Kanata's tech community mourns the loss of Ottawa startup CEO
OTTAWA -- An Ottawa man who died in Wednesday’s plane crash in Iran is being remembered as a devoted family man and skilled entrepreneur who was a respected presence in the local startup community.
Ali Pey, 48, was one of 63 Canadians killed in the crash.
“He went to Iran to see his father, who was sick in Tehran,” friend Kevin Manesh said. “Now his father is okay, but unfortunately Ali is not with us anymore.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that intelligence indicates the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile.
Members of Kanata’s tech community are mourning Pey’s loss.
“He was recognized as one of the people in the community that made it happen on the strength of his personality, his vision, and his passion,” said Leo Lax, executive managing director of L-Spark, a startup accelerator.
Pey came to Canada from Iran in 2000 and later became a Canadian citizen. He spent a few years at Nortel Networks as a team lead and worked at several other software companies, according to his LinkedIn Page.
But he soon turned his attention toward entrepreneurship. In 2015, he founded a company called Message Hopper, a company that helps businesses reach their customers via text message.
“He took on this new job as an entrepreneur and I think he was beginning to see the fruits of his labour,” Lax said. “It’s really a huge loss.”
For the past nine months or so, Pey and his team had been working in the L-Spark office space.
“He created a very interesting company,” Lax said. “He’s been a very respected contributor to our community as well as the startup community, which he’s always been supporting and engaged in.”
Pey was also active in Kanata and a regular presence at community events.
“He was a very compassionate and empathetic person,” said sport philanthropist David Gourlay, Pey’s neighbour in Kanata Lakes. “That’s the first thing you got from talking with him.
“It’s just such a loss for everybody.”
Pey was also open about the struggles he faced as an immigrant to Canada.
He fought a custody battle with his ex-wife for his two children, and the experience inspired him to write a book titled Discrimination in the Canadian Courts: The true story of a Muslim father fighting for his children.
The book recounts what Pey describes as “intense discrimination and prejudice” from officials including judges, police officers and case workers.
“He had a lot of experiences as a new Canadian and was very passionate about sharing his story,” Gourlay said. “He really enjoyed the opportunities to share those stories with people.”
Above all, Pey is being remember as a beacon of positivity; someone who lit up a room and was enthusiastic about his family, community and everything else he turned his energy towards.
“He always projected a very sunny disposition and made all of us feel great about ourselves and what we were doing, and what he was doing,” Lax said.
Added Pey’s friend Manesh: “I cannot imagine his face without a smile.”