LDC Top 50 2021
In 2004, Somayeh Aghnia left Iran for the UK to take a Masters in software development. When she entered the IT industry, she became frustrated that projects were often late, poorly executed or never delivered at all.
She created Geeks in 2007 with software engineer husband Paymon Khamooshi “to do something different”. Geeks has been automating the software development lifecycle, while delivering software solutions, and this strategy will see the almost £6m turnover company hit £35m in three years. But growth will never come at the expense of her impact goals, she says. From gender equality in tech to green business practices, “There’s no limit on the impact we want to make.”
I’m not money-driven; I’m impact-driven.”
What is Geeks’ USP?
My husband and I both come from a software engineering background, so we saw there are many repetitive tasks that are error-prone and boring. We liked doing the complex tasks; not creating endless tables in databases. So we have automated everything we can in the process. Automation is the blood flowing through the veins of this company. It’s why we have won a Queen’s Award for Innovation. We have created technologies that change every stage of digital transformation, from strategy to testing.
How did you get the business off the ground?
It was hard in the beginning. We were struggling to pay off our student debt so one of us would be contracting for other companies while we were trying to build Geeks. And consider, neither of us had any connections here. We didn’t have a network or school friends. We wanted to start the company in 2005 but we experienced “immigration coma”. We were trying to make sense of the new world around us, learning the culture and how to communicate effectively. It took two years before we felt we were ready to change the world.
How important is purpose to you?
I’m not money-driven; I’m impact-driven. We have a campaign called Geekess to encourage women and girls into the tech industry. We offer training to those outside the industry so they can build a career in tech. We also never work for gambling companies, for example, or take any project that doesn’t change the world for the better. And we have just set up the Geeks Foundation to tackle some major challenges in the world. Technology has a role to play in answering many of the complex questions we face, from battling loneliness to an ageing population. I’m excited to run these impactful projects worldwide.