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"The market will tell you the truth," says David J. Kim, CEO of Between by@between
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"The market will tell you the truth," says David J. Kim, CEO of Between

by Between TeamSeptember 8th, 2021
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Between is a hybrid spatial audio platform that uses laptops & phones to capture the audio in the physical room and maps out the conversations onto a virtual spatial call. It'll sound like remote callers are in the room itself. CEO David J. Kim, CEO of Toronto-based startup Between, tells HackerNoon about his background and the future of his startup.

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HackerNoon Reporter: Please Tell Us Briefly About Your Background


Photo of David J. Kim, CEO of Between (taken from Facebook)I use to spend my weekends volunteering on a suicide hotline. Over 3 years, I learned how isolated the world was becoming.


In 2016, I was a neuroscience researcher, and it was around this time when the press was becoming more cognizant of the ill effects of social media on our mental wellbeing.


As much as I saw technology as a major culprit for the increasing rates of loneliness in many facets of our lives, there was also a great opportunity to take a more qualitative approach to ‘social.’


Everything changed when I went to a university 'hack-a-thon,' and shortly thereafter met my co-founders, Omar and Daniyal.

What's Your Startup Called? And in a Sentence or Two, What Does it Do?

Between is a hybrid spatial audio platform that uses laptops & phones to capture the audio in the physical room and maps out the conversations onto a virtual spatial call. It'll sound like remote callers are in the room itself.


Between: inclusive audio for hybrid meetingsWhat is the Origin Story?

I met Omar and Daniyal in 2017 - they were studying computer science at York University and the University of Waterloo. We were all concerned about the future of our social well-being, yet shared the optimistic belief that we can use technology to take a more qualitative approach to social.


The co-founders (2018): at the time, we were building a social eating platform called Gather

Over the years, we built over 5 products together: from an event recommender system (backed by the CEO of Meetup) to a mobile ordering platform that rewards you for ordering food with peers.


Developers operating out of David's house in the York University Village (2017).

In the early days, we had over 30 student interns; 10 of them were basically living out of my campus house eating instant noodles twice a day… All of the startup’ clichés.


At the core, we’ve always focused on socially enriching, data-driven products.


In 2020, we flew from Toronto to Seoul for the Techstars program and quickly learned how horrible hybrid-remote meetings were (people both in a meeting room and calling from home).


David and Daniyal (2/3 cofounders) in Seoul, South Korea, for the Techstars program in 2020.

The remote members of our cohort felt left out and neglected, and when we saw the pattern unfold across hundreds of hybrid teams, the opportunity really chose us at that moment.

What do You Love About Your Team, and Why are You the Ones to Solve This Problem?

It’s a lot of fun to work with people you like. We work hard but also make a lot of jokes and generally have a good time. But what I like is when there’s a fire happening, everybody can focus on the issue at hand with intense focus.


Daniyal laughing on a couch in their office space located at York University.

We’ve spent the better half of a decade quickly hacking together dozens of prototypes (often over weekends) but have been fortunate enough to continuously work with world-class, specialized experts (the ‘grownups’) adept at tempering our iterations into something dangerous enough to make a true impact; we’ve worked with engineers and scientists that have come from organizations like Google, Microsoft, BlueJeans, Sonos, and Deloitte.

If You Weren’t Building Your Startup, What Would You be Doing?


Omar Abbasi, CTO, (on the right), talking with Mahrus Kazi (past software engineering intern 2017-2019), for a Christmas party (2019).

Omar: After graduating CS @ Waterloo, working at FAMGA.

Daniyal: After graduating CS @ York, working in a Series B+ venture.

David: Studying medicine, pursuing neurosurgery.

At the Moment, How do You Measure Success? What are Your Core Metrics?

We measure NPS and on deep-tech milestones (audio syncing, echo suppression, etc.)

What’s Most Exciting About Your Traction to Date?

We have over 200 companies on the waitlist and are eager to try out this platform for their teams and launched the private alpha on ProductHunt, ranking the 4th best product of the day.


Between ranking 4th product of the day on ProductHunt on August 23rd, 2021

What Technologies are You Currently Most Excited About and Most Worried About? And Why?

We’re most excited about the mass adoption of AR that will give way to the metaverse. We aim to accelerate the mass commercial adoption of AR devices by enabling more immersive conversations.


Concept from MagicLeap headsets: MagicVerse AR Cloud (2020)

We’re mostly worried about the inherent cybersecurity risks of becoming overly reliant on single service providers.

What Drew You to Get Published on HackerNoon? What do You Like Most About Our Platform?

We love the detailed technical content on the platform, especially regarding #ai and #startups.

What Advice Would You Give to the 21-Year-Old Version of Yourself?


It is impossible for someone to learn what they think they already know.

- Epictetus


When we first started, we were so certain that we were going to take over the world that we became complacent. It doesn’t matter how competent a founder you think you are; the market will tell you the truth soon enough.


Jessy Mangat (full-stack

What is Something Surprising You've Learned This Year That Your Contemporaries Would Benefit From Knowing?


Multiple independent reports show that hybrid work is the future. But hybrid work has its own share of problems. Managing two separate employee experiences is a nightmare, and remote workers are far less likely to be promoted in hybrid setups even when they are more productive.