A rainy day, a bright idea and Beyoncé: Tech CEOs and founders share the moment that inspired their company

by Katie Fustich
May 9, 2018

Whether a company has thousands of employees around the world, or is a one-man show operating out of a garage in Long Island — all great organizations start with the seed of an idea. Built In NYC chatted with some of the top tech CEOs and founders in New York City about the pivotal moment in which they had a thought and realized, “Hey, I could be on to something!”

 

White Ops
image via white ops

White Ops works with some of the most skilled white hat hackers around the world to help eliminate some of the most dangerous and sophisticated fraudulent schemes on the web. CTO and Co-Founder Tamer Hassan explained how he and his fellow founders stumbled upon the idea that has now become a multi-national company back in 2012.

 

Talk about the moment you were inspired to create your company. Where were you, what was the original idea like, and what steps did you take next?

“White Ops began on a rainy summer night when I met my co-founders, Michael and Dan, at a coffee shop in Tribeca,” said Hassan. “Chatting about fraud and internet security, someone shared a photograph of a confirmed multi-million dollar check from one of the largest tech companies in the world for fake transactions.”

“We did the math and were all taken aback by the scale of this problem and what it could mean for the health and authenticity of the Internet. Almost simultaneously, we all experienced conviction and clarity that this was bigger than anything else we were working on. We formed White Ops and now have a team of over 70 people across three continents on a joint mission to eliminate fraud from the internet.”

 

ADstruc
image via ADSTRUC

For ADstruc CEO and Founder John Laramie, the creation of his company was personal. Laramie combined his years of experience in branding and marketing with a study of technology to understand how one of the oldest and most relied-upon formats in advertising could be revolutionized for the 21st century.

 

Talk about the moment you were inspired to create your company. Where were you, what was the original idea like, and what steps did you take next?

“I think some of the best ideas can come out of personal experiences,” Laramie said. “In this instance, I tried to buy an [out-of-home] campaign for a client in NYC and was incredibly frustrated by the process. Those frustrations led me to try and learn more about how the industry worked — so I spent the next year talking with hundreds of media owners, agencies, and advertisers. These conversations opened my eyes to how technology could play a key role in bringing better access, information and efficiency [to advertising].”

 

Unacast
image via unacast

Unacast’s mission is to help companies reach their clients on an even deeper level by taking data into the physical world. Unacast’s CEO and Co-Founder Thomas Walle explained to Built In NYC that the creation of the company was inspired by his work at a famous music streaming service, which may or may not have involved Beyoncé.

 

Talk about the moment you were inspired to create your company. Where were you, what was the original idea like, and what steps did you take next?

“I was a part of the founding team at the streaming service TIDAL, which was acquired by the rapper Jay-Z,” said Walle. “While at TIDAL, we knew everything people listened to and made playlists and recommendations tailored to the listener.”

“However,” he continued, “We wanted to understand where people went to concerts, who they truly favored. If you saw Beyoncé on Sunday, we wanted to recommend you Beyoncé's music on Monday. The challenge was that no one had data or an understanding of where people spent their time in the real world. We decided to change that and build Unacast with the goal of understanding human mobility, so that all other companies can make great products and better decisions based on accurate location data.”

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