Interview with Roman Karachinsky CEO & Co-founder of News360.
Web site: http://news360app.com.
Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
My name is Roman Karachinsky, and I am the CEO & Co-founder of News360
What did you do before creating your company?
I was involved in a project dedicated to analyzing reputations in the news media by using advanced natural language processing and semantic analysis. It was the success of that business that caused us to think of applying similar technology to the consumer product in News360.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
We feel great! It took a lot of hard work and dedication from our amazing team to get to where we are, but we have a grand vision for our platform, and I think there is still a long way to go to achieve it.
What is your company’s mission?
Our mission is to make people better informed, allow them to find things out faster, encourage learning and expand horizons, while simultaneously saving our users’ time and making their lives less stressful.
In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:
News360 understands your interests and brings you content that is fresh, important and personally interesting to you
How did you get the idea for your company?
The core team behind News360 has been working on solving different informational problems using semantic analysis for a long time. We’ve developed a giant body of knowledge and expertise in understanding news content, and being able to target it very narrowly to a select audience. As we were doing this, we started getting the idea that if all of that understanding and meta-data that we are generating could be used to filter the junk out of our own content intake, it could potentially be a very useful tool for everyday life. We tried in in some internal projects, basically to solve our own information overflow, and it worked really well – so we decided to create a consumer product, starting with our first mobile news app for the iPhone and Windows Phone back in November 2010, and growing to 9 platforms by today.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
We’re not currently looking for funding – the company is well-capitalized with investment from VCs in Russia, and a $1.5M grant that we received from the Skolkovo Foundation (a Silicon Valley-style initiative by the Russian government to help innovative tech companies do science-heavy R&D)
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
Right now we’re at 27 people, split between Moscow, Russia, and Sunnyvale, CA. We’re still a very product-focused company, so most of the team consists of developers.
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
We are definitely always looking for smart people. In Moscow we’re looking for great developers, linguists and mathematicians. In Sunnyvale we’re looking for brilliant product managers.
Which platform are you building on? Why?
We follow a very cross-platform strategy, by offering users our experience on basically all screen sizes – phones, tablets, computers and TVs. This means we have to stay very flexible in our development, and be able to undertake new projects very quickly and efficiently. The goal is to be ubiquitous in how our users get their content, wherever they are.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
I think the greatest untapped opportunity right now is algorithmic curation. As the channels we use to find and consume content online get increasingly clogged up and overloaded, the technology to accurately rank and find things based on your individual interest graph will go from being just useful to being necessary. This is what will help you keep up with the news, find relevant video and audio content, help make purchasing decisions, connect you with interesting people and so on. There are already solutions to all these problems right now, but with the right personalization each one could be drastically improved.
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
We’re members of BizSpark One, and it’s great – both the access to Microsoft for developer and marketing help, and the other perks like free Azure access make our lives much easier as a small startup.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
My greatest advice, especially for b2c companies, would be to always focus on getting the product right. It’s easy to get sidetracked into other things, but until your product is amazing, you should never take your eye off that ball.
Who’s your role model?
My role model is dedicated, persistent, focused and brilliantly understands what makes people love something, both for consumers and employees. You can take a guess at who it is :)
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
In order to be great, future products will have to be intuitive about who their users are. And, whoever can build a platform that can understand personal preference better will have the next 100-billion dollar business in 5 years.