Y Combinator COO Qasar Younis Discusses Entrepreneurship

Qasar Younis was interviewed at Startup Grind Sacramento and share how he has climbed the ranks of the entrepreneurial ladder. He is the CEO of Y Combinator (YC), an organization that provides seed funding for startups while linking them with potential investors and acquirers. Qasar reached success through Talkbin that was originally backed by YC before being acquired by Google 10 months later. He than became Google’s product lead for business facing product and has assisted dozens of entrepreneurs turn their ideas into a reality via YC.

Growing up in the rural environment of Pakistan and migrating to Michigan in the 80’s, Qasar’s initial background was in the automobile industry and virtually everything engineering-related. After leaving automotive in the early 2000’s, he gained skills in software and mechanical engineering ultimately attaining an MBA from Harvard. With a new focus, he launched a startup with a group of friends called Camisa in Chicago, Illinois. The business model was nearly identical to TeeSpring where users can sell and submit T-shirt designs via crowdfunding. Unfortunately, Camisa never reached the desired level of success and Qasar learned a lot from this failure.

“The Market Doesn’t Care about Your Vision.”

Qasar felt that his team was not well-balanced and he was trying to play a role that didn’t match his skillsets. In addition, not being in Silicon Valley severely hindered their degree of exposure. Camisa’s vision was not timed properly for the market to be attracted to what they were offering. This 3rd point is key because as entrepreneurs, it’s real easy to get wrapped up in our vision. However, he believes that building a successful business is based on supply and demand. If what you’re supplying isn’t demanded by the marketplace; the chances of success is zero to none. Once Camisa went down, him and his partner moved to Silicon Valley and zoned in on their soon-to-be success; Talkbin.

“If You’re Serious About your Brand, You Can’t do it Part-time.”

Qasar mapped out that he had exactly a year to put together a team, create a product and find funding. This led to entering the YC startup incubator where he received countless hours of mentoring and investment prospects. Although funding was an important element to the equation, it was the insight from YC supporters that he contributed most to his success. Less than a year later, Google randomly spotted them on the radar, recognized that his vision aligned with theirs and was immediately acquired.

You can view the full interview with Qasar here.

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

Google Cardboard: The Best Mobile Apps of 2016

Google Cardboard

What’s Google Cardboard?

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Google Cardboard, it’s worth taking a look. For those who don’t know, Google Cardboard is a virtual reality platform that utilizes a cardboard head mount where you can  attach your smartphone.  It was designed to be a low cost virtual reality system with headsets that cost as little as $1.99.  In comparison, an Oculus Rift head set will cost around $1,000.  Moreover, developers can create their own applications using the Cardboard SDK.

Virtual Reality: You Have to See it to Understand

In his TEDx Talk, Chris Milk stated “Talking about virtual reality is like dancing about architecture.”  You have to see it to understand it.  To give it a try, you’ll need to purchase a cardboard headset.  Official Google Cardboard viewers can be purchased here.  They range from $15 to $120. On Amazon, you can find it as low a $1.99. If you’re lucky,  I’ve seen them given away as SWAG at startup conferences.

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Image Source: Digital Trends 

When you peep through its lenses, you experience a world generated via mobile app with the ability of displaying landscapes, film, video games and other multimedia formats. The Google Play Store offers a plethora of apps to choose from and is compatible with iPhone and Android devices.

After you’ve get your Google Cardboard headset, here are the best mobile apps that you can try:

iPhone Mobile Apps

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Image Source: VR Island Screenshot

Android Mobile Apps

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Image Source: Deep Space Battle Screenshot

With developers having access to the Google Cardboard SDK,  It will be interesting to see what innovative uses of Google Cardboard arises. If you still have your doubts about mobile apps, check out why the public sector needs a mobile strategy and how this could relate to the next generation of VR applications!

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.

 

Why the Public Sector Needs a Mobile Strategy in 2016

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Image Source: Open Ratio

Let’s face it; the public sector tends to drag their feet with recognizing opportunity which is why many organizations overlook the power of mobile technology. There are several reasons why non-profits and public sector organizations need to adopt a mobile strategy.

Mobile Technology is here to Stay

The main reason that a mobile strategy needs be adopted is that the population has already adopted mobile. In the few short years following the debut iPhone, these devices have had unprecedented growth. There are lots of studies and statistics to prove this point. My favorite is that there are more mobile devices than there are people in the world.

Mobile searches exceed desktop searches

Recently Google reported that there are more searches done on a mobile device than from a desktop computer. This is significant because it represents a tech trend that needs to be acknowledged and adopted. If more people are depending on mobile for their needs, it would make sense to have an effective mobile strategy.

Google’s algorithm favors mobile friendly web sites

In 2015, Google changed their algorithm that a search done on a mobile device will favor mobile friendly websites. Based on points 2 and 3, organizations that have a mobile friendly web site will have an advantage over those that don’t.

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Image Source: Deluxe E-Vectors

Mobile may be the only means of internet access

In a recent study, mobile was the only means of access to the Internet for 23% of families below the poverty level. So for organizations that deal with providing social services, a significant part of the population they serve can only access the internet via mobile device.

Web sites designed for desktops are difficult to navigate from mobile phone

A good example is the California WIC web site. This web site is hard enough to navigate on a desktop computer. If you are in the WIC program, there’s a slight chance that the only internet connection you have is through a mobile device. Try navigating the WIC web site with your smart phone and experience what it looks like to have a poor mobile strategy.

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Image Source: Mobloggy

When developing a mobile strategy, there are 3 elements to consider:

Develop a mobile friendly website

This will address points 2 and 3 previously discussed.

Communicate via SMS

I see a lot of communication from the Public Sector done via email marketing. Sadly, with an open rate of only 22%, it’s really a futile way to communicate. SMS, on the other hand, has a read rate of 98%. The good news is that there are a lot of SMS marketing tools out there that are relatively inexpensive. I’ve actually seen a couple of organizations that realize that SMS is a better way to communicate and employees end up using their personal mobile devices to send out text messages.

Develop a mobile app

An app can be a very effective tool to communicate with the population served by a public sector organization. A mobile app that is used specifically for a platform or device is what’s called a “native app.” The reasons an organization should have their own native app are numerous and as such, I plan to write a future post on why a public sector organization would need a native app.

UYODImage Source: Esign Live

Businesses will continually develop more simplified mobile solutions to increase work efficiency and communication. One way or another, this is the direction the future holds. I want you to take advantage of this trend by staying ahead of the curve and strategize how to most effectively integrate mobile. If you manage a public sector organization, I hope this post gave you some food for thought on why you need to adopt a mobile strategy and how to go about it. If you want to read on some of the common challenges in the mobile community, check out my personal insight as a modern day appreneur. 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014.  Follow Rich on Twitter at@ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event. 

3 Steps to Develop Your Mobile App Idea

You’ve been thinking about an idea that you think can be the next Uber for weeks. So what do you do? Here are three steps you can take that will help you develop your idea.

1. Research Your Mobile App Idea:

The first thing you want to do with your idea is to research it. I had a client that spent a considerable amount of time having me do an NDA dance before speaking with me. Once we finally started talking, I quickly did a search on the Apple App Store and found there were over 25 similar apps listed; he quickly lost interest in pursuing this project.

Keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if you find another app that does what you’re trying to accomplish. You just have to figure out how to make your app better. Remember, before Google there was Yahoo; Before Facebook, there was MySpace. It’s not so much who goes to market first, but rather who executes best.

In doing your research, you need to also look at the market potential. For example, let’s say you had an app that was geared for veterinarians. A quick Google search shows that there are 90,000 veterinarians in the U.S. Now, you just identified your market potential.

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Image Source: AppsCollections

2. Create Storyboard for Your Mobile App:

Now it’s time to put your idea down on paper and develop a storyboard (or wireframe). This is where the rubber hits the road and you put yourself in the shoes of the user. For instance, what’s the first thing they see once they launch your app? The first screen takes you to the main menu; the user taps the top button, where does it take the user? And so on.

To create our wireframes, our designers use a design tool called Balsamiq. I send our clients a PowerPoint template where they can either use PowerPoint’s drawing tools or they can even print it out and hand draw it.

The advantage of creating a storyboard are:

  • It helps develop your idea
  • You have something to show as you try to recruit people or investors
  • Provides direction for your development team

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Image Source: spordipartner

3. Develop Mobile App Business Plan:

After you’ve done the research and developed a storyboard, if you decide you have something viable, you need to put together a business plan. After you’ve followed these 3 steps diligently, I suggest reading the 5 Challenges of a Startup Appreneur to know what you’re up against and strategize accordingly. Good luck on your start up journey as you recruit co-founders, get funding, etc.

 

By Rich Foreman, CEO / Apptology and Director of Startup Grind Sacramento. Rich co-authored the book Tap into the Mobile Economy and his blog has been listed in the Top 20 Mobile Marketing Blogs of 2014. Follow Rich on Twitter at @ApptologyCEO or attend a Startup Grind Sacramento Event.