An Entrepreneurial Spirit: Five TASIS Alumni Share Their Tales of Success
Posted 11/07/2015 04:00PM

For some of us, a decade can fly by quickly. But for these young alumni from the classes of 2005 to 2015, the past decade has included ideas, failures, excitement, risks, and, ultimately, success. Read on and be inspired!

Emir Bahadir ’10

Co-Founder, RLTY NYC •

In the five short years since leaving TASIS, Emir earned his B.S. in technology management and business management from New York University and co-founded an elite real estate company already making waves in the luxury market. Emir grew up in a Turkish real estate family–he’s the fifth generation–but even this and his years at NYU didn’t completely prepare him for starting his own business. “I learned the reality,” he says. “I’ve always been responsible, but being young and doing a lot taught me that time management is the key to being successful.” He also cites business relations, teamwork, and communication between colleagues and clients as critical to his success. He hopes to take his company, RLTY NYC, to other cities in the United States and around the world. He is also keen to embrace new technology as it emerges and use it to his company’s advantage.

Emir’s advice for entrepreneurs?

“Listening to my inner voice has always helped me with my innovative ideas. I practiced ‘thinking outside the box’ and thus, my ideas were [sometimes] seen as outrageous by others. One can only appreciate the outcome once it has occurred. I would advise entrepreneurs not to get scared and to move forward with their ideas. When you physically have your ideas, then you can improve.”

Tyler Breton ’05

Founder, Makemoji •

When Tyler was at TASIS, emojis were in their infancy. Now many of us use them daily, and Tyler’s company Makemoji lets us create and personalize emojis using shapes, colors, and even photographs. A graduate of Bentley College, Tyler also founded Bottle Service Reservation, a service that allows users to book VIP and bottle service at clubs in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Miami. Makemoji is working on its next round of funding and is in talks with some of the biggest companies and brands in the world.

Tyler’s advice for entrepreneurs?

“The road to success is usually paved with the corpses of failed companies. I've had more companies that have failed than succeeded. It's really about failing quickly and learning as much as you can from your failures. Mistakes happen, but not learning from those mistakes can be very dangerous. I would also recommend that entrepreneurs read and study all of the greatest businessmen to try and find common themes. You'll start to notice that the massively successful people in this world share a lot of the same traits. Finally, test cheaply and over deliver. Be humble.” 

Eda Karakaya ’08

Founder, No:81 Hotel •

After receiving a law degree from the University of Aberdeen in the UK in 2013, Eda returned to her home of Istanbul and worked as a Junior Associate in a law firm. In 2014, she joined the Karakaya Group as a shareholder and began renovating a hotel in Bodrum in spring 2015. No:81 Hotel opened in June 2015. “I’ve learned to take risks,” Eda says, though admits her law degree was no help in the hotel industry. “If you do your research, are organized, and are goal-oriented, you can accomplish a lot.” Eda plans to open another No:81 Hotel in Istanbul soon. 

Eda’s advice for entrepreneurs?

“In order to succeed in your business you need to be passionate about what you are doing. Even if you are the founder, you need to be a team player. That is why it is really important to work with a very good team. I was lucky enough to work with very professional and friendly people. When I was interviewing people, I turned down a lot of qualified people because I felt like they didn't have the same perspectives as I did nor the same excitement I had. It is very important to be surrounded by people who love what they do and are inspired to achieve more.”

Matthew Schultz ’07

Founder, Creative Backing •

Matthew took Architecture & Design with Mark Aeschliman (twice!) and it transformed his life. Matthew studied architecture at Iowa State University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his M.A. He then founded Creative Backing, a real estate marketing company based in Ankeny, Iowa, where he quickly became “master” of many skills. “I answered the phones, put stamps on postcards, created marketing material, met with potential clients, and shot both photos and video. You must have unwavering focus in these early stages,” he says. “As the business began to grow it was clear I could no longer handle everything on my own. I had to relinquish various parts to other people which was difficult, as I am very detail-oriented. In addition, it's stressful, oftentimes never-ending, and frustrating. However, it's also rewarding, flexible, and [gives me] the chance to create. Starting Creative Backing isn't like anything I've ever done and I wouldn't trade it for the world.” This year, the company has seen a lot of growth and has received varying awards. He was able to hire a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and is experimenting with ways to stage photographs, from using extras to drone footage. He hopes to continue increasing his brand awareness and create a compelling story to justify the real estate services the company offers.

Matthew’s advice for entrepreneurs?

“Trust your instinct. You will inevitably be faced with unfamiliar situations, ones that may decide your next marketing campaign or business deal. A successful entrepreneur isn't made overnight, rather it involves a series of trials and mistakes before getting it right. The difference for many is persisting through the toughest times. There were many times in the beginning where I wanted to throw in the towel; that would have been the easy option. It takes getting advice from people who have done it before, and being smart enough to listen to them. Never underestimate yourself, do the work, do it well. There are no shortcuts.”

Waka Takahashi ’09

Founder, Highbridge New York •

Waka received her BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York in 2013 and founded luxury handbag and shoe brand Highbridge New York in July 2013. Waka soon realized that maintaining a fashion label is more than just designing. “I learned to think about the company as a whole, rather than just about my role. I also began to see clearly what I wanted for the future and realized I still have a lot to learn and should never stop learning.” Waka hopes to make Highbridge into a platform that allows young designers and artists to present their designs to a large audience. “I believe fashion is a strong visual force that can help people feel more confident and embrace who they are. Currently, fashion seems only for certain people in the world. I want everyone to access and enjoy the art of it.” She hopes to show at Paris Fashion Week in January and is currently designing a capsule range for Japanese brand Amb. From Spring 2016, her accessories will be sold at numerous outlets in Japan and at Urban Outfitters in the US.

Waka’s advice for entrepreneurs?

“Don't give up, even though there will be many difficulties, unexpected problems, and risks that you'll face. Get yourself going. Planning is important, but don't overthink and miss chances. Sometimes you need to trust yourself, try it, and think after. Don't get blinded with all the work or problems you have right now. Always remember your future, long-term goal and strive for it. Finally, make some time to refresh and do what you love besides work.”


We sincerely thank Emir, Tyler, Eda, Matthew, and Waka for taking the time to share their stories with us, and we invite other alumni to do the same. If you have some news to share, please let us know.

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