Sean Shadmand – Socialize 2 of 2

"Creating an entirely new product means giving users something they want, but don't realize." Socialize's API & SDK increases mobile app engagement, promotion, and discovery.

Matthew: Since you’ve been in operation, what have you learned about your business and your users that you didn’t realize?

Sean: Since we’ve been in operation, our business and our users that we didn’t realize? I think, I think one thing that’s really difficult in product types of business, and this comes like from the Apple kind of mantra and all those types of things and related things, is the customer is always right. That’s like something that we know. And the really difficult thing about the customer’s always right is that when you create a business or a product that’s never been seen or created before, there’s not really much reference points for the customer to have to tell you whether you’re right or wrong.

So a lot of times people tell you what they want, but you’re creating something they haven’t heard of and therefore you can’t really listen to your customers. Like, you have to sometimes give people what they don’t know they want, or what they want and didn’t realize it yet. That’s the really, really tough thing to figure out and learning that about the business is really tough. Also, another thing that’s really interesting to learn is that when you’re an entrepreneur, you think you’re an inventor, you like to figure things out ahead of the game, right?

Like, I’m going to see this coming two or three years from now something big is going to happen and you invent for that or you work towards that. Really tough thing, we learned this at our consulting company as well as AppMakr and all other businesses, is that if you have to educate your user and they don’t even know it’s coming and they don’t know much about what’s going on, that takes a hell of a lot of time out of your business and it keeps you from accomplishing your goal.

So, knowing what your goal is, knowing what the customer may get to, but really working on things that they get and understand already and incrementing from there into things and educating them through things that they use, as opposed to through things that they’ve never heard of, is the difference between a million dollars a year and $200,000 a year. So make, as far as costs go. So learning that was interesting.

Matthew: Lots of people admire entrepreneurs because they appear to make building companies look easy. We know it can be very challenging. My question for you is, what talent or skills come intuitively or easily for you? What has been difficult? And how have you managed that?

Sean: Its always, ever since I got into this, I really tried to make a mention about what it’s really like because even as an entrepreneur you’re peers always seem like they have their shit together and the thing is no one tells the truth so everyone thinks they’re behind and the honest truth is it’s really hard. It’s hard every day and also it’s really awesome every day. It’s really challenging and if you go into it for the right reasons, you get the right stuff out of it.

But as far as, I think the basic characteristics that I’ve had that have really helped is just the drive to succeed I guess, the wanting to make a difference and change things, the wanting to invent, wanting to make new things out of things that didn’t exist before. I think if you asked entrepreneurs across the board, some of those things are pretty similar. I wanted to make something that wasn’t there before. Or I wanted a lot of people to use something that I created. That whole creation type of concept or change the way things go. I think that is a natural driver of them.

I think one thing that has been hard for me is that I’m not an asshole kind of person and people always say that being an asshole is a really important part, sometimes I debate, sometimes I’m like you know what? Maybe I should have been kind of an asshole on that, just went my way. And I’m not really sure if it’s the right decision or not but I’m just not that type of person and I think that has caused problems but it might have helped out in a lot of ways. One thing that people do a lot is they see other people and they try to emulate them. And what I think I’ve learned the most is that that’s just really wrong.

The best thing you can do, and this is kind of a weird thing about it, the best thing you, it sounds really cliche too, the best thing you can do is do the things that are best for you and best for the type of person that you are. If you’re a nice person and you try to be an asshole, you will lose twice as bad because you’re not that person. The bad days that you have that you don’t have the energy to be a different person than you naturally are won’t get you through the day. So you really have to be who you are so you can get through the highs and the lows and do it the way you want to do it and find, emulate people that are similar to you.

60 Minutes recently had a show with Steve Jobs and talking about how much of a jerk he is and I was watching it and I was thinking, man, there’s going to be a lot of jerks created out of this 60 Minutes show, because I bet that there’s a lot of kids that are watching that are going, yeah, maybe I should just be a complete jerk and like really throw my weight around. But I don’t think Steve Jobs was wrong, I just think that that was him. So, I guess overall, being yourself and staying true to that is the biggest thing that you could do and the quality that I kind of believe in and don’t just force paradigms onto places they don’t belong.

Matthew: What bit of advice do you wish you would have known before starting Socialize?

Sean: Tough questions. Oh man. Tough questions because like everything that you could’ve known before can change the path of business but you never really know if it would’ve been better or worse. I guess, can I answer a little differently? I think going, I’m really glad that I started things before I started things. One lesson, if I had to do lessons again, it’s more than like, I wish I would’ve known, is I wish I would’ve started sooner, at like 5 years old. My kid is going to have a chance to be an entrepreneur the second they’re born because there’s nothing more valuable that the experience. And there’s nothing more interesting than being involved with it and everything you learn just comes out of that, I think, and my dad used to tell me something which really stuck with me which was just do it.

Like, I know that sounds like Nike, but in his way. He said, you know, just do something. I was always frustrated and I was like, what do you mean, do something? Do what? I’m trying to figure out the best thing to do. He was always just, so something. And I always just, I always thought he didn’t get it and then I realized later on that he actually got a lot. Every idea is a good idea. Every ambition is a good ambition. A garbage truck person makes millions of dollars when they make the biggest garbage truck company in the world. And the person who sold Croc, little things that you put in Crocs, she made tons of money. And she’s famous, you know, for it. And so it didn’t matter so much what I did to try to be successful as much as I tried to do things.

And I really wish I would’ve listened better and that would be, I guess the thing I would’ve, I guess I heard it so I did hear it before starting the company but I wish I really let that sink in early on in life which is the second you have an idea do it and if you think you have a better idea in the middle of it, think about that then. But don’t wait to take action. Don’t let things come to you and don’t look for perfection or wait for perfection. Every idea you have has potential and if you wait on trying it you’re just missing out on all that experience and learning experience and information and that’s what I would trade. I would definitely trade that.

Matthew: What advice would you like to share with our audience about launching a start-up? If you have to distill it, what are the key elements?

Sean: Let’s see. Really key elements, so one is having, it’s always good to have a vision, a come to the mountains. What I’ve realize is whether 100% you’re sure if the three year goal is right or not, you have to have it and it has to be powerful. Not for investors or not for like whatever, you know, financial guide that someone can tell you how many, like, spiritually. Maybe spiritually might throw people off. I mean emotionally. You know morale. People want to have a goal greater than themselves and nothing puts people together better than having a message that people can take to heart.

Like the Bible is a book, whatever you’re religion is, the Bible is the book and there’s no manager of that book. You don’t have to have a Chief Operations Person, you don’t have to have a manager, pivotal tracker, you don’t have to have tickets to manage the Bible, because it’s a message. It has strength. It’s bigger than yourself. So when you have those things you can scale it to 20,000 people or 2 people because everyone believes in something greater and they come up with things to be better people. So, the scalability of being able to manage people when you have a big idea is much greater and more efficient than if you just have incremental. More operations have to go into smaller ideas, so having something people can gravitate towards I think is a really good thing to go into it with.

And at the same time, this is the difficulty, balancing the fact that you have to have the short term goals. You actually have to get something accomplishable done. You have to have a plan of attack for the one month, the three month and the eighth month. So, and the third thing you be, I guess related to the thing I said a minute ago, which was just do it, like try it on some scale. Walk down the street and ask someone to fill out a paper if you have a form, or a form to find out if people are interested. Call friends, do workshops, start putting something together when you go to the business to know what you’re going after. That’s really good.

Doing what you love. I talk a lot, people, not just me, but a lot of people talk about doing what you love. What’s interesting to me is sometimes I ask people when I was researching as a philosopher, I used to do this a lot, researching what it means to do what you love. And I was asking someone what they were really interested in and they said, Lamborghinis. I was like, oh cool, so you’re working with Lamborghinis and cars? And he was like, no, I’m in finance. I was like, oh, you love finance. He was like, not really, I’m hoping in finance I can make enough money to get a Lamborghini.

And it just hit me when I was talking to the guy, I was like, why at 18 didn’t you start working at a Lamborghini dealership? You’d be around Lamborghini’s every day of your life. That’s your goal. Instead you’re going to do something you hate to maybe get the Lamborghini at 50? He was like, yeah, I want more than one Lamborghini. And it’s funny, like this ownership that we have in our country, this ownership we have in our culture where it’s like you have to wait to own.

If you really love something, you love being around it, you love interfacing with it, you love touching it, you love the day to day and if you have the chance to get close to something and you take it, that’s when you’re doing what you love because you’re involved in that space whether or not 20 years from now you’ll have something.

Matthew: Before we close I would love for you to give our audience you’re vision for Socialize and how you hope it will change the world.

Sean: Well, Socialize, so there’s the small, the medium and the big. I think the really small, and all of them are big to us, but I think the small goal is we want to improve the mobile experience. It’s just devastating since we’ve been in mobile since 2008 as a group in different capacities, just crazy how much push back people give to something that is so obviously shaping the world, changing the world and grabbing attention year after year. It’s 2011, 2007 it was a fad, in 2008 iPhone was a fad, 2009 and 10 iPad was a fad. It’s like no, it’s not, it’s real, we have to address it, we have to solve these problems. Quick solutions to fleece America or fleece users to make a quick buck off of it isn’t building up the foundation so we’re hoping that Socialize is confronting the problem directly. We’re not scraping anything off someone.

We’re not trying to do arbitrage on someone in order to make one person’s experience good at the risk of someone else’s. We’re saying, hey, engagement, getting people to interact on a mobile device, that’s what’s really intimate and close. You hold it close to you, it’s on you all the time, make an experience on there that people can put app after app. Those are great goals. We really believe in and the tools in order to do that we want to make simple and functional for every developer.

Now we’re hoping that that information that we’re passing through has a lot of information that people can analyze to make it better and engage it with their customers. So that’s like, that’s like the general thing we’re going after, like ubiquity, getting an app and helping these apps do what they have the potential to do for all these years.

The next thing is trying to figure out how we can start mapping these people together. Facebook is doing a lot with the social graph. Twitter does a lot with their interest graph and we’re trying to do a mobile interest graph of our own and hopefully at some point we’ll be able to take all that data and interaction and really start bringing people together based on their interests on that mobile device, the apps that they love, the things that they do on a daily basis.

What’s really interesting is that since the ’70′s, the PC has been pretty much the same. It’s keyboard, monitor and you just sit there and when we really started to get into mobile we realized that mobility of it was really interesting and we think that that connection that people have with their device has a lot of potential. We want to just leverage that in the long term. Figure out how to leverage that.

Matthew: Sean, it’s been a great pleasure having you as a guest on FounderLY. We’re rooting for your continued success at Socialize. For those in our audience who’d like to learn more, you can visit their website and become a user at This is Matthew Wise with FounderLY. Thanks so much, Sean.

Sean: Thank you.

  • Iran Gratzon

    Wonderful Sean, congratulation to you and your sacces..




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