Ali Esmaeili is the proud CTO of MAPEECO, an online democratic economic data mapping tool, but this personal success didn’t come easy! From his struggle to make it in Canada to his involvement in favor of women’s presence in IT, Ali is sharing it all with the Community. Hope you’ll enjoy learning from his experience and won’t hesitate to connect with him on Beeleev.com!
- Hi Ali and thank you for agreeing to this interview! Can you tell us about your backstory and MAPEECO’s?
After my Master degree at Victoria University, I was having a hard time looking for a job as a Junior Software Engineer. Because I have no experience working in Canada, I applied for several jobs and was rejected times after times. When going to meet-ups to find somebody who can help me out there, I met this amazing woman who is now the CEO of MAPEECO. She had an idea but didn’t know how to implement it. That’s when I actually joined the team. At first, I thought it was just a one-time thing, where I design the software or website and get paid at the end but, after working further with them, I really enjoyed it. Later, as we had a bigger project, I was invited to become part of the company.
The idea of MAPEECO, which is now 1.5 years old, was in the process of market validation at the time. I wasn’t a part of it so, at first, I was skeptical. But then I noticed everybody was, to some extent, working on several things at the same time and realized MAPEECO is something that’s worth spending time on. So: yes, even though I joined later in the process (right now it has been 4 months), I love it!
- What is unique about MAPEECO’s service?
MAPEECO helps businesses decide where they should go or relocate to gain revenue. This decision making process is not only time–consuming but also difficult to make. Traditionally, businesses rely on local development agencies or somebody with local contacts. Then, they get in touch, ask questions and make the choice. The whole process takes a lot of time, so we provide the data which will facilitate the procedure. Based on our Big Data set, we have provided end consumers right-on-spot assessments on where they should go or relocate in order to maximize their profit.
- What are the informations you are providing customers?
Each customer will have his own sets of criteria. For example, you want to go to places that have condition number 1 or does not have condition number 2. We will extract the data set that fits your criteria most to ease you in the decision making process. The most important information will be provided based on what you are looking for.
- What is the biggest lesson you learnt when launching MAPEECO?
I should have been more direct and say “no” more. I try to help others and pay it forward, therefore, I almost always say “yes”. When putting my own priority aside, I end up with too many tasks on hand. The thing is, business is not only about process and making money, the relationships you maintain with your collaborators are also very important. What I learnt is how to draw the line between my own priorities and my wish to give a helping hand.
- How did you, in practice, tackle this issue?
We use a set of tools available online to manage our projects. The tools help us allocate task to individuals of the team, track the progress, set due dates and all. With that, we can call the shots and ensure everybody is on the same page.
- Let’s speak more about you. I notice you are an advocate for Women in Tech, what motivated you to take this stand?
As you already knew, I had a hard time seeking for a job in tech without job experience. It was hard to convince people that I am at the top of my game. I was therefore part of a minority of graduates with no experience, who need a shot too. The same goes for women: they only represent 9 – 10% in the tech world. I’m a minority, they’re minorities. So, it goes like this: I can understand where women are coming from and I can share their stories with women and men in the tech world.
It’s unfortunate that women don’t have the opportunity to shine in tech but in fact, I’m positive that the tech world is getting more and more gender neutral. There’s this women initiative that I think you should follow: “Women in Tech Week”. They started their campaign, which includes touring around the country and talking about issues of women in tech. Get updated on their web pages!
- What advice do you have for people who want to start a technology business in Canada?
The thing is that Canada is a very conservative country. People are less willing to spend money no matter how great your product is. A friend of mine who works in banking, which is much more problematic, actually found her first customers abroad. She gained lots of attraction in Australia. That’s when banks in Canada started considering her product.
So, yeah… the country is very conservative. If your product doesn’t sell, find customers elsewhere to gain the attraction it deserves before going back to Canada. People will then be more inclined to buy it.
Thank you very much Ali!