Ali Parandeh Zandpour
Founder & CEO Urbytus
Regional Chair at FIBRE
Board Advisor at Konssult
What means entrepreneurship to you? What makes one a good entrepreneur?
To be honest, I have never tried to give it too much importance. Due to certain circumstances and work permits, I have never been employed as such. I have been an entrepreneur all my life. However, the difference often comes down to two words: Passion & Vision. To be an entrepreneur you very often start off as being passionate about what you are going to do. It is this passion that will give you the energy to work endless hours for no pay, to create from nothing and to nurture a venture that will probably consume a huge part of your life. To succeed in this, you need vision. You need to believe in where you are going and you need to be tough to push through the adversities. The vision is what separates those who leave the trail halfway, give up and abandon after those first few setbacks.
As an entrepreneur, have you had any ‘mentors? Or have had any persons in particular who’s advice you will always remember?
I had a few mentors and advisors, including a coach. My father’s advice “Go for it and don’t be afraid” and another one who said, “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel”. It is difficult to say to which advise you should always listen to. Advice is based mostly on past experience. I part listened to my father and I trod with care while I should have slammed the accelerator. On the other hand, I did disregard the advice of the second person and thank god I did. Since then Software as a Service has only grown and the trend is now well clear for all investors.
To what do you attribute your business success?
I would have liked for Urbytus to have achieved more for me to call it a success. However, if I were to compare it to all my other competitors who have failed then I have been successful in monetizing this particular software and selling what most people thought it would be impossible to sell. I had to change many things along the way, but mostly what made it work was that I was flexible in trying different monetization, prices plus I pushed ahead with developments when the market was stagnant and finally, when it was just about to pick up, I hired a salesman to push sales.
You are also responsible for hiring employees, What do you look for in an employee?
The most important thing to us is that they fit into our corporate culture!
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Passion is what I looked for in employees. If they had no passion or desire to work, then their interest would have been only finding a job to make ends meet. I always emphasized that we are a family, we spend more time at work than at home and how important it was to protect the business that feeds you while remembering your work family was there for you too. While 90% of my workforce was fine, there is always the case of who takes advantage of what you give. Overall a startup’s success dependent on the team, that’s your employees, colleagues or co-founders. Look for the expertise and look for passion.
ABOUT SCALING UP URBYTUS
Where did you get your business idea or concept from?
I was the first user of my own product. It was out of need. I created something that I could see benefiting me, the people who would use it and I already knew lots of other people in my position. The numbers were a no brainer.
What achievements are you most proud of? And what were the main challenges when growing?
Nailing the right pricing model was the most challenging part of our work. To get over that barrier it took several years for customers to feel happy about our pricing model or at least not to object on pricing. The next biggest challenge that we still face, is the hidden and changing face of our client. The presidents of HOAs change every number of years and there is no public directory of these clients. We have to reach them indirectly through management companies and advertising campaigns that are somewhat time-consuming and challenging.
We saw you have a very international team. And talking about internationality, what countries would you like to expand your business? And why?
We would have loved to be in Holland earlier. One of the co-founding members who left is Dutch and we entered the Dutch market a few years too late. The UK would have been great to enter and South America looks a possibility.
Does your company help the local community?
We have held numerous free events for community presidents and we started an initiative called “The Presidents Club” bringing in expert panels to answer questions etc. Additionally we got involved in writing a book “The Presidents handbook” which unfortunately has been met with some obstacles that will probably delay publication.
What is the future prospect for Urbytus?
We hope to move on further creating a communication and transparency platform for Community Management companies and Home Owners Associations. We have always pioneered in this sector using existing services that others have simply ignored. Currently, we are implementing blockchain services in our platform to improve transparency while other competitors still have not bothered looking into this technology and its advantages for the sector.
What quote or things inspire and/or motivate you to get out of bed in the morning?
My own quote “Heaven is life on earth”. We live in heaven and many times we forget the beautiful place we live in.
What’s the best music you have ever listened to?
Too many, I am a Pink Floyd fan, but I love all the 60 to mid-80s.
What are you doing in your spare time and weekends?
Currently a lot of refurbishing our newly purchased country house, but otherwise I would be reading or running /skiing/rollerblading.