Awad

I’m a co-founder and the CTO of Pixlee. We help brands market and sell with real customer photos and videos. At Pixlee, I’m responsible for making sure that we continue to innovate and build the best possible product for our customers. The other half of my job is focused on recruiting and building a best in class team here at Pixlee.

 When I was younger…I wanted to do it all. From trying to become a scientist, being a x-games athlete, pro basketball player, fighter pilot, engineer, entrepreneur, you name it I was probably keen on doing it. Growing up I was luckily enough that my parents were supportive of me no matter what I wanted to do, and so I was able to find my own path in discovering my true calling.

 As far as How Pixlee came about…First and foremost, we’re millennials. We’ve grown up with technology and understand how it’s changing the world we live in.

We noticed that our peers were discovering and exploring trends in new ways, and that authenticity was the key between strong relationships between brands and consumers. Less and less stock was being places amongst our peers from seeing product ads on TV or display ads on the Internet.  

My friends weren’t crawling through product catalogs anymore but tended to discover brands on their mobile phones, from following fashion bloggers, by connecting with like-minded peers through social networks like Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, or different messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat. Brands were no longer what they told consumers they were, we were defining brand identity for ourselves by sharing experiences and posting about the things we loved.

Let me backtrack for a minute and note that when we were younger, we ran some companies and projects in high school. We were reasonably successful and basically created the first version of Pixlee without even realizing it — when you’re trying to promote something like a t-shirt company but can’t afford anything on ads, you turn to your customer to share their photos on social media to help generate awareness for your brand. So you can say we’ve been thinking about this a long time. Combine that knowledge and experience with the right timing of the explosion of photo-based communication, and you get the perfect storm of events that led us to create Pixlee.

There are a lot of values that are important to us but one that stands out isDependability in everything”. The trust in your peers delivering for you and being there for you when you need help is wildly motivating and leads to amazing work.

You know the thing about startups is they’re just like babies. They need a lot of support and positive reinforcement in the early days. When you’re just a few people sleeping on the floor of a 1-bedroom house, working non-stop every day, a lot of yourself is invested in what you do. And often there are bumps along the way to establishing yourself as the market leader, starting from establishing yourself as a legitimate market participant period. And in those moments, it helps to have a support group of people you work with and a support network of peers outside of your work who give you the reinforcement you need to keep chugging along. As the old saying goes, "it takes a village.” That’s certainly something that was and is true for us.

Yeah, a lot of people ask what it’s like to be a founder at a young age. Honestly, it’s wicked fun when you get an opportunity to interact with people you might not normally get a chance to otherwise — executives of customer companies, experienced entrepreneurs and investors, and seasoned professionals who are all interested in what you’re doing.

It’s frustrating when you don’t realize how much you don’t know but on the flip side, it’s great to be able to look to those who have walked the path before you for advice and mentorship and learn first-hand. Leaving NY was also tough at first, I mean any time you make a big life change, there is a bit of apprehension, but honestly it's been a great experience. For a first time founder in tech, there is no better place in the world to be.

There are a lot of goals I still am looking to achieve; one thing that comes to mind is impact. Impact is very important to me. I think we’re doing some amazing work at Pixlee, and I would us like to continue making great impact for the brands we work with and their customers.

For any future entrepreneurs reading, one of the best pieces of advice I ever received was that the highs are never as high as they seem and the lows are never as bad as they seem. So, while it might be cliché, sometimes you just have to go for it — make a decision, any decision, instead of putting it off for tomorrow. 

 

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