Junior Saeed Djalilov and his videographer/business partner, junior CJ Ladas, show off their new uniforms for their business BizVim in Malibu in March. Djalilov said the color orange is meant to capture people’s attention as well as to signify a brighter future for the businesses they cover.
Photos courtesy of Saeed Djalilov
The statistic that “53% of all small restaurants that were closed due to social distancing laws would remain permanently closed” found in Robinhood Snacks, a podcast about financial news, greatly troubled junior Saeed Djalilov. Assembling a small team of two videographers, Djalilov took action and created his media startup, BizVim, in June.
Business Administration major Djalilov works with junior CJ Ladas, a Film major who he recruited to help build BizVim’s vision. As business partners, they work together profiling small businesses by filming videos and posting about it on BizVim’s social media. While BizVim has only profiled small restaurants in the LA area so far, they hope to expand to cover all types of small businesses.
“‘Biz’ stands for business, and ‘Vim’ is an outdated word used in the 18th century which means energy, or livelihood. Its synonym is spark, and so basically, we want to spark these businesses,” Djalilov said. “We want to make Vim more mainstream of a word, just like we want to make small restaurant dining mainstream again.”
Djalilov said he aims to spread awareness for why small restaurants are important by creating high-quality production videos. These videos include drone shots showcasing the food, glimpses into the kitchen and interviews with the owners of the restaurants to convey their rich histories.
Most of the restaurants BizVim profiles are family-owned shops, some of which have been around for decades. The Munch Box, on Devonshire Street in Los Angeles, is a ‘mom and pop’ shop that has served hot dogs and hamburgers since 1956.
“We want to put their story out there, because what we learn is that a lot of these restaurant owners have really captivating stories of taking on entrepreneurship, taking on the challenges of it every day, taking care of their employees and I believe that’s what America was created upon,” Djalilov said. “I think it’s so important for us to be aware of that and to support it as much as we can.”
Djalilov noticed there are more opportunities for entrepreneurship in the United States than in other places, including his home country, Uzbekistan. He immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 3, but he has gone back to Uzbekistan and realized it’s not as easy there for entrepreneurs to give back to the community as it is in the United States.
“We could all take some action, hopefully knowing that,” Djalilov said. “So just take the leap of faith visiting your local small business and see what they have to offer first.”
As a family-oriented individual, Djalilov said he admired how families could run a restaurant together. A lot of small restaurants, he said, treat their employees like family. There is a camaraderie between the employees and owners of the small restaurants BizVim covered, which is something truly special about small restaurants.
Something else Djalilov said he noticed about small restaurants is most of them aim to give back to their community in some way. One restaurant, Pozi’s Fresh Grill in Tarzana, Calif., hosted a toy drive during the holiday season to donate toys to the Tarzana community, where Djalilov grew up.
“All these restaurants, they want to give back,” Djalilov said. “I just want to make sure people know that we can help them with their mission and their contribution to the community by just getting a meal from them.”
Djalilov said his future goals for BizVim include growing its social media presence on Youtube and Instagram. The larger BizVim’s social media presence is, the more the restaurants will benefit by having their story on the BizVim site.
“The primary thing we would want is to stay in the small business’ budget,” Djalilov said. “If they can’t afford it, we would be more than happy to accommodate what’s best for them. Because at the end of the day, we want to make sure these small businesses survive.”
BizVim’s social media presence has great implications for funding and the ability to put on special events. BizVim’s GoFundMe will fund the equipment necessary — lavalier mics, cloud storage, website software, etc. — to create quality content. One day, when COVID-19 regulations become less strict, Djalilov said he wants to use BizVim’s social media presence to inspire customers to fill up a restaurant on a certain day. Then, he’d shoot a video of the event to raise even more publicity for the restaurant.
“Small restaurant owners are used to just an empty restaurant with chairs on top of the table,” Djalilov said. “But if BizVim can somehow pack that restaurant, and bring that livelihood that that restaurant used to know, then we can reignite this business and spark it to be successful throughout the year.”
Djalilov and Ladas’ goal is to use BizVim’s media presence to cover all types of small businesses, not just restaurants, Djalilov said. He said his primary focus is to spread awareness to small businesses, whether it’s a flower shop, showcasing a real estate house or a local furniture store.
“I believe this country is built on entrepreneurs of all sizes, whether it’s big tech, or a couple that’s just starting a small business,” Djalilov said.
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