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Featured on Mar 02, 2011

Aaron Gibralter

"Our march to freedom is irreversible. We must not allow fear to stand in our way. - Mandela"


I was born at NYU Hospital. I grew up in Paris and Singapore. I studied physics at Harvard. Then I moved back to NYC and started a business. I'm 25 years old, and I'm the co-founder and CTO of Urtak. I love coding, building things, taking them apart, asking questions, speaking truth to power, competing and adventuring. I am also the fastest backwards-runner you've ever seen. I work on the lower east side, building tools to find out what the whole world is thinking. How can we live in a democratic world unless everyone can share their opinion? I am American – Black, White, Native American, Christian, Jewish and Atheist. My name is Aaron Gibralter. Pleased to meet you.

A number of companies and outlets have been using Urtak for collecting opinions.  What have been some of your favorite use cases?

The Toilet Paper is a daily email newsletter for "the thinking man." Each email prompts the readers to "join the conversation" on the Stall Wall with an Urtak preloaded with a few topical questions and a comments section. They usually get about two thousand responses with Urtak, compared to an average of ten comments.

The Daily Beast used Urtak to gauge the opinions of its readers in their follow-up coverage to the  State of the Union address. They collected more than 25,000 responses in a single day. Among other things, they learned that 81% of their readers liked Obama's purple tie.

Please fill in the blanks.  When I am not working on Urtak or programming, I enjoy____ and ____.

Is there more to life than Urtak or programming? If so, those blanks would probably be playing squash and disturbing the peace.

We noticed on Quora that you are going to SXSW this year.  Who do you think are going to the be startups that will be making the most out of this year’s event?

I would imagine that the location application arms race is going to heat up, and I bet we will see a few iPhone/Android games launched. But the truth is that I've never been to SXSW, so I'm not too sure what to expect. I'm really looking forward to getting a chance to share Urtak with a lot of people who haven't seen it before. So maybe Urtak will be the startup that "wins" SXSW.

How did you meet your co-founder, Marc Lizoain?  Also, could you tell us the back-story to the name Urtak?

I met Marc on the first day of freshman year at Harvard. We were roommates (along with a few other hooligans) all four years.

Urtak is an Icelandic word that means statistical sample. We see each new Urtak as a sample of what a given community is thinking. As well, we are big fans of the Viking connection. Their marauding gave a huge impulse to economic and political development, and helped to lift Europe out of the dark ages.

Technical Lead, CTO, Ruby Developer, JavaScript Developer