Founder Spotlight — Kian Hooshmand, Founder of Vocode

Ash Rust
2 min readMay 7, 2024

In this month’s Founder Spotlight, we feature Kian Hooshmand, Founder of Vocode, an AI platform making call centers efficient with 24/7, 100% automated phone interactions.

How did you come up with the idea for Vocode? Has it changed along the way?

Ajay and I had just entered the YC batch with no idea of what we wanted to work on — we were interviewing people in all sorts of industries looking for problems. On nights/weekends, we didn’t have anybody to talk to, so we built the first version of — a website where you could put a phone number, prompt, and spin-off an AI prank call.

In building it, we realized that there was huge value in combining LLMs + voice — and that there was yet to be a really good dev tool for building conversational AI. So, we launched our open source code repo, vocode-python, and got a very warm reception!

How did you meet your co-founder(s)?

Ajay and I met in 6th grade at an after-school homework session! We were lucky to have gone through middle school, high school, and Berkeley together. We never got the chance to work together professionally pre-Vocode — but we spent the better part of our lives working together in an academic capacity.

Where did you find your first 5 customers?

Inbound via our open source repo!

What is the one piece of advice you ignored back then but wish you’d taken now?

Don’t be afraid to spend money. We were initially too conservative and would rather do things ourselves instead of bringing on help. We’ve now realized that anything that can win back our time is supremely valuable (e.g. bring on a fractional head of talent to help with recruiting).

What has been the most challenging aspects as a founder?

On a personal level, maintaining balance. I usually tend to extremes (the year before starting the company, I was unemployed and traveling) — but starting a company is one of the most taxing things I have done. It’s a skill to be able to shut off your brain when it’s time to be present.

On a company level, hiring. As a first time founder, hiring for roles I’ve never done or worked closely with is pretty challenging. Your personal network is also the best place to mine for talent — but when you’re a few years out of school, your network isn’t very good!

Learn more about Vocode by visiting

Thanks again to Kian for sharing their story!

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