We catch up with Rashid Ajami, co-founder of Campus Society, the "new facebook" for college students.

Campus Society​ was founded ​in London ​18 months ago by multi-national signed and charted musician​ Rashid Ajami and investment banker Oliver Muller. The idea came about in 2012 when the two cousins tried to work together on a school project remotely, between Washington DC and Beirut.

Seeing teens leaving Facebook in droves at an estimated rate of one million a year, Rashid gave up a successful career in music to pursue his ambition to create the new Facebook. We talk to him to find out more...

I came up with the idea... In collaboration with my cousin Oliver, whilst we were both at Uni. I was studying in America; he was in Lebanon. There was no easy way for us to connect and share knowledge seamlessly. We formed a concept and built a team to turn our idea into what we now call the ‘Uni-verse’: a global university network.

The biggest challenge is... Bringing all the moving parts together. Things constantly change and difficult decisions have to be made every day. This can be very stressful and it's important to stay patient, focused, always be open-minded and, most importantly, keep perspective, whether it’s a good day or a bad one.

The average day is spent... In constant communication with investors, prospective partners and management to ensure we are all heading in the right direction. I always like to have strong touch points with everyone on the team so that we push forwards together: this is a key focus of my day. As a CEO, every day has its surprises, its ups and downs, but it's always exciting and creative, which fuels me to keep going. I love the challenge.

The team consists of... 16 people, including an all-star tech department run by our awesome CTO Feroze Rub, who is truly exceptional. We have a community team who take care of the students on our site and keep the environment fun and safe. We have marketing, hard at work raising awareness of our product. Our open-plan office gives everyone access to what everyone else does, which makes us work better as a team.

My favourite quote… “Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't.”

I am where I am today because of... A deep conviction that this idea is a great one, which gives me the desire to see it through. I have learned that only hard work and commitment can bring your goals into focus. I have a restless ambition and am always looking for the next step to take towards achieving this vision.

I am who I am... Due to my amazing family, who have always supported my ambitions and, crucially, allowed me the space to find my own interests and pursue them. When I decide to do something, I like to dive as deeply into it as possible.

The best advice I have been given... Is to take every challenge on one at a time: focus on each individual task and enjoy it, then move to the next one. This has helped me to avoid being overwhelmed and encourages more creativity and better results. Your ability to handle the emotion of a difficult situation improves. The end goal stays in the back of the mind, as motivation.

In five years... I’d like to be still the CEO of Campus Society with, by then, a global community of millions of students. I also want to have several more music releases to my name, as this has been a passion of mine for a long time. And I would like to share the benefit of my experience with others who want to build their own businesses or dreams.

The thing no one ever tells you about running your own business online... Is that there will always be setbacks and problems, but that this is entirely normal and, in fact, the best way to reach success. It always feels like people only mention their successes, but I truly believe that all successes stems from failures and the ability we have to grow and learn from them.

Our biggest mistake and what it taught us... Was having the fear of putting ourselves out there with our idea and product. We were afraid to launch and possibly receive negative feedback. But we learned in time to be open and confident in our product: you only learn your true strengths and weaknesses from the vital authentic feedback of genuine users.

The most rewarding experience we’ve had to date... Is seeing students from all over the world engage and connect through our product. This is the ultimate satisfaction for us. To know we can facilitate the free exchange of ideas and create a new network effect is what Campus Society is fundamentally all about.

19 February 2016