The Bob Bloom Show #52: Learning From Ash And Rastin, Part 2 Of 2

Wednesday April 25th, 2012



Rastin Meir is the founder and CEO of Rastin Mehr Design Studio Inc in Vancouver. A Web Application company. Ash Sanieyan is the founder and president of Peerglobe Technology Inc in Vancouver. A genuine Guru in Ruby on Rails, Javascript, Mobile Application Development (especially iPhone), Web Application Frameworks, and Social Web. He has developed 2 social networks prior to the Anahita SocialEngine™ project and he is described by Rastin Mehr as the best **%$#&@ Software Architect and most fun colleague, team-mate, and business partner that he has ever met and worked with.


Bob: Welcome to the 52nd “The Bob Bloom Show”. My name is Bob Bloom from Toronto, Canada. Today is Thursday, April 26th, 2012.

As I’m going heads down getting LaSalleMart 1.0 out, this is my last podcast before June. Although I’ll probably have one podcast about LaSalleMart in May.

Today I welcome back Arash Sanieyan and Rastin Mehr.

Today we recorded a 45 minute podcast — I wanted to keep the conversation flowing by not splitting up the interview into two 25 minute segments, which is how I prefer to do it.

However, I was so caught off-guard by our topic toward the end of our interview, that I am showcasing our discussion in this separate podcast.

TBBS #51 is the first part of our interview.

So, we pick things up on the fly…

Bob: Well I wanted to move on, I wanted to talk about it more but I want to move on to keep to about 40 minutes.  To talk about what you said on your last Hangout, the famous Nick was in the “toilet” Hangout. [laughter] At the 12 minute 50 second mark of the hangout Rastin said:

at some point we need to get investors involved.  One approach we’re going to do is to start our own start-ups, these are other projects that are built using Anahita because that is the original motive for Anahita.  We had all these start-up ideas and none of the existing tools were good enough, so we decided to use our own platform framework

So the whole reason to do Anahita originally was as a platform for your own start-ups?

Rastin: Yes.  That’s how when Ash and I met four years ago.

We had all these different ideas to build and before that both of us had been working on several start-up projects and we realized that all of them needed some kind of social networking technology and none of the existing tools were good enough.  We actually did a comprehensive study of all the existing frameworks and all the existing social networking out of the box solutions and we were not impressed to be honest, so we started to build it ourselves and as we were building people who heard about our projects, they were interested to use it as well.

So they ended up paying us to get access to the code, to get access to our chat room and everything, that’s how the first tribe of Anahita was formed and that’s how we actually raised quite a bit of funds for Anahita to fund the development hours and after that we started the premium plans and that’s how the community grew.  So even today, we build Anahita primarily based on the needs that we have right now for our projects and then we share that with other people because that’s how we can build products.

In fact when somebody asks us for an application or something that we are not using it ourselves, it gets quite difficult for us to develop that because we have to put ourselves in their place to understand what needs they have.  We have to continue maintaining a technology we’re not using ourselves, so in general, we are not as interested.  And even today right now it’s so much fun that we can see a lot of the ideas that we’ve had now we can build them faster than other people.

Bob: Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa!

Rastin: What?

Bob: You mean that you never, Anahita was never set up sort of as a product? It was always set up as a technology that you wanted to use yourself for other things?

Rastin: That’s how it started, yes.

Bob: It’s not – you’ll have to excuse the sort of extension mentality – you weren’t building you know, I’m only thinking of an extension as a, don’t take that the wrong way.  You weren’t setting out to build an extension for Joomla or something stand alone to sell.

Ash: No. That’s a good enough motive.  That won’t work out.

Bob: See I’m learning something new about you every day.  I didn’t realize that.

Ash: It comes from inside of you – the need.  Great products were built with that motive, that you have a need, you want to do something, there isn’t something good enough, what do you do? You get on and do it yourself.

Bob: I’ve never heard anyone say that I need to build the technology because I have these start-up ideas and then have a start-up.

Ash: We’re not the only ones.  You don’t have to go far – Nooku Framework was built based on that.  It’s a great product and it was built based on the same need.  I think Steve Jobs said that if there was a good computer they would have never made Apple back then.

Bob: Yeah, but I don’t have any paid subscriptions for Nooku.  I know, but you have these paid subscriptions for Anahitopolis.

Ash: It’s for the support, it’s for sharing the knowledge – not really for the product itself – if you notice that.  It’s actually to create an environment for people that can share – a support group.  That’s why we don’t charge for software.  That’s why we don’t charge for the code.  That’s what the subscription is for.

Bob: I can see now, it’s such a beautiful, the whole way you’ve gone about it is so beautiful and how you know, you do things and your site is different and it just works and I feel so connected and I can see the philosophy has always been different, and better.

Ash: Well, thank you for saying that.  Yes the philosophy has always been that, I mean this is the number one reason we’re using Anahita on Anahitopolis – yes you’re right, there are other products that they are selling but then they started using it themselves but that’s the philosophy.  It was always a personal need, a personal motivation.  Seeing people using it gives us even more reasons to do that – it just make us happier.

Rastin: It’s the best thing.

Ash: It’s the best feeling when you see people using Anahita and then customizing it – anything, anybody – I was on and they’re using Anahita and Scott and he’s done a great job and I’m very proud.

Rastin: Also Andy.

Ash: Well Andy’s done a tremendous job.

Rastin: He’s a very active member.

Ash: Okay, go on Rastin. [laughter]

Bob: But those are things other people have started with Anahita – YOU have ideas that you want to use Anahita for.

Rastin: Well the other thing is we like to be a role model, an example for people how to push the limits.

We have already used Anahita in many client projects that are not even social networking but the framework is so powerful that you can even build traditional software a lot faster and more maintainable because a framework that can handle node-graph is complex scenarios of node-graph history architecture and it can have traditional models a lot easier too.  But, we really like to start building more social networking services.  Especially that we see a lot of projects happening around and we are like “that is actually quite simple to build in Anahita and let’s try building it”.  It’s really fun but also we are entrepreneurs and there is nothing better, more pleasurable I suppose than building your own business with your own hands.  That was the original motive of Anahita and it still is.  We build our own tools, our own building blocks for building business.

Bob: It’s the nature of the times too.

Rastin: Yes. But Ruby on Rails came from the same concept too, I believe.  It was from 37 Signals they were building business solutions and Ruby on Rails came out of that which is why it became such a practical and resourceful technology.

Bob: So Ruby came from 37 Signals?

Rastin: It was Ruby on Rails and Ash can tell you all about it because he is a really good Ruby on Rails developer.

Bob: We’ll save that for one of your Hangouts.

Rastin: Okay [laughter]

Bob: This is fascinating! You said at some point “we need to get investors involved”. So you want to get outside investors involved in building Anahita based start-ups?

Rastin: Yes. That just because what is a business? A business is an algorithm, is a box that you put, let’s say, a $100 in and you get $300 out and that box is the business model and the next thing you need is to scale that up so you can put $100,000 in and get $300,000 out or $1,000,000 in and $3,000,000 out and that point ……

Bob: Isn’t that called alchemy?

Rastin: Well, if you’re asking me – programming is witchcraft.  [laughter]

You write down symbols and it’s the forces of nature.  But that’s what it is, once you have a business model it’s time for investors to come to scale up the system.  So, yes at some point you need investors to come in.

But right now, because the technology is new and the best way is that rather than going around trying to sell it or sell ideas, we like to build things that are impressive and build things that are just insanely great and then go and show them around and yes, so once the start-up ideas and the projects are coming out we would like to get investors too.

For the projects that we build using Anahita – Anahita itself is our baby, we like to keep it for as long as it goes.  So if we get in investors for it, it will be to grow it.  We like to become like the next Red Hat.

Bob: What is Red Hat.

Rastin: The Linux distribution.  I believe they are the first billion dollar open source company.

Bob: Totally enterprise, the service is an enterprise market.  They’re public too.

Rastin: Yes.

Bob: So you’re going to have a big building in Richmond Centre? Hello ……

Rastin: Hello …….

Bob: I just said, you’re going to have to move from Yaletown to a big box office place in Richmond.

Rastin: Hopefully not.

Ash: I used to be there, I would never do that. [laughter]

Ash: There are big companies in Vancouver downtown that they’re staying. Hootstreet, well they’re not big, but they’re bigger than us.

Rastin: They’re premium service.

Ash: They a few blocks away from us actually, so they managed to stay in Vancouver – so we would too.

Bob: You don’t consider Richmond in Vancouver? I should stop.

Ash: Yeah, you probably shouldn’t say that. [laughter]

Rastin: The thing is I would never want to do the 9-5 working in a cubicle, working in a treadmill office environment, so – no.  The company is going to have a completely different structure.  I would rather it look like a nice big tribe that you go in and innovators in every corner they are working and the environment that is very human friendly and very comfortable for everybody to nurture their creativity, so then the corporate structure is not going to nurture that concept.

Bob: Yes Ash.

Ash: No I didn’t say anything.

Rastin: That was me.

Bob: (big sigh) Well, that was quite an education. We’re just a little over, I wanted to go about 40 odd minutes.  Thank you so much for being here and for doing the show and answering all the questions.

Rastin: You’re most welcome. Thank you for having us.

Ash: Thanks Bob.

Bob: It was just a fabulous experience.

Ash: Sorry, that we were not at our best shape.  I feel we were maybe a little bit off because really lack of sleep.  I worked really late last night.

Bob: But you see if we did this at 2:00 in the morning you’d say “I can’t, I’m working”.

Ash: Yeah, exactly!

Bob: So we have to do it when you’re just waking up or something.

Ash: No, this is good. I don’t care how much sleep I have – we always show up for the interviews, for your podcasts.

Bob: Well you’ve laid down a lot of lessons to learn and I learned and got some insight into how you got into the mode that you did which is different from really what I’m used to – from traditional Joomla extension developers and you showed tremendous leadership and your blogs are very honest and you’ve got these tidbits about how to cope with Open Source Software and how to succeed with it and it’s sort of off the beaten path but I think that a lot of other people are off the beaten path.  I think you’ve got the essence of it and everybody should be paying attention to what you do.

Ash: Oh thank you.

Bob: In other words – I have no strong opinions.

Rastin: We don’t mind opinions – in the community we get all kinds of conversation happening and yes, people do feel uncomfortable for so many rules that we break.  But there is an intention behind it – there is a path and a goal that we decide not to do certain things and for Anahita technology it has to be flexible – it has to be able to evolve and it has to be light and lean and innovative – which means people need to be comfortable with change and one of the biggest challenges for example we’ve had is to snap people out of their structured way of thinking and think in terms of distributed and organic models.  Because people are still asking how I can build? And you know what we can talk about these on Friday because we have a hangout.

Bob: Well I on purpose didn’t request to sign up because I could be on all of them – I have so much fun.

Rastin: Oh you’re welcome to join in – that’s why the hangouts are hangouts.

Bob: I should let everybody else get a kick at the can – because it’s a very unique experience – I think all tribe members should get in on it – without me!

Rastin: Well you have a lot to contribute Bob and also we are happy to have you.  You are the one that inspired us to have a Podcast.

Bob: Thank you. Actually I’ve got other stuff on Friday. Yes – you actually changed the date to accommodate this podcast but I won’t be able to make it on Friday anyways – but the next one I will pipe up.

Rastin: No problem.

Bob: So I’m going to sign off.  Thank you very much. This is Bob Bloom, signing off, wishing you a profitable week.

You have been listening to a production. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of SouthLaSalleMEDIA dot com, nor of the organizations represented. Links and materials discussed on air are available in the Show Notes for this show. Information contained herein have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but are not guaranteed. Podcasts are released under a creative commons licence. Some rights are reserved. Email correspondence to the attention of Bob Bloom at info at SouthLaSalleMedia dot com.

Monthly commentary and interviews about websites, technology, and consulting. Produced by Bob Bloom, founder and developer of LaSalle Software.

Produced 57 podcasts from 2010 to 2016.

Currently on hiatus.

All Episodes