A Startup’s Journey: Getting to Know the Entrepreneur Aydin Mirzaee
As we continue to celebrate the lives of entrepreneurs in our community for Global Entrepreneurship Week, we want to share the knowledge we gained when sitting down with Aydin Mirzaee, CEO and Co-Founder of Fellow.app.
This Ottawa entrepreneur found his start through the online form-building software company Fluidware but is now better known as Founding Fellow of Fellow.app – the managers co-pilot tool. An app built to help managers and their teams work better together.
We wanted to know how Aydin began his journey, and what it took to build his success.
This is what he said.
Where it all began
The life of an entrepreneur is never guaranteed, yet when talking with Aydin it was clear that he was destined to be one of Ottawa’s brightest from day one. Not only did he dream of being an entrepreneur from an early age, he and his brother Amin Mirzaee were, in fact, obsessed with it.
Starting his first business at the age of 13, Aydin had his first taste of what would become a life-long journey of entrepreneurship. Now, some may not think shovelling snow would be the spark needed to ignite a passion for innovation, but to the Mirzaee brothers it was proof that their hard work and determination would pay off.
Driven by the unchartered
This was only the start. From day trading to website development to activating his first email account, the itch for innovation was present from a young age.
In fact, the more a topic or industry was unknown, the happier he became. It was almost an internal driver of innovation, to detect and develop a pathway to success through creation. Aydin was determined to build his own path.
Mission from the outset
There is a certain level of unpredictability that leads one down an infinite journey of pivots. Ensuring that you have the right idea, with the right team, at the right time, is almost never a guarantee.
The key to understanding an entrepreneurs’ journey is knowing that there are is no rulebook. This uncharted territory is written differently by each founder and for some, this results in fear of failure, but to others this is an even playing field.
For Aydin, he knew he wanted to build on his knowledge, use his experience and capitalize on his skill sets. So, he launched himself back into business to business (B2B).
So how did he know when he had caught on to the right idea you may ask?
The answer to this is not simple.
His first successful company Fluidware, the online survey tool company co-founded by Aydin Mirzaee, Amin Mirzaee, Samuel Cormier-Iijima and Eli Fathi in 2008 and purchased by SurveyMonkey in 2014, was a telling story of catching the right idea through iterations. The tool did not begin as online surveys but rather went through an iterative process. Each version grew in value and fueled his passion to succeed.
Following the journey is half the battle.
You see, understanding the journey of Fluidware was an instrumental lesson for Aydin and very instructive in the creation of Fellow.app. This ability to learn from and build upon his ideas influenced him so much so, that he believed that whatever he would come up with for Fellow was going to be “wrong” from the start.
So how did Aydin move forward?
He talked to his target market. He listened to their pain points. He built his company around an issue that he himself had faced in the past. Fellow did not need to be a tool that everyone needed to use, but moreover a tool that stakes a claim in the industry. A tool that resonates with managers.
Fear of Failure
Failure is a part of every entrepreneurs’ journey. What is more important, is understanding how to push past this. When asking Aydin about his biggest learnings from his entrepreneurial journey, it was simple.
Learn from your customers.
By focusing on a space that he was passionate about and using his skill set to develop a good product, his customers helped shape it into what it needed to be.
You must be smart enough to observe the key to change and Aydin never let the fear of failure hold him back from that.
What made it worth while
We asked Aydin now what he considers to be his biggest success throughout his journey through entrepreneurship, and his answer was twofold.
First, it is seeing the success of your product. Being able to deliver a product to users that they consider to be valuable in their daily lives is something that cannot be measured. He has had customers reach out to him personally, letting him know that Fellow.app has changed the game in how they organize information, and for Aydin hearing about that satisfaction is everything.
Second, was watching the success and growth of his company. Being an entrepreneur means starting your organization from nothing but an idea. So, when the organization begins to thrive on its own, with no help from him, there is nothing more satisfying.
For Aydin, he gets to live both realities’ with Fellow.app. A company where he has surrounded himself with a team of highly desired and talented individuals that are writing the playbook each and everyday.
Fellow is an Ottawa-based SaaS company building a manager’s co-pilot. The tool helps managers and their teams have more effective one-on-one meetings, exchange feedback, set team priorities, and more! You can try it for free at www.fellow.app.
A sincere thank you goes out to Aydin Mirzaee, founder of Fellow.app, for taking the time to speak with us at LaBarge Weinstein LLP for this piece.