When Karina came to Canada with her family in 1991, she faced a huge culture shock trying to settle into her Vancouver high school. Fitting in is hard enough as a teen but fleeing from Guatemala seeking political asylum was inconceivable for many of her peers. Learning English through the ESL program, she made friends, one of whom introduced her to his best friend, Zeeshan. Instantly, the two were inseparable.
Zeeshan hails from an orthodox Pakistani family. Raised by his grandparents, he learned discipline, dedication, and family values early on in life. With a dream in his pocket and with Karina’s support, they built a website to sell health and wellness products with the hopes of earning some cash to pay their college tuition. The website took off and became so demanding on their time as full-time students that they had to decide whether to continue pursuing their education or focusing on growing the company.
Prizm Media was born in 2001, now creating waves as one of Canada’s 500 fastest growing companies, winning Business In Vancouver’s Forty Under 40, BC CEO Awards and a finalist for Social Impact in the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards – Pacific Region in 2016 & 2018. Prizm provides technology and marketing to health care providers, connecting an impressive 20+ million people with chronic conditions across North America to its vetted healthcare partners.
They spun out Kudo Technologies, a digital health ecosystem that includes RxtoMe – an app that features prescription ordering and home-delivery, medication adherence and health management tools. Along with the KudoLife app, patients can access condition-specific meal plans. Together, patients can gain insight into their existing healthcare and receive rewards for making better health decisions.
Birthplace: Zeeshan was born in Lahore, Pakistan; Karina was born in Guatemala.
Came to Canada: Zeeshan moved to Canada with his grandparents in 1989; Karina came to Canada as political refugee from Guatemala.
Highest Level of Education: Zeeshan completed his Associates Degree from Douglas College; Karina was planning to complete the Nursing program at UBC, but their online company suddenly took off and became extremely demanding.
Currently Reading: Just finished reading The First Muslim by Lesley Hazelton and The Sufis by Idris Shah.
Favourite Past-time: we have three children aged 12, 8 and 5. We have a busy family life but try to squeeze in working out or cycling together fairly often.
Toughest Professional Decision:
In 2017, one of our largest partners had filed bankruptcy protection and they had significant accounts receivable with us. But instead of downsizing, our team continued to focus heavily on generating revenue, stayed on course with our R&D and business development efforts. In that same year, we were able to grow in revenue by 30%.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Zeeshan: Be more patient. In the beginning, I wasn’t as patient as I am today, which was a trait that I developed over the years. You should always set short and long-term goals. Some goals you can achieve quicker once you make short term wins, it transfers to long term goals. To achieve your vision, you must take baby steps.
Karina: Talk less, listen more
What does the future look like?
Our aim is to help millions of people around the world gain access to their prescriptions. We are currently commercializing in the UK, and eventually, expand to other international markets.