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Spring is here and as the saying goes…out with the old.

I’m officially calling it quits on the old app idea but I’ve recently been thinking about a new one based on the future of mobile and the interesting intersection between mobile and social:

mobile + social + photos = Instagram

mobile + social + games = Zynga

 

What could this mean when that intersection is coupled with women and our never-ending obsession with how we look?

mobile + social + *beauty = ????

*beauty = makeup, skincare, hair, etc

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Things are slowly moving along on the mobile app front and we’ve got one major milestone so far: selecting our first logo.

As progress continues my mind is inevitably wandering toward the “how the heck am I going to launch this thing?” question. How are we going to get users, how are we going to ensure we’re building something people will enjoy using and will come back to, how do we identify which content providers to work with, how do we know if we’re successful, etc. The questions never end. And right now I don’t have a whole lot of answers.

So in order to lighten our load I’m thinking of hiring a marketing & social media intern. I’ve had some experience in hiring and managing others but this is different. I’m hiring someone to help with MY baby. It’s a whole different ball game. I’ve already started drafting the position description in my head and it’s easy to set ridiculous expectations.

It reminds me of reading some job postings while still in B-school and the hilarious employers that wanted an unpaid intern with 5 years of experience at a top I-bank/Consulting firm, who was fluent in 4 different languages, had start-up experience, specific industry experience, and had cured an infectious disease.

I can see why people want the most awesome rockstar interns – you’re messing with their baby!

But I’m no school nor experience snob. I really don’t care if you went to Stanford or SUNY or if you’ve had 12 internships in 2 years. I’ll be looking for someone who understands our target market, understands what we’re trying to accomplish and can get it done with little guidance – a go-getter. Now, knowing how to ascertain all of this from a cover letter, resume and interview will be interesting.

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Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.

– Atlas Shrugged

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Looks like we’ll be choosing some Indian developers that we sourced via Elance. I’m really pleased with the quality of the interactions that we’ve had so far – very professional and with timely communications. It doesn’t hurt that another firm in the Ukraine priced themselves out by quoting 3-5x what we got from the team in India. Wowza. Also doesn’t hurt that other app development firms had very poor communications, grammatical errors, nonchalant attitudes. I’m glad that things are moving forward on that front but now I’m working on our technical requirements document – I use this term VERY loosely to describe what I’m putting together – it’s more of like Ejieme’s finally thinking about what the hell this thing is actually supposed to do and writing it down, screen by screen. I guess you gotta start somewhere.

Also, it would have been nice to know that app design and app development are 2 very different beasts. I mean, I’m a consultant that has worked on technical implementations, I KNOW that one must design that which they want to build but it’s hard to think about the “details” when you’re so excited about a project. Maybe I need to wear my consultant hat more often?

Or maybe not. I’ve caught myself stressing out about the massive to-do list associated with this project and the fact that it’s just me and my co-founder. No Analysts or Associates to help out and no Partners or Directors to bounce ideas off of. It’s just us.

Lessons Learned so Far:
1) Design and Development are different (doh!)
2) Utilize Quora more! It helped me make a decision sourcing our design project between Crowdspring and 99Designs

Lessons Still Learning:
1) How to leverage (ha, consulting word!) my consulting experience without letting it hold me back
2) How to have a demanding day job while pursuing entrepreneurial goals
3) Entrepreneurship is (can be) lonely but it doesn’t have to be. I just find “networking” to be another time-consuming activity. I need to figure this one out as I’d love to have a mentor or even more contact with others going through what I’m going through.
4) I’m about to spend my real money and on this project. Add this to the growing list of scary things associated with entrepreneurship.

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I think I’ve neglected this blog for long enough. I’ve been “busy” though – you know, with the corporate job and all. And also another blog – which shall remain nameless for the time being (if you use your awesome google search skills you’ll probably uncover it soon enough). I thought it’d be prudent of me to write a bit about my latest project – a mobile app – and some of the learning and unlearnings along the process.

As a child of the developing world, I’d been an advocate of moving lower-skilled jobs to developing countries that needed the economic activity. Of course there are so many nuances and particularities of the outsourcing debate, but on a high level I advocated for increased job creation in these parts of the world.

This weekend I found myself with the choice of whether to spend more money to hire a developer in the US or to go the cheap route and give a job to someone in India, Malaysia or China. Now I know the choice between the $65/hr developer in Seattle vs the $15/hr in Delhi is not entirely the same as the outsourcing debate but I was put in the role of the ultimate decision maker. Do  I outsource and provide capital, economic activity to my fellow developing-world comrade or do I “buy American”, knowing how the US unemployment rate has remained steady in the past year. This decision has now become a personal one and not just one that I hypothetically debate.

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Attending business school if nothing else has afforded me the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurs, the current state of many different types of startups in varying industries and the entrepreneurial process. I must admit that entrepreneurship (or at least working in an exciting and fast-paced startup environment) is an awfully enticing and glamorous proposition for me and for many MBAs. When I look to these entrepreneurs and hear their stories of success and failure, I’m not too surprised that there is a lack of people that look like me – black, African, female – and not even that specific combination but any of those individual traits. The entrepreneurship game (and even those working for startups) looks very homogenous – male, white, asian.

I can say that I was not very surprised that in my Foundations of Entrepreneurship class (albeit the focus is on technology startups which can skew the representation as well) that out of a class of 30, I was 1 of 3 females and the only under-represented minority.

Here are some things that I want to know:

  • What percentage of current and new businesses in the US are owned/started by underrepresented minorities?
  • What is the breakdown of funding type (bank loan, VC, personal) for these businesses vs. white owned businesses?
  • What is the success rate of these businesses vs. white owned?
  • What role are Africans across the world playing in the VC/PE action in Africa?
  • How many African MBAs return and start ventures on the continent?
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I woke up this morning to over 16inches of snow but also to the exciting news that South Africa had been invited to join “the big four.” Big news not only for South Africa (which has Africa’s largest economy) but also for the entire continent.

I’ve always taken the whole BRIC phenomenon a bit lightly. There are probably other countries that should be part of this “economic labeling” (Mexico, South Korea) but I am happy to see some selectively in this grouping. It ensures that these countries slowly and effectively work together to initiate change that is best for their countries’ interests economically. Although they have also cooperated to swing political pressures in their favor they do not intend (and probably could not succeed) in being a true political alliance (i.e. EU).

It’s interesting that China would invite South Africa and overlook Mexico and South Korea, just as more recently some “experts” have been self-including these countries with the BRICs. Perhaps the BRIC is concerned that Mexico and South Korea are a bit more developed than their countries and may not align on the same economic goals? Perhaps it was South Africa’s great PR from the World Cup this summer? Or it could be that China wants to improve it’s image of its dealings with Africa. I don’t know for sure but oh Happy Day for Africa!

South Africa is Asked to Join as a BRIC Member to Boost Emerging Markets

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