Abid Abedi is one of the DFW area’s most forward-thinking entrepreneurs. He is the Founder and CEO of iCode, a project-based after-school coding program for kids, and Kinaara, an Indian street food restaurant featuring authentic Hyderabadi food. He has also founded and serves as a chairman for innovative solutions company Ascendare, technology service provider Scarlet Wireless, staffing solutions company Managed Staffing, and DFW preschool branch Rosewood Academies, among others. Over the last 25 years, his companies have amassed over $1.5 billion in revenue.

“I find needs in the market that exist, and if I have a solution that I think will work, I’m stupid enough to start one and see if it works!” he jokes.

Despite the laughs, Mr. Abedi is far from stupid. He spent the majority of his childhood in India and came to the US at the mere age of 16 for his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri. He got his Bachelor’s in accounting and his Master’s in tax accounting. Then, he went to work at Staff Analyst bank, his first job out of university, and then transferred to Payless ShoeSource, where he became the company’s National Tax Manager. Mr. Abedi founded his first company, Adea Solutions (now under a different supervisor) in 1996, and the rest is history.

Read more: After-school program iCode gives kids innovative opportunities 

What does he attribute his success to? The unique perspective that he developed living in two countries. “I’ve lived ⅔ of my life here,” he says. “I understand the Asian culture, but I also understand the American culture very well. My wife happens to be from England, so I’m in the unique position where I understand the Eastern values and the Eastern cultures as well as the Western values. It helps me understand people from different backgrounds. It helps me have empathy.”

I think when you leave the country you’re born in, there’s a lot of desire to do well, to work hard. I think that teaches you different things. I’ve never taken a penny from my parents since the age of sixteen. I learned the value of money, I learned what it takes to earn money.”

Now, Mr. Abedi aims to extend the mindset that it’s important to experience other cultures to his children. Every year, the Abedis take a summer trip abroad. This year, they visited Malaysia, Singapore, and Bali. It was their first time vacationing in Asia, and what Mr. Abedi saw blew him away. One example he gave me was a food court at a mall in Malaysia. All customers ordered their food through a kiosk, where they entered in the code for the restaurant they were going to and then the code for the dish. They paid, were given a number, and then went to the restaurant, where they just had to find their number and pick up the food. Mr. Abedi told me that while most people in the US would assume these countries to be “backward”, in reality, there was a lot the US could learn from them!

“It’s really an eye opener, and I encourage all the parents to expose their kids to different culture. The world is not a singular sort of race or type of people. I think understanding different people, where they’re coming from, how they think, how they work, how they live, it all gives you a different perspective.”

Vaibhavi Hemasundar

Vaibhavi Hemasundar is an undergraduate at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She loves singing, film photography, and devouring book after book.