On this episode of #BLUEPRINT I had the pleasure to interview Swish Goswami.
Swish is the 21 year old CEO and Founder of Trufan, a new-age media company that bridges the gaps between influencers, brands and fans by enabling them to identify and reward their top fans. The company has raised over $1,000,000 from several NBA players, media executives and Canadian venture capitalists including Kyle Kuzma, Michele Romanow, Round 13 Capital and New Avenue Capital. He is a TEDx speaker, sits on various boards including Dunk Media and the League of Innovators (Canadian charity started by Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite). Recently he was inducted into Plan Canada’s Top 20 under 20, recognized as Startup Canada’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year and won the United Nation’s Outstanding Youth Leadership award.
Q.1. What’s your story? How did you get to where you are now?
I was born in Singapore and as a kid was always entrepreneurial minded. My first venture was when I was 7 years old and built a hovercraft with my dad and sold it to my classmate for $200. When I was 14, I joined a program called Junior Achievement and was part of a company called Tracy’s Pins. Within one year the company became Southwest Alberta’s Company of the Year and was nominated for Canada’s Company of the Year. In high school I competitively debated and was named onto Team Canada, where I debated in two world championships. I then begun my studies at the University of Toronto where I continued debating and really focused on school.
Halfway through my first year, Trevor Booker, an NBA player, instagrammed me and told me he wanted to meet for dinner when he came to play the Raptors. A few months after that dinner, I began working for his venture capital firm, JB Fitzgerald. That experience gave me a great footing in the world of entrepreneurship and allowed me to meet other young entrepreneurs, many of whom I am still very much in touch with. A year later, I moved to New York and decided to stay out there and take a gap year. In New York, I met and became roommates with one of my good friends, Eliot Robinson, who at the time was working for popular entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk as his head of social and strategy. Eliot had a side job as the CEO of Dunk, a media network exceeding 11M followers. I came on board as COO and helped him with the business end of the company and by December of 2017, we had worked with brands like EA Sports, Warner Music, Q4 Sports and Curve Fragrances.
Q.2. How did the founding of Trufan come about?
Trufan began as an idea on December 11, 2017. I came up with the idea during my time building Dunk, as we had a hard time pinpointing who were the people that absolutely loved our content and who were the influential people that followed us. The tipping point came when Mark Zablow, the CEO of Cogent Marketing, asked us if we had a tool that could help NBA All Star guard Chris Paul find his most engaged fans in Houston. I started to see the potential for a platform that could analyze any social account and show the user their most engaged and influential fans that could be segmented across several parameters. That was the first iteration of Trufan.
Q.3. What are 3 valuable lessons you have learned as a Founder?
Firstly, your business idea should be strategized around a core issue you want to fix. By solving a real problem, you can actually build products and services people need. Secondly, assuming you’ve developed your product or service, get off the couch and start putting it out there. Develop demos and prototypes that can attract talent to your organization and that can also form the basis of an investment and pitch deck you deliver and present to potential investors. Thirdly, find beauty in the chaos. If you can live with a constant feeling of chaos, entrepreneurship might be for you because entrepreneurs always have endless problems to solve.
"Find beauty in the chaos"
Q.4. What advice would you give to college students?
Become self aware. Too many people lie to themselves, and live in an ivory tower where they are ignorant of their failures. Do not underestimate your weaknesses and do not overestimate your strengths. Go out and network; do not underestimate the ROI of attending conferences, and competitions where you can meet people in real life. You are the average of the 5 people you surround yourself with, so make sure you go out and find the right people for you. Be open to anything, when you are young you have very few responsibilities and can afford to take risks.
Q.5. What are you most excited for in the the next 6 months?
I am most excited about Trufan and the direction in which we are heading. We started with the idea that influencers and brands could see who their top fans were and provide them with cool stuff. We’ve now seen the full scope for Trufan: an effective and affordable alternative to paid advertising and influencer marketing that can help any brand or influencer reward their top fans and identify new customers that have similar characteristics to their top fans. That’s the challenge we have set for ourselves this year.
Connect out Swish on LinkedIn or at Trufan.io and check out his awesome content and message! If Swish’s thoughts resonated with you, share this on LinkedIn with #BLUEPRINT and follow along with this series!