Simon Baumer '05 and Paul Canetti ’05, Cofounders of Maz Digital
Develop an iPad app for a magazine publisher, and you’ll have a steady client. Teach a publisher to make its own updateable app on a platform you’ve created, and you’ll have a burgeoning business in the tablet age.
That’s the opportunity former IC roommates Simon Baumer and Paul Canetti saw when the iPad launched in April 2010. Rather than taking on a limited number of freelance clients, they launched Maz Digital in 2011 with a third cofounder, Shikha Arora. As of late-2013, more than 200 media companies used their platform to build and maintain more than 630 apps reaching over a million readers. Titles include Inc., Forbes, Economist, and Dwell. Last summer Baumer and Canetti were named to the “30 under 30 coolest entrepreneurs” list by Inc. magazine.
“If you had asked us in college what would we be doing 10 years out, I’m not sure we would have predicted this,” says Canetti, who majored in philosophy. Baumer majored in politics.
But the two friends, who first met in high school, shared a love of web programming that helped them make their own opportunities after graduation, Canetti with Apple and Baumer for the American Civil Liberties Union and DailyWorth.com. When the iPad launched, both were freelancing, developing apps.
Canetti and Baumer say the learning curve as business owners has been steep, but their experience cofounding the coed a cappella group IC VoiceStream at Ithaca College was unexpectedly helpful. “Recruiting members, preparing for performances — we had to sell, raise money, market,” says Canetti. “We didn’t realize it at the time, but that was really good business training.”
They continue to look for voices that harmonize. In fall 2012, Maz Digital comprised 7 people, and by the end of 2013 it had grown to 25. “You look for people who fill in the gaps, personalities [that offer] perspective and creativity and meshing well,” says Baumer. The aim is to find those who will maintain the startup’s culture while putting in the sweat to help it grow.
“It takes a lot of discipline not only to set out on your own to do something, but also to do it day in and day out unwaveringly,” he says. “There’s nothing better than getting to decide your fate every day of your life.”
Read more about top-shelf entrepreneurs that have roots at IC:
Christopher Burch '76, founder and chief executive of Burch Creative Capital
Carl Daikeler '86, creator and chief executive of Beachbody.com
Jillian Gibbs '88, founder and chief executive of Advertising Production Resources
Mark French '97, president of Mission Basketball, inventor of Court Grip