Art Shaikh, Founder, and CEO of CircleIt tells us how the generational platform allows people to chat, build their family tree and send cards to loved ones for free.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded CircleIt.
Art Shaikh: Since I was a young boy, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial drive. When I was 12 years old, I would sell rides around the block on my motorized bike to friends and classmates. The neighborhood parents eventually sidelined my budding business – but it definitely lit a spark. Over the years, I’ve grown my endeavors to bigger and better things. The concept of CircleIt is built in memory of my father and is my most prized development.
Growing up, my father always had his camera around his neck, shooting pictures and videos at every family gathering. Photos would be developed and videos copied – and gifted to family members near and far. He always felt tremendous joy watching people’s reactions to these special gifts.
Over time, he began writing notes, documenting memories, and creating handmade cards that he would stash safely away in a large box alongside his treasured family photos and beloved old home movies.
My father left behind this box overflowing with photos, stories, cards, and gifts for future life events with specific instructions on how and when to share these treasures with his beloved family. He wanted his legacy to live on – and for his family to continue experiencing his love long after he was gone.
CircleIt was built to replicate this unique gift, for my mother to help carry on his legacy, for others can experience the joy it has given all of us, and in memory of my father, Arif Shaikh.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Art Shaikh: I became super organized – I had to. I started developing CircleIt while still working a full-time job, so I had to be sure that I used my time wisely and documented everything.
How does CircleIt market its product/services online?
Art Shaikh: CircleIt is a mobile platform. Our primary marketing efforts are centered around paid display and social ads. Since the concept surrounding CircleIt can be a challenge to convey, we rely heavily on video ads to showcase our generational platform’s numerous features in an easy-to-digest and understandable manner. We also create oodles of helpful and unique blog content to educate, uplift and empower our members to easily communicate with their families across time while preserving their legacy.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Art Shaikh: While we utilize many different tools in our marketing, many of them are fairly common. Google Analytics, Firebase, and ad management platforms are in daily use. From a technology perspective, none of these are “unique.” The real secret is to have the right people interpreting the data and information so we can make informed decisions in real-time.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Art Shaikh: One thing that I am very proud of is that we have retained 100% of the employees we have hired. I think the work on the front end of finding the people who identify with the product and the mission on a personal level helps us find the kind of people who can dedicate what it takes to make a startup successful.
How are you funding your growth?
Art Shaikh: Our initial funding came from family and friends, followed by the first round of private investment.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Art Shaikh: We don’t have any direct competitors as we offer a truly unique platform. We have trademarked features integrated with our platform that can be compared to companies like Ancestry, Hallmark, and WhatsApp.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Art Shaikh: Our success is truly measured in the joy our users derive from our technology. I can think of one such user, a terminally ill mother of 2. She has been using CircleIt to record messages for her children’s future milestones like graduations and weddings. Her kids will be able to receive a message from her on those special occasions, although she won’t be there for them.
Your final thoughts?
Art Shaikh: We’ve touched upon impact, competitors, retaining employees, and funding. CircleIt is driven by its mission. I’ve felt the power of my father’s love through his desire to be there for our family. My father took an action that inspired me to develop a technology that enables others to give the unique gift of forethought to their future generations with much greater ease than my task of delivering handwritten cards over the years. As we continue to grow, our investors, employees, and users continue to deepen their understanding of the power our generational platform can harness. That is the source of our work ethic, growth, investment, and employee retention.