Hey there! I'm Shanif - a young professional with a background in technology and a passion for investing and trading. I've been developing software since 1997 and have been trading options profitably since 2008.
I have a BS in Computer Science and Systems & Information Engineering, and recently earned my MBA, focusing on Quantitative Finance and Entrepreneurship. These days, I focus on generating high returns with options trading and building up a successful mobile software business.
People, Places, Things - My Best Shots
May Fitness Recap
A couple of days late, but here it is, quick post on my progress in May:
- Suprailiac measurement: 19″
- Weight: 194.4 lbs
- Waist below navel: 36.75″
- Bicep flexed: 16.125″
- Waist to bicep ratio: 2.279
- Lbs. muscle: 155.6
- Lbs. fat: 38.8
- BFP: 19.95%
Slow and steady progress is continuing. I gained about 1.5 pounds of muscle and around .4″ on the bicep. Still have a couple of months to go before I can hit all my goals (10 pullups in a row – done, 165 lbs. of muscle, 16.5″ biceps), but I’m gonna get there. It’s just a matter of progressive overload and eating the right stuff in the right quantities.
More stats next month.View comments →
April Fitness Recap
For those of you that have been following my ramblings on this blog, you’ll know that every month I post an update on my fitness stats. To recap, my long-term goals for 2013 are to get down to 8% bodyfat. However, my medium-term goals are actually a bit different, and possibly in conflict. Since I lost so much muscle mass over the past few months (and probably a lot more during business school), my medium-term goals are to build that muscle back up before trying to cut down again.
In any case, I’ve been making slow progress, as is to be expected when trying to gain muscle. Here were my stats at the end of April:
- Suprailiac measurement: 19″
- Weight: 193 lbs
- Waist below navel: 36.75″
- Bicep flexed: 15.875″
- Waist to bicep ratio: 2.315
- Lbs. muscle: 154.5
- Lbs. fat: 38.5
- BFP: 19.95%
April was an interesting month. I gained a lot of muscle and weight, but also put on some fat. I was traveling for two weekends, which undoubtedly threw off my routine a bit, though ultimately, it seems as if the time I took off from weight lifting actually helped my body to recover faster. Stay tuned for the May update in a month.View comments →
Startup Life A Year In
It’s been about a year since I joined up with a couple of friends from b-school to see what we could do in the world of mobile. A lot of things have progressed. The business, the technology, and especially my understanding of what it takes to build a new business from scratch.
It’s not like I haven’t been in similar situations before. I’ve tried my hand at new ventures in the past, with varying degrees of success. None of them really “made” it before. And that’s due to a variety of reasons. Product-market fit, lack of experience, not understanding the true worth of what I was building, not reacting quickly enough, not executing well, not sticking it through. Suffice it to say, none of them got far – at least, not as far as the current venture I’m in.
The startup lifestyle, and especially the tech startup lifestyle, tends to be a bit glamorized. There are a lot of stories in the media about successful exits, flowing money, and tales of success. All well and good, but the media loves sensationalism. What they don’t love is reporting on the daily life, the minute details of the process that it takes to get from A to Z. That’s often an overlooked, unimportant issue when it comes to getting eyeballs on an article or in front of a human interest piece. But in the startup world, that’s the most important thing that comes into play, each and every day.
A year in and I’ve been able to get a better understanding of what it entails.
At the beginning, there was a lot of excitement about what we could do, and we went after our ideas with a lot of enthusiasm. Interestingly enough, those ideas led to pivots, us trying out new ideas that had better potential, or a larger market, or were even further long shots than our previous idea. Those pivots pay off, but what’s interesting is what comes after you’ve found your niche. That’s the long haul.
I can’t even say I know what a “true” long haul is like, but I can say that I’ve seen what could be the start of a, hopefully successful, yet very long, process.
Working day to day in a business you actually care about is awesome. It’s freaking exhausting. It’s exhilarating. It’s draining. It’s uncertain. But it’s also exciting. Suffice it to say, it’s like your corporate daily grind times ten, mixed in with pure highs, and daily questions about how long you can survive on the cash you have (both personally and as a business), whether you’re working hard enough, whether you’ll be able to make it through the long process, all while trying to ignore how slowly your bank account is growing (and that’s if you’re lucky… some entrepreneurs are happy to have a bank account that’s in the black every month).
There’s no doubt it’s tough. When you’re working hard to release a new feature or get a new client, it’s far less than glamorous. It’s a push to get something done right, test it out, see how it works, react to the data, and improve it, all while rolling out new features, testing those out, and repeating the entire process for an indefinite number of cycles. Our CTO (and good friend of mine) said it best – “it’s a daily grind.”
It’s fun. I wouldn’t trade it for the “stability” of the corporate job that I used to have. It’s also very, very trying. It really does put your character to the test. You know that there’s a longshot of achieving what it is you set out to achieve, but in all honesty, you don’t really care. You have to keep pushing forward to see what you can accomplish.
All of that is made infinitely easier when you have the right team. Working with smart people that you really like makes it all possible. It makes a big difference to have people around you who you know will be able to kick it into gear when it’s needed. Who will get you through that new product release, or will tell you to ignore that potential customer that just told you to get lost, or to remind you that, through it all, there’s still a solid plan.
I’m loving it all. But I need sleep!
Data Science vs. Data Engineering
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a couple of R&D projects with a focus on manipulating and analyzing big data. For me, this is really interesting stuff. I’ve always found projects at the intersection of software engineering and analytics to be the most stimulating work. Being able to conceptualize a mathematical approach to solve a problem, and then to actually create an application to implement the solution, is a very fulfilling endeavor. This combination of analytic problem solving combined with developing the software to actually derive the solution is something that I refer to as data engineering. And from what I can tell, it’s rare.
Though I’ve always been interested in both software engineering and analytics, my background in software engineering is much stronger than it is in data analytics. I am by no means a true data scientist. There’s a lot more I have to learn. In fact, data science is more than just knowing and implementing mathematical algorithms. It’s a way of thinking – a way of approaching a problem using the proper mindset.
But one thing I’ve started to find very interesting is that data scientists tend to focus more on the actual theory and strategy of solving a problem, rather than developing the skills to implement it. There’s a wide gap between knowing how to solve a problem and actually coding up that solution and using it to solve a problem.
Data scientists seem to know the theory behind how to solve a problem, however, what I’m really interested in is data engineering. Coming up with a solution to a problem and actually implementing it. Though I may not always have the most efficient or optimal solution, a working, functional solution is, in my opinion, worth much more.
My suggestion for universities that are jumping on the data science bandwagon would be to include a good amount of programming education as part of their curriculum. Someone with the theoretical knowledge and mindset to approach data as a scientist that also has the functional knowledge on how to build solutions around it would dominate the job market.View comments →
Without Realizing It, I Became A Mad Man
About a year ago, I wrote a post on how some of the brightest and best minds of our time were shunning fields like robotics and language processing in favor of advertising. At the time, I was working on a mobile consumer app to allow golfers to track and plan their shots while on the golf course, and analyze and dissect data about their game when off the course. I was also actively trading options.
At the time, I knew very little about the world of online advertising. What I did now about it was that there was a great deal of work going into improving the world of digital ads. Somehow, in my slightly cynical musings, I failed to realize that not only was it a strong possibility that I could soon enter that world, but it was also an industry worth getting into.
14 months later, and without realizing it, I’ve become an advertiser.
Though I’m not living the crazy life of Don Draper, I am working in New York in the 21st century version of targeted commercials and brand messages. What I find very interesting, though, is how the theory of advertising has evolved in the past few decades. Before we had the technology to target individual users wherever they are in the world at any time that they seek out content, we had to assume individuals that looked and felt a certain way were all interested in the same things.
What I’m talking about is demographic advertising – target 18-30 year old males for sneakers, or 30-40 year olds with cheap mortgages, regardless of whether a significant portion of individuals in each group would actually be interested in the advertised service or product. Today, things are a bit more sophisticated.
We have the ability to extrapolate an individual interest profile for nearly everyone. Not only that, but we also have the means to target individuals with directed messages based off their own interest. In essence, we’ve moved from using demographic advertising to behavioral advertising.
I won’t get into it too much at the moment, but I also won’t hesitate to comment on how ironic I find it to have taken multiple marketing classes that all stressed the benefits of behavioral segmentation all while thinking I would have never used that information in the real world. Though my goals of being a busy quantitative hedge fund manager may be (temporarily) put on hold, my interest in analytics, algorithms, and software are just as useful now as they would have been before.View comments →
March Fitness Recap
Last month I listed my fitness routine and stats. This month’s post will be a quick follow up to that.
My current stats are as follows:
- Suprailiac measurement: 19″
- Weight: 186.4 lbs
- Waist below navel: 36.5″
- Bicep flexed: 15.75″
- Waist to bicep ratio: 2.317
- Lbs. muscle: 149.2
- Lbs. fat: 37.2
- BFP: 19.95%
Not great when compared to last month. I lost a little bit of weight and muscle. The biggest problem was not eating enough calories – something that I will resolve in April. I’ll post again then to update my progress.View comments →
Fitness February – Recap
Last month I posted an article on the start of my new fitness routine. Since then, I’ve been going strong with my workouts and nutrition. In the month since that post, I’ve lost a quarter inch on my waist, increased .3 inches on my bicep, and have gained two pounds of muscle. The results aren’t too bad given that the huge gains I made last month were my body recovering a lot of the lost muscle from the previous five months.
My current stats are as follows:
- Suprailiac measurement: 19.5″
- Weight: 188 lbs
- Waist below navel: 36.25″
- Bicep flexed: 15.62″
- Waist to bicep ratio: 2.321
- Lbs. muscle: 149.8
- Lbs. fat: 38.2
- BFP: 20.30%
My end goal for the year is still to get to 8% bodyfat, but I have a couple of milestones I’d like to hit along the way. Because I lost so much muscle during business school and right after, I’m going to first shoot to get to my highest level of muscle mass. The initial goal is to get to 165 lbs. of muscle, a 16.5″ measurement on my bicep, and to be able to do 10 pull-ups in one go.
That will get me to a good spot in terms of muscle mass, and will give me a bit of a buffer against some of the muscle loss that will inevitably occur when I start cutting fat.
After that, though, it’s going to be a strict level of cardio, lifting, and caloric restriction so that I can get to 8% bodyfat. I’m hoping to get there before my friend’s wedding in Thailand during Thanksgiving.
I’ll keep posting here about my results. Wish me luck.View comments →
What’s New – Fitness
2012 was an eventful year for me – lots of good stuff, great times, wouldn’t have traded it, etc etc. It was also the first time I’ve really been a “vagabond.” Due to a couple of wild and crazy events, I actually ended up crashing on a (really good) friend’s couch for about 5 months. Now, I’m pretty easy going and don’t care too much about such things, so it wasn’t that big of a deal for me to have had to do that, but one of the biggest problems with that was that I didn’t have a good way of maintaining my fitness regimen.
I could no longer order Fresh Direct every week – the fridge wasn’t my own and there was no space. I also couldn’t go to a gym, since I didn’t want to sign up to a place before I knew where I’d be living.
So for 5 months, I became a hobo. Not the best thing for fitness.
Since then, I’ve moved into my own place and have gotten settled down a bit. When I signed the lease, I told myself that I’d erase the negative effects that 5 years of vagabonding (plus 2 years of business schooling) had on my body. The week after I moved in, I signed up for a New York City rec center near my place. Ironically enough, the guys at the office also wanted to start a workout challenge, which I joined. I downloaded Fitocracy (really cool app and fitness community) and have started eating better.
The results are starting to come in. At the end of my vagabonding period, I weighed 178 pounds and came in around 22.5% in bodyfat, which equates to around 138 pounds of muscle. Now, at the start of February, I’m weighing in at around 186 pounds, 20.65% bodyfat, and 148 pounds of muscle. In 3-4 weeks of heavy lifting and eating right, I was able to gain back 10 (of the many) pounds of muscle that I had lost.
I still have a long way to go before I’m back at the level I was at my peak, but I’m in a good routine now – gym close by, social pressure to do well, and in a good routine. My ultimate goal is still to get to 8% bodyfat, but there are a lot of stepping stones along the way. I’m going to first work to get beyond my peak muscle mass (160 pounds of muscle). After that, I’ll likely have a lot of fat to burn off, which will involve a pretty heavy duty cutting routine. But now I’m ready. The craziness of b-school is over and I’m in a good routine at work.
Game on.View comments →
A nice image on success and failure
Mind-blowing article about some of the things that science and industry accomplished in 2012
Founded an investment club focused on generating consistent, periodic income by using the aid of custom-developed analytic methodologies and computer programs to trade options
• Generated an average annualized return of 40%
• Coordinated the research and analysis efforts for myself and two partners
• Developed and automated several quantitative analysis algorithms that assist in the investment process by providing rankings of publicly traded companies based on financial fundamentals, listings of stocks with the highest options premiums, and predictions of stock movement based on trending and momentum criteria. Created the algorithms using the fundamental principles of weighted trade studies and later automated them using Ruby on Rails
• Created a website that enables the publication of investment articles and provides access to the aforementioned automated algorithms, a portfolio management tool, and educational resources
• Performed market research on publicly traded companies, focusing on industry standing, historical performance, competitive advantage, and future prospects
• Managed legal, financial, accounting, logistics, long-term strategy, and investment objectives
Software developer and member of founding teamoGolf
Member of the management team on an early stage startup that developed technology to provide data analytics and game management software for golfers.
• Created a website allowing golfers to review a comprehensive set of analytics about their game
• Developed financial projections and investor presentations, presented the new business and software at conferences, pitched to potential investors, and demoed the product to customers
• Developed strategy and marketing plans for growing the business
• Recruited new talent to assist with software development, marketing, and operations
AssociateBooz Allen Hamilton
Provided information and communications management solutions to public and private organizations as an IT consultant at a large, multi-national consulting organization.
• Managed timelines, resources, and a staff of up to 10 software developers and testers in the technical implementation of a project management application that allowed over 4,500 users on 500 projects to easily collaborate on key deliverables, organize project schedules, review budgets, and create financial projections. Coordinated the efforts of staff from multiple departments across the firm to implement a new development process that reduced the number of hours needed to create and test new software by more than 50%, eliminated the need for overtime work, and ensured the timely delivery of new functionality. Received a performance award for ensuring product quality, meeting deadlines, and effectively managing personnel
• Led and managed the technical implementation, logistics, timelines, and activities of myself and two other developers in the delivery of a web-based traffic simulation engine that provided a testbed for industry-specific application developers to test their proprietary algorithms. Received a performance award for “leading the team and ensuring critical deadlines were achieved without sacrificing quality.”
• Assisted in domain administration for a server farm consisting of SharePoint front-end web servers, Microsoft SQL Servers, domain controllers, and a SAN
• Lead developer for a Ruby on Rails and Flex-based application designed to automate the deployment of SOA-based military service offerings. Implemented a RESTful methodology for saving and delivering data to a Flex front end
• Participated in university recruiting and interview efforts for the firm. Provided recommendations that led to the hiring of approximately one-quarter of the total staff on sub-team, as well as the hiring of approximately 30 junior staff straight from college
• Progressively increased managerial responsibilities over the course of two promotions in three years
Software DeveloperWamily, LLC
Member of the management team on an early stage startup that developed web-based group communication, management, and coordination software.
• Worked with a team of web developers to create an Internet business centered on a website that would allow its users to easily manage and interact with their real-life groups in an online setting
• Developed widgets for communication and collaboration, permission models and security implementations, and user interfaces for site features
• Assisted in recruiting 500 alpha users and raising $20,000 in angel investments
• Participated in board meetings to determine long-term strategies
Intern Research AssistantBooz Allen Hamilton
Provided research and development support as a technology intern to a large, multi-national consulting firm.
• Provided a fully functional, database-backed web application for use by overseas military personnel in a shortened timeframe of 3 weeks as part of a 3-person development team
• Created a collaboration site that provided Navy leadership with near-real time critical information to streamline the decision making process in the Navy Gulf Coast Region in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
• Designed and created several web part solutions using APIs from Active Directory, Microsoft MapPoint, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft SharePoint
• Created a Macromedia flash proof-of-concept dashboard for a status reporting application integrated with SharePoint
Researcher and Lead DeveloperUniversity of Virginia
Developed software, created algorithms, and analyzed information management processes that would optimize the battery life on micro-sensor hardware devices as part of a university thesis project.
• Coordinated the efforts of a five-member team focused on developing an approach to optimize the use of resources on wireless sensor networks
• Designed, implemented, and maintained a simulation engine capable of simulating enemy solider movement and sensor network functionality in customized, loadable, user-defined scenarios. The application was written in C#, supported XML-based loadable scenario files, and utilized various optimization algorithms (such as Dijkstra’s algorithm and A*). The simulation engine provided users with an intuitive graphical user interface for simulation control as well as the ability to view and report on simulation progress
• Performed statistical and quantitative analysis on results to determine optimal resource allocation policy for the tested scenarios
• Lead author and presenter of a paper at the IEEE Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium describing results
Researcher and DeveloperPersonal and Academic Projects
Developed a variety of software for a myriad of purposes on several different platforms and programming languages.
• Developed and tested a C# desktop weight management application using Access as the database backend, and later migrated it to the Internet using PHP and MySQL
• Lead developer on a team that created, documented, and tested robot control and communication software for the Evolution ER1 robot. The software allowed users to remotely control the robot by way of a specially created communications protocol
• Developed a prototype for an interactive Macromedia Flash map that retrieves external data and allows users to easily view them in a geographically organized format
• Created a discrete event queuing model simulation of a dining facility located on campus using Rockwell Arena, based on data gathered and interpreted by the project group
• Created a prototype Peer-to-Peer application based on the Gnutella search and communication protocol in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET using C# and TCP/IP socket programming
Branch ManagerCollege Works Painting
Participated in an internship designed to hone and cultivate the entrepreneurial skills of college students by allowing them to run their own local branch of a large, nationwide business.
• Operated a local house painting business, which generated over $15,000 worth of gross revenue in contracts with 25+ clients
• Responsible for sales, payroll, recruitment, operations, customer relations, and marketing
VolunteerAmerican Red Cross
Volunteered as a member of the executive management board of the youth community service organization of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Red Cross.
• Served as president (2001-2002), vice president (2000-2001), and member of a local youth community service organization as part of the National Capital Chapter of the American Red Cross
• Managed and coordinated the execution of various community service projects and their logistics, including fund-raising, logistics, marketing, and management of personnel
• Served as one of five United States youth representatives to the international Youth Exchange in 2000
• Received various formal volunteer recognitions
• Gained skills in leading multi-person projects, effective communication, and time management
Master of Business AdministrationNYU Stern School of Business
Completed two years of a rigorous MBA program at a top business school, focusing on acquiring the skills required to improve my trading activities and start a new business.
• Graduated with specializations in Quantitative Finance and Entrepreneurship and Innovation
• First Year Activities: Associate Vice President of Technology for the Stern Hedge Fund Association and Associate Vice President of Communications for the Entrepreneurs Exchange Club
• Member of the Technology and New Media Group and the Association for Investment Management and Research
• Completed one course on Doing Business in China at the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University
• Studied abroad at Bocconi University in Milan, Italy
Bachelor of ScienceUniversity of Virginia
Completed four years of study in the engineering school, focusing on acquiring software development, statistical analysis, modeling, simulation, and data analytic skills.
• Received a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and double majored in Systems and Information Engineering
• Received a minor in Math
• Part of a team-oriented effort to improve resource usage in sensor networks. Main author of a paper published at the IEEE Systems and Information Engineering Design Symposium
• Graduated with distinction
• Achieved Dean's List in 3 different semesters
- Name: Shanif Dhanani
- Address: New York, NY, USA
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Phone: 703.477.1438