FOUNDER A ND C EO, BROADBANDT V CORP.
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