Everyone wants to create the next Pokémon Go or Flappy Bird...but how? Virality is one of the most sought after, yet misunderstood, concepts out there. Watch our video to learn what exactly virality is, and how you can achieve it for your app.
Everyone wants to create the next Pokémon Go or Flappy Bird...but how? Virality is one of the most sought after, yet misunderstood, concepts out there. Watch our video to learn what exactly virality is, and how you can achieve it for your app.
As part of the competition, we make it our goal to create educational content relating to app based businesses. If you were around last year, you probably remember our videos. You can watch those here.
Here is our first piece of educational content for the 2017 App Idea Awards. If you're building an app, which we assume is the case for most of you, you should definitely know what SDKs are and how they can help you speed up the app development process and save some of your precious funds.
On March 1st, we officially launched the 2017 App Idea Awards at General Assembly. As part of the launch festivities, we held a panel discussion on the state of early stage of investing hosted by our own Co-Founder and President, Amy Kadomatsu. Our panel included:
In front of a room filled (literally!) with entrepreneurs, investors and tech enthusiasts, our panel discussed a wide range of topics —from investor pet peeves to what makes a perfect pitch. In case you missed out, here is an excerpt of the discussion that took place.
Amy: What are your go to questions when an entrepreneur comes to you?
Adam Quinton: A professor at UT Austin, Robert Metcalfe, who discovered Ethernet, always asked the people who were pitching their businesses, “can you tell me why you’re doing this?” It’s a very powerful statement about your passion and energy which is very interesting from an investor’s point of view. It tells you very quickly where the people are coming from in terms of their background, how much they believe in the product, how committed they are, and it allows you to quickly screen out people who aren’t fully committed and who don’t fully know what they’re talking about.
Alicia: First, sales and marketing questions. A lot of start-ups don’t really think through the marketing of their product. They need to be thoughtful of how they’re gaining customers. It’s more than just hiring sales people and doing social media outreach, but partnerships and distribution and understanding the traction of the business. I really dig into the sales and marketing plan, why somebody else can’t replicate what you’re doing, and ask what are the real tractions in the business.
Jason K: It’s not really one question, but I’m really interested in your understanding as an entrepreneur of the competitive set. It’s a question that probably 80% of entrepreneurs just flop because they don’t really understand it at all. Are there any other venture backed companies out there that are doing the same thing that you’re doing? Are you really the first to market? Building a company isn’t just about a product. It’s also about the company and the market. So that’s one thing that I really look for: a good understanding of the competitive set and a realistic view of where you stack up.
Amy: What are some thoughtful questions that entrepreneurs have asked you?
Jason E: A question that I was asked recently was, “if you were in my situation, with these resources going in this direction, what are the things that you would do to take maximum advantage of that opportunity?” If you’re younger or newer to starting a business and you’re sitting across the table from someone who’s done it before, don’t miss the opportunity to get information for free while you’re there. You may not get the investment, but that information you get may help you evolve your thinking and refine your pitch so that you are better prepared in the future.
Zosia: I ask the question, “do you have any questions for us?” It’s so surprising how many entrepreneurs don’t ask questions, don’t ask for feedback, or don’t try to take in more about the personality of the fund or of the investor or who they’re going to be working with. You’re getting into a very long term thing, so getting to know the people on the other side of the table is very important.
Amy: What are some of your biggest pet peeves when people step through your door to meet with you?
Adam: One thing that I see a lot at pitch competitions and when entrepreneurs are pitching to investors, is that they’ll only talk about their product. When you’re pitching to an investor, you’re not pitching your company, your product, or your service; what you’re pitching is the opportunity for me to invest in your company and share in the future value of your company. So the pet peeve more specifically is: you come in and you spend 10 minutes telling me what your product is and how wonderful it is and you don’t do all of the other stuff around market size, opportunity, competitive set, etc.
Alicia: One of the pet peeves that angels always say is when entrepreneurs tell us that there is no competition. There’s always competition. Another big one is when someone just does a back-of-the-envelope estimate of market size. You want to estimate the market size from the bottom up. Another thing is when people are too sales-y, like when someone comes in pitching to the NY Angels and will say something like, “the ground is almost full if you don’t get in now” or “we promise five times return” because that’s usually a huge red flag.
Jason E: Think about what you’re actually doing. You’re an entrepreneur. You’re self-consumed with whatever it is that you’re trying to pitch. That’s usually the only lens through which you’re looking at the world. If you take a step back, do a little homework, and research a bit about who you’re pitching to, learn to understand the person, the company, what their drivers are, what other companies they’ve invested in, why they invested in them, which ones worked, which ones didn’t. People are too focused on their own idea that they forget to put in context of everything else.
Amy: Are there specific metrics that you’re looking for particularly at the early stage? What are some of those tangible metrics?
Alicia: We really look for traction. That’s probably a priority for us. There doesn’t have to be paying customers but we want to see that you’re talking to customers, you’re getting feedback on your product, your customers are touching and feeling your product and giving you suggestions on how to make it better. We also look at the founding team. We want to see balance across the founders.
Jason E: A really good sales plan. There are so many great ideas out there but a lot of them fall down when sales is not well thought through. Be ahead on sales. Who are you selling to? What’s different? What problem that you’re solving? Really articulate that in a very granular way. Make sure to have spoken to people who know more about sales than you do so that you can get their ideas.
Amy: So I’m going to move on to the state of the app market since it is the App Idea Awards. So the big question is, are apps dead? Is the app market dead? What’s your take?
Alicia: I know it sounds a little dramatic to say that they’re dead, but there’s definitely been a mass amount of consolidation in the market and most of the studies that I read say that at the end of the day, people focus on only four or five different apps. And so the question is, is what you’re building crucial to the user? Is it something that they’ll rely on, that they’ll use everyday?
Jason K: I think the notion that you have to basically come up with a great app, a consumer app, and put it in the app store and get people to download it and be successful almost doesn’t really happen. No matter how good it is, you’ve got to have some way to get that app into people’s hands which means you have to think outside of the app store. You have to think about marketing partners, you have to think about ways to force downloads, you have to think about it as an integrated business and not just as an app. And so, frankly, I won’t even look at business plans for an app without an equally strong plan about how to get people to download it, use it the first time, and repeat using it — which are enormous challenges.
Amy: Last year, there was a lot of talk about the arrival of chatbots, To many, this signaled the end of apps. Are you on team chatbot or team app?
Zosia: I think we’re in the middle. I don’t think apps are bad. I think chatbots are a great way to make the user experience more easy and natural and can be the bridge between the user and the app. So it doesn’t have to be in silo. It can be a part of the business model. That been said, we have been looking for a chatbox investment. We haven’t found one.
Amy: What’s the one that got away? What’s the investment that you could’ve invested in, but you didn’t?
Jason K: So I was at Best Buy last weekend and there was a big display for Canary in the home security section, which is a self contained little box that’s a home security system. And my recollection is that I think we saw that at NY Angels right after I had joined and I was just really getting into all of this. And it was just too early and too different and too risky.
Adam: I was thinking really hard about this because there are so many. For active investors, you’ll see hundreds of companies for every one that you invest in. So there’s actually a lot that got away. Personally I don’t spend too much time thinking about it. I just keep looking for the new ones that come through the door.
After the panel discussion ended, a crowd of curious entrepreneurs formed around the front of the room. All five of our panelists were kind enough to stay around for an hour or so (some even longer) and speak face to face with our attendees, answering any pressing questions that they had. As this occurred other attendees enjoyed drinks and appetizers and spoke to us (the competition organizers), and each other, about their ideas and the competition as a whole. Thank you to everyone who helped us put the event together, and to everyone who joined us. We look forward to seeing you at the next event - the finals on June 7th!
The competition has officially launched! Make sure to get your applications in.
The App Idea Awards launch party is this Wednesday night (March 1st)! Don't miss out on your chance to mingle with investors, entrepreneurs, and other tech enthusiasts over drinks and appetizers. You'll also get to meet the competition organizers, have all of your questions answered and learn how to put together the perfect application.
We're almost at capacity, so make sure to RSVP as soon as you can!
As part of the evening, we will be having a panel of top angel and venture investors to give insight on the state of early-stage investing in 2017 and to speak on what they look for in potential portfolio companies. Our panel includes:
Jason E. Klein
Jason E. Klein is founder and CEO of On Grid Ventures LLC, an early stage investment firm which invests primarily in GeoDisruptive businesses which leverage Geolocation as a disruptive force in marketplaces, commerce, digital infrastructure or information flow. He is also Chairman of Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York; a partner at Yard Ventures, a venture fund centered around the Harvard network; and Managing Director at advisory services firm Empirical Media. Jason is a member of New York Angels, and on the advisory boards at Enerknol, Shoppable, and PageScience.
Jason was previously CEO of Newspaper National Network LP, a partnership of 25 leading US newspaper companies. Prior to NNN, Jason was CEO of Times Mirror Magazines, a leading publisher with 25 titles including Golf Magazine, Field & Stream, and Popular Science, and oversaw its sale to Time Inc. for $475 million. Jason was recognized by Media Magazine as one of “100 People to Know” in the media industry, and by Alley Watch as one of “25 Angels Investors in NY You Need to Know.”
As the founder and CEO of Lucas Point Ventures Adam invests in and advises early stage companies. He focuses on supporting diverse management teams. His investments include The Muse, Glassbreakers, Venuebook, Pinks and Greens, Snaps, Rapt Media, Hire an Esquire, and Validately. He is currently the Executive in Residence at Hewlett Consulting Partners, a boutique consultancy firm. Adam sits on the Board of the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI) and International House, New York where he is a member of the executive Committee.
In 2014 Adam was named by AlleyWatch one of "25 Angel Investors in New York You Need to Know" and also one the "100 NYC Tech Influencers You Need to Know". In 2015 he was featured in Tech.co as "One of 8 VCs Making Waves" and in 2016 was named as one of "26 great people spearheading change in tech investment" by Silicon Republic.
Alicia Syrett is the Founder and CEO of Pantegrion Capital, an angel investment vehicle focused on seed and early stage investments. Prior to founding Pantegrion, Alicia spent over 10 years in the financial industry, which included her entrepreneurial journey as the first employee and CAO of a multi-billion dollar private equity firm. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of New York Angels, Everwaters and HeTexted, and is a member of WomenCorporateDirectors. Her past and present Advisory Board roles include Enerknol, iFunding, The Pitch Deck, Beauty Booked, Cissé Trading Co. and Willa.
She was named as one of the “25 Angel Investors in New York You Need to Know” by AlleyWatch, one of Wharton's "40 Under 40" young alumni by Wharton Magazine, and one of Virgin’s “Five Next Generation Leaders Emerging from Tech.” She also serves as an Instructor with Steve Blank in his Lean Launchpad course at Columbia Business School and wrote a Guide for Entrepreneurs for #MentHERnyc, an event she co-founded.
Zosia Ulatowski joined Cornerstone Venture Partners as a Principal in May 2016. CornerstoneVP is a New York based early stage investment fund that focuses primarily on B2B companies in frontier technologies including VR/AR, IoT, AI, Big Data, Cybersecurity, and FinTech. CornerstoneVP is a stage driven fund (seed, series A) and targets US and Israeli markets. Since joining, Zosia has concentrated her efforts on working with CornerstoneVP’s portfolio companies and expanding US deal flow.
Prior to joining CornerstoneVP, Zosia worked in marketing tech, managing SaaS product implementation and technical operations. Most recently, she led product and strategy for the marketing solutions team at Sprinklr, developing go-to-market strategy and planning for new product lines. Prior to entering the NY tech scene, Zosia led corporate partnerships and marketing operations at a prominent New York based non-profit.
Jason Eiswerth serves as the Managing Director of Private Investments at Nima Capital where he oversees a portfolio that spans from Venture/Growth Capital to Large Cap Private Equity investments. Nima Capital is a single-family office that’s Venture and Growth portfolio takes a global approach to identifying first mover, winner-take-all characteristics that use technology to disrupt large industries around the world. The firm has a flexible mandate and invests across industry/sector, capital structure, and stage of investment. Past notable investments include Rubicon Global, YelloMobile, Palantir, Coupang, Wish, Oyo Rooms, Doppler Labs, Color Genomics, Oscar, and One Hope.
Prior to joining Nima Capital, Jason served as Senior Managing Director at Broadband Capital, where he focused on providing strategic advice and growth capital to middle market companies. Before his time at Broadband Capital, he worked at TheMarkets.com as part of the senior management team from its inception to its sale to CapitalIQ in 2010.
We’ll be kicking off the 2017 App Idea Awards at General Assembly on March 1st. Join us, fellow entrepreneurs, investors, and tech enthusiasts for a night of celebration! As part of the event, we’ve invited a panel of top angel and venture investors to give insight on the state of early-stage investing in 2017 and to speak on what they look for in potential portfolio companies.
Following the panel discussion, there will be drinks and appetizers served. We will be answering any questions you may have about the competition and taking applications on the spot. During this time, you’ll also get to meet our panelists, hear what they look for in a pitch, and learn how to structure your own.
Wednesday, March 1st
6:30pm - 9:30pm
902 Broadway, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10010
We've decided to do it all again! The 2017 App Idea Awards application is now open. Just like last year, anyone with an app idea can apply. These can be ideas that are scribbled on a napkin, or fully functioning apps with less than 1,000 monthly active users. The finalists will pitch their app to a group of VC judges in New York City on June 7th. The winner of the pitch-off will get their app idea built for free (without sacrificing any equity or IP.)
So...what are you waiting for?
We have a great set of judges this year, from Greycroft, Samsung Ventures, First Round Capital, Founder Collective, and 645 Ventures. Stay tuned for an announcement of our VC judges as well other important information!
Winning the App Idea Awards was just the beginning. We are documenting the journey of our winner, TuckrBox, as they begin to build their company and their app. TuckrBox is an app that delivers farm fresh lunch meals to children.
As part of the award, the TuckrBox Team won an app marketing and market disruption strategy bootcamp from TBWA.
We interviewed Meghan, the CEO, about her experience.
AIA: What did you think of the session today?
Meghan: It was a lot more than expected. First of all, I didn’t realize we would have this many brains in the room. It was exciting. And I loved that they were all from different facets of the agency: planners, designers, strategists, creative directors, and they were on the global level—that was impressive—REALLY impressive!
AIA: Were there things you learned today that you don’t think you could have uncovered if you didn’t go through this exercise?
Meghan: Absolutely! It's really helpful to talk about something that you’ve been thinking about for so long. And this is a big shift for me, going from art director from different brands to only thinking about my company Tuckrbox. It’s so much in it’s infancy that there are so many possibilities, that it’s really hard to cut through the clutter.
When we did the vision exercises, we can come up with things to build this brand—which was invaluable.
AIA: How do you think positioning of your brand will reflect back on your app?
Meghan: I think there were a few key things. With a design background, I am thinking more about how putting the app in the child’s hands will have an effect. This is the disruption: that kids have a choice. When the power is in the child’s hands, it will change how the app will flow. I saw light bulbs go off for the ROKO Labs team when we were talking about that. And this is the disruption we’re making. That will be reflected in every part of the app.
AIA: What is the one major lesson you learned today?
Meghan: I think that it was having a lot of brains in the room is so important in these early days. Alex and myself get siloed; we’re always running a million miles an hour, and you just land on a decision. But to get more people involved would be a big takeaway. It’s smarter to have more conversations about big decision because we can have a better perspective about how it will effect the app and, the bigger picture.
Note: Yesterday, we saw the TuckrBox CEO, Meghan Carreau at Google’s 30 Weeks Demo Night. She did a fantastic job and really wowed the crowd.
Just yesterday, VentureBeat published a guest article written by our very own Zz Twainy. After looking at reviews of 600 pitch decks during the App Idea Awards, Zz consolidated the major themes she had found and created a list of the ten things you should and should not do when creating a pitch deck. Not all pitch decks will be the same. This is largely because not all business ideas are the same. Along with that, the purpose of one pitch deck can be different than another. One could be used to get an investment, while another could be used to get a meeting or to win a competition. However, no matter what the idea is or what the pitch deck is being used for, these ten pitch deck commandments will remain true.
“The perfect pitch deck is thorough but concise, covering a variety of topics (but not too many!) and offering a strategy that is ambitious but not unrealistic” writes Zz. Head over to VentureBeat to read ‘10 things I learned from looking at 600 pitch deck reviews’ in full.
After pitching to a packed room at General Assembly on Tuesday night, TuckrBox, a farm-to-lunchbox meal delivery app for school aged kids, was crowned the winner of the first App Idea Awards. Each of our six finalists came prepared with a strong pitch and looked eager to take home the trophy, which made the decision a tough one for our panel of judges. I'm just happy I wasn't the one having to make the choice!
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be releasing more information on the competition: including interesting data that we gathered from the pool of applications, some things we learned while throwing our first competition, updates on the TuckrBox app creation journey and more! Stay tuned.
Thank you to all who made the first App Idea Awards possible. Now we begin getting ready for next years' competition. Get the ideas ready!
This past week we announced the names of the six finalists who will compete for $70,000 in design and development costs at the May 3rd finals. The finals will take place at General Assembly in New York, where the six companies will pitch to judges from leading venture capital firms such as Greycroft Partners, First Round Capital, Norwest Venture Partners, Samsung Ventures, and 645 Ventures. Recently added to the judging panel is John Biggs, an entrepreneur who spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear and TechCrunch.
The finalists are:
We have also named one runner-up: Who's Got Game, an app that helps users find the best place to watch sports games they want to see. (Los Angeles, CA)
With submissions coming from more than 30 states and 35 countries, the App Idea Awards represents a diverse pool of aspiring entrepreneurs. We asked entrants to demonstrate both entrepreneurial vision and the ability to execute the proposed app business plan, as well as an understanding of user flow, design and monetization. A panel that included representatives from Microsoft Ventures, Two Sigma, ERA Accelerator, and the J&J Innovation Center whittled hundreds of app ideas down to the six finalists.
The next phase for the remaining app inventors will be preparation for next month's pitch-off. The App Idea Awards has connected the six finalists with mentors who will help them improve their pitches and streamline their business plans.
"I'm thrilled to be working with the innovative thinkers who submitted their app ideas for this competition," said Sergio Monsalve, Partner at Norwest Venture Partners and an App Idea Awards judge. "As a longtime investor in entrepreneurs, I am excited for this chance to guide the next generation of founders as they bring their products to market. The ideas coming out of this competition have been extremely high quality."
Created by ROKO Labs in partnership with General Assembly, Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York and the Columbia Venture Community, the App Idea Awards makes it possible for anyone with an idea to build a product, whether or not the individual is a coder. The winning company, as decided by the judges, will not have to give up any intellectual property rights or equity in exchange for the grand prize. Additional prizes, including the ability to work with TBWA on launch plans, will be awarded to the winner.
"Hosting the App Idea Awards has shown us that the amount of creativity among current and aspiring inventors is even more than we ever could've imagined," said Dmitry Rakovitsky, Founder and CEO of ROKO Labs. "We look forward to seeing what all of the companies that participated in the Awards accomplish in years to come."
When: May 3rd, 2016, 6pm - 9pm
Where: General Assembly, 902 Broadway, Level 4, New York, New York 10010
Missed our webinar? Get a Recap! Join Amy Kadomatsu from ROKO Labs as she discusses how to pitch your app to the media with Cody Toombs, reporter for the Android Police, and J.J. Colao, former start-up reporter from Forbes, turned PR expert. Understand the dos and dont's of pitching, and find the best strategy to get your app cited in national media.
What is an MVP? We hear people throw this term around a lot, and often might nod our heads in understanding without truly understanding this critical step in your app’s success and longevity. An MVP is simply the first version of a product, where the larger idea has been stripped down into its most simple form. It will have the least amount of features necessary to be deployed in the market.
Building an MVP is critical to your app’s long term success. An MVP can be used as a tool to pressure test your idea and gather feedback, to see if your product truly works. It will allow you to test your hypothesis in the market with limited resources. You will gain important insights about your product and how it is used. This will enable you to go through the initial stages of iteration without spending tons of money. Think of this phase of product development as a learning experience. Moreover, the faster you can build your product and get to market, the sooner you can stake your claim and stamp your name on the market.
The MVP is a core component of the Learn Startup Movement, a method that was first introduced in 2008 to help startups develop and deliver better products, faster.
Rather than spending more time (and a lot of money) on research and development and then building out a product and releasing it, this approach suggests that you first find a problem that needs to be solved, and then build a scaled down product— your MVP— and release to a small population of users. Here begins a process of continuous innovation, using feedback to both validate your product and inform your decision making. Each data point gathered will help you iterate on your product until it is ready to be distributed widely. As Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup Movement, states, at this point you will already have an established customer base!
Some of the biggest Unicorns today started out as an MVP. Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox and Snapchat all started out with an MVP which was later utilized to gather feedback, grow, and iterate their product to build the massive brands they are today.
Let’s start with Uber, or UberCab, as it was called in 2009 when it was founded.Initially, the company started as fleet of cars and an extremely simplified mobile interface that was only used by the founders and their friends. In order to gain access, you had to email one of the founders. Over time, this list of users grew and grew. The product went live in San Francisco in July of 2010, then New York in May of 2011 and then to Paris in December of that year. Since then, Uber has released a bunch of new fleets and improved features, including a standalone food delivery app just recently.
Uber, has expanded to 395+ cities across the globe and is worth upwards of $60B (the most valuable private company.) The company has gone through multiple major re-designs and has added many new features, making its transition into a full-on logistics company. With the help of an initial MVP, Uber was able to get their name in the market, build a loyal base of customers, and work out the kinks in both their interface and logistical planning with minimized risk.
Airbnb, or Airbedandbreakfast as it was first called began when the founders realized that hotels in San Francisco had been overbooked during the Industrial Design Conference in 2007. The founders set up air mattresses in their living rooms and even offered breakfast to three paying guests! In August 2008, the website airbedandbreakfast.com was launched and within three years, had one million bookings!
Today, Airbnb holds over 2 million listings in 34,000+ cities and the company is valued at a whopping $25B. It has gone through multiple major re-designs, though, its focus has largely been on expansion and reinforcing its core experience rather than adding new features. The AirBnB MVP allowed the company to gather design feedback and nail down their customer path to purchase in order to optimize their workflows. Now, the app is easy to use and has a massive market-place accessed by a loyal customer base!
Another brand we all know, Dropbox, used their MVP to determine market size and fit while nailing down their business model. Dropbox was first founded in June 2007 as part of Y Combinator. Initially, the founders made a short video demoing how easy it was for anyone to share files across different devices. After sharing the video with their network, and around the web, their beta sign-up list grew from 5,000 to 75,000 overnight. Talk about validating your product…
In September 2008, Dropbox was officially launched. Within 7 months, they had acquired a million users. And in 2013, Dropbox expanded into enterprise by announcing Dropbox for Business. Today, Dropbox has over 500 million users, who are saving over 1.2 billion files daily. There are also over 150,000 businesses on Dropbox for Business. The company is valued at $10B. Instead of adding any major features or re-designs, the company has focused retaining its reliability and simplicity.
Snapchat is a powerful example of how a simple app, with one feature, can turn into a social juggernaut. Snapchat, or Picaboo as it was first called, was founded in 2011 at Stanford University as an ephemeral photo sharing app. The founders gained initial validation after the app spread like wildfire across the campus. Also, more validation came after the same occurred at one of the founder’s cousin’s high school. They knew it was a hit. By October 2012, users were sharing 20 million photos a day. In December of that year, they introduced video sharing. In October of 2013, they released their first major feature update with Stories — 24 hour lasting photos and videos that are shared with all contacts. In 2015, they released Discover — a daily feed of content from major brands.
Today, Snapchat has over 100 million monthly active users who are viewing 8 billion videos a day and sharing 9,000 photos a second. The company is now worth $16B. Snapchat has strategically rolled out multiple key features one by one, allowing the company to explore various models of monetization without alienating their strong user base.
Looking at the success of these companies, the message is clear, start small and simple with an MVP. Know what problem you are solving and only include the necessary features to solve it. With an MVP built, validate your concept within a small, close community and then expand out to the larger market, iterating along the way. Expect potential changes in direction as you learn from your MVP: functionality, design, and as we can see, even your name might change based on user data. To keep users engaged as you grow, plan to incorporate and roll out new features and product extensions along the way… though make sure it doesn’t happen too early!
Finally, don’t be discouraged by the companies today and their beautifully designed apps with interactive interfaces. Remember, they started out as an MVP too. No one remembers what UberCab is —or what it looked like— but they do know what Uber is now.
If you would like to see more old forms of today’s apps —visit uxtimeline.com or startuptimelines.org
Howard Morgan, First Round Capital partner and App Idea Awards finals judge, wrote a great article for Venture Beat on the the tips he would give to app entrepreneurs seeking investment, titled "The App Inventors Guide to Unlocking Investment Funds." He mentioned the App Idea Awards as a potential route one can take in order to raise awareness in the seed/angel community and tighten your pitch! Go and have a read!
Pitch decks are an important part of the process for telling the story about your app and getting outside funding. We accept pitch decks as part of the App Idea Awards application. If you're not sure what should be in your pitch deck and how it should look, we have a short video to get you started.
That's right. Now, not only do you win $70K in app design and development, but also a 1-day bootcamp to create positioning, messaging, a launch plan and a professionally created pitch deck from the legendary agency of Apple, Airbnb, Gatorade, Netflix, and Twitter.
TBWA's DAN team is focused on the new frontiers in technology and specializes in crafting messages to disrupt markets. This team will collaborate with you for a one-day workshop to get the down-low on your app and help you determine the most important thing of all: your Disruption Roadmap. In addition to the workshop, through prep & post-work DAN will work to determine and then craft the knowledge needed to arrive at your convention and vision.
This means analyzing the current competition for your app and seeing what the norm is - and using this knowledge to narrow in on the top convention. Using this, DAN will help you craft the perfect vision of where you want to take your app, so it can stand for something unique. Finally, the most important part - the Disruption. As a team, we'll help you come up with a plan for how your app can defy the convention in order to reach the vision and truly make an impact on the market. By the end of the collaboration you'll have a strategy, a pitch deck
and a solid timeline of milestones for your mission for success.
You'll be working with the following esteemed team:
Luke Eid, President
Jusso Myllyrine, VP & Head of Strategy
Baker Lambert, Global Data Director
Joshua Hirsch, Global Technology Director
Senem Cinar, Creative Technologist
Tessa Conrad, Global Manager, Innovation & Operations
One of the top ten most active angel groups, The New York Angels, have kindly offered a spot at their pitch night to the winner of the App Idea Awards. This will be an incredibly opportunity to gain awareness in the seed investment community.
See more information about the New York Angels here
The team at App Idea Awards has created videos to help with your app idea and application process. This is a lesson on wireframing for apps.
Wireframes allow you to save time by properly communicating your app ideas to your product people, designers, and developers. If you've never wireframed for an app, we created a short simple lesson for you to learn.
Streamline your app and make an effective MVP. User flows are the first step in making an app--defining goals, designing how the app works, and making sure your app is as intuitive as possible. We have created a quick lesson on introducing user flows.
While many people dream of putting together their own app start-up, the type of people needed to execute that vision is often a mystery. We created a helpful infographic to explain the roles in a typical app start-up. While there will be differences depending on the type of app you would like to build, it's important to understand these roles because as you form your team you will need to make sure that a person on your team can step in to handle user acquisition, technology, UI/UX, and more--these are essentials for making a successful app company. For more information, or if you have any questions, email us at email@example.com
We'll be serving lunch, answering questions, and taking App Idea Awards applications on Wednesday, February 17th from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. If you're interested in learning more, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What: Lunch & Learn About App Idea Awards
Where: The Yard, 234 5th Avenue
When: Wed., Feb 17th, 1 p.m.
App Idea Awards Launch Party
& Fireside Chat with Venture Capitalist, Nnamdi Okike
The App Idea Awards launched with a party on Thursday, February 4th. The night began with a fireside chat with Nnamdi Okike, CEO and co-founder of 645 Ventures, and judge of the App Idea Awards. Over 130 people attended the event. We had live Q&A and took applications. Below is an excerpt of some of the Q&A that happened during the fireside chat.
Q: What’s your view on accelerators?
Nnamdi: We think very highly of accelerators. We’ll look to accelerators to see up-and-coming companies. Aaron, my partner is a Cornell Alum and also works with Cornell Tech. Cornell Tech is building a large tech campus here in New York. We believe Cornell Tech is going to be the source of a lot of great engineering talent, here in New York over the next decade.
Q: What are you looking at now in apps? What are the trends that are exciting you? Artificial Intelligence? Internet of Things? Virtual Reality?
Nnamdi: When we think about apps, we think about, “What pain point that the app is solving?” And, “Is there a market opportunity there?” So, I always check to see if a problem exists that the app is solving. An example of app company that we are excited about: Alice. Alice is an app that is sold to hotels. Alice solves 2 problems: 1.) A software platform for managing hotels—manage guest requests and different service issues that come up in the hotel every day, and 2.) they also have an app that hotel guests can use to see all the services that you can find at the hotel and handle service request issues. It improves the hotel experience. The app enables the hotel to run more efficiently.
…For us, it’s a matter of what’s the use case, and also, “Is there a revenue model?” I’m very old school about that. It’s really important for me to see how an app makes money. It’s great if a million people use your app. And while you can build an interesting company that way, at the end of the day, if you make money you’re able to control your destiny.
Q: When you’re looking at a typical funding path for an app start-up during the early seed and accelerator stage, what are you and other investors like to see?
Nnamdi: That’s a great question. The things that people look at will change during each stage, however if you’re looking to get into an accelerator, you’ll often think about building an early prototype and building a team that can execute on the opportunity.
…At the seed stage, the stakes are raised. Lots of investors will require a product, but they’ll be looking for early evidence of traction. 645 is a seed stage fund, so we’ll often look for early user growth, and evidence of implementation. As you grow, people will ask for more and more.
…At Series A, and it will depend on the fund, it could be multiple hundreds of thousands of users. Oftentimes, there is a revenue threshold.
Q: What questions should entrepreneurs be asking investors to know whether they are the right fit?
Nnamdi: I think when you’re raising money, it’s a two-way due diligence process. As the fund is doing due diligence on you, you should be doing due diligence on them. If I was an entrepreneur, I would ask if they have experience.
“Have they invested in a similar company before?”
“Have they worked a company to an exit?”
“Do they have the ability to help you?”
That could be everything from recruiting (both technology and marketing folks), and a network—potential investors they could introduce you to later.
At later stages, such as Series A, you should be asking yourself whether you want that person on your board. Do you want to work with that person regularly? When you partner with a venture fund, it’s a very long-term relationship---a marriage in a sense.
Q: I’m going to ask you a question, you might not want to answer, which is: Has there been a company that you passed on that then became HUGE?
Q: Please tell us more…
Nnamdi: Yeah, there have been a couple. One is actually an interesting story. I started at Insight Ventures in 2002. In 2003 and 2004, voice over IP was becoming really big. We started to look at the industry at Insight, but keep in mind, Insight’s focus is on later stage companies—they do Series B, C-type rounds.
…We were working in a fund in Europe called Mangrove Ventures. At the time one of the investors said, “We’ve just invested in a company, you should look very closely at.” I said, “That’s interesting, what’s the company called?” He said, “It’s called Skype.”
I didn’t know anything about it. This was when I had just started, probably in 2004? We took a look at it and spoke with the founders. We thought it was cool, but they didn’t have a revenue model at the time, and it was growing really rapidly.
But what I recall, the investor, his name was Gerard Lopez, at Mangrove Capital, ended up making near 500 times their money, I believe.
Q: So it hurts a lot?
Nnamdi: Yeah, I remember Gerard left venture to buy a Formula One team.
Q: What attracted you to the App Idea Awards?
Nnamdi: There's a couple of things about the awards that excite me.
...Obviously we invest in app companies, so in a sense there’s a selfish interest in wanting to see the companies that come out of the awards.
...One of the things you talked about, the impetus, the rationale for starting the awards, was the idea of democratizing the process of starting a company. I think building an app company is one of the most democratic types of businesses that you can build, in the sense that it doesn’t require a lot of capital to do it. Also, you have the potential to build a really big company and impact a lot of people through mobile distribution.”
...It fits with our underlying thesis in concept of being able to invest in great founders. And often times, founders who may be coming from different disciplines. People from all different professions and walks of life.”
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