Archive for Online Companies

Aditya Argawalla: Innovation In India

Aditya Agarwalla- Co-Founder of Kisan Network

Kisan Marketplace is an online marketplace connected to farmers in India through a mobile phone app. The farmers use the app to sell their crops to buyers. This system generally makes things cheaper for both the farmers and the buyers, because it cuts out the middlemen and geography which limits them in India.

This business is unique due to the new rise of cheap smartphones in India. Until recently, smartphones were not commonly available to people in India. But with this recent rise, has come a great opportunity to use technology to help the farmers more efficiently deliver their crops to sellers. Aditya Agarwalla 22, dropped out of Princeton University to start this business with his father, a farmer in India. They have a simple app, which farmers download onto their smartphones, and it connects them with a vast marketplace of buyers, with Kisan Network acting as the middleman connecting the two.

Aditya Agarwalla saw a need to sell crops more efficiently for farmers. He tapped into the technology, which at that point was a relatively unexploited field. As the first innovators in this market, the Kisan Network’s success has been remarkable. They have moved over one million pounds of crops in under one year.

Dropbox- A Coder Turned Entrepreneur

Drew Houston, co-founder and CEO of Dropbox, has all the symptoms of being an entrepreneur! The creation story of his company, Houston claims, came from an idea that came to him after constantly forgetting his USB flash drive during his studies at MIT.  During his time as a student he found a multitude of problems with storage services and decided to set out to solve this problem for himself.  Little did he know that his solution would end up benefiting millions of others as well.

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In 2007, he and his co-founder Arash Ferdowsi were able to secure enough funding to begin the development of the program were soon launched Dropbox. Within 24-hours of its launch, Dropbox “had 75,000 people signup for the wait-list.”  When they were only expecting 15,000, tops.  Dropbox had an enormous success rate, and, by the end of 2013 Dropbox had gained over 200 million users.

So what sets this company apart from others? Well Dropbox is a technology company that claims to build simple, powerful products for people and businesses.  Unlike many other companies, Dropbox is innovative in that they value the creation of products that are easy to use and are built on trust. When people put their files in Dropbox, they can trust they’re secure and their data is their own. The users’ privacy has always been their first priority, and it always will be.  Image result for dropbox images

Houston believed that technology should get out of the way, so there’s no limit to what people can do. And his tightly-knit team seems very committed to realizing ambitious ideas and making technology work for the world, and I’m sure that the best from them is still to come.

“Sometimes you just get this feeling — it’s a compulsion or an obsession. You can’t stop thinking about it. You just have to work on this thing,” words from the entrepreneur himself, Drew Houston.

uBreakiFix

Justin Wetherill built a multi-million dollar business out of his bedroom in Orlando, FL. What started out as a simple problem – a broken iPhone screen – turned into an idea that Justin developed into uBreakiFix, which is now an international franchise operation.

After working as a staff accountant for a few months out of college, Justin quickly realized that he didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk for the rest of his life. He and his friend David Reiff tried their hand at a few different business ideas, including an online custom t-shirt business and a custom gaming computer business. Neither of them picked up much traction though. It wasn’t until Justin dropped his iPhone 3G and broke the screen that the idea for uBreakiFix was born. Not wanting to pay $200 to have the phone fixed by Apple, Justin ordered some parts online and decided to learn how to do it himself – and proceeded to break his phone even worse. But that didn’t stop him. He went on to buy a bunch of broken phones on eBay and learned how to fix them through trial and error. David built a website to advertise their services. For $79.99 you could mail in your phone and they would fix it and mail it back. The business took off, and they quickly realized that customers wanted same-day repairs, so they opened up a storefront. In the first month, they made $18,000 in revenue and $28,000 the second month – Justin quit his job in the third month.

The business expanded from one store to two quickly. Justin would hire and train his friends and paid them $10 an hour with a deal that if they worked hard for six months, they could own a store. Within three years, uBreakiFix went from zero to 47 corporate stores and a revenue of $27 million. Currently about 15% of the stores are owned by former employees.

Justin’s story shows that entrepreneurship is a lot of trial and error and learning to get back on your feet when something goes wrong. It’s also about accepting risk – the reason why his company was able to grow so fast was because they put almost all the revenue back into the company, betting on the fact that their idea would be successful.

To read more about Justin’s story, see this interview with him in Forbes.

Respawn

On March 1, 2010 Activision reported the firing of two senior employees to the Security and Exchange Commission. One of these employees was Jason West the Infinity Ward president, game director, co-CCO, and CTO. The other was Vince Zampella the CEO and co-founder of Infinity Ward.

They were dismissed and replaced by Activision, the same company who helped fund their own company Infinity Ward during the golden days of their Call of Duty franchise.

-Jason West on left and Vince Zampella on right

On April 12, 2010, the Los Angeles Times wrote an article about West and Zampella’s new ambitious venture. They were forming a new game developing studio called Respawn Entertainment.

West and Zampella got funding from Electronic Arts (EA) while keeping all intellectual property. After hearing about West and Zampella leaving and starting a new project, a bunch of their old employees from Infinity Ward left to join thier LLC, Respawn.

In June 2013, they debuted Titanfall their new and revolutionary take on first person shooters. The game was released on March 11, 2014 only for xbox. By October 5th of 2015 IGN reported that Titanfall’s sales passed 10 million globally (awesome for a game only on xbox). Recently they have been even more successful with their multi-platform sequel, Titanfall 2.

-Respawn developing team

Official site: http://www.respawn.com/

Los Angeles Times article on Respawn: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/12/entertainment/la-et-ct-callofduty12-2010apr12

IGN article on 1o million in Titanfall sales: http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/10/05/titanfall-sales-pass-10-million-globally

 

StyleSeat

Have you ever received a bad hair cut? Melody McCloskey has, and she turned this experience into a business. McCloskey in the founder and CEO of StyleSeat, which is an app that connects hair stylists and customers looking for a haircut.

McCloskey was tired of the hassle of booking hair appointments. She found it frustrating when she called a salon sometimes stylists wouldn’t answer the phone or when they did, you just received a random appointment with a random stylist that wasn’t even good at what she wanted to be done. McCloskey decided to fix this problem with her app. StyleSeat makes it easy to book hair appointments with specific stylists. You can search for stylists by where you are and even by what the stylist specializes in. This is such a wonderful tool not only for people in need of a haircut, also stylists. Stylists can promote themselves for what they are really good at and what they prefer to do.

Melody McCloskey really stood out to me because she experienced a problem and made it into a successful business idea. This is such a great entrepreneurial quality to have. I love how she tapped into an industry that pretty much everyone utilizes and made it better. The cosmetology industry is already a saturated industry, but McCloskey found a way to innovate and come up with something new.

 

 

 

Polyvore

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We’ve had the opportunity to learn a little about Google several times in class. This pioneering and world-changing company has a knack for curating an army of visionaries, creators, innovators, and encouraging their employees in risk and creativity. Jess Lee, a millennial entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of P O L Y V O R E, recalls that the greatest advice she was ever received came from her mentors at Google while working there as a product manager out of college.

Lee studied engineering at Stanford. She laughs about coming from an oriental family, where she was only ever encouraged to become a doctor, engineer, or something else of high esteem and considerable salary. But she went out on a limb and accepted a position with Google, determined to challenge herself.

While working at Google, Lee fell in love with Polyvore. And as an innovator, when she fell in love, that meant she incessantly shot emails to the then CEO, Pasha Sadri, with suggestions for improvements. Sadri replied offered a challenge: “Why don’t you come here and fix this stuff yourself? We should talk.”

Lee accepted.

Ever since childhood, Lee remembers wanting to do something creative, like writing. Polyvore was enchanting to Lee for the same reason it is to thousands of other people: it’s a creative platform and community of shared fashion ideas that enables fashion visionaries of all ages to graphically assemble outfits online by digitally collecting snaps of clothing items from their favorite sites. Whether you come from a small town, or work as the editor of VOGUE, Polyvore gives you the opportunity to create, combine, influence fashion in the minds of people all over the world, and gain a following.

In true entrepreneurial spirit, and with no business school history, Lee took on a company she didn’t even think would be profitable at first. She held tightly to a lesson she’d learned at Google and has served her well: “Build something users will love and money will come later.”

Pit It! Pinterest.

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There is an online platform that many individuals, particularly millennials, enjoy. Well, often it’s a procrastination mechanism, at least it is for me. Pinterest allows you to save links to various sites including (but not limited to) retail sites and blogs. “Pins”, as they are called, are categorized and browse-able. With one simple click on the image, your computer, tablet or smartphone immediately links to the site from which the picture was pinned. This allows a user to collect and share others ideas, styles, thoughts, quotes, travels and just about anything you could think to take a snap shot of. I have certainly found myself spending a lot of time on this virtual creativity board.

Ben Silberman, born in 1982, co-founded the virtual pin-board known as Pinterest. Silberman is an internet entrepreneur and acts as the CEO of Pinterest. Silberman is quite the accomplished man. He participated in a prestigious high school research program at MIT, and he later graduated from Yale with his undergraduate degree. Silberman worked at Google in the online advertising group, until he started creating his own apps. Silberman said he thought of Pinterest because he has always liked to collect things. Now, with Pinterest, we can all collect ideas!

Bungie

Founded by Jason Jones and Alex Seropian in May 1991 in Chicago, Illinois. Bungie is an American video game developer located in Bellevue, Washington.

Jason Jones is a video game developer who began programming on Apple computers in high school. One of his early games he assembled was Minotaur: The Labyrinths of Crete. It was a multiplayer game he worked in partnership with Seropian to publish while attending the University of Chicago.

Eventually Marathon, Myth, Oni and Halo: Combat Evolved came along. Marathon did well but paled in comparison to the success of Halo.

Microsoft acquired Bungie in 2000 to develop the Halo games for their Xbox console.

On October 5, 2007, Bungie become an independent company, Bungie LLC and Microsoft still had ownership of the Halo IP.

More recently Bungie has made a deal with the Call of Duty developer Activision. The partnership is a ten year long project called Destiny.

Bungie.net

Activision

Destiny

How Alexis Ohanian made the world suck less

When he was still in college, Alexis Ohanian told one of his professors that he wanted to the world to suck less. At first he and his friend Steve Huffman planned to make the world “suck less” by inventing a mobile sub-sandwich ordering app, but after some thought decided to create “the front page of the internet. That front page they created is Reddit. What Ohanian did was make an online community of people who could interact and voice their opinions on an infinite number of things. To make things easier (and less cluttered), reddit was divided into multiple “sub-reddits,” like ‘Politics,’ ‘Music,’ ‘Gaming,’ ‘Technology.’ and the list goes on and on. His aim was to offer a home for people to talk about anything, not matter how weird or niche it was. And users also have the opportunity to create their own sub-reddits (thereby, their own communities), and discuss whatever they want to with other users.
In addition to being the central hub of almost anything on the internet, Reddit is also where a lot of ideas initially started off as small communities before growing to what they are now. For example, reddit was the first place where people interested in Cryptocurrencies talked and connected before it became what today is known as Bitcoin. In fact the subreddit for entrepreneurs (linked here) is one of the fastest growing communities that is home to an astounding number of incredible ideas, and entrepreneurs use it to gain feedback and comments from fellow community members.

I think that the invention of Reddit is an incredible feat in the field of entrepreneurship, because it not only gave people a platform to be informed and be entertained, but also a means by which they may interact with others, voice opinions, find new ways to get their ideas and voice out and be more productive members of the community!

Bringing Back Classy Swimwear

rey-swimwear-modest-swimming-suits71f9323eb27d9e49f01a3d8d764f067fIt  was a hot summer in Hollywood, and between acting gigs Jessica Ray found herself spending most of her time by the poolside to meet up with friends and escape the blistering heat. After being frustrated by observing how objectified women are in bikinis, Jessica decided to boycott her normal scanty swimsuits for something with more character and coverage.

After surfing the web for hours, Jessica gave up. There weren’t any decently modest swimsuits available on the market that didn’t look like they belonged on a grandmother. Seriously, what’s so hard about making a cute, classic, semi-conservative swimsuit that’s appealing to the younger generation? Jessica was determined, if she couldn’t buy a cute swimsuit- she’d make her own. She had no sewing or design experience, but that’s not a problem for a true entrepreneur!

Jessica isn’t alone. Other people in Hollywood are interested in sporting classier swimwear; there is a healthy demand and Jessica decided to satisfy that want with from a creative and youthful approach.  8 years ago, Jessica Ray swimwear debuted their first swimwear line.

Jessica Rey swimsuits are becoming increasingly popular.  The brand is inspired by the debatably the most iconic woman of all time: Audrey Hepburn. The line strives to uphold the value and dignity of women through their designs. Classy doesn’t have to look frumpy, and Jessica Rey swimwear exists to promote that vision with a vintage vibe.