I had the chance to talk to Ashutosh Singhal, co-founder of Hotspots.io, a startup recently acquired by Twitter which aimed to filter exactly what people were saying about certain events on Twitter. Having entered the startup world at a young age, Ashu serves as an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs like myself to pursue our passions.
Ashu set himself up well to succeed in Silicon Valley. Having doubled majored in Computer Science and Math at MIT (graduating a semester early in mid 2011), Ashu reflects that he came with more than appropriate skills for the tasks that were required of him to launch Hotspot. In January 2011, Ashu worked with a couple of his fraternity brothers at a YCombinator startup, Moki.TV. Although that company ceased activity by that Summer, the team pivoted to launch Hotspot.io.
According to the website, Hotspots.io was founded with the vision of helping companies and individuals maximize their social media ROI through actionable and accessible analytics. They began to receive attention for their coverage and analytics of the SOPA fiasco — detailing what the Twitter public had to say about the issues. In mid-February, they launched a dashboard looking at the Superbowl. Pretty quickly by March, Twitter expressed interest, and they were acquired.
Currently, Ashu works to track analytics regarding ads on Twitter. In Twitter’s talent acquisition of Hotspot’s team, the social media giant brought in great skill sets to their table.
I asked Ashu for some tips he thought might be valuable for aspiring entrepreneurs. He reiterated a common point: to build and test things fast. You can never be too sure about an idea until it gets some feedback and you can collect some quantifiable metrics. His other piece of advice was to build a product that fits your particular skill set, or that of the team you are working with, rather than an interest you have. Ashu mentioned that he doesn’t think he’d be as savvy in a product-oriented, heavily design-based company, but feels comfortable crunching hard numbers.
One thing that resonated with me was his mention of how you can learn the technical requirements of working at a startup, but not the business side. That, you have to acquire through hacking the hell out of your own endeavors — whether in Silicon Valley or wherever you think you can best propel your company.