Nine years ago, during a vacation in Spain, Mac Anabtawi (’14) and his family had an experience that would exasperate and disrupt any attempt at a relaxing holiday: The loss of a suitcase.
After this occurrence, Mac’s father, Sari Anabtawi, wanted to find something to flag his items in case of loss or theft, and therefore came up with the idea of Serial Number Universal Protection Protocol System (Snupps). At that time, Mac was only eight years old. Sari continuously attempted to launch Snupps, however, both the public and technology needed to implement the app were not ready at that time.
After the vacation in Spain, Sari then moved to the Middle East where he worked in the financial sector. Meanwhile, Mac, his siblings, and mother were living in London. Mac found living away from his father particularly difficult. “I would see [my father] once a month, once every two months ,and it was really hard, and told him that it was time for him to move back, and the time to bring Snupps back to life,” Mac said.
At the young age of 14, Mac and his father met in Jordan to brainstorm Snupps’ potential future, with the goal of Sari soon moving back to London. As a sneaker collector active on social networks, Mac’s young age was imperative to understanding the current generation and how to satisfy their needs. Mac expressed to his father his ambition for Snupps’ relaunch. “I told my father that we needed to bring Snupps back to life, and create a new space in productivity and social networking–the social organizer,” he said.
Mac hoped that Snupps would become a social platform where users can organize and share their belongings. Mac believes that it’s part of human nature to show off and that everyone, one way or another, is a collector of something. “You could be a casual collector of headphones, sneakers, hats, or even stampseveryone collects something in one way or another,” he said.
After hard work and effort in the Snupps headquarters on a daily basis after school for three years, Mac, along with his father and 18 other employees, were able to launch Snupps on April 10 of this year. Having launched just over a month ago, they have already gained a large following of over 15,000 active users.
Snupps is currently available both online and on the Apple App Store and will be introduced to Android in the next few months.
It is a platform for people of all ages, ranging from socially-active teenagers to adults. Many teenagers use Snupps to organize all of their favorite things and to see what’s trending. Adults use it to keep track of their weekly spending and belongings. “Snupps, in a nutshell, came out of an urge to solve a problem in our lives, disorganization,” Mac said.
Mac coined the idea of virtual shelves, where users can organize their stuff privately, or choose to showcase their stuff and make the shelf public.
Constantly thinking of new ways to expand the software, Snupps will shortly have a “‘friends’” feature like other social networks. “One can request to follow someone else, but for now if it’s not public, it’s private,” he explained.
Working with his father, Mac believes he has given Snupps as well as himself a huge advantage in appealing to a larger clientele. Both Mac and Sari bring different skills, that together, create a product that attracts a large following. “Working with my father is great… It’s something that not many people get to do. The coolest thing about it, is that since he’s 52 and I’m 17, there’s a huge age difference, he brings a lot from his generation, and I bring a lot from my generation,” he explained.
Although there are perks for Mac’s young age, he has at times found it to be a challenging aspect of being taken seriously in an adult-filled environment. Although Mac is involved in many aspects of the business, including business development, user interface, user experience and marketing of the app, he feels unable to get involved with everything at Snupps. At times when he brings up a suggestion, the adults surrounding him that have more experience than him, won’t take him seriously. “Sometimes I’m talking, and I tell them ‘no that’s not how you’re supposed to do it’ and they look at me and think who do you think you are? You’re 17 years old’,” he said. Though he struggles with this, he has learned how to communicate his points professionally.
Mac’s dedication to Snupps is evident when looking at the time and effort he puts into it: He recently spent about a month on a media tour in both Los Angeles and New York with his father, meeting with different newspapers, magazines and venture capitalists.
Passionate and devoted to Snupps, he puts the app before most things in his life. “Right now, I’d say that I’m putting everything I have behind it, it’s my main focus. Everything I do revolves around Snupps, it’s Snupps before socializing with friends, of course not before family or health, but that’s a given,” he said. At times, Mac gets back home from work at around midnight, and barely has time to complete his homework, but he finds a way to get it done.
Though he will be graduating in less than a month, Mac, as opposed to most of his peers, will be working full time on Snupps, from June 14–the day after his graduation–until January 2015. He is one of 40 students attending Babson’s G.A.P semester program at Babson College in Massachusetts , a program that allows students to pursue their passions while still on track to graduate college in four years.