2013 Emerging EOY: Shahrzad Rafati

Shahrzad Rafati, BroadbandTV | BCBusiness

Congratulations to Shahrzad Rafati, CEO of BroadbandTV Corp., the 2013 Pacific Region Emerging Entrepreneurs of the Year

Iran, where access to the Internet is rationed, social media is limited and television is highly controlled, would seem an unlikely breeding ground for an online-video mogul. Yet Shahrzad Rafati, 33, who immigrated to Canada at the age of 18 to study computer science at UBC, credits precisely that upbringing for enabling her to understand the power of online content.

The founder and CEO of BroadbandTV Corp.—which topped BCBusiness’s 2012 list of most innovative companies—explains how an outsider’s perspective allowed her to understand the sheer breadth and potential of Internet video. “When I first moved to Vancouver I was quite fascinated with the amount of content and, specifically, the variety of content,” she recalls. “But then I realized that it’s also challenging for people to find good programming.”

The business model behind BroadbandTV, which launched in 2007, is ingenious in its simplicity: using a proprietary search algorithm, BroadbandTV scours YouTube for fan-uploaded videos that might violate copyright law. It then links the uploader to the IP holder, secures ads for the content and splits the revenue between them—while taking a cut. The company also licenses content from independent creators, monetizes it and distributes it through its consumer portals, VISO and TGN.

“We were the peacemaker between large media companies and the fans,” boasts Rafati. “My drive is to create jobs and allow independent content creators to create what they’re passionate about while making money.”

Today, BroadbandTV has 100 full-time staff along with 70 consultants across the globe—and then there’s the thousands of content producers upon whom Rafati built her company.

Six Questions

The person I learned the most from was Steve Jobs. He changed the world forever–and he did it by creating products that delighted people.

I knew my business was a success when I could see how our business positively impacted the lives of our customers.

I get my best ideas when I interact with our team; our brainstorming sessions are epic.

People tell me the phrase I most overuse is “It would be amazing if you could…”

The most underrated traits of an entrepreneur are drive and a good attitude. With them, anything can be accomplished.

If I weren’t doing this I’d still be doing something to create jobs; that’s what drives me every day.