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Sept. 16, 2022 1:46 PM PDT

“That’s a little bit naughty!” exclaimed the queen.

That’s the reaction Abdul Alim remembers from Queen Elizabeth II when he explained his company to the then-90-year-old monarch at a November 2016 session of [email protected], a Buckingham Palace–run startup accelerator–cum–pitch competition.

Alim’s business, Offer Moments, made digital billboards that showed personalized advertisements—even your picture—once you connected a Facebook account to its software. It was a little creepy. Her Majesty knew it, and Alim did, too. He had drawn inspiration for the company from the dystopian thriller “Minority Report.” “I saw the scene where Tom Cruise walks past the billboard and it starts to talk to him, knows who he is,” Alim said. “I thought, ‘How do we make this possible?’”

Prince Andrew, the queen’s scandal-plagued third child, circulated nearby in the room at St. James’s Palace, a red-brick structure across from Buckingham Palace. Andrew was the Windsor family member who had first conceived Pitch and ran it on a daily basis. (It’s impossible to know the queen’s exact role, though it was likely similar to the structure she maintained with all aspects of “The Firm”—Elizabeth as company chair, her children as division presidents.) Even if Alim may not have won over the queen, he did impress Andrew and the others gathered in the crowd, a mix of entrepreneurs, corporate executives and palace staff. They gave Offer Moments the Audience Choice Award.

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