When I first met Austin Vaday a few years ago, it instantly struck me how passionate and dedicated to his projects he was. Austin studies Computer Science at UCLA and is currently building Aquaint, a social network that lets you seamlessly find other people’s social media profiles in one place, by making one profile with one username.
City where you’re from: Laguna Hills, CA
Awesome to have you here Austin. I know you’ve had quite an extensive experience working at NASA and Amazon as a software engineer. What made you make the jump to become an entrepreneur?
Growing up, there were never any hints that I’d become an entrepreneur. I didn’t attempt to sell things to my peers, I was a very quiet and somewhat antisocial kid. I wasn’t able to communicate with others very well, given that I became Deaf at the age of 3 (that’s another story). In short, I never fathomed wanting to run a business. What I knew, however, was that I loved building things. I was set out to be an engineer, and I’ve always known that. But what I hadn’t realized was that entrepreneurs build things as well. Whether it’s building a network or a product, an entrepreneur has the ability to solve problems, help others, and ultimately make a difference in the world.
Growing up, who were your biggest influences?
I would have to say that my dad was my biggest influence growing up. Anyone that knew him could characterize him as a charismatic, fun, and clever guy that knew how to communicate well and solve problems with his immense breadth of knowledge. Stocks and Business? He’s the man. Cars? He’s got you, don’t worry. Real estate? Boy, you’d be surprised. People would come flocking to our house to get help from my dad, and no matter what, he’d always find time to help them out. My dad had a tough childhood, and yet made the most out of it. He came to the United States with so little, but yet was able to create such huge impact for his family and community. He’s living proof that hardships and challenges, whether physical or emotionally demanding, are simply part of the journey of life. This man, in my eyes, is a true entrepreneur.
Honored to have had the opportunity to share my story in UCLA’s Centennial Campaign. We’ve helped raise $2.8 BILLION for UCLA to date. Here’s an excerpt of my speech (captioned, of course). Let’s strive for excellence, let’s make the world a better place. Time only moves forward, and so should we.
Posted by Austin Vaday on Friday, October 14, 2016
What was the genesis of Aquaint?
It all started when my co-founder (and CEO) Navid Sarvian was watching YouTube videos one day, and noticed that social media influencers would put their social media handles in their videos in an attempt to get viewers to follow them over all such platforms. He realized that there were inconsistencies (i.e. some influencers would have different social media handles) and that this approach was unorganized and ineffective (as forcing users to search handles on each platform is time consuming and tedious). So he came up with an idea to revolutionize social media marketing as we know it, and the Aquaint team was born.
Give me the elevator pitch
Aquaint provides a platform that allows social media influencers and companies to easily share all their social media profiles with their audience. We have a unique and aesthetic scan code technologies that influencers, advertisers, and companies can include in their video and social media campaigns. Users can then scan this code using their generic QR-Code scanner or Aquaint app (that will be released onto the app store soon), for quick and easy access to follow influencers/companies across all their social media platforms. In addition to this, we are providing a nice set of analytics and monitoring tools to help these people optimize their social media campaigns.
How are you marketing your app?
We are currently in talks with some local restaurants near UCLA, which we feel is a great way to prove the validity of our product. We’re also in talks with social media influencers, which we discover through our robust entrepreneurial network at UCLA. For the near future, we plan on attending several tech-related conferences to build awareness of our product as well.
What are you top 2 tips for entrepreneurs?
- Put in the work. If you’re passionate about your product and idea, work hard to accomplish it. Far too often do I see extremely passionate and motivated individuals that don’t “feel” like putting in the work. If you love something, you will make time for it.
- Get feedback and help, fast. I was a software development engineering intern at Amazon, and one thing that I loved the most during my work there was the feedback that I received. If I was doing something right, they’d let me know. But more importantly, if I was doing something wrong, they’d let me know. There’s nothing more valuable than receiving feedback as a new entrepreneur, developer, or whatever in the world you want to be. It helps you grow and create more value for the world.
What do you use to build and manage your startup?
Our team uses Trello for task management, Facebook Messenger for team chat, GitHub for storing and maintaining our code, and AWS (Amazon Web Services) CloudWatch to keep track of the health of our technologies and services.
Teach us anything that you’d like!
A social media “follow” or “like” for businesses and influencers is worth more than the average person may think (although there is no precise number to it). By providing ease of access for users to follow others across any social media profile of their choice using Aquaint, businesses can acquire customers more effectively in their social media campaigns, while also learning more about them through our analytics platform that’s coming soon.
What’s in store in the near future?
I see myself working closely with the technologies and scaling the company in the meantime. We’re building support for Aquaint across iOS, Android, and Web, with a focus on mobile. We plan on improving our analytics platform and we’re also in the works of automating many of our technologies for our users. We expect to make linking accounts and even following others a lot faster, and will experiment with hardware to help us accomplish this.
What do you plan to achieve with Aquaint?
To revolutionize social media marketing/sharing as you know it. Or in general: To create positive change in the world.
Add Austin Vaday on Aquaint and follow him on all his accounts!