Authors: Alissa McCarthy & Yasmin Alameddine
We live in a world ruled by social media. So much of our everyday lives are influenced by what others post on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These posts vary in significance, yet, a majority of the time, are not catered specifically to what interests us personally.
Aaron Schifrin ‘14, a government major, was able to solve just this problem by creating the website daapr. Unlike other social media websites, daapr focuses exclusively on “link sharing and content discovery,” on topics ranging from architecture to music to politics. It provides an opportunity for friends to connect over relevant information in a simple and effective fashion. In order to learn more about Schifrin’s innovation and entrepreneurship, Slope Media’s Yasmin Alameddine and Alissa McCarthy sat down to hear about the website’s creation and progression.
1) What was your initial motivation in creating daapr?
We wanted an easy way to browse all the cool articles and videos our friends were reading and watching online. At the same time, we didn’t feel like we had any good place to share the interesting links we were finding. We knew a lot of people who felt the same way and figured there had to be a better option.
2) What have you learned about entrepreneurship? What do you recommend to budding entrepreneurs?
You’re never off the clock when you are trying to start a company. There’s always more to be done, so it’s tough to achieve any sort of “work-life balance.” You need to be prepared to fill any role at any moment. You also quickly realize that ideas are a dime a dozen. Execution is everything.
The second question is tough because there are so many things I’m still figuring out. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was to talk to as many people about your idea as possible. Everyone has seen “The Social Network” or heard stories about ideas being stolen. Sadly, a lot of new entrepreneurs are reluctant to share what they are working on as a result. That’s a huge mistake. Feedback is incredibly important as you develop any type of product.
3) How was your experience working with other colleagues on daapr? Tell us about your team!
I’ve never encountered a more talented or motivated group of students. The amount of time they manage to put into daapr while still juggling full course schedules is nothing short of miraculous. We’ve got a pretty diverse group with a wide range of skill sets. Everyone brings something different to the table. I think we complement each other incredibly well.
4) How do you feel daapr differs from similar social media apps (i.e. Pinterest, Facebook)?
It’s exclusively for link sharing. Pinterest allows you to post articles and videos but they end up getting drowned out by photos of wedding dresses and cute animals. Facebook, meanwhile, tries to do everything and be all things to all people. The result is a bizarre mix of your friends’ vacation photos, your sister’s buzzfeed posts, and random status updates from people you barely know anymore. The only things you’ll find in your daapr feed are interesting articles and videos shared by the people you care about.
5) What has been the most rewarding part about creating daapr thus far?
It’s always great to see new people come to the site and really take to it. I’m not sure it’s something I’ll ever get tired of.
6) What has been the most challenging?
Working remotely over the past two summers was definitely a huge challenge. My cofounder was interning at eBay and the rest of the team was spread out around the country. Still, we made it work.
7) What impact do you hope daapr will have on its users?
I hope it provides a compelling alternative to the relatively vapid experience you get on existing social media sites. Ideally, the articles people discover on the platform will challenge them to think in new and interesting ways. What we read and watch plays a major role in defining who we are. With that in mind, I’ve always seen daapr as a potentially important outlet for self-expression.
8) What can Cornellians, specifically, get out of daapr?
Cornell brings together an unbelievably diverse group of people with wide ranging interests. For many students, however, there is an invisible barrier between intellectual (academic) life and social life. I think daapr softens that barrier by allowing students to engage with the content their friends in different colleges and majors are posting.
9) Do you feel that our generation is less connected with world news? In what ways may daapr help to change that?
No, not at all. I just think we’re asked to express ourselves in relatively superficial ways so it seems like we’re less globally minded. That said, there is a ton to keep up with and not everyone is going out of his or her way to stay up to date. With daapr, you can just follow your globally minded friends to stay informed.
10) How can you see the app progressing in the future?
In the next month, we’ll be releasing apps for iOS and Android. We’re also working on a browser extension that will make posting new articles incredibly simple. Beyond that, development will be guided by user feedback. We’ve got a ton of ideas about how we might move forward, but we don’t want to jump the gun on making those decisions.