a little About Me
I am a strategic advisor and product-minded business executive. I specialize in companies in the immersive technologies space.
I was raised to believe everyone's purpose in life is to add value to society. I have come to realize the value I offer is nurturing the ideas and people around me. I love to help, guide and lead. I also strongly believe the bedrock to any idea or relationship is empathy.
When we empathize, we're putting ourselves in another's position, while putting aside our own assumptions about the world. This allows us to not only better understand one another's needs, but to communicate effectively, collaborate fully and lead successfully.
This includes an emphasis on empathy as compassion, where understanding another leads to a compassionate response and pro-social behaviour.
I used to think being an empath conflicted with my love for technology. I wasn't able to understand how to bring the two together without compromising the other.
That was misguided; technology is agnostic. Technology can complement empathy and as you'll come to see below, this is why I'm so passionate about immersive technologies.
I grew up on Super Nintendo: Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, Legend of Zelda, Mortal Kombat. Gaming was a huge part of my upbringing and I'd like to think it contributed to my analytical thinking and quick problem solving (just think of all those doors in Bowser's castle). More than that, it led to my interest in building websites and learning HTML at the age of 10 (anyone remember FriendPages which predates Facebook and Myspace?)
Fast forward 20 years and my love for technology has grown exponentially. Immersive technologies like virtual, augmented or mixed realities (XR) has brought together two of my greatest passions: technology and empathy. XR is a technological enabler of empathy. It creates realities both akin and completely different than our own. It has the power to create any reality, and transform anything or anyone into anything or anyone--this is beyond empathy, it is the embodiment of the other. You can read more about this on my blog or visit my XR for Social Good initiative The XR Portal.
In my current role at Niantic, my influence spans XR content, platform, and hardware, to bring to life the most engaging and most useful applications and tools for the ecosystem. Here is a proof of concept of a fun location-based AR project called GEMS I created in 2017 before I joined Niantic.
My empathetic nature has always yearned for social good, which inevitably translated to social justice. While completing my Bachelor of Commerce at Ryerson University, I took part in the pilot project of the university's first legal clinic. I was assigned an entrepreneurial client who was a single mother, student and first-time business owner. With no business or legal background, she was met with several barriers. Our pro bono services, however, enabled her to overcome those barriers and grow her business. This was the first time I realized the inaccessibility of the law, and as a consequence, the barriers to economic development.
This propelled me to become an attorney (currently licensed in the State of New York) having completed both a Common Law (JD) and a Civil Law Degree at McGill University. I desired to understand law so I could learn how to hack it and how to make it accessible to others. This is what led me to create Compass Startup & Legal Clinic. As Co-Founder & Chair of the Board, I work with an exceptional team to empower entrepreneurs via free legal and business consultation. Although the legal revolution has yet to occur, the movement has started.
My first foray into entrepreneurship was my venture Bchained. Tackling the gap between costume and fine jewelry markets while promoting gem therapy, Bchained was an e-commerce platform for hand-crafted jewelry.
Shortly after I began working at McGill University's Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship. Managing a team of 30 bright individuals, we held weekly events, hack-a-thons, and an international startup competition with a $100,000 prize. I provided thousands of mentorship hours to entrepreneurs and co-led the Lean Launchpad Incubator.
Wanting to increase my impact, I ventured to San Francisco to connect with the McGill alumni community and lead our West Coast operations. During 3 months of cold calling, I met with over 160 alumni and hosted the first-ever McGill SF Demo Day showcasing McGill startups. You can read about the journey here.
This success led me to be recruited by Propeller VC. Sitting at the other side of the table, I navigated the early stages of venture capital and the arduous process of getting a fund funded. I later advised startups on strategy and growth via X Consulting, included RetinadVR, LumiereVR & UploadVR. This included creating monetization strategies, navigating M&A transactions and corporate restructuring, building repetitive business models, refining customer segments and product roadmaps, and leveraging my network to create partnerships or onboard clients.
Today, my path has led me to a merging of my three loves---XR, Law, Startups---working as Head of Business Development at Niantic, where I lead strategic direction, partnerships, and influence product roadmaps to scale Niantic. As the creator of location-based AR games (e.g. Pokémon GO), Niantic's mission is to build ideas and technologies that move people. I'm leading this mission from the frontlines, with the ultimate goal of leveraging AR technology to restore community.
Happy to Connect :)
Maryam Sabour © 2022