September 1, 2014
You may remember Hunter Gray and Michel Bayan from their work on Atlas, a real-time scheduling platform we covered a little over a year ago. To date, they were one of the only startup companies to win hottest showcasing startup at two different Tech Cocktail events.
But along the way Atlas began to stutter a little bit. To make the scheduling easier on Atlas, they built Atlas around a calendar. The issue was that users were using the bulk of their smartphone screen real estate for this calendar, and the other app features were shifted away from the main screen.
One of the other main features, messaging, was pushed to the back, and the whole process got the two thinking about in which direction they wanted the future of Atlas to go. They thought: if you’re 35 years old, or older, what’s your main method of scheduling?
The majority said it was email, but Bayan and Gray found that the younger demographics were opting for text messages. They decided then that the time was ripe for a pivot towards a messaging platform.
While the pivot was successful, Bayan and Gray found themselves in a position many other startups have before: they had the idea down, but the industry wasn’t ready to buy it yet. So, the entrepreneurs divided paths and went their separate ways.
“In a very simple nutshell, we saw Atlas going in two different directions,” says Gray. “One was the sort of b2b, people, sales, and networking, and Michel followed the path to supplying sellers with more technology.”
Fragmob was where Bayan landed post-Atlas. Founded initially in 2007 as a white-label social networking and photo sharing platform, it has since evolved into a mobile commerce and social platform with heavy emphasis on the direct selling industry.
“I had all this passion, technology, and intellectual property (IP) related to direct selling that one company [Atlas] had abandoned,” says Bayan. “I was looking for the next thing, and along came FragMob which was building mobile apps for direct sellers. The CEOs were like: “Make it and if we like it we’ll buy it.’”
Currently, they design and develop eCommerce and mCommerce solutions leveraging the FragApps platform. They formally invited Bayan on board because directly because of his experiences with Atlas.
“The industry is ready and companies are finally understanding the ideas we tried to popularize back in 2011,” says Gray.
Gray is succeeding just as well with Klutch, formerly Atlas.
“I think what Klutch is doing and what they pivoted into is amazing,” says Bayan.
He decided to continue the startup on the path of a consumer. The company has since been rebranded, and Gray recently launched their newest version of, a local friend messenger which has since been picked up by Apple as the top social networking app on the App Store.
“We had so many dissenters over the years, but we really believe that the messaging space is powerful and popular,” says Gray.
Granted, Gray might disagree with the direction that people have taken the messaging spaces, but that’s why he cleaves so tightly to Klutch. Friendship, to Gray and his team, isn’t relegated to ‘liking’ posts on Facebook.
Instead, they have built Klutch around the idea that friendship is physically meeting up. They want Klutch to be part of a movement that sees the local community stay in touch with friends and actually make plans with them.
“Have faith. Have hope. The only way you’re going to become the next Dropbox or Instagram is to believe you have a shot,” says Gray. “Obviously don’t be delusional about it, but believe deep down that you can succeed.”
Throughout the entire story of these two entrepreneurs, perhaps the most reassuring takeaway is the fact that, despite the numerous rocky roads Bayan and Gray crossed, they’re still great friends. For both of them relationships are key: that’s why they do what they do and build what they build.
“Through everything, we’re best friends,” says the entrepreneurial duo.
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