Tuesday, May 21, 2013

College, check. Next, Life.

It's been a crazy ride so far. It hasn't been easy and there were so many obstacles in the way. Even though it took me longer than expected I still managed to get here. Where's here? Well finishing school of course. Not only am I beside myself with excitement, I also know that I am capable of attaining my goals when I put my energy into it.

The things I've experienced along the way have made me who I am. I took time off school to work. I made money. Lots of it. Then quit to go back to school. Adjusting to a broke college lifestyle was a culture shock for me. But I knew it was necessary.

I met some great people along the way. Friends, classmates and teachers. Kind mentors who lent me a helping hand.

The team I've worked with this semester has been great. I've known them for over a year now and I'm happy to say that our friendships will continue after college. We'll all be walking to get our diplomas this Sunday and I can't wait to get cracking on this app with 110% of our time.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm a business consultant!

I had a meeting today at the SBDC, that's small business development center, down in Irvine. It's called TriTech and they business consult for client who have tech ideas. I wasn't there for myself though, it was for another client I'm working for. I'm helping him create a business plan and presentation so he can pitch his idea to investors to secure growth capital. This is a paying gig that I got because of a referral from one of my professors. Pretty awesome that I get to use my entrepreneurial skills and all the knowledge I learned over the years to help another entrepreneur grow his business. Sitting in on the meeting, I felt like somewhat of an expert. Mind you I was sitting around the table with 2 business veterans of over 30 years each and I knew exactly where they were going with the conversation and I even contributed valuable information during the meeting.

Anyways, the main reason I post this is to say that I can leverage the SBDC for Freshn. I never realized that there are government funded business development centers that are free! I love free!

Friday, May 10, 2013

We Nailed It!

Presented to our panel today and everyone loved it. After a loooong day creating the presentation yesterday. And waking up early to go to Reggie's apartment to practice our presentation, we killed it. The board of directors all loved our idea and gave us some great feedback. We even might have a potential investor in the idea. I'm going to meet and talk to him more in the coming weeks. He seems stoked about the prospect of a location based social network.

A great start to my weekend.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Presenting to our "Board of Directors"

We have a presentation to a mock Board of Directors this week and I'm pretty stressed out. Not that the idea isn't great but I have so much work to do! We're trying to put together our presentation and we having started yet. The team (me included) are being bombarded with deadlines in our other courses and we won't even be able to meet until our Wednesday class. I just hope we get our presentation done on time.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Committed Once and for All

Wow, I think I just finally got buy in from all members of the team. I totally understand where everyone's coming from. For me, this is my baby, my idea and even though I have my reservations about being able to create this app I still believe in it more than anyone else in my group.

Earlier in the semester, one of my team members wasn't really too thrilled about our app. Simply put, he just didn't believe it was possible. There were too many big names and other apps out there that were like ours. I mean, how do you compete with Facebook. And in my head I'm like, yeah, I totally understand. Don't you think I've realized everything you're saying. I'm way ahead of you. I've thought about the threats a million times.

I really have to consider the motivation for some of the team. To them, this could just be another class and they just want to get through it and get a grade. I can't fault them for that. I mean, if I didn't care about the idea I would be on the same page.

Anyways, I'm happy that after explaining things for like the millionth time, everyone on the team is totally committed to making this happen. Or at least to follow through on our goals for the semester.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Second Guessing

Sometimes when faced with a tough situation you start to second guess yourself. I've had a long talk with one of the group members about the doability of our app. It seems like we have mountains to climb. The research we've done suggests the app will cost at least $60k to get started. I've read some articles about apps of this caliber costing $200k. That's crazy.

With physical products there's a chance you can make a relatively inexpensive prototype to beta test or even go out and get feedback right away. I feel like our MVP, or minimum viable prototype, might be too costly to build, thus making it riskier to even attempt. Then again, I've studied cases where companies create a great big expensive product, only to have it fail miserably because they never validated their concept. This is a lesson I'd rather not learn personally. People always say, "Learn from your mistakes." I say, "Learn from others mistakes." It's much easier for you this way (and a hell of a lot less expensive).

Another area I have reservations about is the resources of the team. I'll be quite frank, we're all college students who don't have a lot of money. We have great academic experience but don't have the impressive background of an experienced business veteran. We're developing an app. Something that none of us have any technical knowledge about. And for me, I like to know or at least be familiar with everything that's going on in my company. It's hard to find a developer we can trust. And they also must be talented and know what they're doing.

I don't know.

All this second guessing is good I suppose. Too many entrepreneurs are drunk on their own Kool-aid and end up failing because they refuse to accept feedback. I guess my fear is a good thing. It keeps me grounded. I'm my own worst critic but I think it makes me a balanced person.

I know this app will work out. And even if it doesn't, I'm not one to just quit. Adapt or die they say. Well I've made it this far and I don't have any intention of stopping. Well it's 3 in the morning and brain is calling it quits. Bye for now.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Battling the Giants

Recently one of our huge competitors just released an updated version of their app. The new Foursquare app has many features that are akin to the proposed set of features that freshn will contain. At this moment, we are unsure of the next step to take. Do we move ahead as planned and try to steal market share from this giant, who reports having over 3.5 billion check-ins in the past 4 years?

It's very late in the semester for this obstacle to rear its ugly head, but it is something an entrepreneur must deal with all the time. Adapt or die!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


Any idea sounds great at first but its still doesn't mean anything is other people don't agree. Being an entrepreneur means coming up with lots of new ideas, some sound great but most have already been done or  people just aren't interested.

When I first had the idea to make, what's now known as Freshn, I knew in my head that nothing else existed quite like it. After having gathered like 100 responses to our surveys we now have a good idea of what people think. I'm surprised and delighted to say that people are interested in mobile location sharing. I know there were concerned from some team members earlier in the semester about people not wanting to let others know where they're at but you can't deny the evidence. I think we got something like 60% of people would be ok if their close friends knew where they were. That's a step in the right direction.

As the world progresses and the technology penetrates every facet of our lives, I know we're not too far away from a world where your location is known by someone at all times. While this seems a scary prospect, I'd rather have my friends know where I am, instead of...you know, the government and stuff.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We have a name!

After hours and hours of brainstorming and acronyms and abbreviations I thought we came up with some good names for the company. We decided that Rendezvous was too common and we needed a name that would show up on search results, be easy to say and original enough. 

Fresh was our first choice but when we went to buy the domain name, well you guessed it! It was taken! What a bummer. So 3 hours later, after typing random words into the Go Daddy domain name search my fingers were glad that Freshn was a domain name that was available. I think it sounds cool and also stands for something. Friend Radar, Event & Social Network. I have no clue what the H stands for but hey, I'll take it!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pain in the domain

If it wasn't difficult enough already to come up with a name for your product, now you have to find a name that hasn't already been taken. During the brainstorming process for a name we came up with dozens of real and random words and acronyms. You'd be surprised at how many are already registered domain names or if they're not, then they're extremely expensive! Some domain names are going for tens of thousands!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What's in a name?

Selecting a name for your new product can be a difficult process. What are the things you need to consider? 

  • Is it original?
  • Does it have a meaning?
  • Will it appeal to my target market?
  • What if it sucks?
All these are problems I'm facing and more. It's difficult to come up with a name especially since my company has to do with social networking. And I DO NOT want to use the words social or networking in the name. I know, I'm stubborn and it would probably be much easier to come up with some generic name involving social network, but do you think Twitter was even a word before they came up with it?

Anyways, I've been toiling over many many names and I've settled on a "working" title of Rendezvous for now. I'm sure there's going to be a couple name changes in the near future.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Friends or Frenemies?

Group dynamics are a fickle thing. One moment everybody has your back but when one person voices their reservations, people are quick to follow suit. Of course I'm being over dramatic.

The app idea is new and scary. The thought of how difficult it may be to create an app is almost overwhelming. Convincing the team of my vision and mission, I thought, would be an easy task. I mean, we're all hip to technology and we understand how quickly things go viral in this day and age. 

One member of the team isn't convinced that our app is worth pursuing. He says this class is about launching a company and trying to get into revenue, and although I empathize with him, I don't think he sees the big picture. He wants to start and online business selling vapes and I totally agree that if we did so we would hit revenue by the end of the semester. But after that, I don't see the business going anywhere. The market is quickly becoming saturated and as an ex-vape user who knows many other store owners, I know that the margins are razor thin.

Some nights I feel like he totally gets our idea and the potential to CHANGE THE WORLD. And other nights he just seems checked out. Hopefully I can find a way to explain to him how profound our app can be.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Freshn app features

Why another social network you ask? Well it's not just another social network. It's a new way to organize your life. Even with all the technology we have, we still haven't solved the problem of planning last minute events with friends effectively.

How Freshn will help:
See where friends are in real time
Get exclusive offers from businesses near you
Plan hangouts with a higher turnout rate
Get notified when friends are in your area

GPS map to pinpoint friends, events and businesses
Get educated on the most popular places right now via the "Fresh meter"
Read personalized reviews of what your friends are saying about places they visited

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How My Idea Got Started

Who knew that it would be so difficult to pick an idea and stick with it. Last semester, I started with an idea for a business that involved selling truly healthy items from vending machines. The idea fit most of the criteria needed for a successful business to grow; there was a gap in the market, there was a growing trend towards healthier eating, and there was a legitimate demand for healthy foods. After much research though, I found out that the vending machine industry was highly labor intensive, the market overall was shrinking in size and it had a relatively low profit margin. Ultimately I decided to forgo my endeavors in the pursuit of an idea that had a potential to grow along with technological growth. The idea involves a mobile app that can be used to plan events with friends, as well as meet new people who shared similar interests. 

 My idea for this app came about a couple years back. I had a 2 hour break in between classes which I reserved for lunch. Since I didn't know anyone at school well enough to invite them to join me for lunch, I often ate alone. I would post on Facebook, "Who wants to join me for lunch in Fullerton in at 2pm?" I would get comments from friends farther away telling me they would love to eat with me, but they were too far. So I ended up eating alone. 

 Then something else happened. 

I'm an avid user of Yelp, a restaurant review website. When I go to places, I can "check-in" via my smartphone and it will post a status update on my Facebook telling my friends I was at a particular place. So after checking in, and eating alone, I would get comments on Facebook like "tfti" (thanks for the invite) or other forms of saying, "Why didn't you invite me? I was just down the street." Well obviously I didn't know you were right down the street! 

 The app idea formed from my two observations. One, posting on Facebook to invite people out to eat (or anywhere for that matter) was not a great way of reaching everybody. Two, There has got to be a better way to organize last minute meetups. 

 My solution was a mobile app that uses GPS locations that lets you see where your friends are at any given moment, in real time. Then, if you're looking for a pal to go grab lunch with, at the last minute, you can see who is nearby.

(A cool article about why I think my app would work in today's world.)