in Personal

Knowledge runs in the family

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Not that long ago I had the chance to take the now discontinued asiqo platform to hub:raum Krakow, as part of Telekom Innovation Contest, where 1st and foremost I learned how dinosaurs innovate.

But apart from that, the key point of the week spent in Krakow was the business oriented training we received from the great mentors – which my better half not only totally assimilated but also loved every part of it. Even though her inclinations were mostly medical (she does have a lot of medical training), I knew that the tech & business training would come in handy starting one day – and it did. And it’s something I’m highly proud of.

The following is a recount of events that happened just the other day.

Her mother has been working in the beauty business her entire life and she only recently started to get really tech savvy – and she is indeed open to the innovations of technology & new media marketing.

She was approached by a person developing a smartphone app that will allow users to instantly find points of interest – bars, restaurants, beauty parlours and whatnot in a foreign city. Mind you, this app doesn’t use an Internet connection because, I quote “not everyone can afford a costly Internet connection” – on their smartphone; but they can be bothered to install an app that wouldn’t need a connection. Now, if you too feel that sounds silly, read on.

This guy offered a low yearly payment (around 9 euros) option for all businesses to advertise in this city guide/point of interest finder without Internet type of app even before it was launched. Because after launch, it would cost in excess of 100 euros to advertise.

Now, it so happened that my bride-to-be was at her mothers’ parlour when this guy showed up. What followed was a lesson in customer discovery, business development and humiliation.

Having contracts at hand, the guy started talking about all the benefits of having advertising in this amazing app, the low price, all the business it will generate for the parlour and the coolness of embracing technology.

With the business model canvas in mind, my fiancée started asking all the right questions. I’ll mark her questions and remarks with I and the guys’ with G:

I: Why doesn’t this app use an Internet connection?
G: Because not many people can afford such a thing, it costs a lot.
I: I have a monthly allowance of 3GB with 11 euros.  And medium plans, of 250-500MB/month start at 5-6 euros per month.
G: Yes, but not a lot of people can afford that.
I: You mean that can afford a smartphone that is capable of installing apps from an appstore, that requires an Internet connection, but they can’t afford a mobile connection?
G: …silence

I: considering this spa particularly, what are the odds of someone going to a foreign city and needing an urgent haircut, a cosmetic treatment or their nails done?
G: Well, it happens, they can discover you when they are around.
I: So it uses the smartphone’s GPS, but not its mobile connection?
G: Exactly.
I: So how often did it happen to you personally to walk around a city, with your eyes in your phone, scouting for locations to get your hair done?
G: Well, not that often, but it happens to some people.

I: Allright, you said you already have a similar app for another city. How many active users do you have?
G: Over 10.000 active users
my note: The Play Store shows the app has between 1000 and 5000 downloads, with 211 reviews, out of which 89 are 1 star reviews.

I: Allright, suppose I advertise with you and my ad appears in the app when the users walks by and he or she wants a cosmetic treatment. How does the app connect the user with me?
G: Well, they tap on the ad and the dialer pops up and they call you.
I: So I have to stop what I’m doing, answer the phone and schedule him or her immediately, right?
G: Well, yes.
I: You do realize that SPAs work with appointments done even weeks in advance, right? It’s not the type of business where you just walk in and ask for a treatment.
G: …silence.
G: But it’s a low yearly price and it will get higher once we launch.

I: How do you measure effectiveness or the return of this investment? How can I tell if someone using the app actually scheduled an appointment with me?
G: Well, you ask them.
I: Allright, so is this price locked in?
G: No, once we launch it will be higher and next year it will also get higher, we don’t know how much.

I: So you’re telling me that you want my mother to sign up for a yearly advertising contract that costs 9 euros now and who knows how much for the following year, in an unreleased smartphone app that uses only GPS, that will be used by people that come to our city, perhaps in transit and are in dire need of a cosmetic treatment or a haircut and they don’t have a mobile internet connection?
G: Well, yes.

Talk about a needle in a haystack.

Obviously, my future mother-in-law didn’t signup for this and advised her colleagues to do the same – the not-so-tech-savvy ones especially.

Even though this isn’t a scam (their app for another city is obviously working, but has close to zero activity on it and incredibly poor ratings) it shows how easy is to flunk at the most basic activities of starting an app business – or any startup for that matter.

But the thing I’m most proud of is that my future wife got it so right and that all the trainings and experience with asiqo and not only are paying off – she’s seen and heard me pitch hundreds of times in the past year and we’ve created speeches together, analysed timing, wording and pace and she constantly applied her business and startup knowledge in whatever we discussed and did – and sometimes I had to concede to her reasoning and proudly did so with great content.

Now imagine that in less than a year I’ll be walking down the aisle with the most gorgeous, smart, witty and tech savvy woman I have ever met that is instantly capable of using my own scientific reasoning against me for the betterment of both our lives’.

I’m so looking forward to it. :)