Ramin (BASc 2006 MECH, MASc 2008 ECE, PhD 2013 Biomed) and Daryoush Sahebjavaher (BASc 2009 (SFU), MASc 2012 MECH) are both recent UBC engineering grads. They started a company called YodelUP (www.yodelup.com) in 2015 and just launched their first product on the crowdfunding campaign Kickstarter. Prior to YodelUP they worked with several companies on projects ranging from medical devices to automation and electric vehicles.
Can you tell us a little bit about the kind of work that you do?
At the moment we are developing a product for skiers and snowboarders that they wear on their glove and allows them to control music and make group conversations through an App.
What have been the turning points and milestones in your career?
As cliché as it may sound, our turning point was when we stopped simply talking about starting a business together and actually doing it. Picking just one idea to go with is tough; not because of lack of viable great ideas, but because no ideas is perfect and inherently comes with many unknowns. At some point we had to make a conscious decision on going with an idea and be comfortable with the risks. In the grand scheme of thing of starting a business, the idea itself is very small portion of the entire challenge.
What is a fact about your work that people might find surprising?
Knowing that speed-to-market was crucial in our market, we decided against working on YodelUP as a side project or part-time on. We finished our previous commitments about the same time and went into full engineering mode, and in just six months we were able to develop a crude concept to a fully functional trade-show ready product.
What do you consider your greatest achievement in life so far (personal, professional, or both)?
Establishing a reputation. This was very important to us because we knew our future success would depend on creating long-lasting relationships.
What would you do if you weren’t an Engineer… in alternate universe?
Ramin: I would like to stay as close as possible to the process of discovery and innovation, maybe a Physicist?
What was your favourite class at UBC, and why?
Ramin: Hands down MECH 520 (sensors and actuators by Dan Gelbart). Generally, I’ve always been hesitant to ask questions in class or just really engage with the instructor, except for one course that was taught by an innovation tycoon. For this course, we created prototypes and applied knowledge in a real way to understand the bare-bone issues.
What do you feel are three habits necessary for highly successful engineers?
Persistence, discipline and working on something you can imagine yourself doing for the next 50 years.
What was your favourite thing to do on campus as a UBC student?
Did you know UBC has a squash court?
What talent do you most wish you had?
Writing has always been tough for me.
What are the top three things that you would recommend current engineering students do before they graduate?
• Graduate early! But be sure to do an amazing job at it before you do.
• If you’re a grad student, your supervisor is your best friend and a springboard in whatever you plan to do next! Make sure they are happy with your work.
• Be mindful of what is happening in town and industries around you. If you’re looking to find a job, start one year before graduation and create relationships early.