Wednesday Jan 23, 2013 by Ben Mirin - Contributor, VentureFizz
Hossein Kash Razzaghi only knew one local person when he moved to Boston in 2006. Leaving behind a custom T-shirt business he had founded during his final years as a Bulldog at Mississippi State University, he packed a suitcase and made a last-minute phone call to his then-girlfriend (now-wife) Brooke as he began the long drive north.
“My sights were set on either New York City or Boston, and I chose Boston on a whim,” Razzaghi admits. “All I knew was that I found the constant evolution and dynamism of the tech world captivating, and wanted to immerse myself in it.”
The founder and CEO of Fancred, a social destination for sports fans that launched out of Boston last August, considers himself something of a cultural transplant. Born in Iran and raised from the age of four in Mississippi, he came to Boston with both a Bachelor’s of Science in Electrical Engineering and an MBA in Business Administration from MSU. Such credentials may seem like a natural precursor to success, but Razzaghi credits the unique culture of the Boston tech scene as the impetus to his career.
“Boston people don’t really care about your background,” Razzaghi explained. “The emphasis here is simply on getting things done.”
Razzaghi’s personal connection with Boston’s tech community traces back to his first interview on the scene. As a fresh face with an impressive education no one cared about, he arrived at the offices of the online video platform, Brightcove, to apply for a position as an Executive Assistant. When he received the offer, he snatched it up.
“My father always told me, ‘If you ever need anything, go to the top,’” Razzaghi remembered. “I shared his belief that mentorship was critical, and I was looking for an opportunity to learn from someone as their right-hand man.”
Razzaghi found what he was looking for at Brightcove. Under the supervision and guidance of Brightcove’s SVP of Sales Elisabeth Bentel-Carpenter, he worked as an Executive Assistant for six months. It was then that an inside sales position opened up in the company, and he “basically begged for the job.”
“For some reason, they gave it to me,” he laughed. “Elisabeth had taken a risk in hiring me the first time, but this opportunity represented a big vote of confidence from the company.”
It was a vote well placed. After two years closing inside sales for Brightcove, Razzaghi was promoted to Director of Regional Sales. At age 27, he was the youngest member of the team by several years. Again, he thrived in unfamiliar territory, so much so that after two more years Brightcove sent him to San Francisco as their Senior Director of Regional Sales. The engineer from small-town Mississippi had made it to the center of the national tech scene.
But he missed Boston, and so did Brooke. After another two years, Razzaghi requested that Brightcove move them back East.
“One reason we missed Boston was the sports scene. We lived around the corner from Fenway for three years, and it was obvious that people here throw themselves into their teams with unrivaled fervor. Boston is the best sports city in the world.”
Razzaghi’s choice of a location to build and launch Fancred was clearly no accident. But it is clear that Boston brought him back for more reasons than one.
“Boston’s tech scene is one that lets anyone shine if they have the necessary ambition,” Razzaghi explained. “There’s a strong sense of compassion among entrepreneurs in this community, and those who already have a foothold generally want to help newcomers succeed and then stay in Boston. As a sports fan and an entrepreneur, I want that kind of culture for Fancred, and to give back to the community that has been responsible for my success.”
When Razzaghi left Brightcove in mid-2012, he was one of the top-grossing salesmen in the company’s history. In just six years he contributed more than $20 million in new bookings and renewals for Brightcove with an impressive list of clients (Hewlett Packard, Oracle, Intel, LinkedIn, and Epson, to name a few). His first mentor in Boston, Elisabeth Bentel-Carpenter, now sits on his company board, and is one of Fancred’s principal investors. While they oversee the launch of his new company, Razzaghi still makes it home to Starkville as often as he can to watch his Bulldogs play.