PEARL LEMON INTERVIEWS:
Elnaz Sarraf is the CEO and founder of the award-winning Roybi Robot – the world’s first AI-powered smart toy to teach children language and STEM skills. It also has been named one of TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions in Education, on the 2019 CNBC Upstart 100 list as one of the world’s most promising startups, and on Fast Company’s 2019 World-Changing Ideas. Elnaz is also a Board Member at the Consumer Technology Association, Small Business Council, and member of Forbes Technology Council.
A Fireside Chat
I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Elnaz Sarraf at ROYBI Robot today. From talking about SEO for eCommerce sites, Elnaz agreed to a quick interview.
She took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know her better and hear more about the things that have helped shape her business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
If I have too much on my mind, I like to go for a walk. Sometimes, when I’m busy with multiple projects that each require a completely different mindset, I write down all my tasks or organize them on the project management tool that I share with my team. That way, I can see my projects in front of me and quickly create a road map of the tasks I want to get to in a specific order. Then, I leave my office for a walk to clear my head. Sometimes, I can focus on nature around me and bring myself back to the moment quickly; sometimes, I can’t, so I only focus on one of my tasks to review while walking. Then I can go back into my office and get back to my list. I find it much easier to focus this way.
What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?
I generally don’t consider a recommendation as a bad one but like to think about what doesn’t work for me as a ‘not right’ recommendation. I believe every feedback or comment you get about your work is a great learning opportunity. As the product’s or an idea’s owner, you should know which recommendations to follow and which ones to dismiss. Sometimes, a piece of advice might not be right for you now, but it proves to be very helpful later on. I generally don’t consider a recommendation as a bad one but like to think about what doesn’t work for me as a ‘not right’ recommendation. I believe every feedback or comment you get about your work is a great learning opportunity. As the product’s or an idea’s owner, you should know which recommendations to follow and which ones to dismiss. Sometimes, a piece of advice might not be right for you now, but it proves to be very helpful later on.
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
My team! I spent a lot of time during the hiring process to find the right match for a position. Once the new hire starts, I try to get to know them more to see how we can help them grow individually in our company and within the team.
Stay focused while exploring!
- Elnaz Sarraf
How Has A Failure, Or Apparent Failure, Set You Up For Later Success?
I’m sure I’ve made many failure, and I appreciate them for what they can teach me. I think every mistake is a learning opportunity, and with that mindset, I can learn from it and move on quickly.
What Advice Would You Give To A Smart, Driven College Student About To Enter The “Real World”? What Advice Should They Ignore?
I would remind them that just because school is over, you should not stop learning. Our world is changing quickly, and with the change, new ways of thinking or systems are created that can help you achieve your goals in ways you didn’t know before. So explore and continue learning new skills in anything that interests you. When I say anything, I mean it can even be cooking or calligraphy or learning how to do woodcarvings. Through these processes, you learn more about yourself too, and you never know when you suddenly realize a new passion and an area that you can excel in more than the job you were hired to do after college.
Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?
My company, ROYBI, is the maker of an AI-powered educational robot called Roybi Robot. Our product provides an interactive learning experience for children aged 3–7. Roybi Robot comes with free lessons that teach children communications and languages. Our robot is an affordable solution for continuing education at home. It acts as a private tutor to deliver personalized lessons to children in the comfort of their home environment. With our free app, parents can monitor their children’s progress and stay on top of their education. We envision a world where children worldwide can have access to our robot’s sophisticated technology and quality educational content.
What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?
I would tell myself to stay focused while exploring!
Tell Us About Someone You Admire And Why You Admire Them?
My mom! I learned so much from watching her help my dad grow his business in Iran. I’ve also been amazed at how well she adjusted to her life in the US when she moved here so that I can have better opportunities. It’s not easy to move to a country without knowing its language and culture. She learned English and is continually looking for opportunities to learn. I’m amazed at how smart, strong, and adaptable she has always been in my life.
What Profession Other Than Your Own Would You Like To Attempt?
Because of the pandemic, many collaborations between schools and the technology industry have started to continue and enhance the partnerships, which will open up more doors for innovations.
What Is A 'Hack' You Have For Success That Most People Don't Know About?
Persistence! When I set my mind on something, I stay focused and persistent with my idea to reach my goal.
What Is The Most Surprising Thing You've Seen In Your Industry?
I’ve been amazed at how teachers and parents so quickly adapted to the new learning-from-home and digital models of education this year with no prior training or practice—I think this will immensely affect our industry. Now that basically everyone had to experience using technology for learning and teaching in one way or another, we can have more in-depth conversations with educators and parents about how we can use technology to create impactful changes to the science of education.
What's your favourite colour?
Check Out Elnaz's Company Profiles:
Pearl Lemon are an SEO, PPC, PR, and B2B lead-generation agency. We are based in London but service clients around the world.
We have taken the time to interview entrepreneurs and experts (like Elnaz’s) in this new series.