Business Entrepreneur: Founder of UrbanPhilly.com and African-American Chamber of Commerce Chair
My name is Sulaiman Rahman. Born in Philadelphia, Raised in Philadelphia. Stayed in Philadelphia. I went to George Washington High School. I ended up going to University of Pennsylvania. So, I was looking at different schools outside the city and decided to stay. Went to University of Penn and afterwards opened a business here in Philadelphia. So, it’s kept me here.
Let's start with you being named a Creative Ambassador.
What makes me a creative ambassador is I believe that entrepreneurs are creative ambassadors. Now, it takes creativity. When you are entrepreneur, you got to create something from scratch, an idea. And everything great has been created really three times. First it’s in your mind, and then its on paper, and then it’s in a discipline of actual doing it. Thinking of ideas and creating things out of thin air if you will and its rewarding to know that you can create something that can be useful for people. That’s why they may have selected an entrepreneur like myself to be a creative ambassador.
What's been your career path?
Early on, I recognized that working a job for the next 30-40 years wasn’t my cup of tea. So, I started looking into entrepreneurship, and I started investing in real estate in the University City area. Invested in real estate, I started UrbanPhilly.com, actually in 2000, and that was definitely the vehicle that took some time to build up to a point where we were generating income. So actually in between time, I’ve been an entrepreneur. Really finding and building businesses from home and have had the privilege of being an entrepreneur for last 10 years working for my own. And, it’s been a rewarding experience.
What are some of your favorite spots in Philly?
I’ve always been a fan of the Bynum Brothers. They have a long history in Philadelphia as restaurateurs - owned Zanzibar, Warmdaddy’s, Relish. They have a new place called Green Soul. I haven’t had a chance to go eat there yet. So, I’m looking forward to enjoying that. I heard some great things about it. You got to come here [to Relish], food’s delicious.
We actually did our re-launch event right here, at Relish. And that event was back in 2009, actually in 2010, when we did the re-launch event here in Philadelphia. The African-American Chamber of Commerce is geared towards helping support African-American businesses in the city of Philadelphia.
Where else do you like to go in Philly?
Omega Optical. I typically don’t get out of there without buying something. Omega Optical is a designer eyeglass store, and I think the reason I was draw to Omega Optical was really the relationship that Omega Optical has created with the city. Just the owners, Steve and Rebecca and also Tracy, just great individuals, they have been woven into fabric of the city in many different ways - from giving back to involving themselves in different events around the city. So, it’s more so of a relationship. Not just an eyeglass store. You think of them as part of the city. They started in Cheltenham Mall and now they have a location downtown. Convenient. A lot of people don’t know that they’re down there. So, that’s definitely a great expansion for them in the city.
One of the areas that I love in the city is Center City because it’s centralized. There is so much you can do. Many times you don’t have to drive downtown. You can be drop in the city, you can take public transportation in the city. Pretty much just hang out all day in the city. You can go down there and do work. Many of times at the Pyramid Club or Union League of Philadelphia, restaurants, coffee shops, so many different things to choose from. Different restaurants downtown you can have a great lunch and happy hours. If you into the nightlife, which they was a time I was into the nightlife before the family and everything, but you could actually stay there. You could be there from 9am ‘til 2-3am in the morning. So there’s been time, we had the whole stretch, from business to after-work social to nightlife. I like that about Philadelphia.