About Zahra Amanpour

Zahra founded Indiegrove in January 2013. She spends her days managing Indiegrove, facilitating workshops, providing consulting services to small business owners and building an entrepreneurial community. Prior, her career was focused on providing resources and support services to entrepreneurs and economic development in urban areas. Her approach to business strategy is centered around long-term sustainability. She has an MA in Social Psychology and MBA.
13 February

I Work To Make Every Day Count

One of my fellow boot campers was talking to me about balancing life and work this morning and how she never has enough time.  This is a bootcamp filled with working women, many of them with families, who are up before the sun rises to get an hour of time to themselves before anyone else even knows where they are. When I told her that I could relate she said “But you have your own business, so you don’t have to work the 8 hour thing, right?”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some version of that statement from people.  It use to bother me.  Now, my standard response is “Yeah, it doesn’t really work that way.  The work has to get done.” and then I leave it alone.  I’ve come to realize that most people don’t understand what it really means to be an entrepreneur and start a successful business.  Yes, we have the option to choose when we work, but the commitment is a 24/7 commitment and a successful business requires much more than 8 hours of time per day.  It requires full dedication and responsibility.  When I get up in the morning I am not not worried about how I will get through the day or complete the hours. I am focused on how will I fulfill my purpose and build something extraordinary.  That’s what a lot of people don’t get.  We choose this life.  Nothing about it is an obligation.  It’s a completely different mentality.  I am accountable to my family, customers, employees, vendors, partners and everyone who touches my life.  All of them, together, decide the fate of my business.  No, I do not work 8 hours a day.  I work to make every day count.

#BeOriginal
#IndiegroveWorks

7 February

Building with Purpose

I’ve had a lot of conversations with people in the space recently about goals and have noticed a shift in the types of conversations. More and more, people are seeking purpose, meaning and community. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. The days when work and life could be separated and values were relative and secondary are over. People want to know that what they do, consume and give every day matters and is contributing to society. This shift gives us all something to look forward to. If building a successful business is dependent on an entrepreneur’s ability to understand and influence meaning and purpose, the possibilities are endless and we are truly changing the world. I for one will do everything I can to keep that momentum going.

#BeOriginal
#IndiegroveWorks

29 January

Own It

Obviously, “own it” is at the core of entrepreneurship, but this value goes much further than registering a business with a particular name. It’s about living your purpose. Taking responsibility for the people, ideas and challenges that are part of your business and community every day.  Seeing something through from start to finish and understanding the impact and repercussions that it may present.  It’s also about acknowledging your mistakes and learning from them.  The only way a business can grow and thrive is if everyone in it feels ownership of their own work and the shared vision of the company. Titles and money don’t give us prestige or respect.  People respect people they can believe in and trust.  If they know you will deliver on your promise, they will want to be part of your company. Ownership gives people dignity and empowers change.

#OwnIt
#IndiegroveTurns5

22 January

Kindness

Kindness is one of the greatest capacities of human beings.  I believe being kind every day is what ties are community together and makes us strong. Our team makes it a point every day to say good morning, ask how people are doing, find information for people and make connections.  Kindness is ingrained in our culture and it makes us better.  The best part of kindness is that it is contagious. Anyone who works out of Indiegrove for more than a day knows that we give and share with one another.  We give our time to help each other think through issues.  We share our connections and knowledge so that others can be successful.  We give back to our community. We understand that we are connected to each other, Jersey City, our larger industries and the larger world. This interconnectivity and understanding is what makes us stronger as a whole and more impactful as a community.  If you are truly dedicated to changing the world, kindness is the vehicle for that change.

#Kindness
#IndiegroveTurns5

15 January

Simplicity

This is the value that never stops teaching me lessons.  Too often, things are made to be overcomplicated, but in reality everything good is simple. One of my favorite quotes is “If it doesn’t make sense, it’s too complicated.”  I’ve used this to test so many ideas and plans at Indiegrove.  I ask my team to explain it to me and if I can’t follow it easily, we need to take a step back and try again.  Simplicity makes sure you stay in touch with your audience, don’t overspend, value your team, basically everything that keeps your grounded and focused.  Every success story I’ve seen is the most simple idea.  The less bells and whistles, the better.

#Simplicity
#IndiegroveTurns5

8 January

Be Bold

This value speaks to our attitude.  Entrepreneurs are faced with hard decisions every day.  Our ability to show courage and take big steps in those moments are what define us.  The first time this value resonated with me in this business was when I signed the first lease for Indiegrove.  Until one week prior, I had been looking for 3,000 square feet spaces.  But when the property manager said I could get 6,000 square feet for an incredible price I had to make a choice. I believed Jersey City had the demand.  But was I willing to take on that much more risk?  Yes!  I signed the lease and two years later expanded further into the building.  Of course, I could barely breath afterwards, but no one says entrepreneurship is comfortable. #BeBold

3 January

Be Original

This is what it is all about.  It speaks to the approach successful people take and the ideas that make it. Originals build paths, connections and solutions. They see the world as something that can be enhanced, changed and impacted. They choose to act purposefully. Indiegrove was the first coworking space in Jersey City.  In 2012, hardly anyone in Jersey City knew what a coworking space was, and if they did, they didn’t think it could work in Jersey City.  I have perfect credit, business experience and everything else that would make me the perfect candidate for a business loan.  I was rejected by every major bank and many other sources of financing.  I realized early on that I would need to find my fellow originals to make this happen and that is what has become Indiegrove, a network of originals.  For financing, I found alternative lenders who understand my vision and wanted to be part of it.  My first customers, who I call the founders of Indiegrove, walked into an empty space, but they could see what it could be and committed themselves to it.  My partners understand that we are all part of a shared economy.  The one thing all of them have in common is that they are able to see a vision and be part of creating it.  Check marks and road blocks do not stop them.  Nonconformity is the culture and norm.

#BeOriginal
#IndiegroveTurns5

2 January

Indiegrove Turns 5!

Indiegrove is celebrating 5 years today!

Five years ago, Indiegrove was a dream. Most people thought I was crazy. Coworking was a new industry and Jersey City was turning a corner. A few people took the leap with me and committed themselves to building a hub for entrepreneurship in Jersey City. Today, that is exactly what we have become.

The most incredible part of what has happened is the impact that this community has at so many levels and in so many ways. We have huge communities operating out of our space, i. e. JCFJC Families and Downtown Community Church. We have fast growing tech startups, i.e. Quantum and EventCombo. Cenx was just listed on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 List. We have mature businesses with years of experience who have shaped their own industries, i.e. Real Roofers. We have industry clusters, i.e. legal practices, financial firms and therapy practices, who cross refer to another and collaborate on cases. We have independent professionals who lead global teams and move major projects forward. We have family run businesses. We have community leaders.

Big things are happening at Indiegrove and we are changing the world. This community of changemakers is shaping the future. Tens of millions of dollars in revenue, hundreds of jobs created and countless connections are happening here each year. What we are doing now will touch our lives and so many others in the years to come.

A huge part of our success has been our ability to stay focused on our purpose and values. To celebrate our 5 year anniversary, this month we will be highlighting how our values guide and define us.

Every decision we make is in line with these 5 values:

Be Original

Be Bold

Simplicity

Kindness

Own It

As part of our 5 year celebration, we are launching Entrepreneur Talks, a series of conversations with entrepreneurs who have built successful businesses through purpose and values. Each of them have a story to tell about the adversities they have faced and achievements they have felt. I hope you will join us for our first conversation “Leading Through Simplicity” with Joe Nissim, the founder of Strengthlete, as he shares how simplicity and unwavering focus have brought him to success, happiness and leading a change in the nutrition industry.

I hope you will follow us and participate in our story this month on social media, email and around the space. You will no doubt be inspired.

To Your Continued Success,

-Zahra

22 November

A Time for Reflection, and Action

The holiday season is here and the stream of emails, ads, messages, mail and events centered around appreciation, good wishes and reflection are pouring in.  I love this time of year.  It brings the things that matter front of mind and reminds me why I became an entrepreneur.  Like every business owner I want my business to succeed. I love to build things.  The prospect of creating something special out of nothing is exhilarating and I feed off the energy that it produces.  Those reasons give me what I need to put in the hours, sweat and tears needed to push something forward. But none of those reasons was my reason for becoming an entrepreneur.  I became an entrepreneur because I want freedom.  I want to choose my days.  I want my days and nights to be in harmony.  I want my values to hold in every conversation and action I take.  I want to live my why.  It’s a mindset, a lifestyle.  A way of looking at the world and realizing that you can have a say in it.  So when I sit around my loved ones and laugh about things, eat too much food and feel happy, it doesn’t make me want to slow down.  It is time for reflection, but it also a time for action. I focus and redirect myself and my business and get ready to stay even truer to my purpose next year. I can barely sit still with the ideas flowing in and can’t find enough time in the day to organize them all.  This is something I’ve found to be true amongst those of us who live this lifestyle.  When everyone else is slowing down, we take the positive energy, slower inboxes and extra calories to create, build and change the world.

Here’s to another purposeful holiday season!

-Zahra

4 July

Independence and Responsibility

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays.  It represents so much of what I as an entrepreneur and the founder of Indiegrove cherish.

As an entrepreneur, I have come to truly appreciate the flexibility and freedom we have in running our own businesses and creating our own destinies.  It is truly a privilege.  Nothing brings this to light more than the choices we get to make during the slower summer season, holidays and good times with our loved ones.  But I strongly believe that with freedom comes responsibility.  So while we enjoy what we have worked so hard to create, we must always keep our focus on those around us, our communities, our families, our fellow entrepreneurs and make sure our businesses stay strong, sustainable and represent our values.  At Indiegrove, we take a lot of pride in this responsibility and truly enjoy the experiences and encounters it brings us on a daily basis.

This summer, take some time to reflect on your values as an entrepreneur and business. Are those values integrated into your daily work and goals?  Do your employees know what you stand for?  Do your customers know what you represent?  Your values should be at the forefront of all your decisions.

To Your Success,

-Zahra