Shahrzad was born in Tehran, Iran, during the revolution.
“During this time, the content was rationed, and inequality was an everyday reality,” she explains. Shahrzad only had access to specific TV channels, limiting the media she could consume as a young girl. “I was young, but I’d already seen enough of the world to know I needed a different future,” she says. “I needed a life where I could make a difference.”
Shahrzad’s first-hand experience with inequality sparked her desire and passion to be a positive agent for change. “My favourite quote from Gandhi is, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” she says. “That’s why I moved to Canada—to access more inclusive and equal opportunity.”
At 17, Shahrzad moved to Vancouver alone with only one suitcase, no computer skills, and very little English. Her love of mathematics and technology drove her to pursue an education in computer science. “Content played a big role in my life—helping me learn the language [English] and exposing me to new cultures,” she explains. Around this time is when Shahrzad created her business model for BBTV.
BBTV is a global media and technology company that provides content creators with comprehensive, end-to-end solutions, increasing viewership and driving revenue. This allows creators to focus on their core competency, content creation. “Given my background growing up in Iran, I always knew that I wanted to build a global business and play a pivotal role in democratizing content,” says Shahrzad. “The model for the company, however, actually came to me when I first visited CES and observed the applications of digital audio pioneered by Steve Jobs through the invention of the iPod.”
Her business has grown from a small startup into a leading media tech company, operating in ten languages and 24 countries. BBTV’s mission is to advance the world by helping content creators become more successful. “We house some of the most influential creators in the world that are defining the culture of today and tomorrow,” she says. BBTV is also the fourth-largest video property worldwide after Google, with more than 600 million monthly unique viewers globally, who consume 30 billion minutes of video content every month.
BBTV’s HQ has been in downtown Vancouver since its inception in 2005. “I truly believe that there is no better city on the planet to call home and no better downtown than what we have in Vancouver,” Shahrzad exclaims. “The closeness to Stanley Park, the mountains, the ocean, and a world of incredible food and sight-seeing that is unprecedented anywhere else.”
“I’m proud to have founded and built BBTV in downtown Vancouver, especially when there was so much growth in the creator economy,” she says. “2023 will be a big year for us [BBTV]. Not just because there’s so much ahead for the business, but also because it’s set to be transformative for how people interact and engage in the digital world.” The company has also introduced their formal hybrid working model after being primarily work-from-home since the beginning of the pandemic. “It has been wonderful to see so many of BBTV’s team members in person again,” she says.
When asked about running her business thus far, there were a few moments that Shahrzad wanted to highlight. “BBTV reached an incredible milestone in October of 2020 when we launched an initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX),” she explains. The IPO made history on the TSX as one of the top ten tech listings of all time and the largest across all sectors, with a sole female founder and CEO—the first in the technology industry. “As a proud Canadian, this was a moment in our nation’s history worth celebrating and a testament to how diversity can foster a more equal and representative world while also powering a prosperous economy.” Additionally, Shahrzad is proud that BBTV has had a 0% pay gap over the past five years. “The company comprises 40% female-identifying employees and managers across the business. We are proof that you can achieve gender equality in the technology sector,” she says.
“I’m honoured to lead one of the most successful media and technology companies in the world from right here in Vancouver,” says Shahrzad. “BBTV’s achievements are a powerful testament to the hard work that our incredible team has put in over the last 18 years.”
You can learn more about BBTV here.