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Hidden Gems: Meet Dean Hakimi of SwellCo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dean Hakimi.

Hi Dean, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?|
I was born in New York and grew up in Tel Aviv, and now my wife and I live in San Diego, California. There is something I love about the chaos of a city with the serenity of the beach.
Surfing is one of my greatest passions in life and it has brought me to many places around the world. Being on a wave is a matter of a few seconds and it is very special, a moment where you connect with what nature has created.

Which inspired my best friend and I to establish SwellCo.me. We realized that there was a gap between surfers and the photographers who are on the beach taking photos of us surfers. Surfers will always be thrilled to get photos of their most memorable moments on a wave, and photographers will be pleased if the photos will reach them, but for some reason the connection does not happen naturally or simply, and most of the photos do not reach their destination.

A few years ago I was surfing in the Maldives. On the last day of my trip, just before I was about to leave for the airport, a photographer approached me. He told me he had many pictures of me. I wanted those photos so badly that I was willing to give up $170 for them. However, that wasn’t the only problem, as there was the hussle of how I would transfer him money and he would transfer the photos. The only thing I could think of was that I was so close to missing those pictures. Things like that happen all the time.

Today, SwellCo is a start-up company operating in Israel and recently in California. We created a community-based platform that notifies people when their sport moments are captured. I see us launching on every famous beach in California soon.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It’s not a smooth and easy road. Each day offers a new challenge, which requires us to be open-minded and flexible while living in uncertainty. I think one of our biggest challenges, as with most startup companies in their early stages, is finding the “Product market fit”, which means building a product that meets the needs of our community.

When we first started, we had trouble figuring out how to reach the people being photographed. Using our unique “Moment Match,” we found a way to bridge the gap, and now every time a photographer uploads his photos to SwellCo, 95% of them are viewed by the spot community within three days. We don’t assume that you will search for yourself, but we push notifications and use viral sharing of the natural, already existing community. Moreover, photographers have an interest in marketing us. Since we have a win-win scenario, photographers do some of the on-spot publication for us.

We’ve been impressed with SwellCo, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
In todays world, people share everthing they do. Their social networks are full of pets photos, breakfast photos and selfies but with almost zero shares of their best sports moment, simply because they have no record of them. Their best alternative is mostly selfie GoPro pictures.

Sport photography scene is very much active and present all around the world, but has a huge gap between photo capture and photo reaching its destination. For sports enthusiasts who crave for their photos doing what they love, SwellCo is a sport photo matching community which proactively notifies you about your new photos from your favorite spots, taken by the local photographers scene.

SwellCo makes the life of the photographer much easier. The photographer should focus on what he does best, which is taking photos. The rest is handled automatically; the platform sorts the photos by athlete. As the photographer uploads hundreds of photos, they are automatically sorted and displayed as a personal gallery for each athlete. By doing this, the athlete can also enjoy a faster and more comfortable experience when it comes to getting all of his photos from that day.

We recently conducted a case study focusing on Swami’s beach. The amazing surf community there is stoked about their surf photos, and are extremly welcoming and appreciative for SwellCo’s activity. We’re thrilled to see how many people are sharing their surf photos thanking TK, one of Swami’s local photographers who works with our platform.

As of now, the product is in its early stages. We will soon be adding many features that will benefit the community!

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
There is a sentence I once heard and I very much connect to it: “An entrepreneur will duck, dive, dodge, twist and turn to live to fight another day and make his dream and visions come true”.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Tom (TK) Kaestner Lauren Hartmann Bobby Rivero Harry Martin Ori Taub

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