Making Moves Spotlight: Omar Imani and Anwar Husain

There are some people that just get people. They understand what motivates others to perform at their highest levels. They understand what makes folks feel good about themselves. This understanding, when coupled with empathy, hard work and opportunity can move mountains. That is exactly what Omar Imani and Anwar Hussain, founders of Smashtech, a San Diego, CA marketing and branding company were taught by their mother and grandparents growing up. When I was first introduced to Omar and Anwar in the Spring of 2018, I remember saying to myself, “Man, they’re brothers, and brothas, and they founded this amazing company!”. It’s only right that I share my experience at Smashtech in hopes that it inspires others to strike out on their own. 

If you ever visit the 22,000 sq ft. offices of Smashtech, it’s a place that you’ll never forget. I mean the word “office” has to be the most misleading here because Smashtech HQ looks more like a small version of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. We’re talking swanky leather, chandeliers and breathtaking downtown views. Employees can connect to the Sonos and play their curated playlists, grab a beer (and there are plenty choices) from the fridge, or a latte from the fancy coffee maker. All very awesome perks, none of which are unheard of for a startup. But it’s not the perks that makes this company special, it’s the people. 

Smashtech has come a long way since its founding in 2015. Back then, only two people worked at Smashtech: co-founders (and brothers) Anwar Husain and Omar Imani. The duo has since grown the company to employ more than 100 people. The most amazing thing about their grind is that they founded the company with only $100, and bootstrapped the entire operation, never handing out equity in exchange for investor money. 

They started Smashtech out of their basement. The company began as a side hustle for Husain and Imani during the recession. They purchased health and fitness products in bulk, and resold them online. In time, they realized it would be more profitable to make the products themselves before selling them. Now, the company makes health, fitness and beauty products (things like antioxidant green tea and collagen powder), and focuses its efforts on branding those products.

Husain, 31, and Imani, 36, said they’re upbringing in Dallas set them up for success. Their single mother, an ER physician, was the sole caretaker for their brother, who has special needs, two grandparents, and both Husain and Imani.

“We had this two bedroom house, so Omar and I got a walk-in closet for a bedroom that fit a twin size bed,” Husain said. “We slept head to foot.”

But while lying in bed in the walk-in closet that was their room they would dream. They made up brand names and products and came up with marketing slogans.  Observing their mother’s leadership in the home and throughout life fed their ambition and has led to multi-million dollar success for Smashtech since it was founded in 2014. 

Smashtech has been honored by Inc. Magazine as a Top 100 Places to Work in back to back years, and have received the same honor from the San Diego Tribune three years in a row. 

When asked where they drew inspiration from for their company culture they said, “We read about companies like Netflix and Google, which don’t micromanage their workforce and they allow their workers a lot of autonomy. We started to see there’s common underlying themes in these companies.

Omar and Anwar managed to never forget where they came from, while never looking back — always moving forward. And that’s as rare as brothers who are brothas, founding a multi-million dollar marketing company. Stay inspired. 

  

Written by Tyree Hicks-Perkins