Shahrzad Rafati: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Broadband TV Founder and CEO Shahrzad Rafati, whose company allows content creators of all sizes become more successful online, a position afforded by being at the forefront of the YouTube revolution in 2005…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m Founder & CEO at BroadbandTV, a media technology company that helps content creators of all sizes become more successful online. We operate one of the largest entertainment networks on YouTube, we help huge media companies track and manage fan uploaded content, and we have technology solutions that really help to drive the online video industry forward. It’s a very fast moving business, no two days are ever the same and we have a fantastic team. I’m very lucky to go to work every day.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
I created the business at the start of the YouTube revolution and I could see huge opportunity in the space. At the time large media companies were struggling to figure out what to do with content that their fans were uploading online. I created the solution that created peace between media companies and their fans by allowing the content owner to manage and monetize their content without punishing the fans. We then created technology solutions that help individual creators become more successful, so we work with all types of players in the ecosystem, from major players to over 15,000 individual creators.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
I feel so fortunate to be surrounded by such a talented team; working with them and seeing how they’re helping our company grow and make a difference is incredibly rewarding.

The pace at which the market evolves is exciting, and we have to push incredibly hard to keep our partners at the forefront of innovation. We always have a lot of activity in the works and we constantly revisit it, figure out priorities and work tirelessly to make it happen. It’s generally a case of keeping lots of activity moving at the same time.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I’m good at operating without a lot of sleep!

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’m incredibly passionate about job creation. We have brand advocates working for us all around the world and I hope that throughout my future career I am able to remain focused on creating jobs.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges I faced early on with BroadbandTV was convincing premium content owners of the business model – it was a new offering and we were a very young business. I was so convinced that our business model would work that I paid our potential clients upfront. It paid off massively for us and I’m pleased that I had confidence in my early decision. 

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
I believe that if you are only focused on money you won’t truly be successful. You need to balance this with ‘doing the right thing’ and for me that’s making a positive difference. Making a difference by creating jobs, making a difference by making our partners more successful and pushing the online video industry forward.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
We’ve won a lot of awards as a business that we’re all incredibly proud of. Being named as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative people in business was a huge personal accolade and it really helped to put us on the map early on.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Remain determined, don’t be afraid to pivot and be sure to surround yourself with amazing people that can help you on your journey.  A positive mental attitude and sheer hard work are two forces that I think every entrepreneur should stick to.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
There are so many! I always think that people should try to check out the up and coming restaurants. I read about The Fat Badger, an English Gastropub that is being created by the team behind Espana.  I’ll take a look when it opens.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
I’m a big yoga fan and love to relax. I actually co-founded Chopra Yoga with D. Deepak Chopra in 2010.  If I have downtime, you’d probably find me on a yoga mat.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I love to travel, and although I’d say I’m more of a city person, I also love to go for an adventure. One place I really want to visit is Morocco. It’s on my list! 

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
Luckily, I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing! However, if I wasn’t, I’d still be looking to drive a business forward and create jobs around the world. I like big opportunities and I always try and make a positive impact.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you? 
I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and I’m a firm believer in giving back. I founded VISO Give, the first online channel that allows people to donate to charities simply by watching videos about them. We launched it a while back and we’re currently in the process of revitalizing it – we’ll have some updates later this year.  

What to you is notable?
Someone or something that makes an impact. 

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