Interview With Ameen Saafir
Describe your product or service:
“Smart tinting windows for residential homes.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Our Mission is to optimize human health and comfort in the home by intuitively controlling daylight and privacy with dynamic windows.”
How are you funded? (I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.)
“Angel, VC, and DOE grants.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“Our founding team is six people. Ameen Saafir is CEO; he was formerly Chief Engineer at Halio, a commercial smart window company. Professor Mike McGehee of CU Boulder is Chief Scientist. John Dwyer, former head of wearables and connected audio businesses at Flextronics, is Chief Operating Officer and Chief Product Officer. Dr. Michael Strand, a recent Ph.D. graduate of McGehee group, leads process development. Dr. Tyler Hernandez, another graduate of McGehee group, leads device development. Taylor Aviles, formerly of Halio corporate marketing, leads business development. We have 11 full-time employees total.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Yes, I have always loved building things. That is what made me become an engineer in the first place. Being an entrepreneur is mainly about building teams and businesses, so it satisfies the same desire for me. I also try to find ways to do something unique, where there aren't already 1,000 other people working on it, which has led me down an interesting career path to get to where I am today.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“The technology was developed by my former graduate school advisor. I worked in the industry he was targeting for about eight years, so he asked to get my opinion on what he had developed. After spending about two months helping him think through the idea, I flew out to visit his lab in person. Once I saw the technology for myself, it was clear that this would be what I did with the next phase of my life.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“It just came to me. We tested a lot of names, but this one was head and shoulders above the rest. We did for a moment consider another name that was a bit more "nerdy," but decided with Tynt as we ultimately want to be a consumer product.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“The hardest part at this stage is raising enough capital to support doing what you want to do. We also started that process right in the middle of the pandemic. We overcame it by just continuing to talk to as many people as [we could] until we started to get the first few people to commit to investing in the angel round. Once we got to $150,000, we were able to get started. A few months later, we got up to $500,000 and knew we had something real. Not long after that, we ended up with a total of $8.5 million, and it's full speed ahead.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Homeowners. Our technology will help homeowners save 30% to 40% on their energy bills by optimizing how much sunlight comes into the home. We'll also give increased comfort and provide privacy without any additional window treatments.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“How much fun it is even when it's really hard.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I commit to it. I am in my 40s and have a family, so I can no longer work 80-100 hour weeks to be successful. I focus on putting a good team around me so that we can all enjoy our lives outside of work.”
How do you stay motivated?
“The problem I am trying to solve is bigger than me.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Fighting fiercely for my people. I do my best to make sure people feel valued and appreciated and find when that happens, you get the best out of them. Most of what I have accomplished in the last 10 years has been through leading teams rather than individual technical contributions, so leadership is paramount.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“Being one of very, very few Black CEOs of a hard tech, materials company.”
More on Tynt Technologies
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Ameen Saafir of Tynt Technologies that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.
Tynt Technologies, a Colorado-based startup that developed the next generation of smart windows, announced it raised $8.5 million in business funding.