Interview by Derek Grosso
Name: Imran Nuri
Profession: Founder & CEO at The 52 Million Project
Neighborhood: Northwest Columbus
Education: The Ohio State University: BSBA, Marketing ‘20
Quote: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – MLK
Connect: LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube | Website
After serving as the President of BuckeyeThon from 2018-2019 and raising a record $1.7 million in that year for childhood cancer research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Imran Nuri decided that it was the right time to go all in on creating a nonprofit. In 2019, he founded The 52 Million Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that believes in the power of collective action for the common good. Donors give no more than $52 each year to support 52 nonprofits who are fighting poverty (one each week). To date, Imran’s nonprofit has had more than 700 people across the country donate $52 for a total of over $40,000 given away to dozens of nonprofits since they launched in January 2020.
What gets you up each morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
What gets me up in the morning is the accountability I have to the donors of The 52 Million Project, the prospect at bringing more people into our movement, and my many, many hobbies that I care deeply about. The 52 Million Project is a passion project of mine that requires a significant amount of time each week
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
My 52 Million Project board members have all been fantastic stewards of my work and mentors through the journey. One particularly outstanding board member is Columbus native, Nafis Azad. He has successfully built a few businesses in his early 20s, and he offers a lot of perspective of what it’s like to go through the founder journey as a young person. His advice is often around finding ways to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable as a way to grow the business and to grow personally. He emphasizes that it takes time and intense effort to build a successful business whether it’s for profit or not for profit.
What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
I am an avid photographer and artist, so some of the ways that I unwind are by either painting or taking photos using one of my many vintage film cameras.
What are a few of your favorite local spots in Columbus/central Ohio?
By far, my favorite spot in Columbus is the Scioto Mile. You can catch me there picnicking with friends, taking a walk, biking, or taking photos. Another one is maybe a little less known, but I love the stores in Bethel Center. I grew up nearby, and it currently holds some of my favorite local businesses including: my favorite bakery (Golden Delight), my barber (Mike at The Annex Barbershop), and one of my favorite pizzas (Papa Giorgio’s). One more favorite place is the brand new Dublin Library. I was so sad when they tore down the old library that was there as it was my childhood library, but that sadness disappeared as soon as I stepped foot in the new facility. It’s absolutely gorgeous and a fantastic place to study or work.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I used to think I wanted to be an architect when I grew up. I loved reading books about Frank Lloyd Wright or about some of the world’s tallest skyscrapers.
What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
I just finished reading a book by a Columbus author, James Clear, called Atomic Habits. The book completely changed the way I approached my life goals. Specific goals became secondary to building habits that turn me into the kind of person who can achieve those goals.
What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
It’s very exciting to be honored as a Next Up Columbus award recipient. I believe in the tremendous growth of Columbus as a city, and I just feel lucky to be a part of it.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
I would say the “pulse” of Columbus is that this is a city where you come to find your balance. Columbus as a city knows the value of the most important things in life, such as friends, family and traveling.
The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. The Columbus Young Professionals Club would like to offer special thanks to our 2021 co-presenters, Discover Financial, Future Possibilities and Zipline Logistics for their support of this awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2021” »