Sorin Mihailovici

Top 40 Under 40 2013

Photography Curtis Trent

Age: 36

Job Title: Founder of Scam Detector Inc and Travel by Dart; Community Liaison and Independent Production Development Coordinator for OMNI Television

Why He’s Top 40: He doesn’t let logistics come in the way of realizing huge dreams, and he’s prevented the dreams of others from being crushed by creating an app that educates people about fraud.

What Do You Like Most About Edmonton?: “The high level of entrepreneurship. I’m going to social events all the time. I’m always meeting people who are doing unique things. There’s something about this town. People don’t just say, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ they just do it. That’s fascinating.”

Sorin Mihailovici grew up in a small Romanian city called Tulcea, where hot water was a luxury only available on Tuesdays. “And the power went off for an hour daily because the country was trying to save energy,” he says. Many kids imagine travelling the world; he wanted to simply see a plane up close. “It sounds crazy, but then, I’d only seen one from far away,” he says.

Now, the independent production development coordinator for OMNI Television can throw a dart at a world map and fly wherever it lands. And he’s done it. Twice. While the idea started with the intention of Mihailovici and his friend, Matt Cook, going on a vacation, it ended with them creating two episodes of a television show.

Rather than sandy beaches, they got -50 degree Celsius weather. It was the dead of winter, and Norway’s Svalbard islands, halfway between the North Pole and the Norwegian mainland, was their destination. The pitch-black sky (it’s dark for 24 hours a day in the winter), the fact that polar bears outnumber people and the extremely expensive plane tickets would make most adventurers simply throw another dart.

Instead, the friends set another challenge. They decided to raise funds for the awareness of the plight of polar bears for the World Wildlife Foundation. And they created sponsorship opportunities where people could contribute funds in exchange for packages, including a commercial shot on the trip.

A cameraman documented their journey and the resulting film, Travel by Dart: Polar Faith, which they’ll use as the pilot of a potential TV series, was screened at the Global Visions Film Festival in March. It can now be seen on the festival’s website.

A few months later, they threw another dart – this time in front of 200 people at a gala where they raised $34,000. They hit Russia, where they travelled in September to help children in orphanages. “I want to be that somebody that could have helped me when I just wanted to see a plane. Hopefully I can make some kid’s dream come true,” says Mihailovici.

But Mihailovici also aims to prevent people’s dreams from being crushed. He does so through Scam Detector, an app that reveals more than 700 telephone, travel, Internet, auto and face-to-face schemes. Shortly after its launch in 2011, it became the most downloaded app in Canada in the lifestyle category.

Prior to creating the app, Mihailovici produced a film called 419: The Nigerian Scam, inspired by a real case of an Internet scheme that involved the loss of thousands of dollars. The film premiered at the West Hollywood International Film Festival. “I get emails from people all over the word saying ‘thank God that someone came up with this.’ That feels good.”

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