Startup success: Pouyan Taghipour
August 29, 2019
The 34-year-old Iranian immigrant taught himself to how to code, and his proficiency with coding has helped his venue-management startup, Event Temple, expand revenue by 350% over the past few years.
The company’s executive team expects that growth to continue so Event Temple can operate at a run rate of $10 million per year by the end of 2023.
CEO Bob Graham describes Taghipour as having a “quiet confidence” and an ability to do the unexpected.
He remembers one time recently when a large hotel client asked him about whether Event Temple’s software was capable of performing a specific task. He told them that it was not, and mentioned the request to Taghipour.
“He worked all weekend and had it out by Monday,” Graham said. “It was a pretty big feature.” The incident is typical of Taghipour’s dedication and value, he said.
Graham had not asked Taghipour to do the weekend work on the software, so he was bowled over when the work was done by Monday, he said.
He also praised Taghipour for being forward thinking enough to build flexibility into the company’s software architecture. The broad framework for the software enables future innovation without having to restructure the application’s foundation.
Software that helps organizations plan events and manage details such as catering requests has been around for decades. But what Event Temple’s software does more effectively than the competition, according to Taghipour, is to link with other applications.
Taghipour has always had a knack for technology.
He completed an undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering at Shiraz University by age 23, when he left his native Iran to explore the world. He earned a master’s degree in systems engineering at Australian National University, and he might have stayed in Australia had his family not moved to Vancouver.
He joined them and temporarily worked as a research scientist at Simon Fraser University.
The University of British Columbia’s School of Engineering then accepted him to its PhD program in 2010 and he started that degree, which focused on robotics.
On the side, he co-founded a venture called Prever, which had a product called Coinfresh, a cryptocurrency exchange platform.
Various cryptocurrencies, such as Litecoin and Deuscoin, traded on the platform, and there started to be be some investor interest.
The company was accepted to an accelerator program in the U.S., where a small amount of seed funding was available, with the promise of a larger fundraising round down the road.
Visa complications kept him in Canada, and he and his business partner decided to dissolve the business.
Taghipour also put his PhD on hold and joined legal practice management software venture Clio in late 2013, when the company had about 65 people. When he left in late 2016, Clio had expanded to about 150 people, he said.
A propitious meeting then happened when Taghipour went to a Gastown pub for a technology meet-up event and happened to meet Graham, who at the time had an agency that helped book events for entrepreneurs such as disc jockeys and photographers.
“We built the first version of the software and found a couple hundred customers quickly,” Taghipour remembered, saying that clients were found through channels such as webinars and partnerships.
The simplified early version of the software cost what he called a “cheap” $40 per month, but many clients did not see the value in the software and there was a significant churn rate.
The software advanced in complexity, and Graham and Taghipour started targeting larger businesses. They were able to increase the price considerably.
“We started focusing on venues and noticed that there was a gap in that market,” he said. “Some existing software was very old and outdated.”