The Holmefjord-Sarabi Brothers: Setting the Rhythm
Aureus Academy, helmed by Mr Lawrence and Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi, entered Singapore’s music education industry only 4 years ago. Despite being relatively new, Aureus Academy has already taken giant strides and shaken up the entire industry, making competitors re-evaluate their business models and services in order to keep up. Recently, both brothers made it into the Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 List 2017, adding yet another feather to their caps.
Aureus Academy’s success is attributed to the unique position that Aureus Academy possesses in the music education scene, owing to the duo’s consistent focus and efforts to offer quality music education with qualified teachers and exceptional customer service – the bedrock of Aureus Academy’s business model.
THE FUSION OF PASSION
It seemed unlikely, at the outset, for the two brothers to eventually be working together, as they were both were on different tracks in life. Mr Lawrence Holmefjord-Sarabi was trained, since young, as a concert pianist. He then became the first American to be accepted into Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music at the National University of Singapore. On the other hand, Mr Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi was making waves back home in California, where he was running his start-up which offered information technology services.
“While I was making music at the Conservatory, I was approached by many parents to conduct piano lessons for their kids. I took them on as part of my passion to spread the love for music as far and wide as I can. These requests started to grow, and I began to wonder if it was possible for me to execute this on a larger scale,” said Mr Lawrence Holmefjord-Sarabi.
This marked the birth of Mr Lawrence Holmefjord-Sarabi’s idea to explore the music education industry. It was also the trigger point that provided the platform for both brothers, driven by their individual passions, to combine their abilities and come together to create something novel and different: Mr Lawrence Holmefjord-Sarabi’s love for music, and Mr Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi’s innate entrepreneurial spirit, illustrated by having started running his own businesses since he was in his teenage years.
THE START OF SOMETHING NEW
It is not that surprising for the brothers to become entrepreneurs themselves, given that their parents were entrepreneurs who ran successful businesses for decades in both California and Hawaii. Both of them were aware of the amount of commitment required, and potential sacrifices that they had to make choosing the entrepreneur track. They were ready for it.
Mr Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi recalled, “We were prepared to put in whatever it took to make this work. I remember Lawrence and me working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and not hang out with friends, go out drinking, or do anything that those in early 20s were out doing. People asked us why we were putting ourselves through what they perceived as torture. The truth is, we enjoyed what we were doing, and preferred to work rather than doing those things.”
The Holmefjord-Sarabi brothers have firm beliefs in sufficient preparation and the importance in finding the right investors and partners. They worked with people who believed in their vision and prided Aureus Academy beyond the bottom-line. They spent nearly a year in the planning process for Aureus Academy, and with guidance and mentorship, initial funding, and a proof-of-concept, they opened Aureus Academy’s doors.
The dyad acknowledges that the journey that they have both embarked on since starting Aureus Academy, has been incredibly transformative. Motivated by their individual passions, the brothers have learnt along the way the kind of leaders they have grown to become, and moving forward, to become even better leaders to push Aureus Academy and their team to greater successes.
“We both learned that becoming a leader requires a significant amount of patience, empathy, and reasoning. Both of us have become better at making rational decisions, by putting aside emotions and ego, and talking things through before making a decision. More importantly, we are fortunate to have each other as a sounding board to bounce off ideas and difficult decisions,” shared Mr Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi.
Both brothers hold several values close to their heart, which carries them throughout the course of their day, and is channeled towards Aureus Academy. One of these values is integrity, which is deemed to be the key to success. As Mr Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi explains, always do right by your customers so that they are happy, and in return, they will reward you. On top of that, do right by your employees – focus on grooming and growing them.This will help to build a strong culture and organisational core, which will in turn benefit your business. As a result, Aureus Academy experiences a high retention rate of 98%and 95% respectively for their students and staff.
One other value which the brothers pride on is curiosity, especially with Mr Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi. Mr Julius Holmefjord-Sarabi has the fundamental belief that Aureus Academy needs to continue innovating in order to stay ahead. He habitually spends 1 to 2 hours a day on the internet, surfing for the latest technology trends and analysing any new software and whether it may be applicable to Aureus Academy. The brothers believe it to be crucial to Aureus Academy’s success, as they have previously implemented technologies which have been pertinent to Aureus Academy’s exponential growth.
The Holmefjord-Sarabi brothers face different challenges with Aureus Academy every day. They quip, “We have to constantly ask ourselves. How can we push the company forward? How can we continue to innovate?”
With their conviction in providing a service above everybody else, combined with their deep-seated passion and leadership styles, Aureus Academy is poised for greater success in time to come.
To read more about the Holmefjord-Sarabi brothers' entrepreneurial story, you can get the latest copy of Entrepreneurs' Digest at MPH bookstores or at ASME Office (167 Jalan Bukit Merah, #03-13, Tower 4, Singapore 150167).
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