In the world of big tech, there’s never a shortage of Iranian names.
And our latest discovery, is the de facto change maker who runs Zoomph: Amir Zonozi.
As a leading sponsorship data analytics firm, Zoomph started as a “project focused on solving the chaos of social media, and that solution evolved into a company with an obsession on achieving human-level data quality by applying machine intelligence at big-data scale.”
Zoomph’ s nucleus of star performers came to fruition while they were working with the Department of State in an effort to assist public diplomacy and promote “democracy through social media.”
Under Mr. Zonozi’s leadership, the company has experienced exponential growth in a short amount of time. Zonozi soon saw the impact of Zoomph’s platform—which had initially been created for the company’s own use—and its performance could assist commercial organizations revolutionize their consumer-based productivity.
As their client list grew beyond sports teams and marketing agencies, Zonozi realized “traditional social listening platforms were unable to provide insights into audience understanding,” and that led him to this “whitespace…[where] this innovation has become a key foundation of [Zoomph’s] data offering.”
Ongoing expansion of Zoomph continues full force as they now reign in the field of social engagement data capture and analyzation for professional sports and esports teams, major commercial brands, and agencies.
We sat down for an interview with the Northern Virginia born-and-bred native whose family is originally from Mashhad, Iran, to learn more about his firm, Zoomph and his life as a successful Iranian-American.
PEM: What is your educational background?
AZ: What fascinates me is how the delivery of words can send the same message yet how it is delivered creates varied outcomes and that lead to my background in Psychology and where I went to George Mason University for undergraduate and then later Georgetown’s Communication Culture and Technology program for my master’s degree.
Have you been to Iran?
Yes, I had the pleasure of visiting in my early teenage years. It was such an amazing experience I had culture shock.
If you could go to Iran right now, where would you go and why?
That’s the thing, I would want to see all of Iran from the mountains to the beaches and get a better understanding of the world my ancestors lived and breathed. It’s unfortunate how limited access has become.
Do you find, with age/experience, that your Iranian culture effects your work?
I don’t know if I can attribute it to the Iranian culture or to my parents and genetics, but my work ethic is relentless, passionate and patient. I will win the world on Zoomph one by one if needed. The older I become the more responsibilities I have, so just being more intentional with time and effort is a skill that has been very impactful.
How did you get into Tech?
Before social media was even considered something, someone could build a career on top of, I feel in love with the ability to be connected to so many people at once and watch how trends rose and fell. I was bullish and followed my passion of social media and the ability to connect with others and it always led me to find more and others that share the same passions that I do.
Were your parents/family OK with you not becoming a Doctor/Lawyer/Engineer?
LOL. No. I would be surprised if they understood exactly what I do today, but if you spend your time worrying about what others think and making them happy, one can never focus on making themselves happy. I’m fortunate to be stubborn enough to go after what makes me happy but all of my success is because of the lessons and help they have provided me.
How did you get involved in Zoomph? I was hired at MetroStar Systems to help with a new initiative on new media. One of the projects we had assisting the state department required us to help create our own tools to answer some of the challenges we faced, that was how Zoomph was initiated, however the product and company today is significantly different from our inception–the spirit in creating solutions to answer difficult challenges our customers face is in the essence of everything we do at Zoomph.
What is Zoomph?
Zoomph is partnerships analytics platform leveraging AI for media measurement and consumer insights. We work across sports, esports and entertainment to help brands understand the value of their partnerships.
Are you considering making it an app?
It’s a cloud based SAAS platform accessed via a website, we have made it, so it works through mobile browsers, but we currently do not have a mobile app at this time. Certainly, open to creating an app to make interfacing with the data easier but it hasn’t been a high request by most clients and at our stage we have so many options of things to do we need to stay very focused and limit our energy to the top pressing concerns and challenges. As we grow I am sure we will revisit [app creation].
Is this the first tech effort you’ve been involved in?
No, I did a couple projects while in graduate school, none of them ever got to a point where we had customers until Zoomph. It gave me a much higher sense of appreciation for our team at Zoomph understanding how difficult it is to execute an idea into reality.
Where do you see Zoomph in five years?
We see attention as the oldest currency, and an audience as one of the most powerful assets. I see us creating the dow jones of attention and a standardization for value across the digital asset economy.
Who are some of your biggest customers?
We’re fortunate to work with some of the top brands, teams, leagues and agencies. Supporting companies like Coca-Cola to teams like 100 Thieves and Golden State Warriors is a dream come true, they need the best of the best and this pressure makes us better. My dream clients would be Nike and NBA or assisting Michael Jordan in any of his work…Those brands have made such an impact on me at such a young age.
What are some tips you share about how individuals can best utilize social media i.e., Twitter, FB, and/or Instagram?
It depends on what the goals of the individuals are, but I always encourage people to create, the ratio of consumers to creators is astounding. Create and deliver value on what you are passionate about and be true to yourself in how you deliver it.
What are some tips you can share about how companies can best utilize social media i.e., Twitter, FB,
Go to where your audiences are, deliver value to your audiences and keep posting. Your ability to capture attention is expressed through the engagement you see. If you are not getting any attention or engagement, you are not aligned to what you audience wants from you. Identify your target audience,
What is your stance on TikTok? Do you think it’ll last or end up in the Tech graveyard like MySpace?
I don’t see TikTok in the same light as other platforms and do not see it losing steam any time soon–even with the previous administration trying to ban it we’re seeing user activity increase. What makes TikTok so unique is that you need not to follow anyone, it is linear broadcasting for mobile in snackable-sized content that with every interaction learns more about the type of content you wish to see. It’s remarkable algorithm-wise, what they have built. There’s no better platform to engage Gen Z right now than Tik Tok.
What is your personal preferred social media platform and why?
There’s the saying, Facebook is where you start to hate your friends and family, and Twitter is where you fall in love with strangers. I have always loved Twitter more than other platforms because it allows people to connect in real-time and promotes the connection based on ideas and interests. I have learned a tremendous amount as a result.
What platform(s) do you find most beneficial for businesses?
LinkedIn and Twitter have been instrumental to our business. I can’t tell you how much business we have won through our engagements on both channels. Linkedin allows for professional interactions, but Twitter provides more personality and engagement over time to build trust.
What industry is Zoomph beneficial for?
Zoomph is focused on sports and esports, however our technology can be used across any vertical where there is notion of fans and audiences.
How important of a role do you find analytics play in today’s stat-and-data-driven world?
Without a data-driven approach, I don’t know how any organization expects to make an impact. Data is the secret weapon in today’s market and the more data you possess the less challenges and risks you face. Understanding how your audiences want to see and experience your content and how to make it resonate even more, is critical to creating more value to fans, and partners.
Why are analytics important and how vast is their impact?
Analytics are important because they are giving you guidance based off data on how to proceed forward and understand what your audience
wants, and how they want it. Life is about taking risks, but if you can eliminate risks by making sure bets, you are in a much better spot.
What are the top three lessons you’ve learned through trial and error?
1. Focus. A fox that chances many rabbits, catches none. You can do anything, but you cannot do everything, force limitations and grow once you have delivered exceptional value to one vertical.
2. Run to the challenges instead of avoiding them. You want to get knocked down so you can learn where the holes are in your armor, fix them and then go at it again. To become unbeatable, you need to learn as quickly as possible where you can be beaten.
3. Be decisive. You will make good calls, you will make bad calls but do not under estimate the power of momentum.
Advice for aspiring Iranians looking to make it big in Tech?
1. Patience. People overestimate what can be done in a year and underestimate what they can do in decade. Keep posting, keep pushing.
2. Embrace Challenges. Comfort is the enemy of greatness, constantly take on challenges and run towards them and over time nothing will be a challenge
3. Passion. You will inevitably hit obstacles; you will need a fire that keeps you going to keep getting back up every time you get knocked down.
Visit Zoomph, to learn more.