Hi, I’m Ali Shahanaghi and I am co-founder and CEO of a professional social network called Swishlinks.
How was life growing up?
I was blessed to be surrounded by good people. I grew up in Montreal, which is a very friendly and multicultural City. I am the older brother of two siblings but because of a rather large age gap (10 years), I always felt more like a father to them.
When did you begin to witness you had creative talents?
My grandfather was a very successful businessman and I grew up watching him manage his business. From a very young age, I realized this is a passion for me.
What were you doing before Swishlinks?
I was part of one of the largest dental organizations here in Chicago. I joined the company in 2008. As Vice President, my goal was to build a corporate infrastructure and grow the company nationwide. Soon, I noticed the lack of technology within the dental field. I met many software companies and realized that none offered a solution for multi-clinic management. That’s when I came with the idea of building an ERP system called One Entry Soft. I convinced one of my friends to join us in helping develop the software. A few months later, One Entry Soft became the core of the company operational structure. It helped us to expand to untapped markets and heavily increased revenue. My team and I opened 30 clinics, expanded in five states, and grew the team from 5 to 700+ employees.
How did you meet your business partner Charbel?
Back in Montreal, we used to work at an IT/computer firm. We clicked. Years later in Chicago, when I needed someone smart and talented, he was the first person that came to mind. We created a something beautiful with One Entry soft but Swishlinks is definitely our best collaboration yet.
Talk to us about Swishlinks
Through the years, I’ve worked with many of creatives and young talent. The idea for Swishlinks came about when we saw a shift in culture. People are looking for collaborations and opportunities with synergy. The way they want to look for these and showcase their talents has evolved. And it was time for a platform that answered to that.
You said the goal of swishlinks is to be the resume of the feature. Talk about that
We live in the times of the untraditional. Adapting the way we interact with our everyday needs is how Uber, Netflix and a whole plethora of business have become indispensable. It’s funny to me that when it comes to career building and job opportunities we still rely on typing up resumes and cv.
In the end, whether it’s a collaboration, an internship or a highly coveted position as creative director, what will close the deal is who you are. And perhaps a few decades ago, getting the most amount of information about your skills, education, and experience on a 1-page sheet was the way to go.
But so much of who we are and what we are capable of bringing to a project does not fit in a bullet point format. When you have the ability to showcase your professional journey in a multi-faceted way: through image, video, text and through time, you are showing the multitude of pieces that make you the right fit for that project or collaboration. This is what Swishlinks is built on.
For people who have yet to download the app, reel them in by telling us the most unique/creative feature the app has to offer
By far, the collections. Collections are the core of the platform. You create a post (which we call stories) based on your professional journey. But how you organize them into collections, how you highlight those collections as you evolve, we believe this has a tremendous value.
After just going full-time last year w/ Swishlinks. Builtinchicago has your company listed in Chicago’s top 50 startups to watch in 2017. How is that feeling for you?
Definitely, anytime you are recognized for your talent, it’s a great thing. It gives you the energy to keep pushing forward. And we welcome that energy because we have a big goal. We aim to be indispensable because it means that we are changing people lives.
Looking back now, you’ve been able to be apart of a few startups, some have worked more than others. Why do you think people should choose startups over corporate jobs?
Startups are very challenging. The environment is very disorganized. You go from one place to another, you’re always changing direction. You have many bumps along the way and mistakes can be very costly. But it is only from this type of chaos that great and innovative concepts can be built.
When it’s all said and done how would you like to be remembered?
If there’s one thing my mom, who is also an entrepreneur, taught me was that everyone has a set of skill and strengths that can make magic happen when used in the right environment. Unfortunately, it’s hard for us to let everyone know who we are and all the talent and skill we have. There are so many amazing creatives, artists, and entrepreneurs that are hidden. I want people to remember me as someone who created a platform to showcase the strengths of individuals. I want people that are skilled and talented that may not have the opportunities to shine, to be able to shine through our platform and be discovered by others. If I could make that happen, I think that will be my biggest satisfaction.
Written By: Nico Rud