Mohammad Akhlaghi credits a last-minute trip to Whistler as the turning point in his post-SFU career. After graduation and busy with a job at Atimi Software, he took a weekend break to the north-of-Vancouver ski resort, joining a group of friends for a competitive hackathon event.
The task? To create a project – in just 30 hours – that would make Whistler a better place to live.
“I had an idea about parking, so we just went for it,” says Akhlaghi, who’s team created a clever solution that received plenty of positive feedback during the event, not least from local officials. “We went for fun and we didn’t win, but the next day we received an email offering us funding. Basically, that weekend changed everything for us.”
Quitting his job the following week, Akhlaghi and his business-minded team – including fellow SFU alumni Alex Manousiadis and Milad Haji Hassan – formed Adrroit Technologies. They immediately set about refining their innovative idea into a polished product that could solve the headache-inducing parking woes of any city.
Essentially an elegant app solution that manages parking space availability for the mutual benefit of drivers and lot managers, it aims to be a one-stop-shop for any community’s parking needs. “When you leave your house, you’ll be able to see all the real-time parking available at your destination – and then pay for your spot. It takes the pain out of parking for everyone.”
According to Akhlaghi, Adrroit’s strength comes from the three-member SFU team that forged a great working relationship during their time on campus. “We knew each other for five years before we started this. And all of us know what it’s like to give 150 per cent to a project.”
It’s the same level of commitment Akhlaghi gave to his time at SFU. Majoring in Electronics Engineering and minoring in Business Administration – a handy combination for his entrepreneurial career – he threw himself into networking opportunities, including chairing the busy SFU branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
“During my time in school, I learned how to interact with people and work well in a team. And I learned just as much from my mistakes as I did from my successes,” he says.
It’s the success side of the equation that’s currently prominent. As Adrroit’s market-driven CEO, Akhlaghi says the company has signed a contract with Vancouver parking giant EasyPark and is in the process of refining and enhancing its core product.
As for the future, he says he’s unlikely to be parking his prodigious work ethic anytime soon. “Entrepreneurship is a journey. And it’s a lifestyle rather than just a job. But I feel it’s something that’s deeply ingrained in me.”