Allan Isfan is a co-founder of FaveQuest, a young start-up. This blog covers start-up topics.

Monday, June 30, 2008


O'Canada, our home and native land

Patriotism is a curious and sometimes contradictory thing for me. As a Canadian, I'm proud of what this country stands for. On the other hand, I was born in Romania lived in France and have traveled extensively. I feel at home in Paris, Barcelona, Corsica (I'm sure I have had a past life here), Quebec City and so on with each location connecting with me in a slightly different way.

I feel more a citizen of the world than anything else so allegiance to one country is a bit strange. Nevertheless, this country has been incredibly good to me. I arrived as a skinny little immigrant and have built a great life here. I met my wife at Quebec High School many many years ago, became and engineer, have three wonderful kids, have had some success in business and generally enjoy this country tremendously. Never once did I not feel welcome here. So I wear this country's flag proudly, try to contribute as much as I can and will hopefully do something to pull the world a bit closer together.

In the meantime, please check out a beautiful song by my oldest daughter (she didn't write it btw).

Friday, June 27, 2008


A big dream, a big mission: THEM = US

I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart pumping and brain full of thoughts and couldn't go back to sleep so I decided to document a big dream I've been having for the last couple of months.

Many people are calling for entrepreneurs to start launching companies that solve real problems.

For example, Fred Wilson's "Am I Bored With “Web 2.0”?


Umair Haque's multiple blogs at .

So I'm going to share a dream that I've had that was in large part inspired by Pangea Day, an event that took place on May 10th of this year, as well as my children as I watch them play on-line.

As some of you may know, I'm the co-founder of favequest, a company that is building a social video platform. We have a first stab at an app running in facebook and we're working on a branded one for a media company as part of revenue generation plan. Our platform is meant to create communities centered around video.

So what does this have to do with the big dream? My big dream is to use media (primarily video) to connect kids across the world to each other and their planet. I'm talking about creating a safe place for kids in the range of 6-12 where they can find content specifically for them and interact with other kids across the world. Ideally the content is created by other kids but it can also be professional content like National Geographic that kids can watch, share and talk about. The content itself doesn't matter as long as it is remarkable enough for kids to want to talk about it and learn about their world.

Why do I think this can make a big impact? Pangea Day was a good example of the use of film to connect people across the world. It was a day during which my family, friends and I learned about life in other parts of the world. Reacting to the story about a war child, one of my girls actually said ... I didn't know there was a war going on!! What better way for her to understand this than the media created by another kid living through this. Much more powerful than CNN.

The key point though is not the learning for the sake of knowledge ... it is the realization that people across the world all have the same needs and desires, whether you are a kid or an adult. It is a realization that we are all the same no matter what colour and where we live.

A realization that THEM = US leads to empathy and hopefully caring which can leads to action. If people don't care, nothing happens.

This realization can be incredibly powerful. It has caused things like "Combatants for Peace" . This incredible documentary was filmed by the organizer of Pangea Day about Israeli and Palestinian former soldiers that denounced violence and instead sit around the table to talk and seek an end to the conflict.

Without worrying too much right now about the details and many roadblocks ... imagine that our kids got engaged with each other across the world. Imagine having Pangea Day every day with our your kids at the center. Imagine what these kids would grow up to be and how they could impact our world?

I think this is a dream worth chasing ... and I can't do it alone. I've spoken to people like Tom Williams (CEO of, the founder of Club Penguin, David Usher (the singer and many others. This will happen!

Please comment or email me, find me on facebook or twitter (@isfan) and tell me what you think about this and what you want to do to help.


PS. As I finish this blog, it is 6:14am and my eight year old walks in to the office and boots up the computer to go on webkinz ... ironic

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Monday, June 23, 2008


Success is about perseverance ... plain and simple

I really truly believe success is about perseverance. Sure you need some decent brains, a good team, being in the right place at the right time, some luck and so on. It clearly takes a lot to be successful as an individual or as a business.

But ultimately, it is about not giving up, believing in yourself and just continuing to push hard even in the face of adversity. My parents managed to get out of Romania even with two young kids in tow and not a penny to their name. They made a great life for their family eventually bringing us to Canada. My wife launched her own graphic design business straight out of school and has been running it very successfully for many years. You just have to decide you are going for it no matter how hard it is.

And now, my oldest daughter reminds us of this in spades. We were at her elementary graduation this morning. It was a beautiful affair in the brand new church in Stittsville and all the kids looked great. The place was packed with lots of proud family. They called up several kids for awards and although we were hoping she would get something, we knew the odds were not great.

She has struggled with ADHD every since she was little but we have refused to drug her. She has a beautiful sparkling personality and an amazing imagination that we don't want to snuff out. It is a gift even it makes school very difficult. So she has to work harder ... everything takes twice as long to do as her peers and she meets with a tutor every week on top of us staying on her case (especially her mother who doesn't let up thankfully ... just like my mother who would study with me late into the night). Her marks have steadily improved with all the hard work to such a degree that she won a medal for having the most improved scholastic achievement. It is a big deal and the lesson learned is even more important than anything else she may have learned in school ... don't give ... don't give up ... don't give up!



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