YEDaily: Amir Sahba

Over the course of few short months, Amir Sahba’s company Thinkingbox became an international digital house and continues to grow, while consistently implementing impressive and effective interactive mobile apps for all of their clients in today’s YEDaily…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Thinkingbox is an interactive studio that specializes in touch, gesture, GPS-based, and 2-way communication. Our primary objective is to bridge the gap between the brand and the consumer by involving the consumer in a provocative yet educational way. We provide touch interactive media to the advertising industry. In other words, we provide media that allows the consumer to touch, feel, and interact with any brand within their personal space.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
We started our business because the traditional media in the past few years have been mainly focused on 1-way communication where the brand speaks to the consumer but the consumer isn’t capable of speaking back. We wanted to provide opportunities for brands to measure their impact based on accurate metrics of people that they are speaking to while allowing the consumer to respond in a meaningful way. Coming from a creative industry, I saw great need that was required by creative houses to have a true digital studio that could serve them not only with development but also with the latest technology available.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Having 3 offices, the best part is traveling between them — I always feel like I’m traveling without having to take a vacation. The challenges vary with each day, from taking the garbage out to making sure the projects are running smoothly. I help whoever needs my help in our team.

The biggest challenge for us is how fast we have grown. While our rapid growth has ultimately been a good thing, it has been both a challenging and rewarding aspect. When we started, we imagined having 5-8 staff and one office — so there has been a lot of learning curves for me in every aspect of running a business, from management to monitoring cash flow. But at the end of the day I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love every challenge that comes my way and honestly, sometimes I even look forward to them.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
The hope is that there is continued exponential growth and that we can start tapping into more markets and become more of an international entity. We have grown quite fast in the past 2 years, so one of the challenges is not only in stabilizing what we have achieved so far but by continuing that momentum. Specifically, we would like to open offices in Montreal and New York City. Another goal we have for 2012 is to have a full production team in Toronto, similar to our production team in Vancouver. Also, one of those cool Tassimo machines in each office would be awesome!

What does success look like to you?
Since my dream of taking over the world hasn’t exactly worked out yet, my aim is in creating an environment where every team member looks forward to getting up on Monday mornings, excited to come to the studio, and being disappointed by how quickly the weekdays fly by!

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Being able to extend our reach to Toronto and realizing that the team that was built in Vancouver is self-sustaining. Two weeks ago, in a staff meeting, we realized that 80% of our staff have been with us for over a year. Considering most of them were hired a year ago, it shows that we are a company that not only sustains itself but has created an environment that employees want to stay in and are happy. Just like in kindergarten!! We’re still a young company, however, and I am optimistic that the best is yet to come.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Nothing worth having comes easily. Never act like a boss. Starting a team that loves you is one of the most important things for a start-up. If your most junior team member is willing to not go home at 8 at night and hang out with the team talking about a project, new technology, or even girls, then you have a winning formula. So surround yourself with greatness and it will rub off.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
The Children’s Hospital in Vancouver (BC Children’s Hospital) — because at the end of the day, we’re all just a bunch of kids at heart.

What is Notable to you?
If you can laugh at yourself. It’s important to take life and your work seriously but at the end of the day, you also have to be able to have a sense of humour about it all.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
This is a political question for me. A part of our service is developing apps for all platforms of smart phones. Therefore, I can’t come across as having a favourite. However, I do have two phones on me at all times; an east coast number and a west coast one. Despite these facts, people say I’m a hardcore Apple fan. Surprise! Surprise!

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Red Bull! And our team!