Karina Hayat

Forty Under 40 Winner 2015: President, co-founder, Prizm Media, Age 35

When Karina Hayat, the president and co-founder of Prizm Media, was a child in Guatemala, she envisioned herself growing up to be a woman who worked in a lab coat – maybe even as a doctor.

After immigrating to Canada as a political refugee and studying biology, Hayat eventually did find her calling, and it had a connection to health care.

Initially launching Prizm Media in 2001 as a health and beauty product e-commerce site, Hayat eventually found a problem in the online market that required a fix.

“We realized there were a lot of issues with the industry, specifically in the online marketing,” she said. “There was a lot of fraud going on.”

She said the company opted to redirect its focus onto generating leads for health-care companies selling products aiming to curb obesity, diabetes and other health problems.

“We help those who have already been diagnosed with chronic conditions securely connect with doctors and pharmacies,” Hayat said.

Without any formal business training or mentorship and with scant capital, Hayat had to learn on the go. “There were no programs that taught you Internet marketing; there weren’t any of those courses at school,” she said, looking back on the early days of the business. “So we had to self-learn the entire process.”

Hayat said “pure grit” was enough to overcome challenges. “Whenever a mistake was made, whenever we didn’t succeed with something, we didn’t give up.”

She said even though Prizm isn’t a pharmacy or health-care provider, it does help to connect those with health problems to the pharmacies and equipment providers they need on a daily basis. “This allows us to improve the delivery of health care every single day, and we’re making an impact every single day.”

Hayat said she comes by her persistence honestly. Her father, a teacher, had to work two jobs to make ends meet and rode scholarships through his university education. Her mother was a surgical nurse who, becase she didn’t have enough money for schooling, spent five years volunteering at a hospital in exchange for formal education.

Her parents’ experiences and her upbringing have “everything to do” with her success today, Hayat said, adding that her husband (and partner at Prizm), Zeeshan Hayat, has also been a “guiding light.”

Birthplace: Guatemala City (El Limón)

Where you live now: Vancouver

Highest level of education: Second year biological sciences at Douglas College

Currently reading: In Pursuit of Principle and Profit (Alan Reder), Execution Without the Drama (Patrick Thean), Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits (Greg Crabtree), Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)

Currently listening to: Maria Callas, El Gordo, Outlandish, Calvin Harris, Ella Fitzgerald

When you were a kid, what you wanted to be when you grew up: An inventor with superhero powers

Profession you would most like to try: Opera singer and doctor

Toughest business or professional decision: Taking on the challenge of starting a business while working two part-time jobs and going to college full-time despite my lack of experience or capital

Advice you would give the younger you: Don’t overanalyze missed opportunities. Don’t worry so much about what people think. Take care of your soul and family first. Be content regardless of the outcome. Live for the pursuit of impact and embrace the journey

What’s left to do: Transforming the way health care is delivered to patients for the purpose of improving health outcomes

Join us to celebrate the 2015 Forty under under 40 Awards January 27, 2016 at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For tickets and event info visit www.biv.com/events/40under40.