Vacit Arat – CEO and Co-Founder of PeeqSee

Question everything and everyone, and don’t take anything at face value. Be open to and have the courage to change.

Vacit Arat is known for pioneering leading-edge technologies in fields ranging from semiconductors and software to medical and defense. His tenure includes leadership roles in engineering, operations and business management, including international experience with U.S., Japanese, European, Chinese, Korean and Israeli entities. Before PeeqSee, he led four startups as their CEO, two of which as a co-founder; and two of which successfully exited. Previously he worked at Samsung Semiconductor, LSI Logic, Honeywell, Silicon Value (Silicon Design Systems), Microfabrica, Crosspoint, On-Chip Systems, Vantage Surgical and IBM Microelectronics’ sales arm in the Silicon Valley. Vacit Arat holds a BSEE from the University of Birmingham, U.K., and a MSEE from the University of Houston, TX. He has 13 issued patents; 27 pending applications.

Where did the idea for PeeqSee come from?

The idea for PeeqSee evolved from some observing critical pitfalls in social media today, starting with how “static” the experience is. You take a photo or a video, add a comment and share it with others. It then shows up on your followers’ feed. There is little opportunity to inject an element of surprise and there is no opportunity to truly interact with it, you just get to look at it.

There is also no mechanism for users to earn monetary rewards for the creative and fun content they bring to these platforms, let alone their following because of their popularity. The revenue made from the ads surrounding their posts go to the social media host.

We developed the PeeqSee platform as a solution. It is the best vehicle to “democratize” social media and let users benefit from a profitable and fun experience.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day is 12 – 14 hours of complete immersion into the job, attending to the thousands of details that need to be taken care of, including the delegation of some of them. It is a constant battle of trying to keep priorities straight and making sure that these are completed every single day with the appropriate quality and attention to detail they require. Managing my to-do list while constantly changing priorities is the most important thing I do every day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The most important step in the process is to make a habit of asking yourself and other qualified people around you the following questions: “what’s wrong – what may go wrong?”, “is this working?”, “how can it be made better?”, “are we thinking too small?”, “are we setting ourselves up for the wrong outcome?”, “what’s a better idea?”. The second is the journey itself. Entrepreneurs have to get on the road first and try things out; it is impossible to have the right answers without trying things out. What appears to be a good, logical, straightforward idea may prove to be impractical, expensive and unattractive when it finally materializes. You have to put your ideas into practice and only then does reality set in.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I am titillated by how the combination of the Internet and mobile phones turned into the most powerful democratizing tool in human history, breaking all borders across continents and cultures, and accelerating education in every conceivable way.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I take time every day to study my to-do list, modify my priorities as necessary and stick to them.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I can’t remember any job as my worst job, but I do remember my worst work experiences. These negative experiences taught me so much about what I didn’t like, and heightened my senses so that I don’t make the wrong choices in the future. This is especially true in recruiting in that an impressive resume says little about how good a person would be as a team member.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would be less anxious to make moves in my career and I would put more effort into expanding my network, gaining more street smarts and creating more options for myself so that I could make my choices from a more solid ground.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Question everything and everyone, and don’t take anything at face value. Be open to and have the courage to change.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Pick that one aspect of your business that you already know works, and put 100% of you and your management team’s effort into growing it. Don’t worry too much that there will not be time to work on other wonderful ideas. Only if you are successful in your first product, will you have the luxury of working on other wonderful ideas later on.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

The one notable failure I’ve had as an entrepreneur is that I believed my investors knew my business better, and I followed their direction blindly. I finally realized that despite their deep insights in the domain, they just scratched the surface when it came to the specifics of my company, market dynamics, competition and business models, not to mention the team dynamics. While listening to them for general advice, it finally sank in that it is 100% my responsibility to make sure I have the right information to make the right decisions, and to execute on them.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Disposable (ultra-low-cost) electronic luggage tags that can be used by airlines to replace the manual, inefficient and error-prone system.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

Woodworking, in particular, wood carving, is my hobby. I have built more than half of the furniture in my house, most of which is highly intricate that you can’t find in stores. Sometimes I find myself thinking that all I know in being an entrepreneur, I learned from woodworking. It is a craft that really refines many qualities you need in running your business including patience to plan carefully, execution with the right resources, time and precision tools to get it done as well as paying attention to the right design aesthetics, strength and finish. It also heightens your appreciation of how much effort goes into creating something beautiful, and that nothing good comes easy.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I use what may other startups use to create their app as well as the back-end. I use Amazon Web Services for the back end to make it easy to deploy our product to a very large audience instantly.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I read High Output Management by Andy Grove 20 years ago and every aspect of it is still directly applicable to running engineering-intensive companies.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I am most impressed by the courage, intensity of focus and the almost surreal oratory talent displayed by some political leaders such as Winston Churchill and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. I would highly recommend the book Ataturk by Lord Kinross.


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