Martin Basiri: Challenges and Triumphs – A Tale of a Tech Entrepreneur

portrait of Martin Basiri
Martin Basiri is the Co-Founder of ApplyBoard and CEO of Passage, and in this episode talks about his humble beginnings in Iran to founding one of Canada's tech success stories. Martin opens up about the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship, discussing the grit, vision, and perseverance needed to transform personal adversity into a globally recognized educational platform. Through tales of overcoming cultural barriers, mastering new skills, and navigating the complexities of the tech startup ecosystem, Martin's story is a testament to the power of relentless ambition and innovation. Whether you're an aspiring entrepreneur or simply interested in the stories behind tech innovators, this episode offers a candid look into the highs and lows of building something from the ground up.

5 Key Strategies:

  1. Embrace Hard Work: Martin highlights the necessity of putting in significantly more effort than anticipated to achieve your desired outcomes.
  2. Never Stop Learning: Martin’s journey involved constantly acquiring new skills, from electronics to programming, and later adapting to a new culture and learning a new language.
  3. Navigate Adversity with Creativity: Martin’s story exemplifies using creative solutions to overcome obstacles, such as building his own tools and solutions due to sanctions in Iran.
  4. Value Progress over Perfection: The focus on continuous improvement and celebrating progress keeps the entrepreneurial spirit alive, especially during tough times.
  5. Stay True to Your Mission: Martin’s passion for making education accessible drives his work, underscoring the importance of having a clear, meaningful mission that aligns with your values.


Show Notes

[00:00:48] Martin Basiri shares his background, growing up in Iran in a middle-class family and the early lessons of hard work and self-reliance learned from his parents and personal experiences.

[00:02:52] The entrepreneurial spirit was kindled early as Martin talks about his ventures into repairing electronics and his first sale of a self-designed circuit at age 10.

[00:04:27] Overcoming adversity, including the loss of a brother and the daily challenges of living in Iran, Martin emphasizes the strength gained from hardships.

[00:05:23] Martin’s journey into programming begins with inspiration from his uncle, leading him to develop a new passion for technology.

[00:06:58] Discussing the competitive education system in Iran, Martin recounts his experience with the national entrance exam and the pursuit of innovation to secure his future in engineering.

[00:08:32] The importance of persistence is highlighted through Martin’s multiple attempts and eventual success at the Khwarizmi festival, securing his place at a top university.

[00:10:00] Life at university opens new opportunities for Martin, including building custom equipment for departments and leading him to an impactful internship in Sierra Leone.

[00:12:27] The transition from Iran to Canada for his master’s degree at the University of Waterloo marks a new chapter in Martin’s life, laying the groundwork for ApplyBoard.

[00:13:51] The conversation shifts to the realities of entrepreneurship, where Martin discusses the significant effort and time investment required to achieve success.

[00:17:34] Challenges such as language barriers and issues related to nationality are discussed, highlighting the obstacles Martin faced in establishing his business.

[00:19:08] The discussion delves into work-life balance, with Martin providing insight into his philosophy on work hours and productivity.

[00:24:59] Scott and Martin debate the feasibility of building large businesses with minimal time investment, comparing different entrepreneurial philosophies.

[00:29:00] Exploring the motivations behind entrepreneurship, Martin speaks on the drive to achieve the best version of oneself and the role of passion in fueling his journey.

[00:33:28] Money as a motivator is examined, with Martin emphasizing the importance of mission over monetary gain.

[00:37:22] A discussion on the psychological aspects of entrepreneurship, including dealing with criticism and the importance of adaptability and growth.

[00:39:22] Martin talks about the significance of having a “LeBron James mindset” in entrepreneurship, aiming for continuous improvement and facing challenges head-on.

[00:42:58] On recognizing personal limits and ensuring self-care amidst the rigorous demands of startup life.

[00:46:14] The episode wraps up with reflections on the importance of persistence, the rewarding nature of overcoming adversity, and the continual pursuit of growth and improvement.