How are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Art Shaikh: I have a large family – with everyone spread around the world. Thankfully, we have been self-quarantining as best we can, and nobody in my immediate family has been exposed or contracted COVID-19. Right now, I am living in Chicago and staying connected to everyone virtually. We have had to adapt the way our family handles gatherings, holidays, and occasions – I will say we’ve gotten pretty innovative!
Tell us about why you founded CircleIt?
Art Shaikh: Growing up, my father always had his camera around his neck, shooting pictures, and video at every family gathering. Photos would be developed and videos copied – and gifted to family members near and far. He always felt a tremendous amount of joy, watching people’s reactions to these special gifts.
Over time, he began writing notes, documenting memories, and creating handmade cards that he would stash safely away in a large box alongside his treasured family photos and beloved old home movies.
My father left behind this box, overflowing with photos, stories, cards, and gifts for future life events with specific instructions on how and when to share these treasures with his beloved family. He wanted his legacy to live on – and for his family to continue experiencing his love long after he was gone.
CircleIt was built to replicate this unique gift. Created for my mother to help carry on his legacy. Made so that others can experience the joy it has given all of us and built in memory of my father, Arif Shaikh.
How does CircleIt innovate?
Art Shaikh: Studies show that on average, oral family history fades, and ancestors are forgotten within two generations. CircleIt is here to change that. Our platform is reinventing how families connect, celebrate, and preserve precious memories for future generations.
Imagine sending your newborn a personalized card to be opened on their 18th birthday. Scheduling future flower deliveries for your wife as you’re battling cancer. Or, reading your grandchild their favorite book so they can remember your voice long after you’re gone.
Our first-of-its-kind generational platform is like a virtual time capsule – helping our members create customizable cards and personalized digital memories to be delivered to their loved ones, years, even decades, in the future. This gift can be easily shared and securely stored for countless generations – allowing the safekeeping of priceless memories, stories, wisdom, family values, and off-the-record tales for generations to come.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Art Shaikh: If anything – the pandemic has opened our eyes to how much the world really needs our generational platform. Often – family history, candid stories, and ancestral knowledge are passed down to younger generations from its elders. As extended families are forced to remain separated, and older demographics deemed more susceptible – this truly puts family legacies at risk of being forgotten.
Just knowing that CircleIt offers a truly unique solution to families in need has been very rewarding. We have gotten amazing feedback from our users, who are thrilled to be able to have confidence that their memories, journeys, and legacy can live on in a world full of unknowns.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Art Shaikh: Toughest decision I had to make so far was quitting my dream job at Salesforce.com in the middle of a pandemic to launch my company. It’s always an incredibly tough decision to dive into something unknown, especially when it’s headfirst. Despite dreaming about the thrill of charting our own paths, not many of us are thrilled about the uncertainty, volatile cash flow, or paying for our own health insurance. But if you know in your gut that you want to get your business off the ground, then it’s time to push through the challenges ahead and make it happen.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and CircleIt in the future?
Art Shaikh: I carve out time for my family, for leisure, and self-care. It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges of running a business. It is important to make your business a priority, especially at the beginning. But it’s also easy to fall into the habit of making it your only priority.
Our company has a core group of individuals that have been working remotely during the pandemic. We’re eagerly anticipating the day we can all be in the same room – continuing to improve and grow the platform that is so close to all of our hearts. We know that the world needs CircleIt – needs what the platform can do for families near and far. We have big plans for expanding our platform’s features and capabilities that are huge game-changers for how families can preserve their legacy and cultivate future generations.
Who are your competitors?
Art Shaikh: CircleIt is a patented technology. We have pioneered a truly unique generational platform. Our indirect competitors will be companies like Ancestry, Hallmark, WhatsApp, and flowers.com.
Your final thoughts?
Art Shaikh: It’s all about the people. Building a team is one of the most important things a CEO has to do. Hire passionate people to hire the least in the very beginning. You don’t need them when you aren’t ready to scale.
How to find us on AppStore or Google Play:
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