Co-founder of tech startup CrowdSYNC, Alex Fortunato, BFA film production ’09, says the most difficult part about starting a company was taking the initial leap of faith, but that it is all worth it. In this Alumni Spotlight, Alex advises students to be open to new experiences and ask a lot of questions.
Tell me about your career – what do you do on a day to day basis?
As a co-founder of a startup technology company in downtown San Francisco, I wear several hats. My day begins on Google Hangout at 11 p.m. (Pacific time), which just so happens to be 9 a.m. in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine, where our team of engineers is located. We work for 90 minutes to go over the most important milestones for the day and review the latest build notes. After a seemingly short catnap, we’re back online with the team to review their progress and test the latest code. Working on the technology side of CrowdSYNC at night allows us to focus on business development and strategic partnerships during the day. Collaborating with music festivals, mass media companies, broadcast sporting events and existing software developers has been the main focus of late; well, that and fundraising.
How did you come up with the concept of your app?
The inception of CrowdSYNC goes back to April 2, 2011 in Madison Square Garden during the final LCD Soundsystem concert. There, we saw tons of fans in the audience holding up phones and cameras to capture what is know as the last performance of LCD’s career. The following day, my co-founder and I tried to press play at the right time on our own videos to play our recordings back in “sync.” We soon realized there was a huge opportunity in merging the user generated content and we could create a mobile technology to put the user in the director’s chair.
What helped you in taking it from a concept to an actual product/service?
I started coding the prototype as soon as I got back to the west coast from my weekend in New York City. It was pretty easy to figure out exactly where and when footage was recorded through metadata tags that live inside each video file. The hardest pill to swallow for both my co-founder and me was leaving a secure position at well paying jobs to dive headfirst into what would become quite treacherous waters. However, once we made the leap, we never turned back.
What insight would you give to current students and alumni who are searching for employment?
It’s never too late to learn something new; keep building your resume. Show your specific value from the moment you walk in the door. What do you bring to the table that no one else can?
What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?
Ask more questions. Sit in the front row, every day. Take classes that don’t seem particularly interesting. You’ll be surprised what new doors they open.
From your time at Chapman, which faculty member(s) made the greatest impact on you and why?
In the film departments, Dave Kost and Scott Arundale opened my eyes to effective story telling through film. Professor (M. Andrew) Moshier taught my first and only computer science class, which I must admit I wasn’t particularly good at – I got a B-. The fundamental concepts that I did grasp are something I rely on every day and I really appreciate his commitment to the subject.
How has your Chapman degree helped you in your professional and personal life?
The Chapman network has been incredibly helpful in my professional life. From freelance film projects in Los Angeles to my first “real job” after Chapman, the alumni community has helped open doors to grow my career
How were you involved on campus during your time as a Chapman student? (clubs, organizations, etc.)
Fraternity – Pi Kappa Alpha
What is your favorite Chapman memory?
Early morning surf sessions before class. Screening of The Fourth Horseman senior thesis. Meeting friends at Papa Hassan’s between classes for snacks.
What was your favorite spot on campus as a student?
Braden Quad (no longer exists), Avid Bay in the film school, and the top of the parking structure, to catch the Disney fireworks.
Have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?
Not really. Having a startup consumes most of my existence.
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