Connecting Worlds One Call at a Time: Naveed Darbani, Co-Founder of The World Phone

Name: Naveed Darbani

Age: 22

Major: Finance

Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida

Year: Senior

Her Campus (HC): Tell us a little bit about your idea that is growing into a company, The World Phone.

Naveed Darbani (NB): So my good friend from home, Michael, came up with the idea. He was studying abroad in Spain in 2013 and he was sitting in a market place with his friends. He took Spanish in high school and college, but he noticed that when it came to communicating with the natives, he was unable to. And so, that’s pretty much where the idea was born, and then he told me about it, so I thought it was a pretty good idea. He wanted to develop a program where language learners, like himself, who knew the base of a language could come together and converse in the foreign language of their choice.

HC: How do you guys balance your duties in the company?

ND: Well, we do everything as a team. Currently, because we’re a startup, we work together and are cohesive in our decisions. We run everything by each other—only, Michael would probably jog (chuckles). I have a background in finance; he has one in international affairs and business. He’s also fluent in three languages. So his main focus is on the language aspect of the website and mine is more of the analytical, business side. Also, side note, we’re actually looking for a technical founder and we’re looking for someone who can program for the long run, and be apart of our team.

HC: When did you start to develop these ideas?

ND: We started back in May 2014. We went and attended the launch of Domi Station, which is the startup incubator here in Tallahassee. After several meetings we were asked to join the FSU POD, which is a free space for FSU startups. Soon after, we met with Cuttlesoft (which is the company that develops minimal viable products for startups), we signed a contract, and boom, they began developing The World Phone.

HC: And how has it been going since then?

ND: We’ve acquired several advisors in market research and natural language processing all to guide us in developing The World Phone. After that, we got a logo, which is a big thing for a company. We hired a very talented graphic designer to design The World Phone’s logo, which is an orange chameleon. We were given a cool opportunity a few weeks ago to fly out to Antalia, Turkey to compete at StartUp Turkey, Eurasia’s number one startup community. We were accepted to come out and compete against hundreds of teams in hopes of getting exposure and an investment to our company.

HC: Whoa, you went to Turkey? How was your experience there?

ND: Well, it was my first time out of the country so the overall experience was once in a lifetime. The competition was at a five star resort and we didn’t know that food and drinks were all inclusive until we got there so you can imagine our joy when we found out. After settling in to this new fancy lifestyle, we got to work right away because presentations were the next morning. Only one of us was able to present due to the short time limit, but we both worked on it together and stayed up all night. After a long nights work of setting up, we had a two-minute time limit to show investors what The World Phone was all about and we nailed it. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive any investment, not because they didn’t like our idea, but because we were one of the earlier stage startups in the competition. Compared to us, the winning team had 1.8 million in revenue, so you can see where the discrepancies lied. We are still in development as of now, but we were able to make connections with several of the top investors and we plan on reaching out to them once we officially launch The World Phone.

HC: Was it always your dream to run your own company?

ND: Not necessarily, but it hit me recently when I transferred to FSU my junior year of college. After switching my major to finance and taking some entrepreneurial classes, I realized that I could see myself running my own business. It’s something I know I will really enjoy doing and I mean, who wouldn’t want to be their own boss?