I’d rather fall asleep every night after trying all day and failing, then lay awake thinking about the dreams I never took a chance to fail at.
Shaun Moore is cofounder and CEO of Chui. The key to your life, Chui is the only smart doorbell that can recognize who someone is and then engage in specified actions based on presets an owner creates for targeted groups or individuals.
Shaun graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2010, earning a degree in Finance with a specialization in Alternative Asset Management from the internationally renowned Cox School of Business, with a Business Honors distinction. While attending SMU, Shaun played Division 1 football for the SMU Mustangs and was named to the Conference USA Honor Roll.
Graduating in the midst of challenging economic times, Shaun utilized the intellectual cultivation and practical experiences SMU afforded to obtain a job within the banking world. While Shaun was both fortunate and thankful for his corporate experience, he constantly felt compelled to pursue his entrepreneurial dream. Every day, he sat in his cubicle thinking about the job security he had worked so hard for, yet wanted to take a risk and explore, create, and, ultimately, improve how our world functions.
In 2012, Shaun was no longer able to quell the burning drive to begin his own business. He traded in the comfort of cubicles for a one-way ticket to Casablanca, Morocco to embark on his entrepreneurial dream. There, he met up with his fellow SMU graduate Nezare Chafni, who had just finished his campaign for the Moroccan Parliament. Nezare remains one of the youngest candidates in the nation’s history. While drinking green tea in a hotel room in Casablanca, the pair had the idea for Chui. It wasn’t until the following year when the team decided to act on the idea, the team devoted everything they had into making Chui central to the emerging smart home and connected everything movement. At one point working 7,000 miles apart to bring Chui to life, the startup has hit the ground running in 2014, unveiling at the International Consumer Electronics Show, receiving a great deal of media and positive product reviews, and raising 187 percent of a crowd funding goal in less than two months. Most recently, Shaun and Nezare were one of six startup teams selected from a pool of nearly 200 applicants accepted into the Boomtown Boulder Accelerator.
Shaun Moore was born and raised in a suburb outside of Chicago, Illinois. He is passionate about his family, living a healthy lifestyle and extending educational opportunities to all children. Shaun encourages everyone reading this to take a risk and pursue their dreams. Now on a journey after taking that risk, Shaun lives by a creed: “I’d rather fall asleep every night after trying all day and failing, then lay awake thinking about the dreams I never took a chance to fail at.”
Where did the idea for Chui come from?
Chui was conceived in early 2012 in a hotel room in Casablanca overlooking the Atlantic ocean by Nezare and I – two friends and graduates of Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business. We were drinking Moroccan green tea at the time. I had just voluntarily left my job in the corporate world and Nezare had just come off the campaign trail after being one of the youngest candidates to run for the Moroccan Parliament in history.
We knew Chui had the potential to make us, as individuals, the keys to our own lives, but good ideas are just that – we then had to focus on ‘the getting there.’ Here’s the best part (which has also been our biggest challenge): neither of us had any experience in technology. We are self-taught entrepreneurs in a market foreign to our expertise.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Nezare and I recently moved to Boulder, CO after being one of six startups chosen among a field of over 170 applicants to partake in the Boomtown Boulder Accelerator. There were no typical days prior to this move and there have certainly been none since. Starting my own business has allowed me to be the author of the story, to edit and iterate any chapter as it happens. It requires adaptability which is why my cofounder and I chose the name Chui after founding the idea two years ago.
Chui is the Swahili word for leopard; the smallest of the big 4 cats yet the most adaptable. Adaptability has been foundational to the growing success of Chui. It has led us to become self-taught, learn how to work across countries and time zones, and pushed us to develop cohesive business strategies, among other things.
The one typical thing about everyday – it won’t be typical.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Focus on the value of people and how our company can best use advanced computer visioning and machine learning techniques to make the lives of Chui owners more comfortable, efficient and safe, within a growingly complex world. This is why our company strives for Chui to always be a smarter doorbell for a smarter home, by making our faces the universal keys to our lives, and our key chains less heavy in the process.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The home automation movement not only excites me, it inspires and motivates me because as the trend evolves, Chui can be the gateway to your very own personalized world (within the confines of your smart home) Chui is the only smart doorbell that can recognize who someone is and then engage in specified actions based on presets a Chui owner creates for targeted groups and/or individuals. Chui can use its facial recognition to unlock a customized home and turn on connected home devices to the preferred settings of specified users, including illuminating lights to one’s preference, adjusting rooms to the perfect temperature, turning on the fireplace, and automatically playing music.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
As a former college football player, working out and eating healthy are an important part of my daily routine. I do yoga, surf when I can, and, of course, routinely stay active. I try to do this every day, as I find it keeps my mind clear, my heart healthy, and my full-self focused on further developing Chui.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
After college, I was fortunate enough to land a job with a bank back home. I am thankful for my experience, but once the initial excitement of being employed wore off, I found that my career path was not as fulfilling as I had always imagined. It was a great job, a safe one, at an awesome company, with some of the best people I’ve ever met, but every night I laid in bed thinking about the things I wanted to do – explore, create, and connect our world. Every night they were dreams. And then one day, I decided to trade in the comfort of cubicles for a one-way ticket to Casablanca, Morocco to embark on my entrepreneurial dream. I took a risk, and there are times I feel the struggles of that risk, but can honestly say I have not laid in my bed since thinking of dreams, I fall asleep after a day of living them.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I am not a believer in “should haves” or “could haves,” but rather, on how to improve going forward. That being said, if I had to do one thing differently, I would have taken a risk and acted upon the fire inside me, burning everyday as I sat thinking about pursuing the entrepreneurial journey I am so fortunate to be on, right after college.
I now live by the idea that I’d rather fall asleep every night after trying all day and failing, then lay awake thinking about the dreams I never took a chance to fail at.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make failure your friend, love it, and learn from it having the courage to move forward being better than before. There is no situation I can think of where you do not have an opportunity to learn something – take advantage of the education that is in front of you.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Building genuine relationships with people, to understand what they value, why they value and how our solution, Chui, can bring that value to them.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One of the more challenging aspects of creating a startup, specifically one within the tech industry, is honing in on a specified usage of a product to develop and market. People who create businesses and products become attached to them. For instance, I know Chui can extend far beyond the home market and revolution the way people shop, work out, go to school, and live. To get to that point, I have had to learn where to build Chui’s foundation from – one main usage to focus talent and time on. I am thankful for the guidance of my mentors and advisors at Boomtown Boulder for helping us narrow our focus, Chui’s initial home automation uses. Right now Chui lets our faces be the keys to our homes. We will strive to perfect this usage and then continue working on future usages, until Chui enables us to become our own universal keys, to a more comfortable, efficient, and safe life.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I am extremely passionate about the importance of health and education, both in my personal life and for our society as whole. I was lucky to receive the type of education that has helped me found and now grow my own business. I believe that educating our next generation is paramount to the success of the entrepreneurial spirit that remains foundational to the advancement of our society. Today’s students will be tasked with being the next great minds, the creators and innovators of the future. We need to equip all of our students with the math, science, communications, and entrepreneurial skills that will empower each of them personally, which has a collective effect. We need to be incubating our youth to think for themselves and to take calculated risks.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz: While I am grateful for and greatly value my education, I have found it is the things you cannot learn in a book or through theory that drive success in business. Horowitz covers this topic. I recommend it for anyone looking to begin their own startup as a tool for mental preparedness and for anyone currently running a startup to know you are not alone.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Steven Levitt and Ashton Kutcher