UK.
PITCHING TO DRAGONS
Imran came into the media eye in when he appeared on BBC’s Dragons Den to pitch his innovative iTeddy concept. Having successfully secured investment, Imran joined forces with Peter Jones and Theo Paphitis to create one of the biggest successes the den has seen to date with the multi-award-winning iTeddy.
Less than a year after the original idea came to light, Imran signed a worldwide distribution deal seeing the business reach the shores of 45 counties around the world.
His work on the iTeddy brand earned him awards such as Toy Inventor of the Year, World Toy Innovation, Start-up Business of the Year and IOD’s NorthWest Young Director of the Year.
He has won many business awards over the years in recognition of his numerous endeavours including NorthWest Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Fusion Entrepreneur of the Year and a Mosaic Award for Science and Technology from HRH Prince of Wales.
Imran received an Honorary Doctorate in Enterprise and Innovation from the University of Bolton as well as making Growing Business’s list of top 40 entrepreneurs in the country under the age of 35. He is also the youngest entrant into the NorthWest Power 100 list.
In 2016 he was awarded a medal by the University of Manchester for his work in nurturing entrepreneurship. Imran’s interests include expanding the optical group and his business portfolio by investing in other companies.
The Hakim Group saw double in 2018, when it was crowned as the UK’s best company to work. Imran was also awarded Number One Best Leader in the UK on the Sunday Times Top 100 list, which contained some of the leading CEOs in the UK.
In 2019, Imran won the Overall award in the North for EY Entrepreneur of the Year and Scale-up Business of the year.
BECOMING AN AMBASSADOR
A key focus of his is to encourage entrepreneurship, especially in the North West, through mentoring and various ambassadorial roles. Positions of responsibility held by Imran include Non-Exec for Business Link North West, North West Ambassador for UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and charter board member of TiE Entrepreneurs.
He is also a member of the Prince’s Trust Founders Circle working with His Royal Highness Prince Charles to eradicate poverty across communities in Asia.
Alongside the continued growth of the Hakim Group, Imran has multiple other business interests. To find out more, use the link below to get a feel for his varied portfolio and visit the designated Portfolio page.