Even though Martin Basiri (MASc ’13) had a bachelor’s degree in engineering and held a couple of patents, coming to Canada for his master’s degree was a difficult task.

Finding and applying to the right school took him a more than a year and a half. Finally, in 2010, he came to the University of Waterloo as an international student studying mechatronics engineering. Luckily, he landed a research assistantship, giving him the financial assistance he needed.

After settling down in Canada, Martin helped his brothers and friends apply to study at institutions in North America. After going through this process multiple times, he knew there should be an easier option for international students. That’s when he founded ApplyBoard with his brothers, Meti and Massi.

Martin Headshot“ApplyBoard is an online platform for international students to find the best university or college for them,” explains Martin. “The platform uses data analysis algorithms to match students to the best institution, based on their unique profile. The student can then apply to multiple schools with one application, making ApplyBoard the only one-stop-shop for the entire application process.”

ApplyBoard works with post-secondary institutions across Canada and the United States. With a streamlined application process, the platform saves international students a lot of time and money.

I can't imagine where I would be now if it wasn't for my education.


After less than 5 years, ApplyBoard has seen great success and growth. The company employs over 200 people around the world and has raised CA$72 million in private funding. To date, the team has helped students from almost 100 countries find a place to study.

Giving back

To celebrate his success and give back, Martin signed a Startup Pledge with Waterloo.

“I can’t imagine where I would be now if it wasn’t for my education,” says Martin. “I am a very lucky person who had access to quality education in Iran and in Canada. Now it’s my time to give back so others can get a quality education as well.”

By signing the pledge, Martin committed to donating a portion of ApplyBoard’s future success. When the company has a liquidity event – like an IPO, merger, or acquisition – a portion of the realized options are converted into a donation.

“I hope my future gift will help students like me,” he explains. “It’s my time to give back to international students who may not have all the funds that they need, or entrepreneurial students who could benefit from the Velocity program, as I did."

Driven by a mission

For Martin, signing the Startup Pledge is also a way to commit to his entrepreneurial mission.

“Our mission at ApplyBoard is to make education accessible to all students around the world,” he explains. “Education is not something that should be kept for a specific group of people. We help students get the best education, regardless of where they are born.”

Pledge to change illustration

The company furthers this mission with its online platform, as well as charitable activities. For example, ApplyBoard is a partner with WE Charity, and makes a donation every time someone submits an application in the platform. Plus, the team runs regular events and activities that help make education more accessible. Most recently, they provided 100 backpacks filled with school supplies to refugees.

Driven by this mission, signing the Startup Pledge was an obvious choice for Martin, and it gives him another milestone to work toward.

“I’m looking forward to the day when I can actually make the donation,” he says.