Written by Doug O’Neill
Zavosh Zaboliyan is excited to be one of the Canadian delegates attending the G20 YEA (Young Entrepreneurs Alliance) summit this May in Fukuoka, Japan, where he’ll represent Canada on the world stage with hundreds of other like-minded innovators from around the world. Futurpreneur Canada selected Zaboliyan as one of the 35 young Canadian entrepreneurs who will share their ideas on entrepreneurship, innovation and entrepreneurial education.
Zaboliyan has a lot to share: “I established my first company at age 16, and thirteen years later I’m still at it, continuing to learn from my successes and challenges in the world of innovation and entrepreneurship.” Zaboliyan is especially eager to share what he’s learned from his latest venture, Toronto-based Click Payments.
Click Payments is the payment processing platform he developed with co-founder Sina Alipour Nazari and partner Masih Mehdizadeh. The mobile app uses state-of-the-art technology to secure transactions in an encrypted chat platform. “Click connects you to the world of blockchain and mavericks, both individuals and businesses,” explains Zaboliyan. “The idea is that consumers can find local shops who accept Click, chat with them in a secure, private and encrypted setting to arrange their transactions, as well as find partners for buying, selling, exchanging, sending, receiving, or spending money – all backed by blockchain technology.”
The founders, who are longtime friends, didn’t shy away from boldly declaring their ultimate goal on their web site when they launched in 2018: “Our mission is to simplify and lower the transaction fees for all businesses.”
The impetus for Click wasn’t derived from a single conversation. Says Zaboliyan: “We’ve been friends for a long time and each of us has pursued our respective careers and interests in innovation but have always kept in touch. And, of course, the platform has evolved since our earliest discussions. We made a significant pivot at one point when formulating our business model and that’s a lesson I think all of us learned early on in our entrepreneurial careers: always be open to a change of direction.”
“We were all keenly watching the development of the cashless society and realized that other countries were handling this evolution much better than we were in Canada,” says co-founder Nazari. “The future of banking and commerce are merging together. The more we researched and brainstormed as a team, the more we envisioned an environment that could enable individuals and businesses to move money in a secure and simple way.”
Each member of the team plays to their strengths
“One of our strengths as a team is that we all have somewhat different talents and skillssets,” says Zaboliyan, who is CEO. One of his numerous ventures was Zigzag Management, an entertainment consulting and brokerage firm. Another was EkkoSpace, a digital broadcasting platform he co-founded in 2015. As a self-described “serial entrepreneur,” Zaboliyan says he’s long been driven to “solve world problems and scaling value to drive mass adoption. My mission in this case is to enable alternative finance.”
Nazari, who holds the mantle of chief operating officer (COO), is a self-professed “blockchain product visionary.” He completed his Masters of Business Administration at the Schulich School of Business – York University, where he specialized in strategic management, marketing and entrepreneurial studies. “I’ve been in the blockchain space since 2014 and have long been interested in developing an application that could enable the transfer of money over long distances. I’ve spent a lot of time evaluating, from the lenses of business and social contribution, how well the innovative applications of the blockchain technology can impact people.”
Partner Masih Mehdizadeh functions as chief technology officer, in charge of managing the product and software development. He brings to the table extensive experience helping companies build strategic products as well as helping start-ups assemble sustainable teams to effectively maintain product development
Celebrating failures along with successes
“I think it’s essential in the start-up world to celebrate your failures,” says Nazari. “That’s where you learn the most about risk-taking.” Zaboliyan concurs: “Failure teaches you how to navigate better. It was trial and error that taught me to focus on scalable solutions when tackling challenging projects, and that’s precisely what we’ve done with Click Payments.”
The co-founders credit the start-up scene in Toronto for providing them with access to advisors, stakeholders and resources in the banking and payments fields. “It’s great to connect with diverse people – but it’s important to find the right stakeholders, the right people to advise you,” says Zaboliyan. “You can’t listen to everyone. It gets too confusing. Learn to filter out those who aren’t providing valuable knowledge.”
Nazari urges aspiring entrepreneurs to always challenge themselves – especially after they’ve identified their product or innovation. “During one of my very first projects, I found myself challenging my business plan on a nightly basis before I went to sleep. I was forever asking myself, ‘Was I still on the right track? What had evolved since my original concept? Is this the best direction?’ It’s through that constant questioning, challenging your ideas – however perfectly formulated they were in the beginning – that you learn to be a better entrepreneur.”
Photo credit Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real