TCA Member Spotlight – Aniqa Hijazi and Faisal Mushtaq

 

TCA San Diego is excited to announce the start of a Feature Showcase series highlighting TCA members, sponsors, founders, and other prominent San Diego Startup Community members! We want to spotlight some of the exciting people and events in the TCA ecosystem and the diverse paths our members have taken on the road to angel investing in San Diego!

Today we are featuring Aniqa Hijazi and Faisal Mushtaq – a married couple, both TCA members actively participating in our startup ecosystem, and looking to use their expertise in finance and engineering to help raise San Diego’s profile in the tech innovation sphere through launching the Southern California Technology Conference – TechCon SoCal!

 

Q: Let’s start at the beginning – tell us where you are from and how your career has led you to San Diego.

Aniqa: I was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan – a historic hub city with a long tradition of art, culture, and irresistible food! Traveling the world has always been a passion of mine, and I was lucky enough to be exposed to different cultures at a very young age.  I received a full scholarship and came to the USA for my Bachelor’s degree – a huge personal accomplishment, as I was the first female in my family to do so.

On the professional front, I began my career in the financial services industry in New York, then transitioned over to public accounting and went on to obtain my CPA license. My career has been a blend of both finance and accounting, ranging from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of some phenomenal companies such as Morgan Stanley, Ernst & Young, Cisco Systems, and Ecwid. Presently I’m working as the Chief Financial Officer for Ecwid Inc.

Faisal: I grew up in Pakistan and graduated top of class from one of the leading engineering universities in the country. This opened several international opportunities for me, but I ended up deciding to pursue my Masters in Electrical Engineering at Purdue University. Moving from the third most populous city in the world to West Lafayette, Indiana – with 50 thousand people – was an interesting experience indeed!  I love traveling and have been fortunate enough to visit many countries. One of my fondest memories is a month-long backpacking trip through Europe. I’m a big fan of electronic music and even aspired to become a DJ at one point in my life!

Aniqa : We were introduced by our mutual friends. My best friend was married to one of Faisal’s friends from the Engineering department. At the time I was living in New York and he was settled in the Bay Area. We were engaged for 8 months and then tied the knot in an extravagant wedding in Pakistan. Six months after getting married, I moved out to the Bay Area after wrapping my work in New York.

 

Q: How did you end up coming to San Diego from the Bay Area?

Faisal:

It was during a summer internship in Newport Beach that I was first exposed to Southern California, and I instantly fell in love with its scenic beauty – and the warm weather. My next move was from Indiana to sunny Northern California, spending  the next decade in the heart of Silicon Valley, at the forefront of innovation and creativity in the tech industry.

Aniqa: Faisal took a job in La Jolla and started commuting back and forth. After 2 years of what started off as a 6-month long ‘lets try it out’ experiment, we finally decided to move down. I’ve lived on both East and West coasts, Northern and Southern California, and let me tell you, there is no place like San Diego. Not only does it offer beautiful weather along a breathtaking coast, but it is also one of the most diverse and dynamic economies of the country, with a promising future.

Personally, San Diego has been great for us: 9 years, 4 beautiful kids, amazing life long friends. So much to be thankful for. We couldn’t be happier with the decision!

 

 

Q: What led you to taking an interest in angel investing, and TCA in particular?

Faisal:

During my career, I’ve been a part of several successful startups and played a key role in fundraising, leading to eventual exits. I have also been mentoring startups for over five years, both here in San Diego as well as the Bay Area. Having been on the startup side, we decided to

look into angel investing to diversify our portfolio and began investing through Angel list syndicates.

I was introduced to TCA by a friend, and after attending a couple of meetings as a guest decided to become a member. I have been extremely impressed by the quality of the team and the methodical investment process that TCA has put together. I feel that the ACE fund raised by the San Diego chapter has been a game-changer for the organization, and we’re happy that other chapters are following our lead and adopting their own funds.

 

Q: How has your personal background influenced your investment strategies – how have you been able to leverage your areas of expertise?

Faisal:

I have 20+ years of experience in technology companies ranging from startups to large fortune 500 companies. I have been personally involved in raising funds for several startups and have led development of multiple products from inception to market launch to multi-billion dollar run rate. My interests have been in technologies ranging from Autonomous Driving, Machine Learning and AI, Telecommunications, Cloud, IOT and Mobile. These extensive and diverse experiences have helped me in doing due diligence on potential companies looking to raise capital.

Aniqa is a CFO and has extensive experience in corporate finance, public accounting, and business partnerships, and has been in finance leadership positions for multiple companies. As a couple we are quite like minded in terms of areas of interest. Our expertise compliment how we approach an investment opportunity. I primarily focus on the technical due diligence, assessing the viability and feasibility of the technology while Aniqa focuses on evaluating the financials, business model, GTM strategy, and deal terms.

 

Q: What impact has joining TCA had on your investment strategies? Have you benefited from TCA membership in ways unrelated to investment?

Aniqa: Joining TCA has been a wonderful experience. Members go out of the way to foster an inclusive environment, and their willingness to help each other and connect at a personal level is highly commendable. We’ve made some great friends at TCA during this short time.

Seeing how well the entire investment process is structured and operated makes writing those checks easy!

 

Q: Are there any organizations you support and would like to highlight? Any causes, events, companies that the startup community, TCA, or San Diegans in general would benefit from knowing about?

 

Faisal:

There has been a significant growth of startup ecosystem in San Diego over the past five years.  I have been involved in several organizations including CONNECT, TIE, OPEN, and all of them are playing an amazing role in promoting entrepreneurship in the region. I hope to see more collaboration among the investors, academia, and industries of San Diego, creating more innovation and entrepreneurship through stronger connections and cooperation between them.

I am especially excited about  Southern California Technology Conference (TechCon SoCal) that we are launching in San Diego on Sat, Jan 25 2020. It will be a day-long event bringing together industry executives, investors, technologists and innovators developing cutting edge technologies with an eye for anticipating the market needs of the future. Our goal in creating TechCon is to showcase the technological depth and breadth of the SoCal region, bringing together thought-leaders at the forefront of innovation in the following areas:

  • Future of Mobility/ Autonomous Transportation
  • Semiconductor
  • Artificial intelligence & Robotics
  • IOT / Digital Health
  • Cloud Infrastructure, 5G and Big Data

The conference will include speakers from successful large companies, unicorns and startups from Southern California and the Bay Area. Through a blend of insightful keynotes, dynamic panel discussions, and interactive case studies, TechCon will create a vision of the connected and autonomous future our speakers are building towards. It will also include a “Playground” where promising startups will have the opportunity to showcase their offerings. This event is being actively promoted by multiple organizations including Tech Coast Angels , UCSD, TIE, OPEN, SDVG, IGNITE, CONNECT and many others.

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