PART 2: Fadi Saleh finishing UT education in entrepreneurship
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second article in a two-part series on local entrepreneur Fadi Saleh, the creative genius behind Baracksdubs.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
“Over the last four years, I have been refining how I direct my passions by learning more about my passions,” Fadi Saleh, the creator of Baracksdubs, says in his characteristically transparent style.
When he returned to the University of Tennessee (UT) for Spring Semester 2012, he had just launched the first two videos featuring President Barack Obama lip-syncing the songs of famous singers.
The advice he received from his parents and friends was simple: “This was cool, but focus on school.” Later that year, there were others, including an industry executive, who encouraged him to quit school and go into video production full-time. Saleh received the latter advice shortly after producing a commercial for MTV and its upcoming “Video Music Awards” show.
He elected to remain in college and over the next several years, Saleh continued to produce videos for Baracksdubs, mostly during semester breaks. It was also a period of introspection for the Memphian who had wanted to be a doctor, but hit a wall in terms of organic chemistry. Saleh decided to pursue a degree in health administration before switching once again, this time to entrepreneurship and innovation. He’s finishing his thesis.
Yet, even as he changed academic majors, he was never very far from the core passion that drove his initial desire to enroll in pre-med at UT.
“The reason I wanted to be a doctor was to help people and also be able to do something challenging,” he says. “I learned that health administration was mostly pushing paper.”
Saleh’s focus today is building a sustainable business that will allow him the financial wherewithal to focus on helping the underserved.
“Pure social entrepreneurship helps the underserved by creating new things for them,” he explains, adding, “My ultimate passion is to help people. What I’m doing now is learning about how to do it successfully.”
In Saleh’s view, it is not about giving things away as much as it is about enabling people to sustain themselves by helping them acquire the tools they need. He initially thought that Baracksdubs was a way to make money, be discovered, and help other content creators.
Now, thanks to some solid input from Joe Vangieri, President and Chief Executive Officer of Knoxville-based DigiTrax Entertainment, Saleh says he sees Baracksdubs as an indication of a much larger opportunity.
“I’m building a company and community of remixers,” he says. That is, in reality, what Baracksdubs is.
Wikipedia defines remix as “a piece of media which has been altered from its original state by adding, removing, and/or changing pieces of the item. A song, piece of artwork, book, video, or photograph can all be remixes. The only characteristic of a remix is that it appropriates and changes other materials to create something new.”
As he pursues his plans for the future, Saleh says simply, “In college, I have now learned there are other ways to help people.” What started out as hobby is now a business that Saleh hopes will enable him to successfully achieve his initial goal of helping others.