Avi is a entrepreneur and designer based out of New York. He built several award-winning products including: Worth1000.com, a popular contest site for Photoshop enthusiasts in 2002; the Advanced Aviary Suite (http://advanced.aviary.com), a suite of web-based design applications; and most recently, the Aviary API, an embeddable photo-editing solution for mobile and web apps [Aviary.com]. MIT's Technology Review named him one of the "Top 35 innovators under 35" in 2010. Avi has a J.D. degree from Cardozo School of Law.
How did you get into the Tech industry?
I was always fascinated by technology. I taught myself how to make my own webpage when I was 15 and really just viewed the business possibilities the web opened up as endless. That positioned me well to see other opportunities in tech as they emerged, for example the new frontier of mobile devices.
Tell us about Aviary. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
Before Aviary, I developed an online community called Worth1000 where photoshop users and other artists would compete in daily competitions. Those competitions were seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors, but only a hundred might enter. Couple that data with the thousands of emails I'd receive from site visitors asking how they could get access to the tools used to make the amazing entries in the competitions, and I realized that creative tools wasn't available for everyone.
I wanted Aviary to help allow everyone in the world to express themselves creatively, no matter their skill set, education or personal finances.
That goal has been a common thread throughout every product we have ever put to market.
What strategic partnerships have you implemented that have attributed to Aviary's success?
My team landed critical early deals with Flickr (Yahoo) and Twitter that really gave us a lot of credibility in the market and broad press exposure. There was some focus on Twitter's rivalry with Instagram at the time, so Aviary was being painted as the "arms dealer in the photo editing war." That exposure really helped lift the company.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
Smart phones with built-in cameras are in almost every pocket at this point (or will be soon). It's no surprise that the number of photos taken is exploding exponentially - and that obviously creates lots of new opportunities for app developers building photo apps. We intend to help those developers get to market as quickly as possible with an elegant product that their users will love. Everyone wins!
Build wonderful things.
We are on a mission to give the world greater creativity.
Your greatest success as founder of Aviary?
Knowing that we've powered the photo editing in more than 10 billion photos - more than 1% of all the photos taken in the world is pretty meaningful to me.
Also knowing that I've been able to create value for investors and my colleagues is something I'm happy for.
Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
Deciding to close down our amazing flash suite and the 4-years of work, investment and love that had gone into those tools. But doing so enabled us to focus on our SDK strategy, which has made us successful.
I learned that the best thing a CEO can do sometimes, is deciding what things not to do.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Talk with everyone you know about your idea and how you want to execute on it. Constantly. At every opportunity. Proactively seek feedback.
Stealth mode is your worst enemy.
Favorite travel destination?
The hot springs in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming the most beautiful, exotic place I have ever been.
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
Clean water and whole wheat toast. If there's an apocalyptic food shortage, probably best to live simply right?
What literature is on your bed stand?
Rogues by George RR Martin and some other great fantasy authors.
Role model - business and personal?
Business: I admire Thomas Edison, Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs for their business acumen and vision. But the person I am most in awe of is Elon Musk - his unwavering drive to push humanity towards a better future is unmatched.
I'm really enjoying tackling new DIY projects around the house, especially those involving woodworking. It's the simultaneous act of creation and acquisition of new skills that really appeals to me!
What's next for Aviary?
As a part of Adobe since our acquisition on September 22, we're really excited to continue to execute on our original mission of bringing the world greater creative freedom, but this time with the resources of a massive company with a wealth of creative resources behind us. I couldn't be more excited!