Last week on January 28th Ash and I celebrated 5 years of friendship and partnership. Ever since we met, we have been working pretty much 10 hours a say and 7 days week, except for the past few months that we finally decided to take Sundays off … well … sort of. I must say that the last 5 years have been the happiest years of my life during which Ash and I have been collaborating on the Anahita project while growing a successful software consulting business together. The following is the short story of how Ash and I met and how the Anahita project was officially born.
Facebook Developers Garage, Vancouver Film School – Photo by Rastin Mehr
Our first encounter was on January 28th 2008 at the Facebook Developers Garage event held at the Vancouver Film School. I was there as a media sponsor to support my friend who was one of the organizers of this event. I volunteered to be one the unofficial photographers; I was also looking forward to meet people who might have been interested to join an online business and technology networking company that I once co-founded back then. In other words I was forcing myself to stay away from the computer and the online world and instead meet some people face-to-face in the local events.
Ash Sanieyan presenting ClassTalk at the Facebook Developers Garage – Photo by KK+
Several companies with million dollar budgets and unimaginative concepts presented their projects that evening. For example one of them was about texting vibrations to your friends cell phones or another one about sharing pictures of your kids on facebook!!!
Amongst those projects there was one that particularly got my attention. It was called ClassTalk and developed by Ash Sanieyan the founder of Peerglobe Technology. ClassTalk was essentially a social study and learning management system inside facebook for students to form study groups and collaborate on their learning activities. Ash had also utilized some very clever methods to populate the facebook app with all the major colleges and universities in US and Canada and the recent courses that they were offering. My hackerpreneur instincts tingled that I was about to meet a brilliant hacker and software developer.
So I approached Ash after the event and little I knew that I was looking at my soon to be best friend and business partner for many years to come ahead of us. I learned that he was a proficient Ruby on Rails developer with several years of experience in mobile app development and Linux sever administration. A hacker and builder at heart who has been working for several years on his own trying to make a dent in the universe. Turned out that ClassTalk was not Ash’s first project and before that he had been working on another project of his called Oycas which was a social network for university and college students!
I told him that I have been out of the corporate world for a little over a year where I had been designing and developing enterprise eLearning software as well as my involvement with the Joomla! project as a development workgroup member. Back then the idea of Anahita has not been fully materialized yet. I resigned my position from my first and last corporate job after university, because I realized that I wasn’t making a difference in any student’s lives while developing software for an obsolete education system. I had the idea of a distributed online learning management system where all the users had the opportunity to be teachers to some and students to some. An environment where courses and programs were generated, and ranked by the community. To make that happen, I needed a social networking environment that provided user profiles, social graphing, privacy management, etc. I even had developed a working prototype as a joomla extension and I was pondering with the idea of naming it after the Persian goddess of Love, Fertility, and Knowledge: Anahita.
Also turned out that Ash has been shying away from getting out and meeting people, but at some point his fiancé had convinced him to get out and showcase his projects to other people.
Meeting at the Wave Coffeeshop after the Facebook Developers Conference
Our conversation continued until later that evening. I think after the conference we first went to the Wave coffee shop at the Hastings and Richards street in Vancouver and then headed to the Ceili’s Pub to join the rest of the attendees (or the other way around, but this detail isn’t important).
Ash and I maintained contact via facebook and met a few days later in my office in West Vancouver. The more we talked, the more we were interested in working and collaborating with each other and since then we have been working 10 hours a day and 7 days a week together for most part of the last 5 years. We first started with joining forces, portfolios, and strengthening our existing consulting companies.
Joomla Bug Camp in Yaletown, Vancouver.
We attended many local technology events and even hosted some of our own focusing on Joomla, WordPress, Adobe AIR, and RubyOnRails development. After closing some initial deals together and gathering some financial backbone, the Anahita project was officially formed several months later. Then we seriously got started to work for many days and evenings coding together …
Breakfast at Joes on Davie street after working till morning to have an Anahita releas ready
and celebrated small victories …
and celebrated small milestones …
and did more development for days and months
and celebrated more small victories and milestones again! You can stee a history of our photographs on this photo set.
So here we go: for the the past 5 years Ash and I have built a successful software consulting business in Vancouver specialized in developing custom mobile apps as well as dedicating all our minds, hearts, and resources on building the best social networking infrastructure that will change people’s lives for better called the Anahita. I must say that I’ve never had better work and intellectual chemistry with anyone but Ash. We’ve already gained a reputation for being the odd couple in Yaletown who argue a lot. That is true, we argue a lot while we remain focused on solving the problem, because that is how good ideas are refined and executed.
Here is to Ash, my best friend and business parter. We are looking forward to a lifetime of dedication, cooperation, and developing great projects.
My last advice to those hackers who avoid real-life interactions, it pays off to get out of your caves from time to time and meet people. You never know, but this could lead to a life changing experience for you.