Chasing the American dream
In 2006, Eli Chmouni left his home country of Lebanon and headed to the U.S. As a 19-year-old international student at Arizona State University, Chmouni was determined to chase the American dream.
“When I showed up, I only had $600,” Chmouni said. “But I thought, this is my chance to actually start something new.”
Coming from another country, Chmouni said he experienced cultural pressure around what degree and career to pursue.
“Being an immigrant, your parents want you to have the highest options of success. Culturally, that is to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer,” explained Chmouni. “I wanted to go to school for theater production and film production, but it was a big taboo to go after the arts or a category that may not generate a six-figure income.”
Putting aside his desire to pursue an arts degree, Chmouni decided to study mechanical engineering at ASU. However, upon graduation, Chmouni found his way back to the arts, opening a media production company. Drawn to entrepreneurship, he saw it as an opportunity to return to his true passion and apply the principles he learned in school to his business.
“I really like the idea of creating something from scratch, so I think that's why I got into the world of entrepreneurship and the world of startups,” Chmouni said.
Since starting his first company, Chmouni has gone on to launch several other successful startups. In 2016, Chmouni was named a Top 35 Under 35 Entrepreneur by The Arizona Republic, with several of his startup companies also having won awards over the years.