UK's top entrepreneurs under the age forty
The Daily Telegraph has 'revealed' 2006's most successful entrepreneurs in Britain under the age forty.
Number 36 on the list is Ajaz Ahmed, founder of interactive agency AQKA, with a reported personal value of £51m (just shy of $100m USD at today's exchange rate).
After a stint at Apple, Ajaz started AKQA the London-based company in 1995 and has since expanded the agency's presence to NY, San Fran, Washington and SIngapore. It has even established a presence in Second Life, seeing it as a place to recuit early adopters and trend setters.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Ajaz while I was managing the Microsoft UK online site. AKQA were one of the two agencies we had on the roster and the team was great to work with - they loved opportunities for innovation and had great people working on our account doing excellent work. More recently, they landed a 'dream brief' - to design the Xbox360 UI. I use the 'Blades' creation daily...
I've admired Ajaz and AKQA since the early days. While at Bluewave, I often found AKQA on the competing pitch list. Let's say they were hard to beat. Throughout the 90's, they were one of the top web design agencies in the UK. Then came dotcom bust, were many of the web design and development companies died off, but not AKQA. Ajaz did a superb job of navigating the company through those tough times and get it to the other side, merging with San Fran based Citron Haligman Bedecarré in 2001. In retrospect, a brilliant move - he's now employing over 400 talented, smart and creative people around the globe and continues to work for some world's top brands.
He's also a genuinely nice guy, so it's great to see Ajaz recognized for his achievements.