CEO, TIO NETWORKS CORP.
Hamed Shahbazi spent 20 years building the Vancouver-based fintech startup he founded, Tio Networks, but officially went from entrepreneur to corporate employee this past summer. Silicon Valley giant Paypal Holdings Inc. bought his bill-payment-processing company for $302 million in July. Shahbazi has stepped down as Tio’s chief executive to take on two new titles: vice-president of Paypal’s bill-payment service and the general manager for Paypal Canada’s bill-payment service. Although his nameplate may change, he’ll keep running Tio as a separate unit within Paypal.
Don’t expect Shahbazi to switch off his entrepreneurial drive. He sees the deal as an opportunity to leverage Paypal’s resources and reach to turn his U.s.-centric business into a global one. “For me, the biggest part of this was impact,” Shahbazi says of the changes he anticipates. “Whether it’s the Paypal name, brand, balance sheet, network size—it just gives us a huge platform to go out there and make a bigger impact.”
Being an entrepreneur is the only work Shahbazi has really known. Days after he graduated from UBC in 1997 with a degree in civil engineering, he started the business that would become Tio. At first, his company installed Internet kiosks in shopping centres so customers could stop to browse or check their email while running errands.
Internet access was growing to become widely available, so Shahbazi pivoted around 2002 to make billpayment kiosks instead. The machines often serve people who don’t use traditional banks, letting them pay their utilities, phone and cable bills
in locations like drugstores and gas stations. Tio added mobile and web platforms to keep advancing with technology. The company has partnered with some of the biggest telecom and utility providers in the U.S., such as AT&T Inc. and Pacific Gas and Electric Co., as well as retailers like Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Tio processed more than US$7 billion worth of consumer bill payments in fiscal 2016 and serves 16 million consumer bill-pay accounts. —D.H.
WHAT DID YOUR SUMMER JOBS TEACH YOU ABOUT BUSINESS? Hustle. You see just how much you have to work to make a buck. Everything takes effort