This month we celebrate our founder Amish Morjaria for being recognized by Avenue Magazine as one of Calgary's Top 40 Under 40! The editors combed through 800 nominations – the most in history – to choose the elite class of 2019. We sat down with Amish on the eve of the Gala Celebration at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.
Congratulations! What does it mean to you to be recognized as one of the Top 40 Under 40 Calgary by Avenue Magazine?
It’s an honour! I see the people on the list and the contributions they’ve made to their fields, to their community and to their team, and to be put on that same level is truly humbling and inspiring.
I understand that it’s an individual recognition, but I couldn’t have done it alone. An acknowledgement like this really highlights the strength of one’s tribe. You can’t reach this point without having a strong support system, and I owe a lot to family, friends, clients, and of course, the amazing team at Forward Level. Having a strong tribe to accompany me on this journey has meant a lot to me.
At what age did you develop your entrepreneurial spirit?
I think I’ve always had it. Even when I was trading hockey cards as a kid, I was always looking for a way to turn one valuable card into seven more. I was a bit of a wheeler-dealer! I also learned a lot from my dad. He started his own engineering company in the early 90’s after leaving a stable government job with Alberta Transportation. He was very courageous - he saw an opportunity to start something from scratch, and he did it while supporting a family and paying down a mortgage.
My sister and I didn’t realize how big of a move it was. When he would share with us ‘hey, I won this client!’ We, as kids, would say “oh yeah cool. What’s for dinner?” And now, I really can understand and appreciate what it means to have those little wins, to celebrate those early successes because that’s what keeps you going. For him to see an opportunity and take a risk, it really had an impact on me when I started Forward Level.
You started FLM in 2011. What were your initial goals for the company and how do you see it changing over the next few years?
My passion is to grow businesses. I love taking something from nothing and making it something. I love that. That’s what I saw with Forward Level. I love the idea of supporting and cheering for the underdog. I view the small and mid-size businesses in Calgary as the underdogs. They don’t have the resources to compete against the bigger companies and they don’t have the millions of dollars to hire a 20-person marketing department. And that’s where FLM comes in. We represent the underdog by giving them access to a full marketing team. Our clients do some really amazing things and we want to share their successes with the world. And they are typically the kinds of business that believe in giving back to the community. They are just great corporate citizens.
What does the future hold for us? I think this is just the beginning. We’ve come through what I call our “adolescence phase.” We’ve found out who we are, we know our identity and we want to share that with our clients. We’ve also become more sophisticated. If we continue to invest in people, there’s no limit to our success. Our five-year plan is to be the go-to strategic marketing firm in Alberta for small to mid-size businesses. We want to work with the private companies that believe in the same things we do. And we’re so lucky that we already do.
What makes Calgary a unique place to conduct business?
I grew up in Airdrie, but Calgary is my home now. I love how it’s such an entrepreneurial city. Calgary is really becoming a place of inclusivity, forward thinking and diversification.
I think this is a great time for Calgary. That may sound strange, as we’re facing major challenges within our energy sector, but there are also so many cool things happening here. I believe that in challenging times, innovation prevails. Tonight’s gala is a perfect example. You read about the people being honoured for their contributions to business, medicine, technology, the arts, social causes, etc. There’s some great things happening in this city that should be celebrated. It’s really inspiring.
Does your dog George treat you any differently now that you’re a member of the Top 40 Under 40 Calgary?
I am still his handler, his butler and his chauffeur, but his expectations have risen since. (laughs)