How Leor Massachi Conquered The Startup World And Became The Co-Founder Of His Company Dandy By Age 20
We’d like to introduce you to Leor Massachi: a 23-year-old carrying the titles of co-founder, Chief Product Officer, and Chief Marketing Officer for a tech startup named Dandy. Massachi had been interested in business since he was in middle school, so it only made sense that he decided to pursue a business-related program at the University of Southern California after graduating high school.
Although his major was in real estate development, Massachi’s true passion always lied in learning about the realm of technology and how multifaceted it could become when starting a business. He became obsessed with the idea of entrepreneurship to the point where he began interviewing successful executives on a television segment he came up with for his school’s newscast called “Word Hard, Play Hard”. Massachi would also constantly find himself dreaming big and taking notes of “cool ideas” for potential business endeavors on his phone so he wouldn’t forget them down the line. Then, once he got to USC, he was able to learn directly from the experts about the dos and don’ts of launching a tech startup. Along the way, Massachi networked with a number of successful entrepreneurs that gave him some of the advice he still applies to his business today.
In 2018, Massachi and his partner, Daniel Newman, came up with a concept for a dating application while chatting in their dorm room at 1 AM. The app was brainstormed to be completely different than your average Tinder or Bumble; the college seniors noted that they didn’t want users wasting time while they waited for the other person to reply. Instead, the app would work instantaneously for all users. At 8 pm every night, the app would go “live” for 10 minutes and users would make the attempt to log on and find a match. Once two users “liked” each other, they would be automatically transferred into a three-minute message-based chat where they could get to know each other in real-time. If they both decided to move forward when the call was over, the application would provide each user with their match’s phone number.
The concept was unlike anything the market had ever seen, and the two seniors knew they were onto something big. But with great originality also came significant challenges. The two entrepreneurs hired top-tier engineers to work on the product due to its complicated synchronous nature. If too many users logged on at the same time and overwhelmed the server, the entire application could crash. Therefore, it took numerous rounds of trial and error to have the servers reach an optimized stage that could handle the load of thousands of users.
And despite the innovative concept of the product, however, Massachi knew the idea and design of the app alone would not be enough to get the users to participate in the launch. He began to brainstorm ways of marketing the product while remaining under the extremely limited budget he and Newman were paying out-of-pocket. They had to be resourceful and minimalistic with their spending while still making enough of a statement to gather brand recognition. An entire discussion of ideas later, they decided to buy hundreds of yard flamingoes that resembled the outline of the app’s logo and disperse them amongst the USC campus overnight with flyers that read “you’ve been flocked!”. People responded extraordinarily well to the marketing tactic, and just like that, Dandy gained over a thousand users overnight.
Eventually, Massachi was designated as the company’s CPO and CMO while Newman took care of logistics as the company’s CEO. “When things started becoming a bit more stable and the app began taking off, we decided to divide the workload based on what we were best at,” Massachi said. “I focused on the development of high-level product concepts and marketing strategies for Dandy because my natural way of thinking was: ‘how can I penetrate the market in a different and effective way that will still prioritize remaining as resourceful and low-cost as possible,’” he added. “Since I tend to lean more toward working creatively than logistically, it just made sense this way.”
In February 2020, the Dandy app went through some major rebranding after news of a possible pandemic began to consume the media. The company founders gathered in an emergency meeting to discuss the possible consequences of what a nationwide lockdown could mean for students who were still in the prime years of their college experience. They understood that the consequences could force students to leave campus and have classes resume virtually, along with the hopes of establishing new relationships going right out the window. But Massachi and Newman came up with a plan to fix that. They introduced the idea for Zoom University: a live two-on-two video chat application that would be aimed towards recreating the way millennials and Gen Zs formed new connections and relationships online. Since each user went live with a friend, the sense of comfort and trust allowed the product to run far more smoothly than the nerve-racking one-on-one video chats from Dandy’s early stages.
Massachi’s marketing tactics for Zoom University were more digitally-focused than those for their previous product. This time around, the CMO utilized a cutting-edge social strategy that involved having hundreds of TikTok creators tell their audiences about ZoomU in their own organic way. “We wanted the content to be as authentic as possible, so we let the creators do it however they felt was most relatable to their community. It was a win for them because they were able to use their own creativity and brand personality to talk about the product, but it was also a win for us because people received it as a genuine endorsement rather than as some random ad,” Massachi explained. As it turned out, the CMO’s approach was immensely effective. One of the influencers’ videos uploaded to Tiktok ended up going viral overnight, and in a matter of 48 hours, the video was viewed over 2.5 million times. Zoom University ended up adding hundreds of thousands of users to their waitlist as a result of that one video.
A couple of months after its launch, Zoom University surpassed a user mark of 100,000 and it even gained a spot in the Top 10 Social Networking Apps on the App Store. That alone was a dream come true for Massachi and Newman. But the work didn’t stop there. Since August of 2020, the two co-founders have been in the process of developing yet another new project alongside some big investors. Details cannot be discussed quite yet, but they have shared that they will be implementing all learnings and feedback from their prior products into perfecting this new endeavor.
Bearing in mind their monumental milestones, you’re probably wondering how these fairly young business owners have time for anything else besides attending to their ever-evolving business. But they actually happen to heavily prioritize the balance between work and social life. “I’m very mindful. I try to live every day like it’s the weekend,” Massachi said. “Occasionally, I’ll go biking, I’ll eat good food, I’ll meditate, or I’ll hang out with friends. Taking a break helps me reset so that I can continue coming up with fresh, new ideas once I’m back to work. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge along the way on how to manage this heavy lifestyle, but I’m also still learning as I go. That pretty much goes for everything when you’re involved in a startup.” Massachi adds that he is eager to wake up every morning and think of new product ideas to improve people’s everyday lives; products that will not only provide high efficiency, but will also be meaningful enough to bring joy to its users.
The Ultimate Guide to the Essential Social Skills in Business
Effective communication and strong relationships are essential for success in the workplace. One factor that can greatly influence these qualities is emotional intelligence, often abbreviated as EQ. EQ refers to the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. Research has shown that individuals with high levels of EQ are better equipped to handle stress, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively with others (Chamorro-Premuzic & Sanger, 2016).
Research has consistently shown that emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important predictor of job performance and success in the workplace. EQ is comprised of a set of skills that allow individuals to recognize, understand, and regulate their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. In addition, individuals with high EQ are better able to communicate effectively, build relationships, and navigate complex social situations. As a result, they are often viewed as effective leaders and collaborators, and are more likely to achieve their personal and professional goals.
In fact, a number of studies have demonstrated the significant impact that EQ has on job performance and success. For example, one study of 85 upper-level managers found that those with higher EQ scores were rated as more effective leaders by their subordinates (Law, Wong, & Song, 2004). Another study of 151 employees found that those with higher EQ were more likely to be promoted within their organization over a five-year period (Carmeli, Brueller, & Dutton, 2009). These findings highlight the importance of EQ in the workplace and suggest that developing these skills can lead to significant benefits for both individuals and organizations.
According to a study conducted by TalentSmart, a leading provider of EQ assessments, EQ is responsible for 58% of success in all job types (Bradberry & Greaves, 2009). In contrast, IQ only accounts for about 4% of success in the workplace. This suggests that EQ is a crucial skill set for individuals in any professional field. Fortunately, EQ is a skill that can be developed and honed over time with practice and awareness.
There are several key components of EQ that are particularly important for success in the workplace. These include:
Self-Regulation: This refers to your capacity to recognize and control your emotions. Sometimes treating them when they arise may be necessary. Understanding how to manage your anger is essential. However, it can also cover how to control the feelings you’ll experience.
Self-Awareness: This implies recognizing and understanding your own feelings. Do noisy places make you nervous? Do other people talking over you make you angry? Knowing these truths about yourself shows that you are working on your self-awareness. Being conscious of yourself is necessary for this phase, which can be more complex than it sounds.
Socialization: This category focuses on your capacity to manage social interactions and direct relationships. It doesn’t entail dominating others but knowing how to work with others to achieve your goals. This could entail presenting your ideas to coworkers, leading a team, or resolving a personal disagreement.
Motivation: Strong motivators include external forces like money, status, or suffering. Internal motivation, however, plays a significant role in Goleman’s concept. By doing so, you demonstrate your ability to control your cause and initiate or continue initiatives of your own volition rather than in response to external demands.
Empathy: It’s equally critical to be sensitive to others’ feelings. This may entail learning to identify different emotional states in individuals — for example, can you tell the difference between someone at ease and someone anxious? — but it also requires comprehension of how other people may react to their current situation. Empathy is one of the essential traits in business and business leadership.
A thought leader in this space, Michael Ventura has built a career advising organizations on the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. In his book, Applied Empathy, Ventura highlights the value of empathy in business and provides strategies for developing and applying this skill set. With two decades of experience as a leader, facilitator, and educator, Ventura’s work has made impact in with prestigious institutions such as Princeton University and the United Nations as well as corporate clients such as Google and Nike.
Through his work, Ventura advises leaders to focus on the development of EQ in order to help individuals improve their communication, collaboration, and leadership skills, ultimately leading to greater success in the workplace. Experts like Ventura continue to support the growing body of research on the value of EQ in business, and the evidence that organizations who invest in the EQ of their teams help to create a more empathetic and successful professional environment.
And it’s worth noting that EQ isn’t just important for individual success in the workplace, but also for overall organizational success. A study by the Center for Creative Leadership found that EQ was a better predictor of success than IQ or technical skills in the workplace, and that teams with higher levels of EQ tend to be more effective and productive (Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 1999). By cultivating a culture of empathy and emotional intelligence, organizations can improve their overall performance and create a more positive work environment for their employees.
In conclusion, emotional intelligence is a crucial component of success in the workplace, and individuals and organizations alike should prioritize the development of these skills. The ones that do not only develop a leading edge in their category, but also become a meaningful place to work for their teams. And in today’s rapidly changing talent landscape, the retention of highly capable, emotionally intelligent leaders is one of the greatest keys to unlocking success.
Boyatzis, R. E., Goleman, D., & Rhee, K. S. (1999). Clustering competence in emotional intelligence: Insights from the emotional competence inventory (ECI). In R. Bar-On & J. D. A. Parker (Eds.), Handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 343-362). Jossey-Bass.
Bradberry, T., & Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional intelligence 2.0. TalentSmart.
Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Sanger, M. N. (2016). Does employee happiness matter? Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance, 3(2), 168-191.
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