“Helping people that are creative, innovative and to achieve their dreams is really important for us”- Interview with founder of C-Tribe, Sahr Saffa

By Sam Brake Guia November 8, 2018

Alberta has been an artificial intelligence leader for more than a decade, with Google AI subsidiary DeepMind planning their first international office for Edmonton. Adding to this area’s success is the announcement of C-Tribe Society, a global community cultivating, connecting and uncovering the leaders of today – and tomorrow.

The upcoming C-Tribe Festival is a media initiative of the C-Tribe Society. Originating in Edmonton, Alberta, the festival has evolved into one of the northern city’s best representations of its economic and creative energy. C-Tribe Festival runs from November 13 to 17 at the Francis Winspear Centre.

Sahr Saffa

Sahr Saffa

Festival founder and chairperson Sahr Saffa said the festival acts as fertile ground for ideas and collaborations. “We live in a world of collisions. A world where two seemingly opposing concepts could be molded into one and transformed into new and re-imagined industries. Collisions break down barriers between ideas, points of view, and create new grounds that we can explore and build upon together,” he said.

More than 1000 attendees will flock to the host city for an immersive programme focusing on artificial intelligence and machine learning, urban design, construction innovation, blockchain and more.

C-Tribe Festival will feature more than 60 speakers from eight countries, with notable speakers including Burning Man public relations director Megan Miller, Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute founding member Jonathan Schaeffer, and Endor Coin chief alchemist and blockchain community pioneer Mihaela Ulieru.

To find out more Eddie Arrieta, the President and Cofounder of Espacio, spoke exclusively with Saffa to find out more about the entrepreneur’s past, inspirations and hopes for C-Tribe.

Arrieta discussed with Saffa what his experience was like while studying for his Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Florida where he graduated in 2014. Saffa responds that “It was wonderful. I mean School itself wasn’t. My thing, you know my first three years. I was a little bit of a… excuse my French a little bit of a sh*thead because you know, I would party and I would go out and just have a lot of fun and I didn’t really take school seriously, but it was really basketball that carried me forward.”

He adds “And I think ironically once I got to my fourth and fifth year and actually got into the programs in and studying business and the courses that I wanted to do, you know, that’s when I transition into being more studious and academic all-Canadian and really taking it more seriously. So it was definitely basketball that kind of got to.”

Saffa is also a member of The Global Shaper’s Community, a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change. This was a unifying topic among the two as Saffa and Arrieta are members of this community. For Saffa, his experience with this community has been incredibly influential stating that “Oh, it’s wonderful as you know Global Shapers was an incredible experience for me. And I know you can you can resonate with that. I mean even how this connection transpired. And how I ended up with the role with AutonomIQ, it’s all tied to the work and the initiatives that are led by the global Shapers.”

Unquestionably Saffa has achieved a lot in his life and attributes a lot of his success to strong support from his family stating “I’m the proud son of two amazing parents and an older sister that I really look up to and that I take with me everywhere no matter the titles, accolades or the experiences that I had in my life, it’s because of the backbone that I get for my family.”

Back on the subject of the festival, Arrieta wanted to know how Saffa would describe the purpose of the festival for those that don’t know about it. Saffa advocates that “It wasn’t until I left my little town of Edmonton, Alberta Canada, and I went to live in New York for a few months that it really opened my eyes to what a strong innovative and creative ecosystem could look like and I didn’t have to live in New York per se to be part of that, right?”

He goes on to say “I realized that with my peers, and the foundation that we had back home in Canada, we could actually build a very similar ecosystem and actually put our own flavor behind it. And that’s kind of where the idea of C-Tribe came from so, you know celebrating diversity and helping people that are creative, innovative and to achieve their dreams is really important for us and it’s something that you know, we take very seriously at our organization and for all of our delegates speakers.”

In addition to this mission, Saffa was inspired by the level of AI skill which Edmonton had stating that previously “Edmondson was number two for artificial intelligence research in the in the entire world, right, leading against many other places, like Stanford and MIT, right? And we were punching above our weight in the global ecosystem for this space that was emerging.”

Saffa also draws parallels with other communities which have creativity and innovation at their very core, such as Burning Man. He says “The speaker that I’m really excited to see it’s Meghan Miller and she is the communication director of Burning Man. And I’m sure a lot of people have heard or have attended Burning Man, but it’s one of the biggest events that happens in the Nevada desert.”

“And I mean even just looking at the pictures and the videos of previous years. It’s just the exact idea of what creative expression looks like. Super inclusivity and people just loving each other and treating each other with respect look like an almost formulating a new world order for those 10 days.”

With such a strong background in innovation, inclusion, and creativity, it looks like the upcoming C-Tribe festival couldn’t have a better pioneer which may kickstart a culture in Edmonton which will put the city on Canada and North America’s startup map for many years to come. Saffa is on a mission, and his motivations are clearly very noble, with the potential to positively impact many in Edmonton and beyond.

To find out more about the event you can visit the website here

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company