Shafin Diamond Tejani

The Alchemist, Victory Square Labs, Age 36

Shafin Diamond Tejani's first business was, a website matching students based on their interests, which he started out of his university dorm when he was 19.

Since then he has launched 28 startups in over 13 countries, generating more than $50 million in revenue.

Tejani's latest project, Victory Square Labs (VSL), is a startup accelerator that provides funding, mentorship and a creative workspace to startups in the web, mobile, gaming and film spaces.

The business helps for-profit ventures, often with a social enterprise component, as well as non-profits.

"I love the startup side of a business," Tejani said. Running Victory Square Labs allows him to have a hand in advising and funding many startups.

Working globally can also reveal promising markets. For instance, a few years ago he had success with a dating website he and his partners started in South America. It worked because the product was first to market there.

"The tech space in the U.S. evolves so quickly and is so concentrated, it's very hard to break through," he said.

To get access to markets and on-the-ground information about far-flung locales, he likes to work with entrepreneurs who have ties to other countries.

Tejani credits his father, a pharmacist who immigrated to Canada from Uganda, and his wider Ismaili community for sparking his interest in business.

"All the people I looked up to – my dad and all my uncles – they all had their own businesses."

Tejani is a member of Social Venture Partners Vancouver, a network of philanthropists who donate time and expertise as well as money to help non-profits succeed. He's currently working with KidSafe, an East Vancouver group that provides safe havens to vulnerable children.