Ambition struck Sacad Guled early.
The Twin Cities entrepreneur knew he wanted to “create something big” by the time he was a 12-year-old war refugee newly immigrated in Minneapolis.
Now, as the owner and president of Coherent Bus Company, Guled has done just that: his cutting-edge transportation firm serves more than 100 routes in the Twin Cities and offers a mentoring service for students in addition to other community work taken on by Guled.
Guled’s work has addressed a critical need in student transportation while also giving back to local youth.
From Banks to Busses
After escaping the civil war in Somalia, Guled and his family arrived in Minneapolis in 1999. Guled said his father had “only a few dollars” to his name when they immigrated, and Guled was determined to make the most of the opportunity he was given.
After obtaining a bachelor's degree in finance in 2007, Guled quickly rose the ranks at premier financial institutions and completed his MBA in 2012. Yet after being promoted once again at a major bank, he realized that he wanted more.
“I don’t want to give my good days to a company, I want to invest it in myself and the community,” Guled recalled thinking at the time.
In 2016, Guled eventually tapped into his entrepreneurial side and started his first business: a personal care assistant agency called Coherent Healthcare.
Two years later, in 2018, Guled opened Coherent Bus Company as a driver with a few minivans and a passion to mentor local students.
Guled not only saw a business need in the education transportation industry, but also wanted a firm where “he could coach kids and serve as a role model.” To this day, Guled still drives routes himself while mentoring students.
Coherent now contracts with five school districts in the Twin Cities and has a fleet of 50 buses.
The Power of “Believing in Yourself and Your Community”
Guled, who cites Steve Jobs and Kobe Bryant among his many inspirations, said believing in himself and “doing good for the community” drove his entrepreneurship.
Guled's unwavering belief has paid off: Coherent Bus Company has grown to a full-time team of 70 employees and its multi-million dollar revenue is predicted to double over the next year.
Yet the soaring financial success isn’t what drives Guled and Coherent.
“I don’t care how much money I have, I just want to change somebody’s life,” Guled said. “As long as I can help someone, that’s the win for me.”
When the pandemic forced students into distance learning, Guled pivoted to deliver meals to the homes of students through Coherent. He focused on building connections with families that were struggling. He said, for example, that he helped students learn how to access financial aid for college.
Helping Kids Who Will “Impact the World”
Coherent’s mission is to bridge “the gaps between students and their communities; between kids and educators; between dreamers and motivators.” That mission also drove Guled to start Affinity, a nonprofit educational mentorship program that helps other young men find positive role models and learn to thrive in school.
“How many kids are out there that can impact the world, but don’t have the mentor or role model to provide the right direction?” Guled asked, citing the disproportionate rate of Black children who live with single mothers.
His program connects underserved youth with male figures, providing them with tools and experiences needed to increase their confidence, excel in school and thrive.
Over the past year, Guled has received numerous accolades for his socially-driven entrepreneurship, including Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s “40 under 40” award, and an “Outstanding Refugee” award from the State’s Department of Homeland Services.
Coherent is experiencing rapid growth thanks to its safe, reliable and punctual transportation for students in the Twin Cities area.
With Affinity, Guled is focusing on more expansive mentoring. Not one to rest on his laurels, the entrepreneur also recently invested in the growth of three small businesses in the Twin Cities area.
“At the end of the day, money is a great motivator, but as long as I have a roof over my head, I want to use it to do something great,” Guled said. “I want to positively impact millions of lives.”