CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast
The Startup Coach talks to George Boutsalis of Cast an anonymous social media voting platform that removes the friction, and the social pressures, of sharing your opinion online. Cast assembles and aggregates the demographic data to promote transparency, curiosity and encourages users to think for themselves. They are not the subjective authority of “public opinion”, rather the objective assembly of public opinion.
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Transcript of CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast (Automated Transcript)
00:00:02 – 00:05:01
Direct from the six world renowned canada’s largest city with canada’s biggest thinkers visionaries and hustlers. I this is startup. talk featuring the founders funders innovators and community leaders who’ve led canada’s startup ecosystem. Right here in toronto. You’ll hear the challenges. The failures the successes toronto startup. podcast gives you the full story. Direct from the entrepreneurs and influencers move made a difference now the host of startup talk. The founder of toronto starts this startup coach. Welcome to start of talk. I’m the startup coach. Founder of toronto stars candidates start up and entrepreneur community and with me today is george boots co founder of cast and cast is the objective assembly of public opinion. Is that correct. That is correct. This cracked craig. Thanks for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here. Big fan of the looking for to china and then i pronounce your last name. Chris did you did which a lot of people honestly i’ve earned of so many different ways it’s been said but For shots guys. Leagues really really appreciate that. I usually asking the pre conversation chapel. We just got into chattanooga looked. let’s just take a shot. See what happens so Tell us about cast so As you said our Our our vision is to be the objective assembly public opinion. And what that means is our goal is to is to bring objectivity back to Social media media as a whole One of the main reason this platform started in was founded. Was i just myself. My has got really tired of being served. Kind of subjective. In one-sided narratives one-sided data on that fits certain. Agendas you watch the news. And one channel has sixty percent of people think this. The other channel thinks eighty percent. Think this and i mean that not a mathematician but that he was more than one hundred percent so you know he’s like the wonder who are these people who are they asking what’s the demographic Look hampton they fall in. They get a step further to social media. Easy trending topics very well could be the most popular talking about. But it’s very hard to see what side people foreign is it trending reason expiries and why and we just felt that to start wanna bring people objective data. Bring them facts. Let them think for themselves for own opinions and just kind of bring some healthy discourse back to social media platforms. And i think that’s great. I think we’ve all seen a lot of one-sided media these days and Ganging up on political opinions. You don’t agree on. And i don’t know i’m old school. I’ve been around a long time. And i remember you know fire fighting for freedom of speech and it seems like it’s disappearing little bit and it upsets me somewhat But at the same time is it pendulum. Or is this you know do we. Is it technology companies like you that are gonna bring it back what we’re hoping for and obviously should be clear we’re not trying to create the wild west and let people just say whatever they want. you know the fine line like we are community guidelines and what we’re about is obviously keeping our users safe and creating a safe space to share ideas and discussing have discourse. I’d be setting the standard things inciting violence bigotry. All these sorts of things that are pervasive issues. While we don’t we don’t tolerate those are allow those but on the other hand to your point it feels like it feels like discourse free speech is kind of getting Suppressed a little bit. You know somebody might ask a question online at somebody interprets the wrong way. And has their feelings hurt by the question or it sounds insensitive. How do we know that person was trying to be insensitive. Maybe they just didn’t know couldn’t Can phrase which probably late and it seems like a lot of piling on tribal is a group is occurring. And you can’t you can’t ask Can ask questions around sensitive topics anymore. You can’t share opinions and ideas. that are contrarian. People don’t wanna go mentality us for lack of a better term cancel culture but these things to a friction of participation people. Don’t feel safe anymore. Don’t feel it can be their authentic selves. They might not be judged for what they say. They might backlash. Wanna charter more of these friction points. That’s that’s the main premise of what we’re trying to do is remove the friction of participation in online conversations. Yeah what i say. Freedom of speech. I i. i’m not a fan of the wild wild west either and we’ll do it a little bit later but i also think that there’s room for public discourse if someone says mentions statistic You know are you not allowed to follow up and say. Where’d you get the statistic Can i see about that study. I want a little bit more information.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:05:02 – 00:10:08
It seems like this day if you follow up your In a different category of people. That don’t want to deal with you. I’m just trying to gather the facts because A lot of times when you’re having conversation i’ve heard different things than you’ve heard you’ve come up with the statistics that great I haven’t heard that. I’m hearing different statistics so i’d love to know where your sources what that information is i need to. I need to adjust my point of view on all this. And it’s only through healthy debate People who have different sides. Do you expand your point of view. And i think with a lot of what i see. It’s all one sided in it’s because At our echo chamber of social media and media is is we’ve picked the sources that we liked that agree with our personal opinion and our points of view. And it’s kind of feeding that back to us which is good to a point but if you wanna grow. Don’t we want to listen to other cultures other points of view. Why do you do this versus that. Why do i don’t know. I can’t think of all the different types of things. But it’s through healthy debate that and discussion that we grow as humans on the planet as a species list. Isn’t that the point of communication. Yeah i completely agree. I mean you know this. Might be a bit of a generalization but to my knowledge the way Inventions of come about some of the greatest acknowledging the world of social issues get solved is just somebody asking. How can we do a better. Why does it have to be this way. Why can’t it be this way. And when it when people feel like they can’t ask why and how online anymore. That’s a problem. That’s you know you’re you’re having potentially ground-breaking idea suppress people don’t feel safe being themselves And it just creates negative feedback so your point to jump back a little. Bit about seeing one-sided yeah it could be great for something. I mean if i like sports. I want to be fed sports all the time. If i like nasa and spacex great film my time line with that but when you’re getting served one side of an argument and you just perpetually chase that side. I mean there’s a term confirmation bias and then it just promotes group He will get married to their ideas. Like you said. I mean for myself. I’m a curious person. I don’t want to find out how i’m right. I want to find out why wrong And it feels like that doesn’t happen so actually back brothers that not always. Sometimes i’d like to know that right as well naturally but you know it’s you should be looking for consenting opinions. You should say okay. I believe this but everyone else believes that will. Why do they believe that missing. Something you’re in in bringing that transparency is sort of people. Both sides of the conversation helps promote that encourage that. And that’s what we want to try and stimulate. That’s great let me ask you a little question about what we like growing up. I like to know a little bit about the entrepreneur before it became an entrepreneur. Where you a handful for your parents were you. Studious into music sports socializing. Who was george a young lad. I’m gonna give you my perspective. My my parents watching this or my friends might tell you otherwise. But i think naturally i was very curious Very inquisitive i all. I do a point where i really people without many questions. I asked what was questioned. My father also is was an entrepreneur. started a business that continue to run and we’ve gone into at certain points of all in the family business so naturally. The entrepreneur gene is kind of in our family. Album is the question it did to the point road frustrated him but my parents permission parents encouraged that big told us. Think for yourself. Beecher’s asked why ask how can do it better They also encourage us to be authentic and be ourselves so they let us do whatever Anything that we really passionate about sometimes to a fault We don’t something a little bit harder to be like change. Then then move on to something else. So i did a little bit of everything Start was big into sports soccer baseball and golf for my my go-to but also just very I’d like to explore lot. You know run around. The forest built tree houses as a kid all that sort of stuff and then growing up through middle school and so forth mild chipper. Gee said more would go door to door shoveling shoveling driveways cutting lawns. Lemonade stands My mom started fairly recently. That i forgot about in that i I usually garage sales. And i would set up in the front office in the summertime when i was off school in little trinkets that i had. The house will eventually when i started running out of the stuff that i was selling started that go in the basement at siblings room. Take their stuff sell their stuff. Then when asked where. When i would i would pretend that it known So yeah she reminded that recently so yeah always been an entrepreneur always looking for ways to provide a service that people to help and that sort of stuff so that kinda carried through intense university now or am today. So i want ask. When did you Know you wanted to be an entrepreneur when did d is this your first company No not my first natural.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:10:08 – 00:15:17
I guess i in on my independent endeavour with my co founders are my friends i guess we’ll get into that though but after but i have opened up a new business verticals as i said i went into the family business For a while right after university. I went right into the family. Business wearing the commercial cleaning industry and right from the start started from the bottom work my way up but started to try and find efficiencies and how we can bring other services to complement the ecosystem. So i was fortunate that i got kind of pursue some endeavors a to the guidance of senior management. But i was allowed to kind of start up little venture on the side. And if you’re still running to this day And we continue to kind of evolve that but in terms of branching out and doing Something kind of independently not related to what i’ve done in the past this probably my first big foray into a start up and one of this magnitude obviously so i like to say opportunity. Costs is infinite. And you know you’re working doing these other things doing other these other things and what made you decide that this was the opportunity for you. You’re you’re going to take the leap into entrepreneurship with this idea. I love this question. ’cause i often bring up. Opportunity costs a lot with my with my team. And i always say you know. What are we sacrificing. Do this And you know it’s it’s such a hard question because you don’t really know. I mean i could’ve stayed and kept doing what i was doing with the with the family. Business and But yeah just something about this. It felt like this this issue trying to solve is bigger than bigger than just making a an op to provide a service. And you know make some money like if felt like this was inherent issue That was just starting to grow out of control and a multitude of things again. It’s you know what’s going on a social media but also transparency objectively. Let if you’ll be authentically themselves. There’s a whole lot of things that encapsulated. It took a while to really get it to where it is myself. And one of my co founder. Ricky he really helped shape from early days when it started just an idea on one small problem and then it really started to evolve but why we pursue this now is just seeing like what’s been happening obviously the world in general in the us and all over and big tech being trying to congress all the time all these sorts of things we just said you know what now is the time also barely on the younger side. I just thirty. Don’t have kids. So i figured now’s a chance. I can do something a little bit riskier and not be too worried so yeah i just felt like the right time and i just you know what we have some free time on our hands over. Let’s start moving and figuring out as real and that’s kind of how we got to where we are today and you say we Finding the right co founders and the first key members of your team can be crucial. And i’ve heard of you know many startups who failed because they find the run. How did this work did you Did your co founders. Come naturally because you’re all discussing the idea and you decide to work together. Did one of you have the idea and approach the others. How and how did you know this was the the team that was gonna move it forward so The idea start To contact step back to the idea first came about Early twenty eighteen but it was a little bit different. We want to find some sort of some gamification of how to you. Know crowd source ideas and and erie’s and predictions and all that sort of stuff And when i was thinking about this i called my my best friend. Ricki lee already co-founders. Well i give them a call. And i said i. I think it’s amazing as everyone does who has startup. i told you about and he said okay. There’s something here by you know. I think you’re getting a little yourself. Stick step back and we want it down to what the problem we’re trying to solve is and how we can scale it and all that now back was ready two thousand eighteen so it kind of went by the wayside because naturally careers kept going to feel right weeded started Me and him talking about it. We had you know interest in it and early twenty twenty. It just started to come up again. Organically and thinking about okay is still an issue. But it’s a bigger issue. Now how can we do something. It and You know ricky. And i said what we have to lose just started figuring out from there so we came up with a little bit Video war wire-framed did did the flows scalable and buildable and from there. We actually have another friend David david ben watt really one of our best friends who said you know what. Let’s tell them the ideas won’t see what he thinks. The three of us have done everything together for the past decade. i would say he loved it. Three very opinion- opinionated guys creating a platform that you can share opinions and have discourse a debate. Naturally we’ll get excited about it and Yeah that’s kind of how we found our founding team but the only downside was none of us are technical founders which we obviously have to find someone who’s who is super talented has a similar vision to us and can get this Vision to a reality so it took us a little while.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:15:17 – 00:20:03
Help us help a friend. Who works in in kc tech recruit. Help us look for someone and and we’ve got super fortunate and found are now. Cto crews at absolute wizard at what he does loves the idea. I had the same issues and it just was a natural fit. So i was kind of our founding team as i said. We’re at seven now so a couple more came on board. Our front end has been incredible. I guess where it is and our our head of communications. Keep us online making sure we’re all speaking the same language so Yeah we’re really like a core of seven. I consider all of them kind of part of the founding team minutes it’s been It’s been a fantastic journey working with them so far. So let’s get into cast so you know. We kind of vaguely talked about being the voice of public opinion. What is cast so cast in essence of what the app does is essentially social polling. So we want to create a social media platform that allows people to share thoughts ideas. Opinions debates Kind of anything you want. You would write on text plot touch base platform. I don’t like to bring up People i consider competitors but like twitter a red and you can share whatever you wanna round any interest or topic and the difference of what we do. is we Everything that gets posted is attached to like a poll question. It could be. It could be multiple choice. You know anywhere between one and four options To share how you think so. Essentially we’re leveraging social polling but they get a step further. We also show the demographics of what people think so a lot of social media platforms have voting functions as a product within the feature within their platforms. We made our whole platform that specific feature. And why we did that is we feel at that. Creates less friction to participation. And what that means is people can now become active contributors rather than passive consumers statistic that. I’ve actually been made aware of more recently. Is twitter three hundred three hundred odd million monthly active users but the majority of content is generated one percent of their user base the rest. They’re kind of consumers. Yeah they still share it re tweet it like it but that’s a very not really active contribution or consider so sharing something might mean. You’re interested in it but doesn’t necessarily mean you agree doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the entire thing. So we want to boil down even further and allow people to participate and actually put an input in their opinion is hopefully driving a bigger representation of what the population of usually the world think general. So i understand. Poll or question is the question. Yes or no question or the question could be opened. it could be would be honest. Whatever like we to try for courage. The do is ask a question as as neutral as possible. Try not to say you know you know. Michael jordan is the greatest basketball player. Do you agree as no more so cape. You think michael jordan is the greatest basketball player. You’d think lebron james the greatest basketball player We try to ask Asked neutrally think for themselves. The reason we do this is As i mentioned you can see demographic data of the voters. But you can’t see that until you vote so how that works laid out a question like i just said is Who’s the greatest basketball player of all time. Michael jordan lebron james. It gives you the options you can vote on either. You can say other and then you get to see the comments and then you get to see the demographics so what we think is what we believe is. Does it encourage one thing for yourself. Be curious form your own opinion. You’re not swayed by the comments section. You’re not swayed by the most popular percentage of the vote you think for yourself and contributed a conversation and that allows for more accurate depiction of what people really think things like group. Think and Confirmation bias and all that sort of stuff so the way you said it sounds like the company poses the questions versus the consumers. No sorry the us. It’s all user generated content. We have obviously a cast account that kind of posted a topics of the day. Stuff like that. It’s really relevant to what’s going on in the world but majority of all nine episodes content generated is user generated content. So if anybody goes on the platform in searches at george. They could see things that i’m curious about. Ask things from that vary from human behavior to space. Finance startup related sports. Load everything you get. You get honestly ask what. Your heart desires obviously went back to the first point as long as it’s not something that’s overtly.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:20:03 – 00:25:05
Controversial offside certain things that violate naturally terms of service and all that stuff. Yeah i mean for me. Similar question would be you know. Everyone loves or hates elon. Musk so he can put love or hate You know is he a hero or a heel. Or somewhere between yeah. it’s funny. How people are polarized to those things. And by putting those out you do get interaction. How are you finding engagement. So as i mentioned early on we We’ve been in a closed beta up until this point we’ll be joined open beta and To be honest a somebody’s first four. In attack i feel very encouraged by the numbers in the that. I’m seeing the by get indicate that engagement and retention is very higher time for user right not far exceeds the ready to the twitter’s of the world which i’m taking with a grain of salt. It’s early days. I i for me don’t like it. Look at the good stuff. I wanna find out okay. What are we missing. What’s going on what’s wrong here. Which we reach out to us on a daily basis to say okay. What should we improve. what are what. don’t you like what are we missing here. A lot of the stuff. That’s being driven in. Production is based on user feedback but overall the feedback has been extremely positive which is which is really encouraging to us because it just valleys the fact that we’re not the only ones in the camp that feel Feel that objectivity brought back to social media. removing participation allowing for honesty and authentic conversations. So clearly a lot will feel the same way we do. So that’s been super encouraging and Yeah we’re getting ready to kind of now in the open beta and we’re getting very close all be the next week or so. It’s up to launch on the app stores and hopefully the trend continues so now that you’re an open beta who is cast aimed at likud go downloaded right now. Anybody and everybody is the easiest answer. Obviously but truthfully it’s for everyone you can ask anything from deal like peanut butter and jelly to. What are your thoughts on bitcoin. You know how do you feel about stuff going on in politics. The united states it caters to everybody. We want virtually entirely from any age. Any demographic any culture any language anybody can participate I would say our target demographic would be people that are just super curious. Maybe it’s a student In high school university wants to know about what some some trends are with that flick show. Is someone university conducting a research paper. Who wants to see more of what. A certain demographic thinks could be someone sitting on the couch at home. You know watching the bachelor thinking who’s going to get the rose tonight It it kind of pretends anybody can. You can really find anything. You guys getting your passionate about where you can also find a community of people who are also super passionate about the same things you are so we try to drive people to related topics Trends tags on that sort of stuff and let people interact find like minded like minded in the sense of gin. Avoid a confirmation bias but similar interests and letting them kind of you partake in those conversations. And why would i download casts versus just googling. Something question I mean google obviously can give you access to anything your heart desires but for myself the reason that i choose cast over something else over google. Let’s take i’m mistake Travel for instance. I’m going to be going to stay in downtown. Toronto and I’m looking for a backpacker. I’m gonna give you the best hostile. Maybe trauma us four hostels. I could go on hostile world. I can go on tripadvisor and i can search and i could see which has the highest stars. But how do i know who’s put the most ratings in. How do i know that. If i’m a thirty year old how do i know that it’s a bunch of thirty five stars. Not a bunch of eighteen year olds or a bunch of fifty year. Everybody has different interests when you search on the internet. And you wanna find an opinion. It’s hard to discern who think a certain way because they don’t do a great job of aggregated information for for the user to conceal it’s not super transparent so you can see star ratings and reviews but i don’t personally have time to sift through all these reviews. Read them all and find. The good ones find will correlate to we. Try to do all of that for you. We try to say okay. I’m curious about this. Let me see what other people think. And i want to see kind of who thinks this way in my cohort group or you know what other people think of different demographics that sort of stuff so to us. That’s cast a lot more valuable and get help. You get a little bit more behind. The scenes of answers really understand why this why is the best answer or the best solution. Yeah put in context around is important and potentially local context or feedback from people who have been there so you’re hostile examples a good one because you know if you’re twenty to thirty you may give it a high rating and thirty to forty.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:25:05 – 00:30:04
You might give it a lower rating and that’s because it’s very active loud social and maybe above a certain age. You just looking for a place to sleep rather than people that meet till you want to try and figure out what which one is the right one for you that makes a lotta sense You know we talked a little bit about why On your website. I went through it and under the about page. It has an interesting question. And i’m gonna ask you when is cast. That’s a good. It’s funny we actually like. I had mentioned beginning this year. Just just recently updated the site to move over to put down on it so you actually caught just before it switched. A lot of this stuff was written in the early days. So it’s great. It’s creepy discuss it again. When is so why we put the when is because cast timeless. You know it can be immediate. It can be. It can be future future forward looking. It could be historic looking debates can be as time in the questions can be anything that’s ever happened between our history and what hasn’t happened in our future. I mean you can ask the debate. What was a greater intervention. Fire or the wheel. You can go. And say this spacex and you. I’m going to call him is mars. I think that was a question. Actually either i posed or someone pose recently said. He wants to colonize mars by twenty or put the first humid on march. Twenty twenty five. I believe so someone asks options. Were izzy crazy. How will he do it or is this possible. And it’s really great to see the feedback and see how people think but yeah when cast is hopefully forever. We’re open for and the other one that was interesting was wear is cast where scott so cast is what how we try to get. Cast doubt drill down his want people to be able to see what’s going on as you said like in their community more locally so when you create a cast you can you can tag six kind of locally to your city. Your country are oracle global. So if i’m about to travel to london. And i want to know what the best site see. What you don limited time. Should i go see buckingham palace. Should i see the shard. Should i see ya. The i whatever it is You can place in a different in the different location and you can kinda crowdsource opinions and you can ask really anything salt. Its local but also global so it really knows no borders but we drill it down so that you know somebody say. Japan is getting questions From mexico for instance that aren’t super relevant. Wanted to be relevant to what you’re interested in but also locally locally relevant and then if you want explore farther and and see what’s going on elsewhere in the world i mean you can kind of jump around and and and see the Different regions and we mentioned this but healthy debate seems to disappeared. And you know free speech. Whatever you wanna call it is looking for a place to hide we’re m. we’re now in the age of cancel culture. You say something that’s politically incorrect. Even if it’s just to stimulate conversation a lot of bad things can happen So how is cast going to try and avoid this or are they. So i guess one thing i should explain as well as the main functions of cast because it is anonymous base Voting platform voting be social media platform. And why would do this is. The main reason is removed the friction of participation. but also we don’t go entirely anonymous every every input that a user s type in themselves whether it’s ask question or a comment your names attached to it so why we do that. And not make it full entirely. Anonymous is mainly on the reason. All just a little bit of friction. In place of letting people blindly attack people say stuff without any recourse while we want people to be authentic themselves and and not be scared us questions we also want unlimited possibilities that were start posting really crazy out there theories or questions and just stirring and stuff up but as your question how we intend to kind of Reduce the liquid of cancer cultural channel. Atrophies again the biggest thing is removing the participation and you know it’s as little as somebody posting something that that they miss ga they miss worded the got michigan represented and they get piled on By no fault of their own. Charlie nate that we also we also want to remove the possibility that You know people get tied to their opinions at that have changed One of the great features of cast as you can go back and change your vote on a question. At any point we never lock your vote in except for cast that expire timely No one’s locally changed for obvious reasons. But if i go vote today. Elon musk’s debate in zeeland musk’s a genius madman.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:30:05 – 00:35:06
Maybe today. i think he’s a madman because of what he’s doing go going to buy cripples craze maybe a couple of years and i said you know what now that i’ve seen the facts actually think is a very smart guy. One would cancel culture. That is a pervasive problem is Lot of try to go back in time. And and kinda get you on stuff. You’ve said now again if you said something over the line offside completely derogatory whatever it is. It’s obviously a problem. That is an issue but people evolve people change back to the point. You said i was looking at how to find new ideas. How am i might suggest correct. We should always be tied to what we fought back in the day. So even though it’s entirely anonymous and the odds of that happening are extremely slim. We still want to get the opportunity to go and say you know what i have new information out. My opinion has changed. I want to go and change my opinion Because often people try to marry you to the ideas. You’ve had in the past and try to say well. You still believe this. You know you’re you’re bad to believe in this well. Maybe believe that that comment. That i don’t believe anymore. Why am i still attach this. Maybe i said it without thinking one day. And that’s why we also that’s how we’re also trying to resolve the problems a cancel culture and the friction of the station. Yeah you know. I i it. It’s hard. I think when you you want everyone to be able to participate but at the same time you know you’re trying to either have a serious discussion or funny discussion and maybe not necessarily blur the lines. If you’re having a funny discussion not have have someone come along and take super serious and If you’re having a serious discussion not to get completely derailed. And i think of things like When popular vote goes bad. I call it the tyranny of the masses We i remember boaty mcboatface and i can’t remember Which city Did a bridge naming Contests and the popular vote was chuck norris and austin tried to name its waste management system and the popular vote was limpest gets frontman fred durst to for their so And the mountain dew. Learn this lesson with a win. A concert for taylor with taylor swift and the internet took over and the winning school was school for the deaf. So how do you do you separate serious funds. Should it be separated. Who does this who decides. Yeah i mean the the great examples. I actually didn’t know taylor. Swift one at night is not as i mean. I think it’s funny. I really popular opinion. That is funny. I think they’re hilarious. Don’t get me wrong. These discussions should take place. But you know if you’re a city looking for a popular vote you know. Should you be doing this. Should you not be doing this. If you’re looking for a serious discussion how do you you know. Take boaty mcboatface off the table. I mean that’s the nature of anything when crowd source crowd. Sourcing it’s great because it drives engagement but it can backfire pretty quickly and then further to that point if it does turn out to be i bet you your hands are tied. I mean if you put that out to vote they vote. And then you repeal it saying we can’t allowable to be called the swap. That’s kind of a tricky situation. You put that out there. Putting a democrat democratic vote out let people speak and then you’re telling them what europeans wrong so it’s a fine line. Do you gotta be a little bit careful with those. But i mean i’m happy the it’s it’s Why didn’t you just described brexit. Oh fair i wait to the third vote to be called. ’cause we voted rog. Are they voted drug. So you’re up just launch. It’s about to launch. Can you tell me a little bit about the process. What worked what didn’t any advice for those who are going to launch an app You know you always project that it’ll be ready in live at a certain point. Can you tell us a little bit about what others can expect what worked what didn’t for sure as i said to take this with a grain of salt because it’s my first four and attack. I will say that In terms of an executive leadership role and being the chief executive officer my past experience working in you know in my family corporation and other other inches. I’ve started from a leadership perspective and strategy decision making and kind of creative vision. I’ve a lot of experience in that side But with technology start up this is my first go at it. as well as my co-founder so it was a big learning a big learning experience One of the best experience. I’ve ever had in my life so far. But you know i it’s being startup. The best part is you can do whatever you want and start wherever you want We literally when you’ve got our cto sat down and said okay.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast – 00:35:06 – 00:40:01
Well what’s the sort of business where we start. We had no idea we had no idea what brick the place around i but we all came to the decision that you know what we’re not we’re not gonna overly whiteboard this not going to create a six month strategy. We’re going to say okay. What’s the most important thing to do. We’re gonna put that brick in the ground and we’re going to have a couple ahead of us that we want to put in but we’re going to be agile. We’re going to be dynamic so the whole process for us You know in hindsight a little bit little bit chaotic so we probably have a little more strategy but we got lucky. Knock on wood and we just kind of like. I said we just went with it. So what we did was Start moving start hi. We hired our front end because we we needed to build the front end user interface but from that point on everything we did was based on discussion and conversation so like me with my founders would talk. It’s okay. what what features we need to roll out. What is mission critical. What do we absolutely have to have for beta so we can test what can get pushed to the open beta or right after launch and those lists of evolve. The whole process has been evolution. There hasn’t been a time where we have to this point to that point. It’s been a little bit of jumping again. That might not be the most efficient so take my advice with a grain of salt. The best advice. I can give to anybody. Is you just just move. Motion is the most important thing Mike tyson as i think it’s mike tyson. The famous saying that everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face so up. Have to be a little punch. But even as a minor minor hiccup bugs something that pops up it really shifts. Your you’re married to a certain vision a path that in a derails you can be discouraging can make you kind of question where you’re going so the most important thing is know what your vision is be a little bit adaptable and not a little bit for malleable But how division and just kind of as you go and try to find the the path of least resistance there but it serves the timelines and all that sort of stuff. I will say that we. We intended to launch the beta in early december. Kind of end of november. We missed that target by a couple of weeks just because we re redesigns things that we didn’t really think out super well and then we did get our first alpha version second week ish week of december sobel. Yeah three weeks behind schedule. We did launch our schedule. We re we adopted our beta date to the middle of january. Hit that date. We had our open beta date for march first. We delayed obviously that by a couple of days. But for the most part our cto in our and our our entire engineering our front end of kind of stead. How surprised they are at three guys with no experience. We’re able to hit these deadlines and milestones. Which is a two mile horrid like that. It’s been a team effort the entire way. But it’s been it’s been a learning curve but you know as long as your doctoral. Don’t get discouraged when something goes wrong. Just keep moving. That’s the best advice i can give. You can be complicated trying to get stuff approved and whatnot. And i’ve heard i’ve heard a lot of nightmares in our shared some stories with you before we we Actually met everyone talks about hustle. And i know he just didn’t open Now in your your book to be live in the next couple of days on the app store but what are you doing. What’s your plan to get traction and build your audience so we what we’ve decided beginning and what we intend to do is Is bootstrap everything. We we lost his startup. As an idea that we had we bootstrapped with our own our own funds and and We said you know we’re going to operate as possible so what we wanna do is continue that mentality wanna stay lean. We don’t want to be a company. I think so. You gotta spend exxon marketing and this song don’t want to spend money we don’t have to so to this point. All our growth has been organic By way of our networks so myself. mike my co-founder ricky was the chief. Marketing officer and david was the chief information officer. All of us have just reached out to our networks started his and friends said. Hey guys has this apple. Let’s not think it’s a little from there. And then we opened it up to our big friend network and said here take a look at these kind of extended and extended and now it’s the point where we have users and friends messaging saying. Hey can i get a download. Can i send it up to this person. This person’s interested We have people damning us on instagram and twitter messages lincoln on a daily basis. So a lot of its organic and we intend to continue that You know money can is a blessing curse. I think in a startup. It can. It can late. You scale infinitely but also mask problems because you can throw money at a problem like marketing. I want to spend a lot of money and get downloads. That’ll show a little bit of growth. But what’s our retention like are we are we. Are we getting the right. Cohorts in that are truly interested.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:40:01 – 00:45:02
And the daca them. We need to one thing i believe. Is you need to build for your early adopters. The people that are on day one. If that’s our close friends that’s awesome. It’s not it’s a random group that happen to like it more than our friends. Then we adopt for them so we just believed from the beginning to bootstrap it Be as lean as possible. Spend as little marketing for the time being but as we have all been the app store. It’s trying different. Things reaching out to various blogs publications presses friend networks debate clubs Just getting creative and reach out as many people as possible. You have your own podcast. The pows podcasts. That’s what it’s called. Yeah can you tell us about it. Sure so it’s kind of the precursor to how cast started not no relation to them but My co-founder of cash rookie Best friend for over well. Over a decade we met in the first year of university at western. We were in florida in december late december of twenty nine thousand nine hundred. And we’re a woman it’s one hundred twenty. We both turn thirty and we said naively kind of a little bit. Maybe egos sneaking saying you know. We should do something that we can share our knowledge and experience of people. We wanted to give people younger. Hopefully younger than us Lessons back from what we’ve learned over our twenty s but a lot of experience from a career perspective travel you know adventure ups and downs on that sort of stuff. So he said what. Let’s start a podcast. How hard can it be. I had a. I had a bit of experience in the music side. I had a bit of experience in the music side. I was stuck. Came up through the music program in in middle school played drums dry school. So produce limited music at university. Saw like okay i can do. The technical side. Can’t be that difficult turns out. It’s a little difficult at times but And ricky was like you know what. I’ll work on getting guests in a lot stuff so it started as a little passion project wanted to record once a week. For the year so fifty two episodes. We’ve actually just hit our hundred first episode so we ended up moving to a week sometimes three a week and we got super fortunate and just got really lucky. I guess getting some amazing guests gotta olympians toronto sports athletes. Nhl lers musicians. Just the list goes on and super grateful for grad. Imagine it get to getting to where it is and people can find it by searching for the pels podcast on itunes and google. Yup the pulse podcast. I to spotify will play youtube. Al’s podcast the logo is navy blue and you’ll see both our faces. I had long hair time so it looks a little different. But yeah house. Podcast and hosted by george and ricky and you mentioned western. That explains the purple goes. Thanks thanks it’s actually a coincidence. So we didn’t actually plan would actually playing castle purple for that reason. I actually got a top secret. But i can explain why we did purple we We cast his vision is to bring people back to the middle like just not politically any anything. Just bring them in the middle and have a conversation right here in the middle so i mean naturally speaking blue and red is the color of call fluent read yet purple. So that’s that’s great. Yeah it’s a great explanation You know you have a team. We talked about you being remotely early on. What tools would you recommend. That you really think are great or trending. I would recommend training so this one might not be the best person to answer. Because as i said earlier like a lot of our experiences being service based facial that stuff so we have had to adapt learn as we go obviously the video platforms. You know everyone is aware of them. The zoom skype google meets All that sort of stuff how we collaborate and what we found super super useful is we used for everything from email to meet all that i find g. suite all ecosystem is there. I’m somebody who just would consider myself like married to one platform. Kind of like agnostic. But i liked it. Convenes having one button and it gives me everything so we’ve used google for all her needs for for for me for planning for coordinating everything that we can are domains all of that stuff. So it’s all how is under that stuff. I use some other platforms not related to cast a more religious than other other Companies that involved with but the yeah lose the mainland for us kind of keep it simple and are that way. What’s your favorite book for entrepreneurs. So i love this question. That was actually one that i saw a tough time answering because One of my favorite things to do honestly is read.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:45:02 – 00:50:14
And that’s one of the blessings. I think panics obviously been terrible and we can. We are aware that but one of the things that it gave me time to do. Is i spent twenty twenty just reading. Sit on my couch and read all day Favorite books for entrepreneurs. Actually this one. It’s changed a little bit but the one that might favor that actually read very recently. Maybe a couple of weeks ago. was the alchemist. Paul hollow quello grape on my bookshelf for a long time just coincidentally happened to pick it up and that would be my number one book. It actually is my number because it resonated a lot with me. Part of the back story of wind castle sound. But i was actually on a backpacking trip And twenty it takes time off of work to the backpack and i actually I actually was in the part of spain that they reference to the start of the book. In like andy lucia in geneva. I actually did a road trip that area just by chance and much of the character’s actions in the book kind of resonated with me because i felt like it so i read that and i and i love the story of chasing your personal legend at. I think all everybody should do it. I think it’s one of the most gratifying things in life. So that really resonated with me. I think the other one i said was anti fragile by nece- nichols to love one of authors. Very bright guy and one other one that i read recently as well too soon. Old too late. Smart gordon livingston terrific book and there’s a couple there The the last two. I haven’t read so put them on. My last by the alchemist is actually the book. I’ve given away to people the most. So oh yeah. They recommend yes. Wow yeah i had a long time. Obviously as a best seller but And i have a habit of just one on amazon and buying books to read them so Yeah it was shelf for awhile. Picked it up a couple of weeks ago by chance. Terrific terrific read. What resources and communities do you recommend you know outside of toronto starts. What do you use to keep you abreast. Jonah starts in my go-to for sure. How the other youtube videos one hundred percent. I highly recommend everyone tried as well but I’m a big Listen to podcasts. A lot podcasts. Kind of Newsletters but lately The last i would say you’re the two people that consume the most information from. I just find it to be very very wise. The right word but it’s very thoughtful in what they share. The first one is paul graham. Who’s the founder of y combinator he He writes essays that he posted on his website. Graham dot com. Some of them are very long some short but they revolve around a little. Bit of everything is personal is three starting to start up. Just a good mix of stuff for an entrepreneur. Even if you’re not really in the tech space but you’re looking start a new a new business venture. I think a terrific super helpful And he somebody who has a founder of y combinator he sees tens of thousands of startups on a regular basis. So i think no one better to learn from the the second person why truly truly Really liked to follow isn’t For those who don’t know he’s the founder of angel list annika very active angel investor out. Consider him almost like a modern day philosopher. Very thoughtful very articulate with his with his words and yet some great advice life advice as well as as well as kind of business and investing in my soul. That sort of stuff. It’s very broad and applies to everybody. So what’s next for you and for cast. What is next so hard question to answer. What i hope is next is that we move. moved to our Relaunched and we change the world. Honestly that’s what i hope is next i want. I hope that we can create a platform that that truly removes friction to participation in online conversations. We’ll move social pressures. Were moves equa. Chambers confirmation bias removes. Cancel culture. Remove hate removes bigotry. All these things that are pervasive issues. That’s what we want to see. We want to create a place where people share ideas and curious. That’s what i hope is next now. What is actually next is a lot of hard work You know so the grindstone and just try to talk as many users possible trying to bring up the best product possible and just learning on a daily basis. So that’s really what’s next but yeah we hope to bring some good back to social media and we’ve got a couple of questions in the chat room but the one that they want to know is what can we expect from cast in the next six months in the next six months so i mean obviously been out of in launch mode right now and live what we intend to do is just unreal in the current product and in just find ways to make it improve the ui the u.
CAST Founder George Boutsalis on Startup Talk Podcast 00:50:14 – 00:53:43
x. Sewer the bottlenecks are on that we also want to roll out new features. We think that there is. We have a plan for a bit of an ecosystem to create around cash on the platform itself. We want to roll those out in pretty short order. But a lot of it’s gonna come from user feedback so the more usually get on or feedback we get and that we can determine the priority sequence of what should come out but we will be rolling out new features in the next six months and You know hope to kind of do a our first major venture around in the early summer early late summer and then just scale Just get in front of people as possible because we think that there’s a lot more people out there like us that are curious and have this. Problem is while they want solve if that question was from the founder of anime universe. I’m sure he wants to get on there and asking who who’s Fe your favourite anime character and chose. And what’s the most popular and whatnot. What’s awesome yet for sure. Hoppy do Happy to get you on anytime you can And also anyone going to reach out to me as well email twitter linked. Whatever it is. I’m happy to answer any questions. Obviously following these two and Just for you know that game show because if you show up and they know who you are i’ll give me a shout out on the is Your your company. And it’s great so if people want him find out more about cast. Where do they go. Do you want to find out more about cast. The best place to go is our website. Www dot create your cast dot com. I will say i. I made a comment that it has been updated. It’s either been updated yesterday. It’s updated more. I apologize if you still the same place to get access. You can go to our lincoln. It’s just cast but it’s lincoln. Backslash company backslash cap inc. that’s her business name. you can find us on twitter. Instagram facebook Yeah pretty much anywhere. That’s great and if people want to connect with you Should they reach out on linked in an email. The best the reach me. Obviously lincoln George bush solace beal. ut estee l. s. find me on. Twitter is low kind of active. They’re more active on. Cast these days little more objective so Yeah wanna email me george at casta dossier happy to answer any emails law so i really appreciate taking the time today. George answer questions and be part of a startup talk. The audience hears has. It’s pretty cool. They love the idea. I thank you again for showing up in the questions and to share some of the struggles in the some of the progress. You’ve been making Building an app here in the toronto ecosystem makes a lot craig. I really appreciate the time. There’s a lot of fun at any anybody assistance in the future. I’m an open book and open communications. That don’t do. This has been startup talk toronto startup podcast for more exclusive content. The episode vault and to be part of toronto starts community visit. Toronto starts dot com. Get your name on the newsletter mailing list and check out our upcoming events. Four more episodes subscribe now employees. Recognize the time and worked behind the scenes put into connecting you with the biggest visionaries entrepreneurs and innovators in toronto. I leaving five star review. Join us for more next episode from toronto’s most active entrepreneurs and start up community on startup talk.