In this interview, you'll hear from a young entrepreneur who has successfully started and run businesses in several industries. Zack offers valuable insights into the challenges and rewards of being a founder and provides tips for aspiring business owners.
Zack Anselm is a tech founder who has been developing full-stack apps for almost ten years. He started an independent record label in college and has since gravitated toward early-to mid-stage startups. Zack is currently building a local-first social platform.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
This is always a tough one to answer, but I think being able to see the future would be convenient. As a founder, having an apt for premonition is vastly essential. I would use that power to predict markets and build technologies that steer the world toward a better future. One of my drivers for building a company is uncertainty about the future. I guess it's the feeling that I could create a more positive effect on the world than some of our current leaders and people in power. So, maybe if I predicted the future a few times, people would trust me a bit and put me in the driver's seat.
How did you fund your company during a challenging economic climate?
We didn't. We were starting to seek funding right before this fiasco started taking hold. We learned a boatload of knowledge about what we needed to improve to land a deal, and then the economy turned. So rather than spinning the wheels and burning energy trying to fund-raise, we focus on the product. We want to ensure that we are in a perfect position to land an investor when the economy recovers.
What features does your social media platform offer that makes it unique?
The prominent feature is that we focus everything on local interactions first. We have no interest in hosting click-bait, doom-scroll content to hypnotize users. We flip the narrative in that regard. On Therr, users can only activate content that was posted nearby. After they start it, it's theirs forever, and we help them leverage the platform to find the content they are interested in here and now. It's a travel companion too.
Our goal is to help people always be in the right place at the right time. I'm obsessed with efficiency. The kids call it "living their best life." That's what we do and why we're unique.
We have less prominent features that are very different from other social apps. For example, Twitter and Snapchat are copying the Hulu ad-free approach for subscribers. But instead, the Therr app has an ad-free option…for free.
Users either opt-in to ads and earn rewards for participating or opt out entirely for the ad-free experience. It's convenient because you can toggle the feature on or off at any time without the hassle of committing to a monthly subscription or even saving credit card information.
What was your inspiration for starting Therr?
Throughout high school and college, music became my passion. I was young and naive, but I had a lot of fun playing the part of "music producer" or "record label head." My social life was centered around local music, and I also connected with many global musicians.
As I grew up and the hobby didn't exactly turn into a career, I still reveled in the idea of building an app for connecting local musicians to fans. I figured it would be cool to share a riff or demo at some location in the city or on tour, and fans could discover/activate music just by walking into a coffee shop, record store, local bar, etc. They could rack up a list of new music to try out right then and there or listen to it later.
Now, the focus is on any media, but I hope to find the time to add some features catered to musicians and listeners. The point of being a "local everything" app is that we could offer toggles to focus your experience specifically on music, travel, food…nightlife…sports, etc. We'll get there eventually.
How do you prioritize customer success when it might conflict with other goals, like sales and marketing?
As a bootstrapped, early-stage startup, we have both a disadvantage and an advantage. The burden is a lack of time and people resources. The advantage is that we aren't beholden to a board of directors or investors who might bring the hammer down on demanding deadlines. As a result, we remain flexible and focus on customer feedback.
I'm not well-practiced at marketing, but I'm learning daily and open to meeting the right co-founder to balance my strengths and weaknesses. Our sales approach is focused on helping local businesses connect with local customers so that front is put on hold while we build up the app a bit more. However, we will soon be shifting some focus toward local businesses and starting by getting them on the map. 2023 will see some significant steps forward.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
It's hard to say. These days you hear so many flipsides to every founder story. Of course, nobody is perfect, but as far as founders go, I'm inspired by Steve Jobs' origin story. As for app developers and techies like Steve Wozniak, they are usually behind the curtains of success, so we probably haven't heard of too many of them. Nevertheless, I greatly respect their achievements, considering I'm developing the app myself with the help of a few others.
I'm also influenced by success outside of entrepreneurship and the startup world. It's impressive as you get older and understand the sheer effort and commitment it takes to be a pro athlete, musician, or actor/director. The true greats rise above and leave a legacy because they earned it.
To name a few: Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Beyonce, Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, and Nick Cage. In addition, I draw significant influence from books and authors like Dune, Paulo Coelho, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Jack Kerouac. So many lesser-known effects have sculpted my perspective and made me who I am.
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