Xoopit CEO on valuing transparency

Bambi Francisco Roizen · July 3, 2008 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/2ca

If there are two takeaways from this interview, these are it: Stealth mode is overrated and take small steps in building a product. Those are just a couple pieces of wise advice from Bijan Marashi. As the first product manager at Inktomi (search engine bought by Yahoo years ago), and now co-founder and CEO of Xoopit, which raised $5 million in Series A funding in the past year, Bijan has a lot of experience in the startup world. Xoopit supplements Webmail services by making them more like social networks. 

His biggest lesson is one of transparency, something most entrepreneurs don't think about enough. "There's no need to be in stealth mode," he said. "When you're first generating your idea, get out there and share your ideas." A friend of his once said, "Run rabid through the Silicon Valley, show everyone your ideas." And, so, Bijan did. That was how he found his co-founder, Jonathan Katzman. Indeed, on Vator.tv, we're starting to see that many people are valuing transparency over secrecy. After all, how do you find the right partner unless you share your story with enough people? 

Smallest version of your vision

Bijan's other piece of advice is about thinking small. Rich Tong, partner at Ignition, said to Bijan once that when developing a product, always "find the thinnest edget of the wedge." What this means is that entrepreneurs tend to try to build too much. "What's the smallest version of your vision," said Bijan. For example, Bijan and his team first intended to build an entirely new mail client before they decided to supplement it. That decision saved six to 12 months, he said. 

Additionally, Bijan advises entrepreneurs to surround themselves with advisers who can guide them and teach them how to take smaller steps. Jia Shen, co-founder and CTO of RockYou offered similar advice in his "Lessons Learned" segment. Click here for that interview.

Bijan also talks about his hiring philosophy at Xoopit; how to create vitality in-house and how to scale your technology.

All great stuff!

Click here for "Lessons Learned" archive

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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RockYou is a leading provider of applications and widgets on the web. RockYou widgets include photo slideshows, glitter text, customized Facebook applications and voicemail accessories that are simple to use and enable people to frequently refresh their online style. Founded in 2006, RockYou has over 35 million users, serving over 180 million widget views per day in more than 200 countries. RockYou applications are customized for easy integration across all social networks including Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, Tagged and hi5.



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We are creating Xoopit to help you take the effort out of organizing and retrieving your digital life, wherever it is. There's too much stuff out there and it's impossible to keep your fingers around it.

It's time to clear the clutter...

Xoopit's innovations in search engine technologies allow to deliver the next generation of search, productivity, and social media applications to Internet users.

Our passion is in building smart, simple applications that work for you. We've all grown tired of fussing with applications to get things done. Over the coming months, we will be rolling out a series of applications that make finding and repurposing your information 1 click or query away.

The company was founded around the baristas of San Francisco and through hundreds of hours of personal interviews. Most of these meetings felt like psychotherapy sessions. Relating to all of you is what drove us to build Xoopit.


Bijan Marashi

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Venture Partner at icuemotion icuemotion Labs Georgetown University

Jia Shen

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Tokyo Otaku, Growth Hacker, Social Entrepreneur Powercore Johns Hopkins University