Vartan Arabian, former consultant at Disney Corporation and Warner Brothers, said in an interview with Armenian News – NEWS.am that he is going to open a startup in Armenia.
Vartan’s partner is Dan Hirsch, marketing specialist with over 20 years of experience. They are going to open an enterprise in Armenia.
Every once in a while (though not very often yet) a Diaspora Armenian lures his non-Armenian friends into Armenia for business. Behind every case there is a history of a business partnership. But DataOwl is remarkable: its founders, Dan Hirsch and Vartan Arabian, went on to become friends for life.
Vartan and Dan are a good match for an IT startup. One gets things done in technology, while the other in concept and sales. They are about to incorporate in Armenia and open an enterprise.
Vartan’s family moved into the US in the early 90s. His parents managed to keep his Armenian fluent. “Armenian only at home” was their house rule.
“I still remember how excited I was when my first line of code actually worked. And now we can pitch the same opportunity to kids around here,” Vartan says.
Since then, he has written endless lines of code, for giants like Disney Corporation, Warner Brothers, and even helped with data analysis behind The Apprentice, hosted by no other than the future US President Donald Trump.
They find you without bothering you
The idea behind DataOwl is to help send personalized text messages from businesses to clients. Business intelligence makes every message appear individual. Messages come from real phone numbers, which gives the customer a sense of proximity. He feels he may always call back or send a message, Dan says. The system only feeds messages to those who agree to receive them.
“Besides, our system finds out where you are at the moment and your local time. So you don’t get a lunch reminder at night or a message from your car rent in Denver if you are now in Los Angeles”.
DataOwl aggregates sales data from companies, for a better wording and logic of personalized messages. But personal data of a company are not shared with competitors. Restaurant A cannot see the average bill or most preferred dishes at restaurant B.
Sms vs mail
Text messages enjoy a 10 times higher response rate than emails. 80 percent of consumers now don’t want to talk on the phone or read emails. They say they would rather engage with the company by text, founders of DataOwl say.
“Text message are paid, of course, but high conversion rates make up for it. You can think of it as sending 1000 messages to customers, which will cost you, say, $20. 100 of them make a transaction within 1 hour, worth, on average, $40 each,” Dan says.
Vartan and Dan became close friends when working on a healthcare project to reduce diagnosis processing time in hospitals. Vartan, a self-made software professional, and Dan, with 20+ years of experience in marketing (including positions with AOL and Time Warner) soon found they were on the same page in many ways. “I consider him family now,” Vartan says.
Self-made schoolboy geek
Vartan graduated early in 9th grade and passed his SAT testing (a loose equivalent of graduation exams in ex-USSR countries).
“I don’t know how, but I ended up scoring the top 5% in maths in the whole state of California. At 16, I started working on hardware computers and networks. I ended up going to a telecom company. Their exchange servers had gone corrupt. It took me 2 days to fix them, and their CFO came by and said “Hey kid, why don’t you come work for me?”
Later, he became a network admin and started to learn programming. From there, he went on to develop a project to accelerate functioning of telecom software.
Then he expanded his portfolio by consulting for several companies, consulting hi-tech and entertainment giants. Among others, he helped the Walt Disney Company launch Blu Ray 2, Warner Brothers’ digital services company, GDMX, and Sony, to implement Java toolkits into players. “And I did consult for The Apprentice, a TV show In Los Angeles, which used to be hosted by Donald Trump.” he says.
“America is an amazing place, but I love my people as well. And I see a lot of wasted talent. And I’m happy that we’re opening up here, because I want to think of ways to engage the youth.”