The White House celebrated its first-ever “demo day” on Monday and a Montreal-based startup was there to take it all in.
Sara Ahmadian of Seamless Planet, a distribution and channel management backend system for tour companies around the world, was one of just 32 international entrepreneurs who received an invitation. According to Ahmadian, more than 1,000 entrepreneurs applied for the coveted spots. Seamless Planet was one of seven companies that graduated from FounderFuel’s Fall 2014 cohort.
The first-ever White House Demo Day brought together “entrepreneurs from all walks of life, from all across the country. And unlike a private-sector Demo Day, where entrepreneurs show off for funders, ours will ‘demo’ individual success stories, highlighting the individual journeys of a diverse set of entrepreneurs—people whose stories show exactly why we need to grow the pie to make sure there’s opportunity for everyone in our innovation economy.”
Ahmadian, an Iranian-Canadian who immigrated to Canada ten years ago, founded her startup in September 2014 with cofounder Ramin Hazegh, who has a PhD in computer aided engineering. She told MTLinTech that she got the idea while travelling the world, meeting small and medium-sized tour operators that had trouble reaching North American or western markets.
— Sara Ahmadian (@SaraAhmadian) May 10, 2015
As a result the pair created Seamless Planet. With their technology, tour operators and activity providers around the world gain access to advertisement channels and sales channels like online travel agencies, metasearch providers and daily deal sites. “We provide inventory management, scheduling and CRMA types of services, plus we help them get access to Expedia and all these different outlets,” said Ahmadian.
The cofounder called her experience meeting President Barack Obama and visiting the White House amazing. For the White House, its Demo Day was meant to build on progress the Obama administration has already taken in trying to empower entrepreneurs from around the world to launch and scale innovative companies. Ahmadian, once herself an immigrant to Canada, said Obama wanted to build a group of entrepreneurs to help people around the world, and in the US, for educational purposes as well as helping other people to start their entrepreneurial path.
— Sara Ahmadian (@SaraAhmadian) May 11, 2015
— Steve Case (@SteveCase) May 11, 2015
The entrepreneurs had to pay their own way to Washington. However, the day did come with a few nice perks. Several investors were also present and talking with entrepreneurs, including those from the popular television show Shark Tank. Steve Case, cofounder of AOL and now chairman of the Case Foundation and Revolution, was another high-profile investor present.
Ahmadian said the day was special, given the amount of touching stories that the other entrepreneurs from around the world shared. Obama told the entrepreneurs how they could be the ones to help solve world problems like violence and inequality through education and entrepreneurship.
“I’m really happy to be part of this community of entrepreneurs from around the world to help Obama achieve this goal,” said Ahmadian.
As for the Montreal entrepreneur’s thoughts on the president himself, Ahmadian noted that when Obama speaks to someone in person, “it’s very powerful.” She noted that it’s not like watching him on television. He’s hyper-focused on providing education to the world’s masses, said Ahmadian, something she personally values.
“He’s different from other presidents. This is the first time that the White House is supporting entrepreneurs and he’s the first president supporting this. Hopefully after him the next president will do the same, but that’s huge. what he believes is that by bonding other countries we can bring entrepreneurship and education together. That’s what I want to do too and I really appreciated that he’s thinking about that.”