“I am optimistic in that I feel that our current economic climate is improving, which allows for more jobs, lower unemployment rate, and more entrepreneurs to start new ventures. I feel that entrepreneurship is on a positive trend which will create more jobs within the United States and I am looking forward to the innovative products and services that are still to come!”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nellie Akalp, a serial entrepreneur in the online legal document filing space who started her first business in 1997 with $100 and eight years later was sold to Intuit for $20 million. Today she runs CorpNet.com alongside her husband and business partner where they help entrepreneurs incorporate their businesses, form LLCs, file DBAs, register trademarks and more across all 50 United States.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Iran, and migrated to the U.S. along with my family in 1976 while Iran was going through the social unrest of the Iranian Revolution. Despite the hardships, challenges, and upheavals that we experienced, not to mention the linguistic and cultural barriers to overcome, my grandparents immediately decided to start their own business after they arrived in the U.S. They opened an antique shop selling Persian antiques that they had brought over from Iran and I got to see firsthand how entrepreneurship worked in the US.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story?
Similar answer to the above. Along with my family we left Iran in 1976, when I was five years old, due to the unrest during the iranian Revolution.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
I came to the United States right before the revolution in 1976. I was very young and did not know how to speak English, so everything was very scary and foreign to me yet exciting all at the same time. I will always remember my first interaction with eating a Big Mac at McDonalds and how yummy it was!
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
Absolutely — I dedicate my entire life to my grandfather who passed last year. Without him, I would not be where I am today and not be married to the love of my life whom I met in the states or have my four beautiful children. My grandfather is the person who made this all happen because he was a huge believer in providing the best life and education to his family and he was the single reason for our migration to the US.
So how are things going today?
I am blessed to say that things could not be better. My business, CorpNet.com is thriving and I am supporting a team of amazing employees in our Westlake Village, CA office. My four children are growing up in front of my eyes into amazing people and I cannot be more proud. With all of the happiness, I do have moments of sadness when thinking of my brave grandfather and his loss.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My success has enabled me to create a life for my children that I could only have dreamed of when I was younger — which really for most parents is our ultimate goal! I have also been blessed to be a mentor to other aspiring entrepreneurs to help guide them along their path of creating a successful business. Finally, I am thrilled that I am able to employee people and provide them with the means to support their families.
You have first hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?
Honestly, in a perfect world I would love to have the power to create a system of equality regardless of race, gender, color, religion or influence.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
- Follow your passion. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I wasn’t sure in what industry I would find success. I played around with a few different ideas but it was not until I realized my true passion — helping other entrepreneurs start their businesses — that I found success!
- Don’t focus just on money. If you focus on just making money and getting material things — you will have a rough road ahead. Starting and growing a business is no easy feat! Although we found great success with our first company and are succeeding again with CorpNet.com, we have had many ups and downs. If we were out just for the money, we would have never made it.
- Find a mentor. Reach out to your community and even to others who have immigrated from the same place as you to find a mentor you look up to. Most of us want nothing more than to see others succeed, so reach out and create connections to help you on your journey.
- Believe in yourself. You came a long way and that journey takes a certain type of person to take. If you can do that — you can build and create a successful business in America. Never give up on the dream and believe in yourself!
-Work hard, play hard and have fun and always give it your 110%!
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
I am optimistic in that I feel that our current economic climate is improving, which allows for more jobs, lower unemployment rate, and more entrepreneurs to start new ventures. I feel that entrepreneurship is on a positive trend which will create more jobs within the United States and I am looking forward to the innovative products and services that are still to come!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to meet Mark Zuckerberg, because I have a ton of respect and admiration for him as to how he disrupted and streamlined the communication industry. I am sure I would learn a few pointers from him and apply it to my business, plus he seems pretty down to earth and genuine and those are the people I often like to surround myself with!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
I would love to connect with you! Here are some links:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!