Iman Nahvi, a driven entrepreneur, shares with LocalBini his passion for entrepreneurship and technological innovation. Iman is the CEO of Advertima, the world’s first experience management system. Advertima combines machine learning, computer vision, and big data to generate a positive and perfect customer experience. By linking the digital and real world through artificial intelligence, Advertima pursues its simultaneously social, technological, and cultural mission via technological innovation.
Could you begin by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I was born in Tehran, the capital of Iran. When I was nine years old, I moved to Switzerland where I learned German and attended high school. Then, after I finished high school in 2006, I ventured to Canada for 6 months before returning to Switzerland to work in Migros Bank. Meanwhile, I was completing my bachelor in Banking and Finance. After that, I founded 2 companies in St Gallen. The first company was a Taxi company which was sustainable both ecologically and socially. The company is still operating today and I still work there 2-3 hours a week, mainly on strategy. The other company I founded was a web agency. But, after 2 years I stopped working on it because I realised that web projects were not where my passion truly lay. I then studied Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Gallen and became a start-up coach at Startfelt for 2 years. During this time, I worked on about 4 or 5 different start-up ideas, one of which was Advertima. Advertima was the one that stuck; it is currently working successfully.
Can you please share your passion with us?
My passion is Entrepreneurship; it’s what I’m best at. I find it fun, and it’s what I love doing.
So, would you say you fulfill your passion for a living?
Yes, definitely. Even though I used to work in a bank and know that I could have been making more money, at the end of the day, it all comes down to passion. I enjoy what I do; I love being an entrepreneur. It’s a lot of work – I work around 80 hours a week – and I’m still loving it.
How did you manage to make a career out of your passion?
Whilst I was working at the bank during my studies, my job was to do the diligence of companies who wanted credit from the bank. I was always talking to entrepreneurs and, after 3 years, I knew that what I really wanted was not to be on the bank’s side but on the entrepreneurs’.
Can you tell me a little bit about Advertima?
The goal of Advertima is to create unique and personalised experiences for humans. We pursue this through the development of a software that is able to detect all of the happenings and occurrences in the real world and process them like a human. To get a computer to do that, you first have to teach it to see, to hear, and to understand what’s happening around it. The Advertima Engine is able to detect people’s age, gender, mood, motion, behaviour, and even fashion style. You must make the computer able to understand what is happening so that it can react to it. Potential customers and clients would be shopping centres that want to offer immersive experiences to their visitors, advertisement companies that want to do engaging advertisements, or robotic companies that want their robots to be reactive to the real world.
Why did you choose to go into artificial intelligence?
If you want to build a start-up you have to ask yourself what it is you are really after. I wanted to do something new and innovative. There are two kinds of innovation: business model innovation and technological innovation. If you see statistics about start-ups, around 90% of all start-ups are doing business model innovation. Business model innovation doesn’t necessarily involve technological innovation. It is just about selling the product differently or bringing it to the market in a new way. But the product is more or less the same. Technological innovation, though, is something that is really new. And which I consider to be far more interesting. In my opinion, artificial intelligence is the future. So when we were building our start-up, we were trying to think of a strategy that involves artificial intelligence. This way, in 2-3 years we could present real technological innovation based on artificial intelligence.
How do you define success and how do you measure up to it your own definition of it?
I believe that success is something subjective. The definition, in my mind, should not come from society. It is up to you to determine what you want to achieve and what your goals are. That is how you can assess if you are successful or not. My goal is to make Advertima successful and bring the product internationally and globally to the market. This is the success I’m striving for.
What tips would you give to someone trying to live their passion to the fullest?
First of all, you have to determine what your passion is. I know a lot of people who don’t take the time to discover what they are passionate about. They live the life that society tells them to live. The first step is to find your passion. And the second step is to just do it. That sounds like Nike; it’s something people often hear but dismiss it as just words. The truth is, the majority of people do not “just do it”.
Would you say that travelling is one of your passions?
Yes, definitely. One of my goals in my life is to see the most beautiful places on earth. Currently, being an entrepreneur takes up a lot of my time. So, I don’t really have the time to travel as much as I’d like too. But, one of my plans for the next 10 years is to travel around the world. If I have the chance, I would like to take a six-month break to travel around the world with my fiancée.
What do you enjoy the most about travelling?
When I have time off, I don’t usually travel because I need that time to chill and relax. But when I do travel, I take advantage of the opportunity to really explore new destinations. I am always searching for something new to explore, and never go back to the same place twice. That is why I am so passionate about travelling. If I just wanted to go on holiday to chill, I would go 100km from here to Austria. But to me, that’s not really travelling. Travelling involves planning and going on adventures.
At LocalBini, we believe that the people you meet are what you remember the most, they are ones that can turn your trip into a memorable experience. Who are the people that have had the greatest impact on you during your travels?
I have met a lot of people throughout my travels and career. Especially during the 6-months I was living in Vancouver, Canada, I met a lot of inspiring people. In fact, I meet a lot of inspiring people wherever I go. One of the best parts of exploring new, beautiful locations is the culture, and people are part of the culture. So in a way, travelling is in itself inspirational.