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Soraya  Darabi

Soraya Darabi

Trendspotter, Serial Entrepreneur, Investor & Venture Capitalist


Soraya Darabi is an experienced entrepreneur and investor; the Founder of TMV, a successful early-stage holding company overseeing two venture funds and three investment vehicles all focused on ideas that will transform industries and inspire new ones. At TMV, Soraya serves as General Partner where she leads impact investments across the future of work, health-care and education technology. Read More >

Earlier in her career, Soraya served as the Manager of Digital Partnerships & Social Media at The New York Times, where she activated ground-breaking partnerships, established award-winning campaigns and spearheaded the positioning of the global media and news leader across social networks.

In 2009, she co-founded Foodspotting, named “App of the Year” by both Apple and Wired (later acquired by OpenTable, then Priceline).

Continuing her passion for creating innovative, mission-driven brands that change the way we live, Soraya co-founded a venture-backed start-up that helped facilitate the slow-manufacturing movement by demanding honesty and quality across supply chains.

Over the years, she has been named one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” for which she was featured on the cover of the magazine. She has also been featured on the cover of Brand Week’s “Digital Best” issue. Other honors include being named an Inc. Magazine "30 Under 30" (2012), Fortune Magazine’s "40 Under 40: Women to Watch" (2015).

Soraya sat on the first digital advisory board of General Electric, is a World Economic Forum "Young Global Leader," and a six-time mentor to TechStars New York for which she’s been named a three-time "Mentor of the Year." A published journalist, Soraya has served as a pundit for ABC News and has appeared as a guest and subject matter expert on business networks like CNBC, CNN and Fox. She has also given keynote talks on innovation at work in over 15 countries as a result of her 12-year partnership with the American Program Bureau.

She is the host of "Business Schooled - a Podcast by Synchrony," on its second season, which is a "Top 20 Business Podcast" where she interviews persevering founders who have made it past their startup days and reached new heights of success.

Soraya serves on the board of directors for the non-profit Yamba Malawi. She graduated with a B.A. magna cum laude from Georgetown University and completed the Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century program at Harvard Kennedy School. Soraya lives and works in New York City. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Highlight Reel

Interview with INSEAD Business School

Mobile Innovation

The Social Media Sphere

Introducing Business Schooled Season 2 | A Podcast by Synchrony

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 ^

Emcee & Moderator

As a podcast host and trendspotter, Darabi brings a wealth of insight and grace to live moderated conversations. Being an experienced discussion leader and interviewer, she will help deliver the key messages to your audience as well as add useable takeaways. This engaging program is designed to educate and inspire everyone, while Darabi, a visionary herself, shares her wisdom in today’s ever-changing competitive landscape.