Apu Gupta: CEO/Co-Founder of Curalate

My NativeAdVice:

How did you get into the tech industry?

I grew up in the Silicon Valley at a time when the personal computer was changing the world. My father was in the semiconductor industry while mother was in software and from a very young age I was around a lot of tech. I was drawn to software. For me, it was a creative outlet limited only by imagination and skill. For me being in tech was about being in an industry where nearly anything was possible. And that’s amazing.

Tell us about Curalate. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?

In late 2011, my cofounder, Nick Shiftan, and I started noticing how popular visual-first social networks (e.g. Pinterest, Instagram) were becoming. We felt that this was about a fundamental shift in the way people were consuming information and communicating about what mattered most to them. Increasingly, people were talking in pictures rather than words – a trend that has continued to only grow stronger in the years since. We realized that in an environment with few words, most of the technologies that were built for understanding social communications would break. So we set out to build software that could “read” images instead.

In a world in which visual communications propagate unfettered, and the information contained within becomes increasingly valuable, our vision is to make brands smarter marketers through imagery.

What strategic partnerships have you implemented that have attributed to Curalate's success?

Our most valuable partnerships are with the brands who put their trust in us. As a young company, we care deeply about the brands we work with as well as the brand we’re building.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

Brand awareness and preference is increasingly being formed on channels that brands don’t control – namely social. Additionally, on rapidly growing channels such as Pinterest and Instagram, earned media trumps owned. Together, this means that brands now operate in a world in which the conversations are being initiated by someone other than themselves on channels they no longer control. Curalate enables brands to capitalize on this by giving them the marketing tools needed to influence the customer’s journey in ways that make brands more relevant to the consumers of tomorrow. 

Life Motto?

Commitment is doing the thing you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left you.

Curalate's Motto?

We started from the bottom, now we here.

Your greatest success as founder of Curalate? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?

Before we were Curalate, we were Storably – AirBnB for parking and storage. We raised capital for this idea, built a product, and failed miserably. Our investors told us they believed in us and told us to push on, but told us we needed to figure things out in 30 days. Over those 30 days, our team came up with 70 ideas, built seven, and ultimately realized that Curalate was the best use of our team’s talents and passions. It was an incredible period in the company’s history and we’ve never forgotten about where we came from.

Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Josh Kopelman from First Round Capital, one of Curalate’s investors, said to us once, “Most entrepreneurs see a body on the table and say it’s in a coma. At least you guys knew it was a corpse.” My advice: know when to call it a corpse.

Favorite travel destination?

The South Island of New Zealand.

One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

A Sazerac and Barbuzzo’s Salted Caramel Budino.

What literature is on your bed stand?

Architectural Digest.

Role model - business and personal?

I can’t say that I have one, but rather traits that I aspire to have – the Dalai Lama’s inner peace and philosophical outlook, Steve Jobs’ charisma, my father’s intelligence, and my mother’s fortitude.

Current passion?

Photography, interior design, and the pursuit of the perfect cocktail.

Most interesting headline you've read this week?

“When it Comes to Market Leadership, Be the Gorilla.”  - First Round Review

What's next for Curalate?

Decoding the world’s images.