What was your first job ever?
The first job I remember having was watching my neighbors dogs after school with my twin brother (yes I’m a twin!). Our neighbors had four different terriers so things could get a little wild when we walked in that door. Soon we had several of our neighbors asking us to watch their pets while they were away which hardly felt like work, especially for kids.
What’s the background story? How did you start your company and what is your company?
Aerogami was founded in 2020 and our product, DigiDoc, delivers an integrated mobile experience for insurance policyholders by taking a simple PDF and embedding mobile app features directly into the document. More simply put, we’re solving the problem of how people save and interact with documents on their phones.
Our origin story is kind of unique because my co-founder and I were actually co-workers at a different startup before Aerogami. That company used contact cards to deliver contact information to colleges and universities as well as some risk management providers in travel. But unfortunately that company, like many others in 2020, closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time though, the technical founder was working on a new product that wasn’t quite ready for market but my now co-founder and I saw the potential in it so we asked the original founders if they would be open to making a deal to let us acquire the IP.
They said yes and Aerogami was born.
Can you provide an example of a situation where security concerns impacted a decision or strategy within your startup?
Since we work with insurance carriers and service partners, security is always a concern, especially when it comes to customer data. We were lucky to go into this eyes open but the need to have a formalized compliance process became a non-negotiable when we decided to move from delivering group policy information, to individual policyholder data through DigiDoc.
This was a strategic decision for us because it opened up DigiDoc’s potential into a new category of insurance products and opened up opportunities to deliver a more tailored experience to every policyholder instead of a “one size fits all” approach. However, it also opened up the need for APIs and connections to client systems which ups the ante for security and compliance requirements. We had to decide at that moment if we had the capacity to take that on.
If relevant, when did you realize compliance was a non-negotiable?
Like I was saying before, when our team made that jump to build the capacity for DigDoc to contain individual customer data, it was a big push for us that compliance was a non-negotiable. Where the rubber met the road though was when we went through our first customer contract for this product. We had two options, the long road of filling out over 125 questions and interviews with the client’s compliance team or providing a SOC 2 Type II report and a penetration test. The latter saved us months of back and forth and served as a resource for other clients so the decision was easy.
How do you maintain a work-life balance while dealing with the constant challenges and demands of running a startup?
There’s nothing a walk with the dog and 15 mins of journaling can’t solve.
What’s your go-to podcast or publication?
I’m a big fan of Y Combinator’s content library. Michael Seibel does a great job of breaking down the lessons they learn and he’s done it, so who better to learn from than those who came before right? Also I love the “Upward & Onward” podcast with Ali Jobe here in Providence, RI. He interviews entrepreneurs from all different industries so it’s cool to hear the diversity of what people are building and learning more about their space.