Written by David Silverberg
Speaking to Audacious Futures founder and CEO, I can tell Hamoon Ekhtiari is excited about launching his new company. He speaks quickly about everything they want to build, which may sound ambitious (dare I say, audacious?) but he displays a confidence and a strategic roadmap that is hard to ignore.
Debuting in January 2018, Audacious Futures is difficult to define and Ekhtiari prefers the descriptor: “A start-up for powering audacious people and ideas re-imagining the future of what's possible.” They will work with clients, from small startups to larger firms, to get them “future-ready” for what’s ahead on their business outlook.
“Our core belief is that way to solve problems today is not going to be way we solve problems 100 years from now,” Ekhtiari says. “We have to fundamentally change how we look at the future and build for it.”
For Audacious clients, that means leaning into the major shifts in big-buzz innovations such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and even more complex subjects such as blockchain. “We want companies to think ‘What does AI mean for our workers? Or for society at large?’”
Ekhtiari goes on to say, “Our purpose is to inspire, instigate, and incubate the thinking, people, and ideas needed to build radically better futures,” and Audacious intends to focus on three key areas: Media, such as helping business leaders fine-tune their public speaking and media-interview performances; Advisory, which looks at working with boards and executives to accelerate their top innovation priorities; and Ventures, which intends to incubate new ideas and build them from the ground-up with various partners.
Among the major projects the 24-staff Audacious Futures has set its sights to launch is the University of the Future. It aims to “re-imagine higher education from the ground up for the new world or work and learning,” Ekhtiari notes. “The focus is on developing a debt-free, degree-free, lecture-free, AI-powered model of higher education drawing on global research and in partnership with leading employers.”
Also on the Audacious plate is the Technology x Humanity Prize, which seeks to encourage youth from around the world “to leverage 10 emerging technologies to solve 20 of humanity's grand challenges (poverty, health, education, etc) in their communities,” Ekhtiari says.
He’s bringing managerial and consultancy experience to Audacious, having worked at Telus as a director of strategy and innovation, a consultant at Deloitte, and two years at startup incubator MaRS Discovery District.
Audacious Futures set up shop in Toronto due to its “depth of talent,” Ekhtiari says, “and the many experts in technologies we’re interested in, such as AI and blockchain, for example.” Because he travels frequently to work with clients or secure partnerships, Toronto’s position as a global transit hub is critical for his overseas business meetings.
When asked on what he’s always wanted to do, as an entrepreneur or otherwise, he returns to Audacious’s mission possible, as if he couldn’t resist plotting the company’s next course even before they launch their 2018 projects: “I’ve always wanted to build a global business with a presence on five continents and working on the most audacious challenges the world faces every year.”
Hmm, I guess we know what inspired the company’s name.
Photos: David Silverberg