Dara Djafarian
Credit: Lindsay Siu

Dara Djafarian, 28


Life Story: Dara Djafarian was accepted to medical school but opted for business instead. “As much as I love medicine, I always enjoyed the opportunity to bring businesses and ideas to light and make them commercially viable and real and interesting and applicable to society,” he explains.

When Djafarian was five, he and his sister, Lily, moved with their parents from London, England, to Vancouver’s North Shore. Vancouver is home to Djafarian’s cousins and uncles on his mother’s side, including Shahram and Peter Malek, principals of Millennium Development Corp. Djafarian attended Collingwood School in West Vancouver, then McGill University for a bachelor of arts and sciences specializing in biomedical sciences, before returning to the U.K. to complete a master of science in technology entrepreneurship at University College London in 2012.

Back in Vancouver, Djafarian became an associate at Vanedge Capital Partners Ltd. and met a group of scientists and investors involved in a UBC research project that needed commercialization. He joined Creatus Biosciences in 2015 as director of business operations, becoming president and a board member the following year.

The Bottom Line: Creatus Biosciences is a biotechnology company that has genetically engineered a new species of micro-organism to produce compounds from xylose sugars with applications in such industries as biofuels and food additives. Creatus has filed four patents in the U.S. and other countries and obtained $3 million in funding plus grants and credits.

What’s the best advice you ever received?
Listen to what everyone has to say, but do what you think is right in the first place.

Your favourite book, album, song, movie or TV show is
The book I’m reading now is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari. I enjoy all kinds of music and movies and TV shows. The one we’re currently bingeing on is The Crown. I have quite an eclectic taste in music. I jump around from genre to genre from jazz to lounge-type music to mixes.

Who is your role model or mentor?
Ali Tehrani, the CEO of Zymeworks, [a Vancouver-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company]. He’s been a phenomenal mentor to me, as well as Haig Farris, who’s a brilliant entrepreneur, and Noel Hall [Creatus executive chair].

What’s your biggest regret?
I don’t have any major regrets in my career. When you’re a young entrepreneur, every deal or business interaction holds meaning as a learning experience, which then leads you to make better choices in the future.

A little-known fact about me is…
I used to play a lot of tennis. Our high school team at Collingwood were the provincial champion in tennis.