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Last Update: Monday September 20, 2021

Key Idea: Go After Awards

Sohrab Voussoughi's Ziba Design became the first firm in the world to ever win four Gold Awards in one year in the annual Industrial Design Excellence Awards Competition run by the Industrial Designers Society of America.   More...

Key Question:


Whenever there is an opportunity, submit your work for peer review within your national trade association.

Should your small business, like Ziba, seek recognition for excellence from its trade association?

  There are lots of benefits to trade association membership. The opportunity to network with other entrepreneurs in the same business but different markets, market research, trade publications and conventions, and quick and easy access to the latest trends in product development and innovation in your industry. You've heard us recommend trade association many times for all of these reasons. The opportunity to compete for local, regional, and national recognition is one of the biggest benefits. If you are not a member in any trade association, find one and become a member. If they do not have an awards program, recommend it and offer to coordinate it.

Think about it

How would your customers, your employees and your vendors react if you were recognized as an industry leader? Do you think going after that recognition is worth the effort it would take to get it?

Clip from: Ziba Design - Be well. Do it well. Then Do It Even Better.

Sohrab Vossoughi and his people seek a higher perfection.

Portland, Oregon:  "Be well. Do it well. Then, do it even better"  drives this industrial design firm. These creative perfectionists have come from all over the globe to work side-by-side with this man pictured above, Sohrab Vossoughi.  They want to be part of a team that can make a difference in this world and in their life.

"Strive for simplicity, innovation, human-centered interaction, visual interest, and efficiency." This is the calling card not just of a design firm; it is a calling card for all businesses for the future.

Ziba Design, Inc.

Sohrab Vossoughi, Founder, CEO

334 NW 11th Street
Portland, OR 97209

Visit our web site:

Office: 503.223.9606

Business Classification:
Design, Invention,

Year Founded: 1991

Go After Awards

HATTIE: In 2001, Ziba became the first firm in the world to ever win four Gold Awards in the annual Industrial Design Excellence Awards Competition run by the Industrial Designers Society of America. In fact, no firm in the world has won as many awards per employee as has Ziba. Must mean -- small is beautiful.

SOHRAB: Ziba means beautiful in Farsi, which is the language of Persians.

I wanted to come up with a name that was easy to say, easy to spell and at the same time has a meaning. “This is really nice – I mean, the way it tapers down to – that's nice.” From the beginning, I never had limitations in my mind about what can be done and what cannot be done. I always question things, “What if? What if?” The word “what if” is very important.

So, I suggest that people should take these limitations that people make for themselves in their mind away and start challenging what is norm. And then say,” why should something be like that and what if it was like this?” And then see what comes out of it.

HATTIE: In 1970, when he was 14 years old, Sohrab came to this country from Iran and he became a US citizen one year later. By 1984, he had finished college and had some big business experience. With a couple of free-lance projects under his belt and a total of $400, he quit his job with the goal to solve problem's through innovative design.

HATTIE: Why is this product so important to Ziba?

SOHRAB: This product, the Cleret Squeegee, is actually the product that really launched us. It got a lot of publicity.

There was this accountant from Nike, who would do some work for Nike, and he found out about us. He had just bought this house in one of the suburbs of Portland. And the house had clear glass shower doors. And in order to preserve the clarity of the glass, you know have to usually wipe the glass after you take a shower. You either use a squeegee or you use a towel.

Basically he said, “If I can sell a nice looking squeegee, I think there is a need for it.”

We found that the T-handle on the squeegee is actually created for reach -- to be able to extend your hand above your height to clean the windows. And also, for the inside enclosure of the shower it is very tight, and you can't use that – it is very cumbersome.

HATTIE: So in one year you sold how many?

SOHRAB: He sold 16 million dollars worth of these, in one year – in the second year. And he had two people, himself and one other salesman. So you can imagine – 8 million dollars per employee.

This is in a permanent collection in the Smithsonian Museum. And was in the Museum of Modern Art – it was in their store selling too. And became – it has been on the cover of many books and magazines about design.

So it has been a very famous product and really people connect us and relate us to “Oh, these are the people who did the Squeegee.”

HATTIE: You are the Squeegee guy.

SOHRAB: Yeah, the Squeegee guys. (pause)

HATTIE: Now, in addition to the home office in Portland, there are offices in Tokyo, Taipei, Boston and San Jose staffed by a total of 80 people from 17 countries who are generating nearly 12 million in annual sales.

Clients include Intel, Hewlett Packard, McDonald's, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Rubbermaid, Nike, Microsoft, Ford and Whirlpool -- The Who's Who of big business.

HATTIE: (voiceover) In the lobby of Ziba headquarters just a few of its creations are on display.

SOHRAB: This was a huge success, because Microsoft wasn't actually in this market at all. This was the first keyboard for the masses; that's what I call it. They were thinking about they would sell 600,000 of these a year – but after three months, it was shot up to about 600,000 a month. That was just mind-boggling king of success.

This is a huge success story, Coleman the camping stove guys, came to us and said “Here is our brand, and this is what it stands for. We want to get into the home market.” We did a lot of research and we actually created this (holding a smoke detector) – again another strategy for them -- we created a broom button here.

HATTIE: Oh, so that is for a broom handle – you just go pop.

SOHRAB: It's concave, it's large so that when it goes on all you have to do is get a stick and push it.

HATTIE: That was too simple wasn't it?

SOHRAB: Usually the best designs are the simple designs.

HATTIE: Is this selling?

SOHRAB: Coleman went from no presence to 40% market share.

HATTIE: No – you guys are good!

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