How Fardad Zabetian is breaking down language barriers and connecting people around the world.
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March 1, 2021 4 min read
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Fardad Zabetian works every day to break language barriers and truly connect people worldwide. He has disrupted the way world leaders and enterprise businesses communicate when doing business globally. With an expansive mind for creating systems and a high emotional quotient for building teams, Fardad has spent his career designing, selling, leasing and building conference systems for major buildings, halls of diplomacy and for global meetings from nuclear to world leader summits.
Most recently with the launch of a company called KUDO, Inc., he has built a cloud-based conference platform that supplies highly talented interpreters who speak 100+ spoken and sign languages at the click of a drop-down menu. A new product called KUDO Marketplace launched in 2021 to further ease cross-cultural conversations with a seamless scheduling interface.
Because words and perceptions are often two different things, communication has to be impeccable, especially in business. “Though I don’t have any background in entertainment, music or film,” smiles Zabetian, “my entire career has been helping people to somehow perform, sing and act in professional settings onsite and online. I am in the audio/video and web business because I know, firsthand, how crucial communication is in a business setting.”
An entrepreneur from the outset, Zabetian started building AV systems in famed buildings in his native Tehran and in Europe, all before the age of 26. As he looked West for new challenges, he went straight to Silicon Valley. Arriving in the early 2000s, the industry was still experiencing whiplash of the first dotcom bubble burst. As such, a job he was promised at Sun Microsystems evaporated, but in its place ignited his entrepreneurial skills to kick into high gear, hatching Media Vision.
In the first year of the Media Vision’s existence, which sold conferencing hardware and language interpretation equipment, one of the world’s largest cross-cultural institutions requested Zabetian to revamp their legendary assembly hall in New York City. “That was a defining moment,” Zabetian remembers and it opened the global door to a worldwide ride ever since.
In addition to having a sharp engineering mind, Zabetian trusts his intuition and has an uncanny ability to build talented teams.
When he built KUDO, it was a chance meeting while in Guadalajara, Mexico for a large conference of a UN agency that produced a key team member:
“It was the first time we were doing an event of that magnitude, in the 6 UN languages, with up to four large venues running in parallel. We got there early to make sure we’d have plenty of time to set up and test the equipment we’d be distributing to 3,000 delegates and about 75 interpreters. As I rushed from one conference room to the next, I passed by a door with the sign ‘Chief Interpreter.’ I popped my head in and introduced myself with a half-baked apology: ‘Sorry for the apparent imposition. I am in charge of the interpretation equipment. It is my first time working for the UN.’”
An association with Ewandro Magalhaes sparked and was “sealed by a few shared tequilas,” Zabetian laughs. As it turned out, Ewandro left a job at UN to pursue the startup concept with Zabetian and became the Chief Language Officer and Cofounder of the startup in 2017.
For four years now, Zabetian has taken KUDO to unexpected heights and through two successful rounds of funding, driven by a passion to break language barriers, and truly connect people worldwide. “When businesses, thought leaders, innovators, and creatives are able to develop ideas through collaboration, true progress happens,” he adds. “My mission is to remove a major blockage that exists today, which is language, so that all businesses attain their potential, and opportunities for collaboration are limitless.”