The Ottawa tech community is rallying together to support the family of a local startup CEO who died in last week’s fatal plane crash in Tehran.
Forty-eight-year-old Ali Pey, the CEO and founder of Kanata-based Message Hopper, was among the 176 victims of Flight PS752, which crashed shortly after takeoff on Jan. 8. He leaves behind his wife, Marie Tremblay, and their four daughters.
The team at Kanata-based accelerator L-Spark, where Pey and his Message Hopper team shared an office, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to support his family’s ongoing needs.
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The fundraiser soared past its initial $2,000 goal over the course of the day on Tuesday, sitting at more than $6,500 after just one day. After roughly 10 days of fundraising, the campaign had surpassed the $29,000.
Among the contributors are individual members of Ottawa’s tech community such as Aydin Mirzaee as well as corporate donations from the likes of Fusebill and Versature.
Colleagues told OBJ last week that Pey was a kind man with a gentle soul.
“Ali is remembered 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,” reads the GoFundMe campaign.
The tech entrepreneur and former Nortel engineer was in Iran to visit his father who had recently taken ill, said Ayat Tadjalli, a close friend and work associate.
When his father seemed to recover, Pey returned to Canada to spend the holidays with his children. But he got a call from his family in Iran saying his father had once again been taken to hospital.
“Ali said, ‘This time I need to go and see my father, maybe for the last time.’ And he went to visit his father in hospital,” Tadjalli said.
He said he was in shock when he found out about the plane and saw his friend’s name on the list of victims.
Pey’s partner, Marie, didn’t want to believe it at all, Tadjalli said. She had spoken with him just a few hours before he boarded his flight.
“She told me, ‘I’m waiting for someone to call me and tell me Ali wasn’t on that plane,’” Tadjalli said.
Tadjalli first met Pey when he started a group for Iranian parents to help foster the Persian language.
“He was really good with kids, he was really enthusiastic about playing with kids, teaching them.”
– With files from Canadian Press