Alex Barseghian is the Founder and Chief Experience Officer for Samba Days, Canada's leading gift experience product. Fuelled by the desire to start a business that was innovative and meaningful, find out where the inspiration behind the 38-year-old entrepreneur's business came from...
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Samba Days is Canada’s leading gift experience product. You pick the theme box based on a person’s lifestyle – such as wine, adventure, gourmet, getaway, golf – and they choose from 75 experiences. There are over 650 experiences available right across the country and many are for two people.
Samba Days gift boxes are available online at sambadays.com, and can be found at gift card racks in over 2,200 retail stores across the country, including Shoppers Drug Mart, Metro and more. You can also redeem them with Aeroplan miles or as an AMEX member. Gift box experiences start from $49.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I have always had the desire to start a business that was innovative and meaningful. I was fed up with gift cards and ho-hum tangible gift items and wanted to create a brand that celebrated seizing the moment in a memorable way.
The inspiration began when I was visiting England for a family wedding and was taken by one of the gifts for the bride and groom. In amongst the toasters and the picture frames, there was a gift choice of a hot-air balloon ride with champagne for two or racing around in a Ferrari for the weekend. I was struck not only by the originality of this gift but by its very essence; it served up a romantic or adrenaline-packed experience, it was personal and it celebrated living life to the fullest.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Hearing about the wonderful experiences people had or how their dream/bucket list was achieved –whether it’s sky diving, driving a Ferrari or just taking the time to reconnect with a loved one on a short getaway. Working with my team is also great...always hire people who are smarter than you! The most challenging part is juggling differing priorities and interests.
Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
Further expanding into corporate incentives and rewards programs. It is so much better than a gas card or a pen as an incentive! Also, increasing our product offerings to have even greater variety.
What does success look like to you?
Mastering the art of balancing the home, the self and the work.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
That is really a tough one. You have many milestones in your career, good bosses, bad bosses, awards, great employees, great jobs or jobs you didn’t want to do. They all shape you today, to be better prepared for tomorrow. For me, it would be a toss-up between the day my business went live (same day my son was born) and the day I was featured in articles and books as one of the top brand managers in Canada (for Aeroplan).
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Keep on trying something new every day. If you want to get ahead, you have to work hard, listen, learn and ask plenty of questions.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Samba Days supports multiple charities including Casey House, Princess Margaret Hospital and Sheena’s Place.
What is Notable to you?
People who ask smart and tough questions.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Blackberry and iPad
How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Taking care of my three-year-old son and newborn at the same time keeps me active. Trying new experiences keeps me energetic. I am working on being ‘vibrant’.