Meet the 30X30: ApplyBoard is Diversifying Campuses Across Canada Through Technology
Our sixth annual Bay Street Bull 30X30 guide showcases a group of incredible individuals who are redefining the way we do business, championing their communities, and cultivating entirely new industries. From tech and environmental pioneers to cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and media trailblazers, each of this year’s inductees is challenging Canadians to think (and work) differently for a brighter future.
In our series of one-on-one interviews, get to know each honouree a little better: their values, mission, lessons learned, and best advice.
Meti Basiri and Massi Basiri
What is your elevator pitch to the world?
ApplyBoard strives to educate the world by enabling access to educational opportunities for millions of students around the world. We do this by streamlining the search, application, and acceptance process for international education by connecting students with the right country, institution, and program.
What excites you most about the work that you are doing?
Meti Basiri: The positive impact we are having serving all of our key stakeholders most excites us about the work ApplyBoard is doing every day. Thousands of students are achieving their dreams of studying abroad, institutions around the world are benefitting from a new and diverse range of students in more than 125 countries, and we are helping support thousands of small business owners thrive and better serve their students.
Where do you think you have made the most impact in your industry and/or community?
Massi Basiri: ApplyBoard has been able to enable access by making the process simpler and more user-friendly that also is producing better results. The biggest impact on the sector has been shifting a decades-old system that wasn’t connected and implementing a better way to access an international education. We know that the ApplyBoard platform has helped tens of thousands of students.
Why has there never been a better time than now for a company like yours to come to fruition?
Meti Basiri: ApplyBoard had already been helping lead a transition for the international student recruitment sector to more innovative and accessible platforms for the benefit of students and institutions. The traditional, costly, and complex process was being transformed, but like so many sectors COVID-19 accelerated this change and as the sector leader, ApplyBoard was there to help bridge the gap between institutions and students immediately. At the same time, many of the most popular destination countries for international students (Canada, the UK, the US, and Australia) are going through transformational changes in demographics that impact the number of working-age residents. This makes highly skilled and sought-after international student graduates a powerful force for these countries and ApplyBoard is in the position to help students, schools, and society meet the challenges of these socio-economic changes.
What is your philosophy around problem-solving with respect to your work?
Massi Basiri: Problem-solving is a process that can be replicated across all sectors. ApplyBoard is a customer-centric enterprise dedicated to helping our key stakeholders along their journeys. In our case, our ultimate stakeholders are our students, whether they apply directly through our platform themselves or through a supporting recruitment partner in their home country.
We approach any problem-solving situation by first asking: what is best for the student? We continue to ask a series of clarification questions, such as, will this lower a barrier for them, or will this save them time or money? From there, our solutions become more clear and more concise.
What excites you most about the future?
Meti Basiri: We foresee the international student sector will continue to grow and mature over the next decade. Digital adoption, the democratization of learning resources, and increased importance of global networks will steer the sector into new possibilities to help students reach their learning and education goals.
What excites us about the future of international education is that we are already seeing these seismic shifts happening and even being accelerated in recent years. More students are seeking an international experience, schools around the world are shifting how they support international students, and there are a series of positive disruptions that edtech companies like ApplyBoard are building. At the end of the day, increased access to education generation after generation creates a flywheel of growth and economic development. More education brings more opportunities for the student and society, and adding the element of international education inside the formula, it will bring our global community closer together.
How has the word “impact” manifested in your work?
Massi Basiri: May 2022 marks ApplyBoard’s seven-year anniversary as a company. To date, we’ve already reached so many amazing milestones like transforming the lives of students across the globe, helping countless recruitment partners build their businesses, and drive diversity for our partner schools. I hope that as we grow into a more mature company, ApplyBoard continues to prioritize our main focus which is to strive to help international students build a better future. This commitment is the heart of everything we do at ApplyBoard.
What is one lesson you hope people will walk away with from your work?
Meti Basiri: I hope that more people learn that small “tech for good” companies and organizations that might start off on a small scale, truly have the potential to grow into a fully-fledged business and the impact that they can produce has the potential to grow like rapid fire. We first started the ApplyBoard platform to help other students similar to us who were experiencing issues in their study abroad journey. We started the initiative to help our peers and couldn’t have imagined it to grow into the company it is today that’s helped over 300,000 students with their study abroad journeys and a team that’s over 1,500 team members strong.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur? Your biggest milestone?
Massi Basiri: A big milestone for us is every time we get a personal note or a message from a student or recruitment partner or a school that is thankful of the ApplyBoard platform. It’s a heartfelt reminder that our entire network is not only making a difference for so many students studying abroad in Canada and worldwide, but we’re also helping to diversify international student populations and support the global community of counselors to help students reach their dreams of studying abroad. Those moments truly do mean the most to us and meant so much these last couple of years in the pandemic when international students faced so many challenges.
Why does your work matter?
Meti Basiri: Education has the power to completely change the trajectory of a student’s future career and help them reach new heights in their life. Streamlining the student application process from start to finish with the power of technology simplifies the application process and enables access for countless students. It also helps create an important synergy and mutually beneficial relationship between the higher education institutions and the recruitment partners. Building a more cohesive ecosystem helps to empower and position all parties involved to reach student success.
What have you learned about yourself as you’ve built your company and raised your voice?
Massi Basiri: I have learned that our actions can make a significant difference and impact not only on student lives but across the global community and for future generations of students. My brothers and I used our unique point of view to make a difference and embraced our fresh perspective in order to start ApplyBoard. It’s important to embark on opportunities that might scare you and not let any doubt or fear stand in your way.
What is a major career goal that you have set your sights on and hope to accomplish in 2022?
Meti Basiri: It’s not particularly a career goal, but I am looking forward to having more in-person discussions, and more in-person meetings with my network, colleagues and industry professionals that I haven’t had a chance to connect with in-person due to the pandemic restrictions. Meeting face-to-face with more team members of ApplyBoard, the Kitchener-Waterloo tech community and network helps create enriching value and experiences.