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Soraya  Darabi

Soraya Darabi

Trendspotter, Serial Entrepreneur & Angel Investor


Celebrated by Fast Company as one of the “most creative people in business,” Soraya Darabi is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor with a recognized eye for spotting rising stars, breakout business models and tomorrow’s hottest trends in digital consumerism and consumer behavior. She is the co-founder of two highly successful venture-backed businesses, Zady and Foodspotting. She went on to found Trail Mix Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in design-driven companies that are shaping the future of work, health, wellness and living well. Darabi has also written for Medium, Glamour Magazine, the New York Times and ABC News. An authoritative speaker with a contagious entrepreneurial spirit, Darabi brings a head-spinning knowledge of the companies, products, services and technologies that you may not know about today, but will probably wish you had invested in five years from now. Read More >

Darabi first came into the spotlight as the 23-year-old digital wunderkind at the New York Times. Pioneering the role of Manager of Digital Partnerships and Social Media, her maverick strategies are credited with propelling the “Gray Lady” into the digital world. Soon after, she co-founded Foodspotting, an app that was acquired by Open Table and later, Priceline. Darabi’s next slam dunk was Zady, which was named one of Fast Companys top 10 most innovative retail companies alongside Warby Parker and Amazon. Called the “Whole Foods of fashion” Zady is a lifestyle destination offering a curated collection of high quality, sustainable fashions for conscious consumers. In 2015, Darabi leveraged her talent for trend spotting by founding VC Trail Mix Ventures. Trail Mix boasts a team of battle-tested entrepreneurs with proven records of spotting and amplifying inventive young companies that are transforming the way that we live and work. Their board of advisors includes Care.com’s CEO and founder, Sheila Marcelo; Wharton professor and bestselling author, Adam Grant; co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, Neil Blumenthal; and Helene Hahn Lloyd, a founding team member and COO of DreamWorks.

Sharing behind-the-scenes background on her founder experiences and investing through the lens of emerging trends in consumer behavior, Darabi is a dynamic speaker who is fast on her feet with Q&A and brimming with fascinating content.  Her presentations provide both a consumer- business- and investor-eye view of the future of wellness, healthcare, work, and more. Whether you’re looking to spot the rising stars in digital consumerism or to stay ahead of customers, patients,  employees or trends, Darabi provides essential insights to prepare you for what’s next. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Highlight Reel

How to Craft a Modern Digital Strategy

Interview with INSEAD Business School

Mobile Innovation

The Social Media Sphere

Winning the Apple App

Social Media Reaction to Japan Tsunami

SAS Institute

Speech Topics

Seeing Trends Before Anyone Else

Any smart CEO wants to be a trendsetter – and, for that matter, a trendspotter. Ahead of the curve. Seeing all possibilities. Able to gain an edge before their competitors can catch up. Staying at the forefront of a given wave in their industry. Doing so often requires a willingness to take risks and prize creativity over reason. Yet many CEOs and other executives are inherently risk-averse. They need to do what they know works best so they can maximize profits, boost their bottom lines, and cater to shareholders, investors, and employees alike. Read More >

So what’s the answer? How can companies square this circle? Soraya Darabi can help you chart a path forward. It begins with not simply saying you want to set and spot trends; you have to make trendspotting a tangible practice in your company. You may even need to create a whole department dedicated to this task as well, all while expanding your research and development shops.

What’s more, executives need to take a look in the mirror and tailor their own leadership approach to the realities of the 21st century workforce. They should consider themselves students as well as teachers – remembering that all five founders of the tech giant Alibaba, for instance, were once teachers in China. They also need to hire for talent and learn how to work with young people today – understand what it means to be a digital native; appreciate how millennials want a seat at the table and a close connection to the C-suite; and see how younger movers and shakers are the most innovative folks in a business’ ranks and will pour every ounce of their creative juices into a project if they feel invested and have a stake in it.

Last but not least: every corporate titan needs to remember the shared quality of all successful entrepreneurs – no fear of failure. Take these tips from serial entrepreneur Soraya Darabi who worked with tiny companies and giant behemoths, and you may start spotting trends sooner than you think. Read Less ^

Internal Change from an Entrepreneur: Leading the Way with Intrapreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a much-celebrated concept in economic history worldwide – and for good reason. Entrepreneurs and risk-takers from Silicon Valley to Accra to Shanghai, and everywhere in between, have identified gaps in the marketplace, developed products or services to fill those needs, and transformed how we live in ways big and small. But it’s an idea focused on how companies get off the ground. What happens once a business is larger and more established, and still wants to innovate? Read More >

That’s where “intrapreneurship” becomes key. Intrapreneurs are internal change agents who, like entrepreneurs, see specific problems and seek outside-the-box ways to solve them. The intrapreneur looks at processes within an enterprise, looks for avenues to increase productivity, looks for more effective and efficient policies designed to expand a company’s capacity and reach.

As a serial entrepreneur who’s worked with brand new start-ups and long-established multinationals, Soraya Darabi can share what she’s learned about intrapreneurs, what role they play, why executives should tap into their talents and empower them, and why they are vital cornerstones to any business’ long-term success. Read Less ^

How the World's Most Innovative Companies Stay Young

What traits enable one company to thrive for a century or more, while others start up, tread water, then sink in a few years’ time? Read More >

Simply put, no matter how old and established, the most successful and innovative enterprises on the planet know how to stay young. They are nimble. They are experts at spotting trends – and setting them. They boast a close connection between the C-suite executives and the inventive, young movers and shakers rising through their ranks. They build, expand, and sustain robust research and development practices, seeing them not as an extra expense but as an internal think tank for their next great ideas and products.

Perhaps most of all, legacy companies stay young by maintaining the same qualities shared by the entrepreneurs and visionaries who started them: they don’t fear failure. They believe experimentation is crucial and central. And, for many, they’ve embraced what Jack Ma of Alibaba has called “LQ,” the so called “love quotient,” which acknowledges what millennials want from their careers – the understanding that machines don’t have hearts or souls, humans do; human beings add value, creativity, humanness in a seemingly inhumane business world.

Finally, firms stay young by combining old concepts and new – by staying on top of the vast stores of data now available to any business while telling their enduring stories to as many customers or potential consumers as possible – all done over new mediums of the 21st century. Read Less ^

The Future of Work

Today’s workforce is unlike anything the world has ever seen. The marketplace is increasingly dominated by a generation of tech-savvy, social media-driven, well-educated digital natives who expect something far different in their careers than their parents did – and whose idea of a workspace involves a standing desk, multiple screens, an open office set-up, and a smart phone practically glued to their hands. Read More >

At the same time, the 1099 economy, also known as the freelance economy (what used to be called the “gig economy”) is on the rise, and everyone from legacy companies to fresh start-ups have to see this trend and embrace it.

And if all of that weren’t altering the landscape fast enough, the economy is now filled with a mix of sectors like wellness and caregiving that weren’t considered viable, independent industries until recently; consultants who work for themselves and on their own schedules; and, perhaps most significant of all, automation that’s literally changing the face of what work is and who workers are.

Soraya Darabi has a simple message for anyone facing or fearing these tectonic shifts: don’t be afraid. Care-giving, empathy, emotional intelligence are all critical to understanding the future. If you take that into consideration, you’ll appreciate how rapid change can be a net positive for your enterprise – and you’ll be more likely to come out ahead. On top of that, fearing what’s already here won’t make new challenges disappear. Robots are here. AI is here. Don’t be afraid. Learn how to take advantage of these evolutions, and the future of work will be your future too. Read Less ^

The Future of Technology in Healthcare

When we talk about healthcare, most of us usually think of doctors and nurses treating patients in hospital rooms or medical practices, one procedure, one appointment, one physical, one person, at a time. That’s certainly what we’ve come to expect when we go to check in with our physicians. But thanks to rapid evolutions in technology and medical care, that reality is changing – whether we like it or not. And we should like it, because these shifts will make health care more efficient, more effective, more transparent, and more patient-oriented. Read More >

Here’s what new technologies are bringing to the healthcare table: more patient-centered care, where medical professionals spend their time focused exclusively on the person in front of them. Improved and faster communication between doctors and those they treat. Greater patient engagement facilitated by the latest innovations. Robots and automation that aren’t taking over the industry, but will help to transform it.

As someone who’s seen and supported companies on the leading edge of change in caregiving and wellness, Soraya Darabi can share the ins and outs of why the healthcare world should embrace technology as a friend, not a foe – and why doctors and patients alike should see technological innovation as a net positive for all sides of the health equation. Read Less ^