With Black Friday and Cyber Monday around the corner, those of us at Revere know exactly what we’ll be putting on our gift lists.
I sat down with Fam Mirza, an inspiring success story who is changing the world, one watch at a time.
“It doesn’t matter how much you have. We all eat three meals and sleep in one bed.” — Fam Mirza
The 1Face watch is the gift that raises money for nine different issues worldwide, from funding mammograms and AIDS treatments to providing a lifetime water supply. Since branding and marketing entrepreneur Fam Mirza launched the first generation 1Face Watch in 2012, he says sales have helped over a million people across the globe. With the introduction of M., the luxe version priced at $99, he hopes to double the impact around the world.
Teaming with on-the-ground non-profits, 1Face supports nine different causes: cancer, breast cancer, hunger, clean water, disaster relief, environment, AIDS, education, and animal rights from the US to countries including Guatemala, India, Syria, Haiti, and the Philippines. Mirza carefully vets the organizations to ensure funds go directly to help those in need. Each cause has a specific metric that tells exactly what the purchase provides, from building wells in Bihar, India to providing a year of education in Guatemala.
The entrepreneur, born in the Middle East, grew up with an aunt in what he describes as “the slums of the Third World” until he returned to his parents at age eight and moved to the US at eleven. Influenced by his experiences, he aimed to create a brand that would give back.
It didn’t come together until 1Face because of the design of the watch. Every time you look at it, you see your face – and that connected the dots. The wearer is 1Face. It’s not about us or our office but the consumer who buys it. That connected the dots.
Fam went on to make contacts in charities to construct the fully quantified model, which he says goes farther than the buy one, get one model.
One watch provides education for a child in Guatemala. That’s a fact. One watch provides four AIDS treatments in Kenya. That’s a fact. We go to India and Africa to see wells and water pumps being built. We’re on the ground in places nobody knows about like rural villages in Bihar, India where I’ve stayed in guest houses with no internet access. We’ve been working with NGOs on greenhouses in Africa. We teach about ten to twenty men how to grow crops in the greenhouse and sustain the greenhouse-based agriculture.
Mirza has been honing his entrepreneurial skills since the age of fifteen when, with a friend, he designed and sold a split jersey that made an appearance at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, an impressive feat for a high school student. “We were kids and made jerseys because we wanted to wear them to the game. There was a demand so we started to sell to kids hand to hand at Bears’ games or high school games,” he shares. “It came to the point where we didn’t want to stand outside in the cold so I approached all the famous people we knew. A radio DJ was wearing the jersey when Nelly came in for an interview.”
The hip-hop star asked about the jersey and his manager contacted Mirza. “I thought he was joking. We gave Nelly a free shirt to wear at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.” Fam went on to start a number of companies, most style and design-oriented.
Applying the same celebrity-based placement marketing he had done as a teen, Fam has connected with micro-celebs as a core marketing strategy for 1Face, which he says is the most cost effective acquisition channel. The micro-celebs include artists and viral Instagrammers.
We’re competing with corporations that have been doing this for thirty to fifty years. Imagine the budget! I think what converts the best is following someone with a million followers. If that person says he or she just bought a 1Face watch and fed this many people, everyone listens and the conversion rate is higher than an ad.
What advice does the entrepreneur have for other philanthropic entrepreneurs?
You can make anything happen with the right amount of persistence and the right network. It’s just hard work. I remember those 14 hour nights. In fact, tonight I’m going to be here till 3 am. You’ve got to connect the dots property. You can’t sell socks and say ‘buy one, get one.’ It has to make sense to a high extent. Tom’s works because people overseas need shoes. If it doesn’t resonate with the consumer, they won’t buy.
To purchase a 1Face watch and change the world, visit the website!