BCB MayJune 2022_LR

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1468031

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Page 16 of 83

MAY/JUNE 2022 BCBUSINESS 17 TOP: TANYA GOEHRING W I N N E R SHAHRZAD RAFATI C H A I R A N D C E O , B B T V H O L D I N G S S hahrzad Rafati had a choice of four TV chan- nels when she was a teenager in Tehran. "But I could see the power of content, even at small scale," she re- members. Rafati, whose moth- er and father, both engineers, ran a textile and a real estate business, respectively, grew up during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. "I wanted a different life where I could make a differ- ence, and I knew even at that time that I wanted to build a global business." Moving to B.C. at 17, Rafati spoke little English. She earned a computer science degree at UBC and watched with inter- est as Steve Jobs unveiled the iPod. "I just knew that video was going to be the next thing," Rafati says. "I wanted to play a big role in defining the future of content and entertainment— and storytelling." She launched media tech- nology company BBTV in 2005, expanding its offerings from digital rights management to include services for creators, direct advertising, mobile games and e-commerce. Every month, 600 million unique viewers worldwide use the Vancouver-based company's platform, consuming some 50 billion minutes of video. Investors have taken note. When BBTV launched its $172-million initial public offer- ing on the Toronto Stock Ex- change in late 2020, the listing was one of the TSX's top 10 of all time, its biggest with a sole female founder and CEO and its first such IPO in the tech sector. For Rafati, the inequality she experienced as a child has been a powerful motivator. BBTV operates with a quadru- ple bottom line that measures financial, people, social and en- vironmental performance. On ENTREPRENEURIAL LEADER R U N N E R - U P ANNA SAINSBURY C O - F O U N D E R A N D C E O , G E O C O M P L Y S O L U T I O N S THE WAR IN UKRAINE weighs on Anna Sainsbury. Before the Russian invasion, her Vancouver-based tech company had more than 100 employees in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where it set up shop in 2012. GeoComply has been busy helping staff and their families get to safety. "We've moved many, many people over the border and set up an office in Poland," Sainsbury says. "It's been an amazing demonstration of human resilience." Meanwhile, GeoComply, founded by Sainsbury and David Briggs in 2011, keeps growing. For the global provider of geolocation anti-fraud and compliance services, whose team numbered 375 as of April, the biggest market is online gambling. GeoComply also works with fintech and cryptocur- rency players and helps content streaming sites with digital rights management. For businesses, it has a role to play in enforcing sanctions, too, Sainsbury notes. "That's one of those key areas where our technology can actively help ensure operators stay on the right side and block nations." Sainsbury, whose company's value topped $1 billion after U.S. private equity investors took a minority stake last year, describes her entrepreneurial journey as organic. Raised on the North Shore, she followed interior design, marketing and accounting studies at BCIT with stints in insurance and in technical testing for digital gaming. With GeoComply, Sains- bury saw a rich opportunity: the company was well ahead of the curve as online activity exploded. "Kind and open to new ideas," she says of how she wants people to perceive her as a leader. It's also about solving problems that matter, Sainsbury adds. "If we can focus on the right things as an organization, it gives everybody a purpose and a sense of satisfaction." –N.R. the people side, the company has eliminated the pay gap between female and male em- ployees, and 46 percent of its managers identify as female. Rafati also encourages her 300-plus employess to embrace what she calls quick failures: "It's very important for you to be able to fail fast, fail forward and to learn from your mistakes." BBTV isn't shying away from the blockchain. For example, it recently announced a partner- ship with top Ethereum soft- ware developer ConsenSys to build tools for minting, publish- ing and marketing non-fungible tokens ( NFTs). "Given the scale that we have, we're uniquely positioned to capture this mas- sive opportunity in Web3 as the company that provides these end-to-end solutions to content creators," Rafati says. –N.R.

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