Mastering Earned Value Management: A Comprehensive Guide to EVM Principles, Implementation, and Future Trends


Earned Value Management (EVM) is a vital tool in the world of project management, providing a structured methodology to track project performance and forecast future trends. With roots in financial analysis and a robust application in various industries, EVM has become synonymous with effective project control. This comprehensive guide will navigate you through the essential components of EVM, its practical implementation, success stories, and a glimpse into what the future holds. Whether you’re a seasoned project manager, an aspiring professional, or simply interested in the mechanics of project control, this guide offers valuable insights and actionable takeaways.

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1. Introduction to Earned Value Management (EVM): Understanding the Basics

 Definition and the Significance of Earned Value Management in Project Control

Earned Value Management (EVM) is a systematic approach that combines scope, schedule, and resource management to assess project performance and progress. By quantifying each aspect, EVM allows project managers to evaluate how a project is progressing relative to its planned value.

The significance of EVM lies in its ability to provide a clear, quantitative analysis of a project’s health at any given point. Unlike traditional methods that might rely solely on budget or time frames, EVM examines multiple factors to provide a comprehensive picture. It enables managers to identify issues early, make informed decisions, and ensure the project stays on track both financially and time-wise.

 How EVM Aligns with Modern Project Management Strategies

In today’s competitive and fast-paced business environment, effective project management is key. Modern project management strategies often require a blend of agility, foresight, and precise control. Earned Value Management serves as a bridge between these needs.

1. Integration with Other Methodologies: EVM can be easily integrated with various project management methodologies such as Agile, Scrum, or PRINCE2. This allows teams to retain their existing workflows while incorporating the robust analytical capabilities of EVM.

2. DataDriven Decision Making: By providing detailed metrics and performance indicators, EVM empowers project managers to make decisions based on hard data. This reduces guesswork and allows for more targeted interventions.

3. Enhanced Stakeholder Communication: Clear, quantifiable metrics make it easier to communicate the project’s status to stakeholders. This transparency can foster trust and facilitate better collaboration between all parties involved.

4. Future Planning and Scalability: The insights gained from EVM can be used to plan future projects more accurately. By analyzing what went right or wrong in a current project, teams can make more informed decisions in future endeavors.

 Conclusion: Earned Value Management is not just a set of equations or an isolated tool; it’s a philosophy that aligns perfectly with modern project management strategies. Its emphasis on integration, analytics, and clear communication makes it a vital component for successful project execution in various industries and scales. By understanding the core concepts of EVM, project managers can harness its power to ensure that projects are completed on time, within scope, and on budget.

2. Components of Earned Value Management: Breaking Down the Key Elements

Earned Value Management (EVM) can appear complex, but at its core, it’s based on three primary components: Planned Value (PV), Earned Value (EV), and Actual Cost (AC). Understanding these three elements is crucial for utilizing EVM effectively in project management. Let’s break down these terms and explore their significance:

 1. Planned Value (PV)

Planned Value, often abbreviated as PV, is the authorized budget assigned for the work scheduled to be completed by a specific time. It provides a baseline against which actual performance can be measured.

 Formula: PV = Budget at Completion (BAC) x Planned Percentage of Completion

 Importance: It sets the groundwork for comparison, helping managers to see if the project is progressing according to the initial plan.

 2. Earned Value (EV)

Earned Value, or EV, is a measure of the work performed at a specific time, expressed in terms of the budget approved for that work. It represents the value of the actual work completed and is a critical measure of project performance.

 Formula: EV = Budget at Completion (BAC) x Actual Percentage of Completion

 Importance: It provides a quantifiable snapshot of where the project stands. If EV is less than PV, the project is behind schedule, and if EV is greater than PV, it is ahead of schedule.

 3. Actual Cost (AC)

Actual Cost, abbreviated as AC, is the real cost incurred for the work performed within a specific time frame. Unlike PV and EV, which are value-based, AC represents the actual expenditure.

 Formula: AC is the sum of all costs (materials, labor, overhead, etc.) incurred up to that point.

 Importance: It is a key component in determining whether a project is over or under budget. If AC is more than EV, the project is over budget, and if AC is less than EV, it is under budget.

 InterRelationship Between PV, EV, and AC

These three elements are closely interrelated and form the basis for other vital EVM metrics, such as:

 Cost Performance Index (CPI): CPI = EV / AC, indicating how efficiently the project budget is being utilized.

 Schedule Performance Index (SPI): SPI = EV / PV, revealing how well the project is adhering to the planned schedule.

 Conclusion: Understanding the components of Earned Value Management  Planned Value, Earned Value, and Actual Cost is foundational to effective project control. These elements not only allow for real-time assessment of project status but also serve as the basis for future planning and adjustment. By analyzing these components regularly, project managers can identify deviations from the plan early on and take corrective actions to steer the project in the right direction. It’s a powerful tool that, when understood and applied correctly, can be transformative for project success.

3. Implementing Earned Value Management in Your Project: A StepbyStep Guide

Earned Value Management (EVM) is a valuable tool for managing projects, but its successful implementation requires careful planning and consideration. Here’s a step-by-step guide to integrating EVM into different project phases:

 1. Understanding Project Scope and Objectives

    Action: Clearly define the scope, objectives, and constraints of the project.

    Why it matters: Understanding the scope ensures that all the key elements required for EVM are identified and aligned with the project’s goals.

 2. Developing the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

    Action: Break down the project into smaller, manageable parts or tasks.

    Why it matters: A detailed WBS allows for the accurate assignment of budgets and resources to individual tasks, forming the basis of the EVM analysis.

 3. Determining Planned Value (PV)

    Action: Assign budgeted costs to each task according to the schedule.

    Why it matters: This establishes the financial roadmap for the project, enabling future comparisons between planned and actual performance.

 4. Implementing Monitoring and Control Mechanisms

    Action: Set up regular monitoring processes to collect data on Earned Value (EV) and Actual Cost (AC).

    Why it matters: Regular monitoring ensures that deviations from the plan are identified promptly, allowing for timely corrective actions.

 5. Analyzing Performance Metrics

    Action: Calculate and analyze performance metrics like Cost Performance Index (CPI) and Schedule Performance Index (SPI).

    Why it matters: These metrics provide quantitative insights into project performance, enabling fact-based decision-making.

 6. Communicating with Stakeholders

    Action: Regularly report on project progress using EVM metrics to stakeholders.

    Why it matters: Transparent communication builds trust and keeps everyone informed, fostering collaboration and support.

 7. Adjusting Plans as Needed

    Action: Use EVM insights to make necessary adjustments to the project plan.

    Why it matters: EVM’s real-time analysis empowers managers to adapt to changing circumstances, keeping the project on track.

 8. Review and Lessons Learned

    Action: After project completion, review EVM implementation and identify lessons learned.

    Why it matters: This reflective process allows teams to continuously improve by applying learned insights to future projects.

 Conclusion: Implementing Earned Value Management is not a one-size-fits-all process, and it requires careful planning and ongoing attention. This step-by-step guide provides a practical roadmap for integrating EVM into any project, from initiation to closure. By understanding and applying these steps, project managers can leverage the power of EVM to drive success, ensure alignment with objectives, and foster a culture of transparency and continuous improvement. It’s not just a methodology but a strategic approach that, when done right, can become a cornerstone of effective project management.

4. Earned Value Management Metrics: Performance Analysis Tools

Earned Value Management (EVM) is not only a framework for planning and control but also a rich source of insightful metrics that project managers can leverage. Among these, the Cost Performance Index (CPI) and Schedule Performance Index (SPI) are essential tools for assessing project health. Here’s an in-depth look into these metrics:

 1. Cost Performance Index (CPI)

The Cost Performance Index is a measure of cost efficiency within a project.

 Formula: CPI = Earned Value (EV) / Actual Cost (AC)


    CPI > 1: The project is under budget, as the value earned is greater than the actual cost.

    CPI = 1: The project is on budget.

    CPI < 1: The project is over budget, indicating inefficiency in cost control.

 Application: CPI provides actionable insights into cost performance, enabling project managers to make informed decisions on resource allocation, supplier negotiations, and other budget-related aspects.

 2. Schedule Performance Index (SPI)

The Schedule Performance Index is a measure of schedule efficiency within a project.

 Formula: SPI = Earned Value (EV) / Planned Value (PV)


    SPI > 1: The project is ahead of schedule.

    SPI = 1: The project is on schedule.

    SPI < 1: The project is behind schedule, indicating delays in progress.

 Application: SPI helps project managers identify bottlenecks and take corrective actions to align the project with its planned schedule. It’s an early warning system that can prevent minor delays from snowballing into major setbacks.

 Other Key EVM Metrics

In addition to CPI and SPI, other valuable metrics further enhance EVM’s analytical capabilities:

 Cost Variance (CV): CV = EV  AC, a measure of the cost deviation from the plan.

 Schedule Variance (SV): SV = EV  PV, a measure of the schedule deviation from the plan.

 Estimate at Completion (EAC): A forecast of the total cost at project completion, considering current performance.

 ToComplete Performance Index (TCPI): A metric that indicates the efficiency needed to complete the project within a specified budget.

 Conclusion: Earned Value Management offers a robust set of metrics that provide an objective view of project performance. With tools like CPI and SPI, project managers can gauge the efficiency of their projects and make proactive adjustments as needed. These metrics translate complex data into actionable insights, enabling better control over project outcomes. Whether it’s identifying trends, uncovering potential issues, or communicating with stakeholders, EVM metrics play a crucial role in successful project management. By understanding and employing these tools, project managers can foster a culture of continuous improvement and strive for excellence in all project endeavors.

5. Challenges and Solutions in Earned Value Management Implementation

Implementing Earned Value Management (EVM) can be a powerful way to enhance project control and performance. However, it’s not without its challenges. Here’s an exploration of common hurdles and practical solutions to overcome them:

 1. Challenge: Complexity of EVM Concepts and Formulas

    Solution: Provide training and workshops to team members. Utilize specialized EVM software that simplifies calculations and reporting.

 2. Challenge: Resistance to Change

    Solution: Engage stakeholders early, explaining the benefits of EVM and involving them in the process. Gradually introduce EVM concepts, allowing time for adaptation.

 3. Challenge: Inaccurate or Incomplete Data Collection

    Solution: Implement standardized data collection processes and quality control measures. Regular audits and validations can also ensure data integrity.

 4. Challenge: Difficulty in Integrating with Existing Project Management Systems

    Solution: Opt for EVM tools that offer integration with existing project management systems. Collaborate with IT specialists to ensure smooth integration.

 5. Challenge: Unrealistic Baseline Development

    Solution: Invest time in accurately defining the project scope, objectives, and Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). Continuous monitoring and adjustment of baselines can also enhance realism.

 6. Challenge: Lack of Senior Management Support

    Solution: Showcase the strategic value of EVM to senior management. Regular reports and transparent communication can build confidence and secure ongoing support.

 7. Challenge: Overreliance on EVM Metrics

    Solution: Use EVM metrics in conjunction with other qualitative analyses and insights. Understand that EVM is a tool, not a substitute for comprehensive project management.

 8. Challenge: Legal and Regulatory Compliance

    Solution: Be aware of and comply with any industry-specific regulations or standards related to EVM. Seek expert advice if needed to ensure compliance.

 Conclusion: Earned Value Management is a valuable tool, but like any complex system, it presents challenges that must be managed. The key to successful EVM implementation lies in recognizing these challenges and addressing them proactively. By combining careful planning, ongoing education, robust processes, and strategic alignment, these hurdles can be overcome. EVM then becomes not just a set of formulas but a strategic approach that drives efficiency, accountability, and success in project management. It’s a journey worth taking, filled with opportunities for growth and excellence.

6. Case Study: Success with Earned Value Management in Largescale Projects

Earned Value Management (EVM) has proven to be an effective project management tool across various industries. This section explores real-world examples of how EVM has been successfully used in large-scale projects, showcasing its adaptability and power.

 1. Aerospace Industry: The Space Exploration Mission

 Challenge: Managing a complex and high-stakes space exploration mission with numerous variables and a tight budget.

 Solution: Utilizing EVM to track performance, detect deviations from the plan early, and make informed decisions.

 Outcome: Successful mission execution, within budget and on schedule, demonstrating the power of EVM in managing intricate and high-profile projects.

 2. Construction Industry: Building a Major Infrastructure Bridge

 Challenge: A multiyear project with fluctuating resource requirements, environmental constraints, and stakeholder demands.

 Solution: Implementing EVM to monitor and control costs, schedules, and performance, facilitating adaptive planning.

 Outcome: Completion of the bridge on time and within budget, showcasing EVM’s capabilities in large-scale construction management.

 3. Healthcare Industry: Hospital Expansion Project

 Challenge: Expanding a hospital facility to include new wings without disrupting ongoing medical services.

 Solution: Employing EVM to align project phases with operational needs, ensuring efficiency and minimal disruption.

 Outcome: A well-executed expansion that met stakeholders’ needs, reflecting EVM’s applicability in complex, service-oriented environments.

 4. IT Industry: Development of a Global Software Platform

 Challenge: Coordinating development across multiple locations, technologies, and teams to create a unified software platform.

 Solution: Leveraging EVM for real-time insights, enabling coordinated actions and global alignment.

 Outcome: Successful launch of the platform, underlining EVM’s role in tech-driven, multifaceted project management.

 5. Energy Industry: Implementation of a Renewable Energy Plant

 Challenge: Balancing sustainability goals, financial constraints, and technological requirements in a renewable energy project.

 Solution: Integrating EVM to guide decision-making, ensure transparency, and support sustainability objectives.

 Outcome: On-time, on-budget delivery of the renewable energy plant, illustrating EVM’s contribution to meeting social and economic goals.

 Conclusion: These case studies reveal the versatility of Earned Value Management in addressing diverse project management challenges. Whether in aerospace, construction, healthcare, IT, or energy, EVM’s structured approach has empowered organizations to achieve their goals with greater precision and confidence. It’s a testimony to the universal applicability and enduring value of EVM as a tool for enhancing project control, driving collaboration, and nurturing a culture of success. The principles and practices of EVM are not confined to a particular industry; they’re foundational elements of effective project management, validated by real-world success across sectors.

7. Software Tools for Earned Value Management: A Comprehensive Review

In the modern era of project management, software tools play a vital role in implementing and optimizing Earned Value Management (EVM) practices. This comprehensive review explores some of the popular EVM software available in the market, highlighting their features and how they support EVM practices:

 1. Microsoft Project

    Features: Integration with other Microsoft tools, robust scheduling, cost tracking, and customizable reporting.

    EVM Support: Offers prebuilt EVM templates and automated calculations for key metrics like CPI and SPI.

    Best For: Small to large enterprises seeking a familiar interface and extensive integration capabilities.

 2. Oracle’s Primavera P6

    Features: Advanced project scheduling, resource management, risk analysis, and portfolio management.

    EVM Support: Comprehensive EVM capabilities with detailed tracking and analysis tools.

    Best For: Large organizations working on complex projects, especially in the construction and engineering sectors.

 3. Deltek Cobra

    Features: Designed specifically for EVM, with robust reporting, integration with scheduling tools, and regulatory compliance.

    EVM Support: Tailored for EVM compliance and reporting, with automation for key EVM calculations.

    Best For Organizations seeking a specialized EVM solution, particularly in government and defense sectors.

 4. SAP Project System (PS)

    Features: Part of SAP’s ERP suite, offering integrated project management, financial tracking, and resource planning.

    EVM Support: Extensive EVM functionality with real-time data analysis and reporting.

    Best For Enterprises looking for a comprehensive ERP solution with strong EVM capabilities.

 5. Procore

    Features: Cloud-based construction management tool with scheduling, budgeting, and collaboration features.

    EVM Support: Simplified EVM analysis for construction projects with intuitive dashboards and reporting.

    Best For: Construction firms seeking a user-friendly platform tailored to industry-specific needs.

 Conclusion: The choice of Earned Value Management software is a critical decision that can significantly impact the success of EVM implementation. Various tools offer diverse features, integrations, and levels of complexity. Factors such as industry focus, organizational size, budget considerations, and specific EVM requirements must be considered when selecting the right tool. From general project management tools like Microsoft Project to specialized EVM solutions like Deltek Cobra, there is a wide range of software designed to support various project management needs. By understanding the unique capabilities of each tool and aligning them with organizational goals, project managers can leverage software to enhance the effectiveness of EVM practices, streamline processes, and drive project success. It’s not just about picking a tool but choosing a partner in your EVM journey.

8. Integrating Earned Value Management with Agile Methodology

Earned Value Management (EVM) and Agile are two influential methodologies that have shaped modern project management. While EVM emphasizes structured planning, monitoring, and control, Agile focuses on adaptability, collaboration, and iterative progress. Integrating EVM with Agile may seem challenging due to their differing philosophies, but in reality, they can complement each other in unique ways. This section explores the synergies between EVM and Agile, and how they can be combined for project success:

 1. Aligning EVM Metrics with Agile Principles

    Adaptation: By aligning EVM metrics with Agile sprints or iterations, project managers can apply EVM’s quantitative analysis to Agile’s adaptable framework.

    Collaboration: Involving the team in EVM data collection and interpretation fosters collaboration and promotes shared responsibility.

 2. Applying EVM in Agile Environments: A Practical Approach

    Iterative Planning: Break down the project into smaller iterations, defining planned value (PV) and earned value (EV) for each sprint.

    Regular Reviews: Analyze EVM metrics at the end of each iteration, using insights for continuous improvement and alignment.

 3. Benefits of Integration

    Enhanced Visibility: EVM’s quantitative measures provide clear insights into project performance, complementing Agile’s qualitative assessments.

    Adaptive Control: Combining Agile’s flexibility with EVM’s control mechanisms enables more responsive project management.

    Balanced Focus: Integration encourages a balanced focus on schedule, cost, quality, and customer value.

 4. Challenges and Solutions

    Challenge: Differing Terminologies and Concepts

      Solution: Develop a common framework that translates EVM concepts into Agile terms.

    Challenge: Perceived Complexity of EVM

      Solution: Provide training and leverage EVM tools that integrate with Agile software.

 5. Case Studies: AgileEVM Integration in Action

    Technology Development Project: Successful utilization of AgileEVM to balance innovation with budget control.

    Marketing Campaign: Applying AgileEVM to adapt to market changes while tracking ROI.

 Conclusion: Integrating Earned Value Management with Agile is not just a theoretical concept but a practical approach that can enhance both methodologies. The precise control and insights provided by EVM complement Agile’s adaptability and customer-centric focus. By recognizing and leveraging the synergies between these two approaches, project managers can create a holistic and responsive management system. It’s a combination that promotes continuous learning, informed decision-making, and alignment with organizational goals. In an everchanging project landscape, integrating EVM with Agile provides a robust framework that respects the uniqueness of each methodology while capitalizing on its combined strengths. The future of project management may well lie in such integrated practices that draw from the best of both worlds.

9. Earned Value Management Training and Certification: What You Need to Know

In today’s competitive project management landscape, understanding and implementing Earned Value Management (EVM) is a valuable skill. EVM training and certification can help project managers, analysts, and other stakeholders deepen their knowledge and demonstrate their proficiency in this field. Here’s a guide to various EVM training programs, certifications, and why they are essential for project management professionals:

 1. Importance of EVM Training and Certification

    Skill Enhancement: Training helps individuals understand the principles, techniques, and applications of EVM.

    Professional Recognition: Certification validates expertise, enhancing career prospects and credibility.

 2. Popular EVM Training Programs and Certifications

    AACE’s Earned Value Professional (EVP): A globally recognized certification focusing on EVM’s application in cost and project control.

    PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) with EVM Focus: EVM is an essential part of PMI’s PMP certification, offering a comprehensive understanding of project management, including EVM.

    Customized Corporate Training Programs: Many organizations provide tailored EVM training for their teams to align with specific industry requirements.

 3. Content of EVM Training Programs

    Fundamentals: Introduction to EVM concepts, terminologies, and formulas.

    Implementation: Practical guidance on incorporating EVM into various project phases.

    Tools and Software: Training on popular EVM tools and how to leverage them effectively.

    Case Studies: Real-world applications and insights into successful EVM utilization.

 4. Who Should Pursue EVM Training and Certification?

    Project Managers: To gain essential skills in project planning, execution, and control using EVM.

    Cost Analysts and Engineers: To enhance understanding of cost control and performance measurement.

    Senior Executives: To align strategic goals with project performance through EVM insights.

 5. Considerations When Choosing a Training Program

    Accreditation: Ensure that the certification body is recognized and accredited.

    Curriculum Relevance: Choose a program that aligns with your industry and career goals.

    Instructors’ Expertise: Seek trainers with real-world experience and recognized expertise in EVM.

 Conclusion: Earned Value Management training and certification offer an opportunity for project management professionals to master a vital skill that aligns with industry best practices. Whether you are new to EVM or seeking to advance your existing knowledge, various training programs cater to different needs and levels of expertise. Investing in EVM education not only enhances technical competencies but also opens doors to career growth and leadership opportunities. It reflects a commitment to continuous learning, excellence, and professional integrity. As projects continue to grow in complexity and stakeholders demand greater transparency and control, EVM expertise will remain a critical asset, and training and certification will serve as vital pathways to success in this dynamic field.

10. The Future of Earned Value Management: Emerging Trends and Predictions

Earned Value Management (EVM) has long been a cornerstone of effective project management. As the world continues to evolve, so does the practice of EVM. In this forward-looking section, we’ll explore some of the emerging trends and predictions that are shaping the future of Earned Value Management, including advancements in technology, new methodologies, and the broader impact on the field of project management.

 1. Integration with Other Project Management Methodologies

    AgileEVM Integration: As discussed earlier, combining EVM with Agile and other iterative methodologies offers new perspectives and approaches.

    Holistic Project Management: More integrated project management frameworks are likely to emerge, combining EVM with risk management, quality control, and other disciplines.

 2. Technological Advancements

    AI and Machine Learning: Predictive analytics powered by artificial intelligence could revolutionize EVM, providing real-time insights and forecasts.

    Cloud-Based Solutions: Cloud technologies will enable more robust and flexible EVM tools, facilitating collaboration across teams and geographies.

    Automation: Increasing automation in data collection and analysis will make EVM more efficient and accurate.

 3. Increased Focus on Sustainability and Social Responsibility

    Sustainability Metrics in EVM: Integration of environmental and social considerations into EVM practices aligns with the growing emphasis on corporate responsibility.

    ValueDriven Management: Beyond cost and schedule, a broader focus on value creation, including social impact and stakeholder engagement, could redefine EVM.

 4. Globalization and CrossIndustry Application

    Standardization Across Borders: Global standards for EVM may emerge, driven by international collaboration and regulatory alignment.

    CrossIndustry Adoption: EVM principles may be adapted to new sectors beyond traditional construction and engineering, such as healthcare, education, and services.

 5. Education and Continuous Learning

    Emphasis on EVM Training: With the growing importance of EVM, educational programs and certifications will continue to expand.

    Lifelong Learning: Continuous updates and learning opportunities will become essential as EVM practices evolve.

 Conclusion: The future of Earned Value Management is vibrant and multifaceted. As technology advances and the world becomes more interconnected, EVM is likely to evolve in ways that reflect these broader trends. From more integrated project management approaches to new applications across industries, the field is poised for continued growth and innovation. These emerging trends and predictions are not just theoretical considerations but represent the real direction in which EVM is heading. Project management professionals, organizations, and stakeholders must stay abreast of these developments to remain competitive and effective. Embracing the future of EVM means recognizing its potential to transform and enrich project management, creating value not just in financial terms but in the broader context of societal impact, sustainability, and human development. The future of EVM is a journey, and it’s an exciting time to be part of this evolving landscape.


The journey through Earned Value Management reveals a dynamic and multifaceted field that continues to shape modern project management. From foundational principles to emerging trends, EVM offers a rich tapestry of tools and practices that enable project success. This guide has provided a comprehensive view of EVM, demystifying complex concepts and offering practical advice. The integration of technology, alignment with other methodologies, and the continual drive toward innovation ensure that EVM will remain a critical aspect of project management in the years to come. Staying abreast of these developments and embracing lifelong learning in EVM will position professionals and organizations at the forefront of a rapidly evolving landscape.

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Author: Thamizharasu Gopalsamy
Author/ Reviewer: Thamizharasu is a renowned business coach committed to empowering entrepreneurs towards accelerated growth and success. His expertise spans business growth, sales, marketing, and human resource development. An avid reader and fitness enthusiast, he combines a holistic approach to personal well-being with professional growth. Thamizharasu aims to assist one million entrepreneurs in realizing their dreams faster than ever imagined. His insights blend innovative strategies with practical wisdom, making complex concepts accessible for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. Learn more about his journey and Reach him: [email protected]