Shahrzad Rafati, 30
Founder & CEO, BroadbandTV
“A lot of startups go after smaller clients,” says Rafati, whose company works with partners like Warner Bros., Sony Pictures and the NBA to help them cash in on the copyrighted content that gets posted on video sites like YouTube. “It’s important to challenge yourself and get in front of larger corporations—because to come up with the best product, you need to be able to satisfy a challenging client.”
BroadbandTV has amply satisfied its partners in the six years since Rafati, fresh out of UBC with a computer science degree, founded it. Interested in the intersection between entertainment and new tech, she was inspired by her dad, mom and older brother—entrepreneurs all—with whom she moved to Canada from Iran in 1994.
Her company was one of the pioneers in the space, and Rafati among the first to “educate” sports leagues and studios about how they could profit from piracy. “They can’t really combat it,” she says. “These are fans that are uploading content. [Publishers] need to understand how big the opportunity is.” It’s a big opportunity for Rafati as well: now 25 employees strong, the Vancouver-based company also has a sales team in New York. Rafati has earned a spot on Fast Company’s list of the 100 most creative minds in business, amid growing buzz from VCs about BroadbandTV’s potential.
On motivation: “When I was starting, I was looking for somebody to help me, so I feel responsible for giving hope to the younger generation.”