E008 - Behind The Scenes - Meet The Founder
A special extra episode where you’ll get an opportunity to meet Aly Hussaini, CEO and co-founder of Stooge. You’ll also learn about what happens behind the scenes at Stooge. Aly will join Plantastic Events podcast on February 6th, 2018 and he’ll talk about his journey and how founded Stooge.
Hot topics for episode 008:
- Aly’s childhood stories on programming
- The inspiration to Stooge
- Stooge company values
- Stooge’s first customers
Aly Hussaini is the CEO and co-founder of Stooge. He specializes in developing iOS and Android apps, platform design, web integration, database management, consumer thinking, and analytics enhancement to Stooge. Prior to Stooge, he led technology development in public safety and provided business intelligence and analytics consulting in healthcare and finance industries.
Produced by Stoogeapp.com.
Host: Nausheen Punjani.
Guest: Aly Hussaini.
Music: Justin Mahar.
Support: Aly Hussaini from Stooge and Prototype Prime.
Got skills and want to share? Apply here to be a guest speaker.
Transcript by Nausheen Punjani
Nausheen: you are listening to Plantastic Events podcast episode number zero zero eight [Music] 00:17 Nausheen: hey everyone welcome to Plantastic Events I'm your host Nausheen Punjani, this is a weekly podcast dedicated to help you plan your events with ease be sure to subscribe at stoogeapp.com and stay up-to-date. That's stoogeapp.com plus you'll receive tons of resources, freebies, guides and show notes. Thank you for joining and now let's get into the show. 00:45 Nausheen: hey everyone I'm your host Nausheen Punjani and yes you notice that right this is an extra episode just for you to get the opportunity to be a part of our journey so the Stooges journey, our family what it looks like, how we all got started and what kind of inspired us to start this what motivates us to continue to work on our project this is a special episode called behind the scenes I will give you an opportunity to meet with our special founder who's gonna give you insight on his journey and how he started all of this so today our guest is Aly Hussaini. He is the CEO and co-founder of Stooge which is an event management software. Make sure to check us out at stoogeapp.com. He is not only my amazing husband but he is also my partner in stooge he is incredibly brilliant I can't even describe that enough words and I'm probably one of the hardest working people I have ever encountered in my life. He not only motivates me but he pushes me to do better in life he is also the one who convinced me to quit my corporate day-to-day job and find something that's very passionate with for me something that resonates and I can share my values share my experiences and be able to enjoy what I do and now I'm so thankful to him that I get an opportunity to work for something I'm so very passionate about he not only helps me with the podcast but I get an opportunity to work on stooge and fortunately with him I can only I couldn't have done this without him actually but he's here to share his story on how he got started and what still drives him to keep this company going 02:29 Nausheen: so today Aly, my first question to you is how are you doing today 02:33 Aly: I'm really well Nausheen. The weather has been nice today I think it's a great weather to walk outside and actually do some planning it's been a long weekend and I think I'm glad my team actually worked through with it and it's great it's great how are you doing today 02:46 Nausheen: I am recovering from the flu so for all you listeners who have been sick with the flu this year it has been so difficult so I'm still in recovery stage I'm sorry if my voice is a little bit off but I'm trying to keep it going 03:04 Aly: well we wish you recover well and to all the listeners we wish you all well soon to bring some soup 03:13 Nausheen: that’s what I got going here too. My first question is um you have a finance background so I want to know I know that you've done quite a bit with you've held corporate level jobs as a director senior director manager in all kinds of positions but it has always been in the finance background what pushed you in coding and how did you get this all started 03:33 Aly: coding has always been part of my life I think I just decided to do finance because was something different but coding as I was in part I learned coding when I was 9 years old and this wasn't back in Pakistan and my family was middle-class so we didn't have enough money to get a computer so you know I was never exposed to computer till the time my friend introduced me hey I got it my parents bought me a new computer so I was it was actually 96 so and I was I looked at this box and I was like wow this is truly magical because it's seen in other box who saw was a television so he's just working around playing some small games and you know I was so interested I begged pleaded cried and asked my mom to enter me into like a separate you know that summer could be so she finally gave in and Cole you know save the money to have me enter where I learned Word PowerPoint Excel so you know I from there I knew that there are numerous end points there's numerous possibilities from this which is also a motto in stooge possibly the endless so when it comes down to when it comes down to coding I started learning from there and I saw that my school's was hosting the computer lab so I would stay late also to break into it now I didn't pick the lock or anything illegal but unfortunately the janitor locked me twice I was caught once and well I'm never punished the principle is very education class well yeah she was she was really educational reinterred so she would believe someone just want to learn you know it's okay and you can get away with a lot of things you know having a food fight or we just want to learn how to you know the wartime strategy that's a learning strategy so she was really all about learning so if you want to learn something you know usually don't make a mistake now after that you know and I but at that point we actually were learning program for logo so- 05:47 Nausheen: what's logo 05:49 Aly: so it's like it's a small program basically paint with coding you have to give commands to the small turtle on the screen to draw circles triangles squares across the screen so you know I would imagine if you are able to write code to do this now if you can write an automatic code that's building this non-stop you can create pictures you can create a major save it or even create an interactive game so form in my mind these things are already developing so from there on at 13 I got my first computer this was high school and I think I got in full drive mode where I'm you know building website developing things developing programs adopting games and you know we won multiple awards in Georgia before technology so I'm pretty happy I was pretty happy with that 06:39 Nausheen: so that was when you move to the states you 06:40 Aly: when I moved to the states and my parents my dad had enough money just kind of by my computer den and companion Isis compared to Pakistan so over there but I think if you want if you if you have a will you can find a way to learn it and I'm thankful for my school and I would say that the reason I was really good is because of my parents I inherited few qualities from them and I called him my well they didn't have enough money but I inherited some of the qualities math and arts from my dad and business and sales from my mom I think the combination of these four qualities actually made me and helped me give up stooge so now I'm actually designing program we're also creating beautiful artistic look thanks to my artistic background like a strong artistic background you draw yeah all thanks to my dad my dad actually used to have a card printing business so he was designing cards day in and day out and so you know if you if you lived in either Middle Eastern country or if you lived in Pakistan and you got married you probably have used one of my dad's card and there are some other my dad's card designs that I still have it to date and for my sister's wedding older sister's wedding I actually designed that card by hand and printed it from my own computer that we gave out to our guests it was a 3d like design a 3d card that pops out and it was really magical and she loved it and our guests loved it so that's my family's background but I'm really grateful that I learned a lot from my parents and I'm glad that I'm applying it into Stooge and I'm helping numerous amount of event organizers to bring their events to life at ease and making events for fun for themselves too so we were happy with that ability 08:36 Nausheen: so a code with artistic ability that's actually pretty rare right and actually exciting to know that I think it's a quality that sometimes you see is missing oftentimes especially like even when you're scrolling through different websites and things you see that there's a lack of artistic or creativity background you have that combination that oftentimes is lacking you know you to be able to create something that not only people want but also in a way that looks beautiful 09:03 Aly: it is it is kind of funny because in computer competitions I've won but in art competitions I actually do not do well and usually I mean not even like third place you know flunking I think under pressure I don't but if I use if I drew something at home and bring it out now that's actually something magical and you've seen some of those but usually I don't I think artistic is very part is very personal to me and if I draw something I usually hide it and never showed you it is very personal but I think I'm glad you gave me the ability to apply that same magic from art and actually into you know mix it with mix it with mathematics and kind of create something magical that we presenting and thanks to my mom I'm able to talk to people through that so I think I'm really grateful before my family actually gave me this wealth it's you know and unlike monetary this is actually very been useful to me 10:05: Nausheen: yea I've definitely seen the creativity um creative ability it's truly beautiful 10:05 Aly: well we can share some picture 10:10 Nausheen: so I wanted to ask you. I know that you know you started stooge and I just want to know what inspired you what was that initial feeling that got to you and you said hey you know what I'm gonna start this thing and I'm gonna make it work what got to that point 10:26 Aly: that will be my sister Anusha and it all started and by the little background on Anusha know she actually is one of the really awesome choreographers I've ever seen and she's at a very young age and she manages 400 kids and she teaches them dancing and you know she actually was creating a show to present these what the kids have learned in front of the parents it was an awesome show by the way so great sensation last year but 10:55 Nausheen: sensation is the name of the event last 10:57 Aly: - year, yes I was and you know I'm really proud of her now when I the reason it all started because of her was because I was you know getting a glass of water and I saw her hair all over the place because she's been pulling it all day long and she's you know she's frustrated absolutely and when I asked her what's going on it's because all the parents of the children have been calling her non-stop because of this because of this event now this event has been in play for ten years so the parent should be should be familiar with a form at this event so what the problem was ticketing because Ticketmaster was charging them twenty four dollars over on a forty dollar ticket that sixty person markup and that's a great reason to call because you're buying not one ticket you're buying like six tickets for your family to see one person performed and she was handling all the calls well Ticketmaster was just charging and to me it's not a really hard thing to code so from there all you start designing like yeah we just create a small patch and like you know created within their site and that can print ticketing at that point we were just solving a small problem we would not even think about that we can scale it or monetize it but from there on another event issue another event issue another event issue came to us and we realized that this is there is a huge need where there are a lot of companies just solving and focusing and monetizing this ticketing there is a broader problem at scale that we need to solve and that's why we start working with all the event organizer understanding the problems they're challenged they're the what's frustrating why is events being a bringing to light is so difficult and we're solving one problem at a time and trying to make events fun for themselves 12:41 Nausheen: so when you've been working with all of these different event planners what started to show up like what did you feel like things that you can help resolve their problems and resolve their pain because I think you give a glimpse into that but I just want to know a little bit more details 12:55 Aly: so there are a lot of problems with them and you know nothing have been solved so the first biggest problem is vendors and how do I manage my vendors how do I bring them in but how do I organize them huh and how do I create an interaction so those were the key points that was one of the biggest problems that we're solving at this moment yeah and to be honest this was never been solved this was kept with a book I mean even the application for vendors were on a PDF that you print and you mail it in or you factored in paper-based now if you can translate that just translate that into an online format that will be a big breakthrough but we do way more than that so now event organizers are loving it and they're just getting on board just to use it and now we promised them that we're going to build more and more from there on 13:47 Nausheen: Wow I mean that's surprising I think um you know we've been taught this too but knowing of it and then actually being involved in the whole process is a whole different experience altogether I think the whole thing like the whole project started because of a pain point and then that led into working with customers truly understanding their needs truly understanding how you can help resolve their issues is something just remarkable it's something that it's more meaningful than what most companies do out there they'll just start to launch a product know how much they're gonna charge and then ask okay how much are you gonna pay me for this or can you pay me for this these are my dollar amounts or whatever but what you did is something different you said I have an issue this is my issue I fixed my issue yeah now I'm working with people who have maybe the same type of issue maybe a little bit more yes death and then you start to build on that and that in itself is something meaningful and I- 14:50 Aly: it started with the mission in our mind to solve you know and having a family member in distress you're actually going to go help them out do it whatever they need so the only way I could solve that problem is with the digital solution and here's my patch but from there on I think every other need in that industry that came to us was actually a familiar need because my sister was part of that industry and if they're having it so will my sister have that tear if she decided to event on different scale or with the similar attributes so from there on every problem that comes to us is actually we feel very familiar with it and we have to solve it as soon as possible so the whole idea is that we got to build something that they're going to use they want to apply and they've they're going to love and they and they're going to tell others about it so making their life easier it's probably something that they're going to love if there's a product that does that 15:43 Nausheen: that's actually pretty cool and I wanted to know what defines you like what are the company values that you never want to let go let's say you're just starting to pick up you have an set number of customers right now but 10 years 20 years 30 40 or 50 years from now what are some of the values you never want to let go what's something that you're hanging on so hardcore too I think 16:10 Aly: keeping the customer at the center of every single thing that we do that's the main thing because they are the ultimate users they are the ones whose problems you're trying to solve right and if you lose sight of that we're then we are nothing so keeping that in mind is the key goal and if I have to leave a legacy behind for forty or hundred years it's going to that please do not allow sight of them however small however large they are they make a big difference and their voice should always be heard so making that happen and creating you know creating products that solve and that amplify those voices is something we want 16:49 Nausheen: Wow 16:49: Aly: so you know and the other thing I would say is that the interaction with the customer is always unique and always are magical because you will realize that any personal problems everyone is having is similar to solve those then there is unique problem that they're all having that's not as similar so if you solve that 80% of the problems they're fine with spending more time dealing with the others so focus on those and we found that if you're actually able to build out the vendor memory that will solve the whole that will solve a lot of problems 17:23 Nausheen: can you um well yeah actually I have a quick question to that so I'm thinking would you be one of those CEOs like let's say you're the CEO of Stooge 60 years from now will you be one of those come CEOs that's actually going to still be talking to their customers pretty frequently and just to still get a feel for what the company is like and how we're resolving their issues 17:47 Aly: absolutely I don't think so I know the other way around that I think it's still too you know 10 years from now 20 years from now we will still be talking and I will still be talking people especially I give everyone my personal number so they can call me anytime they want have 18:03 Nausheen: they have my personal too 18:06 Aly: they want any issues they have and you I'm the numero uno if they tell me a problem I'm on top of my game and yeah so building at Lightspeed is something we actually go for and solving that problem we build it sooner the problems are solved and that's what they love 18:30 Nausheen: yeah I like that I like to know that because you're still going to be heavily involved regardless of what stage you're in it truly means a lot not only for you to get a better understanding as to what's happening but also for your customers to know that they're still valued that their voices are always heard it doesn't matter at what stage you're in you're still going to listen to their needs that that truly means a lot um have you ever well I guess before I asked another question I just wanted to know can you tell us a little bit about your first very first customer is it your sister or was it your like were there other was there another customer that was first 19:16: Aly: actually the sister was the first one sister was the first one that actually wanted to use it and from there on. I would say you know our first customers our early adopters actually are from all over the event industry from city festivals to 5k run to even the dance show or you know music small Music Festival for indie our small artists so it's all over the place but we found that they actually have a common goal serve their audience the best make sure that the experience is really good for whoever's coming to the festival or that event so what we try to do is make their lives easier to deliver the promise they have to their audience and that's well that's how I describe my first customers and they're really awesome you know you have few of them on the podcast already to be honest I'll tell you that they're really interesting to talk to and they have years of experience and understanding what challenges they've gone through to bring their events alight is actually something we absorb and we reflect by solving those problems 20:12 Nausheen: I love it wow that's definitely very interesting I wanted to know have you ever worked on any previous startups and what were they like and what makes this process or startup this this startup so different 20:26 Aly: yes I've worked on previous startups and there have they were similar and different you know both good and bad ways similar is if you're building a product you know the coding is always going to be similar you're actually going to draw up some similar experience plan how they use the experience plan is going to go for so that's the similarity of that but different in the approach outfits from different industry in this one we focus more on customers in the previous one we were just building and selling and this one we focused on just build what exactly a customer want don't build something what you want to build and we're listening more to our customers more and more to our users in this one 21:07 Nausheen: missionary versus mercenary 21:12 Aly: yes so that was an opportunity need an industry that we could just build build build 21:18 Nausheen: so I think the whole process of this startup started for you with the pain point versus other startup projects 21:22 Aly: absolutely and it was my sister that was that was the main point 21:27 Nausheen: that's actually very interesting and to know you know that although you have a startup background this was something different just because it was a little bit more meaningful to you personally yeah and that could mean that it's just a whole different experience altogether you would say I mean obviously I know the answer to this question but I'm gonna ask it anyway so for all of the startups that you've ever worked on I'm assuming that this one would be here 21:49 Aly: absolutely and I think we we're making magic happen in every step of the way yeah it's exciting to work 21:57 Nausheen: yeah, it’s exciting to work with I think my one of my most favorite things about this industry it's just having that opportunity to actually interact with our customers so much they're so cool they're so fun 22:09 Aly: and our users come in like it I used to come first and every single thing where they are you know whether they're event organizers who's been in the city for thirty-one years or whether they are a seven-year-old kid who just wanted to make this app look really cool and I think he calls I think he calls us every day like to tell us what how we can make this thing more cooler so which is really so we listen to every single thing and we made a list of what will make this thing more magical and more problem-solving and better to art event organizer 22:44 Nausheen: he might be seven but he's smart he's very smart like all the next things we could do on this website or a little differently 22:56 Aly: and the term user experience is really because you think if you make things or experience really easy for your user review your user will jump on that journey pretty faster 23:06 Nausheen: mm-hmm most definitely so I wanted to ask if you don't have to start up right now right now like let's see it doesn't even exist it has never happened what would you be doing at this moment 23:16 Aly: if I didn't have this startup I will probably solving another problem in a startup manner and starting with the micro scale so solving a problem in a micro scale today hoping that it becomes a macro scale tomorrow so that's what I would imagine but making a difference in the world where is something magic happens 23:38 Nausheen: okay so regardless of anything that you're working on right now you would still be doing something that makes the change it's a difference in society in the world 23:48 Aly: yeah in this one I think even though we are part of an industry and these guys leave a memorable experiences with their audience everybody we meet who has been - you know - festival will remember festival will have that photos up on Facebook with their children so those are the memories that you have to share and retain with for your kids and they retain it over years to come so these are people we're trying to help and that's why you make it easier for them to make this memorable experience happen so in something other capacity if I didn't have the startup I would be working on something similar where I'm making a difference in people's life where they can also count or make the difference in another person's life so make things easier for that rain that's 24:29 Nausheen: definitely good to know um I wanted to know although you know you enjoy this whole process and the whole startup journey what's the most exciting thing for you about this industry the event industry that you're working with right now how are you working when the customers or how you're working with a start-up process but just in relation to the event industry itself 24:51 Aly: I want to say people I try my best to be the to be a good person the people in this industry are you really awesome and unique and they have the wealth of information the knowledge so they when they share with us when they give us we actually understand their challenges their problems their experiences that go through there are headaches then nausea every single thing in the sentence you know we actually learn about them and they're really open to share and it's because they feel good to go through this pain so they are able to make a big difference in the people who are coming to their festivals to the events and that's why it's so magical so everybody who we've talked to I've loved my experience we've loved our experience and we're really honored to be working with them to be able to you know make a difference in their lives in motion I mean you were actually done a magical because I think these people really love you because we try our best to solve their problems digitally we try best because we are tag geeks so we can code at a lightning speed and create products that you know with that speed however there are a lot of problems that we cannot solve with the digital solutions and that's where you came in and you decided create as podcast so as a social you know as a you know as an event organizers we're solving each other's problems by coming to this podcast bringing out our challenges or problems we faced and bringing our expertise to solve those problems and that's where it's so amazing that not only as a team we're solving their problems but they themselves trying to solve each other's problems that we cannot solve and I'm really grateful that you podcast because on this podcast 26:47 Nausheen: I'm the host but usually 26:56 Aly: well I think it's another thing is I might be like convincing you to bring me back again 26:57 Nausheen: what are some your biggest challenges I'm going to know like some of your most um I guess even early on your struggles that you've experienced in this industry or just in the startup life in general I think the biggest challenge it's probably assumed from us is that the product might be difficult to build those are the products really difficulty because we're good at what we do the biggest challenge or the biggest fear I have is breaking the trust of my customers and those are that's one thing that actually wakes me or like early in the morning that drives me toward 18 19 hours a day and because I won't want to break that us they trust us they love us and I don't want to break it it's been amazing it's been an honor working with them and I wouldn't change any bit of that so I think that's what drives me that's what drives us and we're in it and the second thing I would say is you know my fear is to stop producing magic we don't want to ever stop it so every single thing we want to do is create magic whether it is for an event organizer who's been able for 30 plus years or whether it's for a seven-year-old kid we want to make that magic happen always make it so early 28:15 Nausheen: I actually wanted to say thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to share your story to hear how you started all of this and to just get in glimpse into what stooge is all about we most definitely going to have you on again I think we would love to hear about your journey in process to be a part of it not only just hearing about all of the things or learning about what's stooge has to offer but being with it being a part as it's like yours having ownership providing it for all of the listeners out there they all want to be a part of this journey themselves because it's from its inception all the way to where it goes it's a process learn about that is a beautiful experience to know about the founder to know about how he goes and moves throughout this whole process it's truly inspiring so thank you for sharing that 29:05 Aly: absolutely and thank you know Nausheen because you know you're dealing with flu you're coughing you know thank you so much and you actually you know flu all these symptoms you've been working the whole week weekend so you know I'm really honored to be working with our team members who you know just walk through fire I saw for solving a problems and I think that's what one unique thing about this team is persistence and you know I've learned it very young that especially if anybody's played the game Mario I think that's a great example of persistence so the Mario is actually a good example of persistence and in that game if you've played it no matter how many times the princess gets kidnapped you're going to rescue her so that's why I think persistent no matter how many shortfalls we came across how many problems arise we have to go and so we have to keep going 30:15 Nausheen: yeah that's truly very beautiful thank you so much for sharing that and sharing that with our listeners giving them this chance this glimpse in understanding who you are as well as the whole story of stooge thank you again Aly Hussaini it's been a pleasure. Goodbye listeners although the event 30:30 Nausheen: although the event industry includes a lot of stressful work and late meetings or late events just remember that every event you helped to bring to life creates memories of a lifetime for many people out there. Did you love this episode of Plantastic Events, we’d love for you to subscribe rate and leave a review on iTunes each week we'll give a shout out to the reviewer of the week also don't forget we have resources available at stoogeapp.com. thank you for listening and I hope you'll join us next time. Goodbye 31:10 Nausheen: produced by stooge app calm music by Justin Mahar