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Meet Pouya “Paul” Hashemi of SIP Awards & spinTouch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Hashemi.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I used to work in the mortgage industry and 2008 was not a good time for the market. However, I wasn’t satisfied in my job or the industry so I saw it as an opportunity. My first company, which imported absinthe and tequila, which never really grew. But I used this experience to launch two other companies, SIP Awards and spinTouch. Basically, these two companies solve problems that I came up against in my first business.

The problem the SIP Award solves is the complete lack of spirit competitions that put smaller spirit brands on an even playing field with bigger brands. Other competitions filled their judging seats with brand ambassadors and affiliates which put smaller brands at a significant disadvantage. So instead of industry insiders, the SIP Awards is the only spirit competition that solely recruits consumers as judges. The unbiased consumer feedback allows us to focus on quality and showcase brands that earned their spotlight.

spinTouch confronts a fundamental issue in marketing — how to get people’s attention and make a lasting impression. When I was running my import company I kept asking, “what can we do beyond pretty pictures and bold type to really deliver a wow-factor?” I found my answer on a trip to Europe where a few people were experimenting with interactive technology. No one in the U.S. was working on it and I knew businesses were missing out. Fortunately, I’ve been interested in bleeding-edge technology since I was a kid so tinkering with the prototypes in the garage with a bunch of used electronics was right up my alley.

Luckily, from their bootstrapped beginnings SIP Awards and spinTouch have seen explosive growth. For the SIP Awards, the number of entrants are up 750% from our first year and we’ve had 46% increase in the last year alone. spinTouch has secured numerous clients on the Fortune 500 including Mercedes Benz, UnitedHealth Group, Nike, Raytheon and Marriott to name a few.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has never been a smooth road for either company. After all, both companies are doing what has not been done before and innovating is often a tough path to travel.

For the SIP Awards, we were bringing a competition to the table that bumps up against the grain in the spirit industry. There has never been a spirit competition where consumers were judges. Not to mention, there are many established spirit judging competitions. The challenge was convincing brands to entrust the consumers’ opinions. Eventually, they did come around but earning industry recognition was difficult especially in the beginning.

While spinTouch also dealt with issues of industry acceptance, it also faced additional technical challenges. This is because we were literally pitching and selling interactive technologies that have never been made before. We were the first to bring large, interactive bar and table surfaces even before iPhones hit the mass market. Developing those products was uncharted territory and many companies had doubts that we could do it. As a matter of fact, initially, the success of the final product did end up coming down to the last minute.

Then, when the products were developed, we had to set up proficient technical support for products that did not exist a decade ago. After much trial and error, confidence, and persistence on somehow finding a solution against time and budget, I’m happy that I fought through all of the resistance to end up where we are today.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about SIP Awards & spinTouch – what should we know?
The SIP Awards is the only spirit competition that puts consumers in the judging seats. No big budgets, sponsors, nor spirit industry insiders sway our results. Spirit brands flock to the SIP Awards because getting feedback from consumers is a rare opportunity. Consumers trust the SIP Awards because they know that the winning spirits are peer approved through a stringent blind tasting process.

spinTouch puts storytelling at the center to transform the way brands engage with their customers. Through our cutting-edge interactive technology, a presentation becomes a conversation and products come alive at the customer’s fingertips. spinTouch is built to be intuitive, easy to implement, and creates unforgettable experiences to give companies a competitive advantage. We’re pioneering interactive technology and the goal is to usher in a new age of digital signage.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?

I feel that being utterly relentless in pursuing the end goal is essential to success. It doesn’t matter if the challenge is a matter of business, product, or development, it is critical to keep moving forward on a day to day basis. It is also important to squeeze every drop out of your available resources. However, regardless of what resources you have (or don’t have) you just have to push ahead as if your entire life depends on it and not take no for an answer from anyone.

Pricing:

  • SIP Awards – Judge tasting start at $65 per judge seat
  • SIP Awards – Entry fees range from $150 – $495 per brand
  • spinTouch – Interactive software starter package: $1,500

Contact Info:

  • Address: 160 Newport Center Dr, Suite 100 Newport Beach, CA 92660
  • Website: www.sipawards.com & www.spinTouch.com
  • Phone: SIP Awards: 949-420-0033 & spinTouch: 949-438-7300
  • Email: info@sipawards.com & info@spinTouch.com

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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