This week, I interviewed Sara Ahmadian, CEO and Co-founder of Seamless Planet – a business-to-business organization that brings global distribution to independent travel companies. Seamless planet connects hundreds of thousands independent travel companies around the world by connecting them with online travel agencies and marketplaces such as Expedia, Orbitz and Airbnb.
We went in depth on what it’s like to be a tech entrepreneur and Sara also shared some important insights on starting a business and studying science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Sara always wanted to be an entrepreneur. After she accumulated enough experience and connections, Sara decided to start Seamless Planet:
“I called a couple of my really good friends, mostly engineers and business people. Fortunately, most of them said yes and we started a business.”
As the CEO of a start-up company, Sara’s role involves raising money, hiring and managing people, ensuring all employees are happy and finally making sure Seamless Planet continues to reach important milestones – such as raising $800,000 to expand software development capabilities and reaching over 35 million bookings by 2016.
In addition, Sara and her company like to give back to the community by participating in two to three non-profit initiatives per year. Their most recent involvement was in Peru, where Seamless Planet teamed up with Digital Democracy – an organization focused on using technology in marginalized communities to help defend human rights. Together they helped to record data about logging, oil drilling and other activities negatively affecting their rainforest.
When asked about the biggest contributor to her success, here is what Sara had to say:
“It was the Internet. I know that sounds like a funny answer but honestly, everything that you want to learn is on the Internet for free. If you want to learn how to code you can learn it online for free. If you want to learn all the basics of computer science or business, it is there as well. The Internet is what I always recommend to people when they want to learn something new. Google is a big contributor to everyone’s success.”
Finally, I asked Sara if she had advice for anyone who may be interested in becoming a tech entrepreneur:
“A lot of people want to start a business, which is great. But you have to know that it’s very challenging as well. I know some people who lost $200,000 to $300,000 when they first launched their company. It’s tough, you have to know the challenges and be ready. The risk is very high, but the reward is even higher. If you are a risk taker, you should definitely go for it.”
For the girls that may be hesitant about building a career in computer science, Sara says it is a challenge, but there are also a lot of advantages, such as working from home and having more flexibility to travel and do fun things.
“It can be challenging because it still is, unfortunately, a male-dominated environment but if you can do that, then you can do anything. “You shouldn’t force yourself into computer sciences if you don’t want to. But you should at least try. It’s a great career.”
- Learn more about Seamless Planet and their non-profit initiatives
- Read Sara’s ‘Meet the Pros’ profile
- Learn more about education pathways to a career in tech entrepreneurship