Iranian Filmmaker Develops Startup in the Heart of Silicon Valley


- Maani Salimi

Term : August,2015
Department : Business and Management
Program : Marketing

Maani Salimi is a filmmaker, marketer and entrepreneur extraordinaire. He moved to the United States from Iran in 2015, with the initial thought of attending film school in Chicago and later launching a startup. He soon learned that the most effective path to launching a business in the United States would involve becoming an international student and applying for optional practical training (OPT)—and thus began his search for the right program. He was delighted to find UCSC Extension’s programs for international students, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, land of startups. He completed the certificate in Marketing Management in summer 2015.

What interested you in Silicon Valley?

For international students, starting at UCSC Extension is a really good option, because you get extensive training and you can prepare for your own career, startup or job. I hadn’t been to the U.S. before, so these eight months have been like an orientation for me, getting around the city, meeting new people. Because I’m an international student, once you complete your program you can apply for OPT, which can help you find a job, internship or help you create your own startup.

What attracted you to UCSC Extension?

One of the great advantages is the length of the program. The first two quarters offered very intensive training. When I first started, I enrolled in the Web Content Management program, but after taking a few marketing classes, I realized it would be more valuable for me to focus on that. I talked to the International Student Advisor, who was so responsive, and easily transferred my program to Marketing. I was able to take classes in other disciplines too, including Business Administration and Project and Program Management. I got exposed to a variety of topics and still had time to focus on my startup idea and get ready for OPT.

How have your classes helped you develop your startup ideas?

Taking the marketing classes has given me an advantage in my efforts to launch a startup. My startup is a combination of my past experience with filmmaking and animation, and technology. Taking the marketing classes has given me an advantage in my efforts to launch the startup, because the instructors are all really good, and they let you work on your own projects for class assignments, which really helped me. For my “Power of Market Research” and “Customer Acquisitions” classes, I was able to work on my startup ideas. “Improving Business Presentation Skills” was an amazing class, and it really helped me.

I especially liked the “Principles of Marketing” class, because the instructor was amazing. Her experience in the industry and her knowledge about marketing was really helpful. She brings up case studies for each topic, and we can learn by analyzing those and understanding how those strategies work in the real world.

What’s your dream job?

I’d love to start my own company here. Right now I am really working hard on the product. I’m talking to some angel investors and have applied for the Y Combinator Fellowship program, which is very competitive.

Being in Silicon Valley has many great advantages. There are a lot of meetups and events nearby where, if you are an engineer, a designer or a founder, you can meet new people and exchange ideas. I’ve made friends who work at Google, Facebook, Apple and the like. If you put time and effort into networking, this is the place to be. It’s a very great choice to start here and get ready for your journey.

Visit our Marketing Management page to learn about UCSC Extension’s unique offerings. For information on services and programs for international students, please visit our International Programs page.

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