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Ashkan and Kaveh are both friends and co-founders of Spectrums, a new app on iOS and Android. By day, Ashkan is a commercial real estate agent and Kaveh is a doctor. By night they’re disrupting social platforms with a new tool that’s going to make it a whole lot easier to get to know one another online.
City where you’re from: Toronto, Canada
Favorite quote: “Sweat equity is the most valuable equity there is. Know your business and industry better than anyone else in the world. Love what you do or don’t do it.” – Mark Cuban
We could do this the old way, but we prefer the new way! With Spectrums, one URL will link you to all of our social media. So we’ve included our Spectrums URL, but, as not to confuse, we’ve also included our individual accounts, hyperlinked as requested:
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
Ashkan Kouchak: We’re working on an app called Spectrums, available on iOS and Android. It’s a simpler way to connect with your friends and fans, by allowing you to consolidate your social footprint. Instead of making a new social platform, we’re bringing all social platforms together in one place. Making it easier for individuals and brands to be discovered and engage with one another across these platforms.
I was noticing how many different handles and names people have for social media accounts. Even just connecting up with all of my friends or new connections, I always found it hard because everyone is everywhere and under various names or different handles. And I have always been interested in numbers, in astrology, in how certain numbers hold special meanings for people…and then I thought, what if everyone just had a number associated with them? Numbers are unique, so you wouldn’t have the issue of someone trying to set up a copycat account (with the same number). You can make it so you only allow each person or business to have one number, and that can cut down on spam accounts considerably.
Kaveh Kavoosi: It’s one of the reasons we’re focusing on authentication of individual accounts via your mobile phone number. It’s one more way to ensure that one person, one number philosophy that underlies the app.
What’s your dream with your company?
Kaveh Kavoosi: Our dream is to be the Google of people. If you want to find out where your favourite people and celebrities are online, you’ll be able to search them on Spectrums and find their entire social footprint (their Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, etc…even websites or blogs) in one click.
How do you creatively advertise?
We’re going directly to influencers that we think will best benefit from Spectrums early on. We’re showing them how they can grow audience numbers across their various social accounts with platforms and offering premium Spectrums IDs for early adopters. (note: everyone on Spectrums is assigned a number instead of creating their own handle. Each number is unique, but smaller numbers hold more value as they are easier to remember. We’re offering early adopters smaller Spectrums IDs in exchange for letting them try out our app…and hopefully spreading the word).
Why consolidate your social footprint into one place with Spectrums?
- Many influencers gather clout by having big follower numbers. They’re trying to grow their following across platforms because those numbers give them more bargaining power and access to brands who want to partner with influencers. Spectrums specifically drives users to an influencer’s social media, making a follow much more likely than directing a typical user to a web page with hotlinks to social media embedded somewhere on the page.
- Many apps (SnapChat, Instagram) only allow for one URL and so people are forced to decide on one place to send their followers. If they had the ability to send them everywhere at once, with one URL, one click, why wouldn’t they? By adding their unique Spectrums URL to their other platforms, they give a one-stop shop for fans to decide what other content they’d like to engage with.
What were your biggest failure and biggest success? What did you learn from them?
Ashkan Kouchak: This is the second time I’ve taken a swing at apps. I tried to make a dating app fly once, but got too much in the weeds with over-complicating things. I’ve learned my lesson with Spectrums: simpler is better. Start slow and build from a really strong, simple idea. You can always add as you go, but it becomes harder to know what to take away or what is valuable if you’ve thrown everything at the wall in the first run.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Kavek Kavoosi: Like Ashkan said above, keep it simple. When it comes to tech, things shouldn’t feel too complex or overwhelming. If they are, your user base will walk away. But also, when you are pitching, seeking out funding, etc. always show the simplicity of what you are doing and keep you pitches direct and tight. If you have a deck with 50+ slides, chances are you can cut some fat.
Ashkan Kouchak: And test everything! The worst you can do is assume things about your user base. Find out from your users what they like, what they engage with, and it will direct your future iterations and give you insights you’ll want to share with future partners and investors. Whether you are trying to make a better app or a better beer, always be in contact with your client base and use them to gather data and learn how to be better.
Teach us something about networking:
Kaveh Kavoosi: Be honest about your intentions, no matter what it is you are working on. And talk to everyone. People respond to earnest passion, and you never know who you are going to meet along the way that might help you.
Ashkan Kouchak: And keep those people close! Keep in touch with everyone in your contacts list, even if you don’t have anything on the go. One of my advisors I met when I was trying to make an unrelated project take off (it didn’t, but I kept in touch and now he’s an advisor on Spectrums). My business development/marketing manager was someone I worked with in the past and she was the first one that I brought on for Spectrums because we kept in touch and remembered how much fun it was to work together. So don’t just collect Linkedin connections. Actively check in from time to time. People appreciate it when you are genuinely interested in hearing what’s new in their lives (personally and professionally) and are more likely to answer the call when you’re bootstrapping your next venture.
What’s something new you’ve learned in the past month?
Ashkan Kouchak: Dealing with personalities on a small team can be a struggle, but having a small team also has its benefits. Conversations can happen quickly. Directions can change in an instant. So it’s important to be in constant communication with your core team.
Kaveh Kavoosi: Yes, things change so quickly. Constant communication is key, because sometimes you’re just running through your day, getting things off your plate, and you forget that you need to communicate with the team – especially the wins! It’s important early on when you are getting your footing to make sure you’re sharing the wins, no matter how small, because some days just feel like a constant climb through the clouds with no guarantee of breaking through. And breaking through doesn’t happen by accident. It’s a total team thing.
Teach us something we don’t know
Ashkan Kouchak: Here’s an interesting fact: most people have more than 5 social media accounts. That’s a lot of places to have to seek someone out. Imagine, looking someone up on Twitter, then Facebook, or going to their website, then clicking on Instagram, and noticing they have a link to Snapchat that wasn’t even listed anywhere else. It’s a lot of time and energy, if you are a fan of someone, to find where they are, or even if you are just friends, taking the time to follow each other. Who has their social media handles and URLs written out to rhyme off if someone asks them for the information?
Kaveh Kavoosi: 91% of brands also have 2 or more social media profiles. If you look at just Twitter, Nike has something in the ballpark of 38 official accounts right now – and that’s not even including Facebook, Instagram, etc. That’s a LOT of social media content to direct fans to.
What do you think you do better than most people?
Kaveh Kavoosi: I like to take a step back, to look at the details and make sure they fit into the bigger picture. Sure, this works for now, but is it a solution for the long term? If we take this out, will the machine still work just as well? That kind of stuff.
Ashkan Kouchak: I tend to see opportunities and gaps in the market. I’m constantly looking at how things are done and how they can be handled more efficiently.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Kaveh Kavoosi: Don’t worry about perfection. You can always iterate as you go, but if you have a great idea/concept, get it to market as soon as you can. Then test it and make it better as you go.
Ashkan Kouchak: Surround yourself with people that are good at what you are bad at. That way, you’re surrounding yourself with people that are going to allow you to see the whole picture.
What are some of the best books you’ve ever read?
Kaveh Kavoosi: I recently read “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” by Adam Grant. He talks about how originals aren’t just cliff-diving adrenaline junkies, but people willing to take a step back and seek out a “better way”. Of course, Apple comes up in the discussion, but he delves into Warby Parker (his “worst decision” was not coming on as an investor early on) and their start-up story is just so inspiring. It’s a great read. It gets you excited to start seeking out door #3 in everything you do.
Ashkan Kouchak: Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why”. It’s inspiring. It makes you understand how important the “Why” actually is in creating and maintaining a business that has long-term legs. Sure, you still need the “what” and the “how”, but continuing to ask yourself “why” just seems to ensure longevity. I’m already putting it into practice on a daily basis as I think about Spectrums and where I want the company and myself to be 5 or even 10 years from now.
Where do you see yourself and your product in a couple years?
Ashkan Kouchak: I want Spectrums to be just as ubiquitous as any other social media logo (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). I want everyone to not only have their own Spectrums ID, but I want people to search for and discover new ways to connect by connecting first via Spectrums.
Kaveh Kavoosi: If people need to seek out friends, if influencers want to gather followers, if brands want to share their content, I want Spectrums to be the way that happens. I’d love to see Spectrums IDs shared as URLs on other social media sites, and Spectrum IDs and QR codes shared both on and off-line. Basically, I want to see Spectrums everywhere.