The sheer amount of poise, drive and intelligence exuded from 21-year-old Swish Goswami is nothing short of impressive. A dedicated student and fierce debater in college, Swish went from pursuing a career in law, to leading start-up sport-tech companies, to working with brands like EA Sports, American Express and Google – in less time than it would typically take to get an undergraduate degree. A believer that work-life balance isn’t an issue if you love what you do, Swish is firmly focused on developing technology to help brands build authentic relationships with their customers.
Catch Swish on the Gen ZEOs podcast, hosted by Nick Gardner: Gen Z Tech Entrepreneurs Talk Future of Influencer Marketing
Tell us a little bit about your story.
I was born in Singapore and as a kid was very entrepreneurial. I built a hovercraft with my father when I was 7 years old and sold it to my classmate for $200. I also was quite adventurous indulging myself in dance, debate, art, and sports like cricket and basketball. When I was 14, I joined a program called Junior Achievement and was part of a company called Tracy’s Pins. Within one year the company became Southwest Alberta’s Company of the Year and was nominated for Canada’s Company of the Year. This feat indicated to my parents that I wasn’t the type to go into medicine, law or engineering. My passion was really within business.
That being said, I competitively debated and in high school was named onto Team Canada. I debated in two world championships and was a semi-finalist in 2014 and a finalist in 2015. Normally debaters, especially those that do debate at a high level, lean towards either law or politics as a career path. Before going to college, I started thinking that law would be perfect for me. Plus, I had a major obsession for the TV show Suits at the time. When I got to the University of Toronto, I continued debating and really focused into school. I was taking a dual degree of Peace, Conflict, and Justice Studies with Ethics, Society and Law (the longest dual degree name you can take at UofT). Halfway through my first year, Trevor Booker (who then played for the Brooklyn Nets) DMed me and told me he wanted to meet for dinner when he came to play the Raptors. We met for dinner a few weeks later and within a few months I began working for his venture capital firm, JB Fitzgerald. That experience gave me a great footing in the world of entrepreneurship and allowed me to meet other young entrepreneurs, many of whom I am still very much in touch with.
I moved to New York a year later after growing a sports wearables company I came on board with and immediately fell in love with the Big Apple. I decided to stay out there and to take a gap year from school. I became roommates with a person named Eliot Robinson who at the time was working for popular entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk as his head of social and strategy. Eliot had a side job which was to be the CEO of Dunk Media, a media network on social media exceeding 11M followers (flagship account on Instagram @dunk had 2.2M followers). I came on board as COO and helped Eliot with the business end of the company. By December of 2017, we had worked with brands like EA Sports, Warner Music, Q4 Sports and Curve Fragrances. During this time, I was also doing some side consulting for companies and individuals at Western Union, First Media, American Express and Google.
In December 2017, I came up with the idea for Trufan and ever since then have been pedal to the metal, full speed ahead on it.
What are you working on right now that you think is interesting or innovative?
I’ve built a multi-hyphenate career for myself which means that although my full-time job is building Trufan, I have been able to strike a balance between working on that and my personal brand. For my personal brand, I’ve been speaking a lot, recently on mental health and how entrepreneurs should never let go of it. I’ve also been posting my thoughts on marketing and entrepreneurship onto LinkedIn. LinkedIn was rarely an environment for content creators but now it’s the place to be if you are looking to build an audience of professionals.
What is unique about your generation?
I don’t think there are huge differences between my generation and the ones that came before. I think my generation largely wants the same things as previous generations: a satisfying career and family life that can provide food, water and shelter. The way we go about getting those wants though is different. For example, if you told my mother that you could study for three years on a program and graduate with an online certificate that was accepted by many large corporations, she would have thought you were joking. Nowadays though online education is becoming more accepted and is mixing well with traditional education systems.
“My generation largely wants the same things as previous generations... The way we go about getting those wants though is different. ”
What are some of the biggest misconceptions about your generation?
They are so many misconceptions about my generation. Beyond the fact that it’s ridiculous to generalize an entire generation and classify them to be a certain way, some of the worst assertions about my generation is that we are entitled, don’t work hard and are not politically interested. To this I say, yes many of us are entitled just like many Millennials. Many of us don’t work hard just like many Millennials. Many of us are not politically interested just like many Millennials. You can bring up statistics about how young people are apathetic when it comes to voting, but that’s not the full picture. Youth drive the most conversation surrounding technology, entrepreneurship and politics on social media. Those conversations are a form of expression and are what drive many people to the polls in the first place. So to anyone that has these misconceptions about my generation, I would implore for you to try to see the full picture of what’s happening.
What's the biggest mistake that brands are making in their marketing right now? What can they do differently to better connect with youth?
Brands are either not paying attention to the platforms young people are looking at like Instagram and Snapchat or they are pandering to young people and getting onto social trends way too late (when it’s already died out). Brands should come off as influencers do to their audience. Have a one-to-one relationship with your customers and try to relate to your customers by bringing in people who they respect to do promotion. This is the essence of influencer marketing and it’s a field that is only going to grow more in the years to come.
What are the most exciting things happening in marketing right now? Are there any brands or campaigns that you admire?
They’re two exciting things happening in marketing right now: 1) sequential marketing which is how marketers display advertisements to consumers over time and try to stay top of mind and 2) one to one marketing which is the field in which Trufan plays in – trying to get brands to have an intimate relationship with their customers by messaging them individually and appreciating them. I’m a huge fan of JUICE Marketing run by Troy Osinoff. We recently partnered with them because they’ve done some great paid media campaigns with big influencers like DJ Khaled and Benjamin Kickz.
- If you were a superhero, what would your special skill be? The ability to read minds. Despite my effort to ignore what others think of me, I always have wanted to know if the people in my inner circle genuinely care for me.
- Name something that most people don't know about you. I’m a black belt in Karate. Not many people who see me would think that. I’m quite a scrawny kid.
- If you weren’t a marketer, what would you be? An architect. I like to build and design new concepts.
- What's the best thing you've read/listened to/watched recently? I recently finished Abstract: Art of Design, an original Netflix series that goes deep into the minds of several artists ranging from shoemakers to vehicle designers. The lessons from the show are quite relatable for entrepreneurs given that both an artist and an entrepreneur comes up with an idea from scratch and must use their talent to convince the world of its beauty.