Shahrzad Rafati

BC Business Magazine - - Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018 -


Shahrzad Rafati has long been tak­ing big risks to chase her even big­ger am­bi­tions. The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Van­cou­ver­based Broad­bandtv (BBTV) was born and raised in Iran, but she wanted bet­ter op­por­tu­ni­ties for her­self after high school. So she em­i­grated at age 17 to study com­puter sci­ence at UBC, de­spite hav­ing no fam­ily in the city and speak­ing lit­tle English.

Rafati grad­u­ated with her de­gree in 2005, the year Youtube first ap­peared on­line. She saw that dig­i­tal video was about to rev­o­lu­tion­ize the me­dia land­scape, so she started her com­pany to seize the emerg­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. “I wanted BBTV to be a pi­o­neer in ad­vanc­ing and redefin­ing en­ter­tain­ment as we know it,” she says.

Rafati dis­cov­ered a big new prob­lem to solve: fans were mak­ing and up­load­ing videos that con­tained un­li­censed, copy­righted con­tent. She found an in­ge­nious way to bridge these con­tent cre­ators and IP hold­ers, help­ing ev­ery­one to ben­e­fit. Her com­pany’s search al­go­rithm pores through Youtube videos to find po­ten­tial copy­right vi­o­la­tors. It links the up­loader with the rights holder, finds ad­ver­tis­ing for the con­tent and di­vides the rev­enue be­tween them.

The dig­i­tal me­dia in­dus­try con­tin­ues to re­make it­self and ev­ery­thing it touches. Global dig­i­tal ad spend­ing sur­passed TV ad­ver­tis­ing for the first time in 2017. Like­wise, BBTV con­tin­ues to evolve and ex­pand its reach, help­ing to drive the in­dus­try’s trans­for­ma­tion. The com­pany keeps adding new tools and ser­vices to help con­tent cre­ators source mu­sic and video footage, grow their au­di­ences, man­age so­cial me­dia chan­nels, in­crease their rev­enue and op­ti­mize dis­tri­bu­tion. It has part­nered with a grow­ing ros­ter of large en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing the Fre­mantle­me­dia Group, the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion and Sony Pic­tures En­ter­tain­ment.

BBTV at­tracts more than 34 bil­lion view­ers per month and is the third-largest video prop­erty in the world in terms of unique view­ers, trail­ing only Google and Face­book, ac­cord­ing to U.S. mar­ket­ing an­a­lyt­ics com­pany com­score. Rafati is quick to point out that BBTV op­er­ates on a quadru­ple bot­tom line. “We don’t just mea­sure suc­cess based on fi­nan­cial per­for­mance,” she says. “We also mea­sure suc­cess based on em­ployee and cul­ture KPIS, en­vi­ron­men­tal KPIS and so­cial KPIS.” As of April this year, BBTV erased its gen­der pay gap. Forty-six per­cent of its man­agers and 43 per­cent of its em­ploy­ees are fe­male. —D.H.

How would you de­scribe your lead­er­ship style? My per­sonal style is to be firm but fair, and I al­ways en­cour­age my team to go after large pools of op­por­tu­ni­ties. Be­cause at the end of the day, I don't be­lieve in solv­ing small prob­lems

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