On Monday, January 28, 2013, OLC attended Disruptive Technologists' second Meetup held at New York Institute of Technology. There were four speakers: J. Skyler Fernandes, Chairman at CareBooker.com, Michael Chiang, Founder and CEO of MatchPuppy.com, Dr. Justin Bazal, Optometrist and owner of Park Slope Eye, and Andres F. Campanella of LoCreep.com. The event was moderated by event organizer, Lauren Keyson.
Michael Chiang called MatchPuppy the OKCupid of dog dating. "We were excited when Wilfred [a character from the show, Wilfred on FX] signed up," he said. Dr. Justin Bazal explained that his claim to fame was to stop talking to his patients over the phone. "Talking to people on the phone is the worst, in my opinion," he said. Dr. Bazal switched his means of communication with patients over to text messaging and automated emails. J. Skyler Fernandes started off as a venture capitalist and has his own seed fund. He is the Chairman of CareBooker.com, which he compared to "Expedia.com of family care business." Andres F. Campanella said he "helped women ward off creepy men using LoCreep.com."
The panel talked about Campanella's app for a little bit, with Fernandes claiming, "social embarrassment as a public shaming tool is a great idea for a product." Campanella added, "You can use that idea for a fitness app, sharing the user's pictures if they don't meet the goal they set."
The moderator, Lauren Keyson asked Fernandes what the craziest thing that's been pitched to investors. "People try really hard to believe their perpetual motion," Fernades said. "They wouldn't even validate themselves to try and follow up with a requested meeting. Perpetual motion machines never end."
Keyson asked Chiang if he set up any "great dates" for dogs. "Well," he said, "one thing we learned was that the owners went crazy over sharing dog pictures, how awesome their dog is, YouTube videos of their dogs doing tricks.... We had to recently introduce an option to show the owner's pictures because everyone was asking for it." Chiang revealed that he linked up with CareBooker to increase exposure to his product.
An audience member asked, "Do you think users aren't relevant now, especially since app developers are just focusing on monetization. How do you address that over views?" Ferndandes said, "When you get your first user, it feels great. Someone thinks your site is valuable enough to sign up. It felt amazing to get 1,000 users without marketing [CareBooker]. The standard of what's meaningful is different now. One million is the average. For mobile apps, 1 million is what's meaningful and the average to gain traction. You look for three parts of market validation: getting users, user retention and revenue."
Keyson asked Campanella, "How do you rate creepiness?" Campanella said, "there's a scientific way, actually. A woman instead of handing off her real number can give him a LoCreep number that you automatically get. He calls her or texts her and his number gets stored in a 'Creep Database.' You can search a number and see how many people have put his or her number in."
"An app I thought that would be successful was something like voice text, but it never took off. It seemed like a funny way to text people and flip texts on its head," Fernandes said.
Dr. Justin Bazan said, "People don't talk on phones as much and at the optometrist's office, there's a lot of 'He-Said, She-Said.' Through text messaging, we at least have a record of the interaction. It solves a lot of the conflicts and our shift to automatic scheduling online and patients getting their appointment in their email inbox, it's cut down on no-shows. Text messaging is also a key component to lowering no-show rate, as well as email confirmations and text message confirmations."
Campanella said to think outside the box. "A lot of people get caught up in thinking about market scalability, user acquisition and when you think about those, you're not going to disrupt—no one ever does that by coloring in the lines."
"The best entrepreneurs are people who don't know what they're doing," Fernandes said. "You think outside the box. After that early-stage, you get a team and experts to grow your business."
"Sometimes you just have to believe in yourself," Chiang said. "Sometimes, you need to go to different cities. Just keep pushing and talk to anyone and everyone you can. Share with people, don't say you're in stealth mode because odds are, people you talk to can help you out in ways you haven't imagined."
"One problem with first-time entrepreneurs is that they're scared that someone will start their company. What they don't realize is that the succession rate is so low, so why would I want and go start your company? Share with people, share with different brains," Fernandes said.
Keyson asked if the panels had a brainstorming process. "A lot of ideas come from necessity," Dr. Bazan said. "My ideas come at random times. I have a network of people that I can relay messages to and filter it. It's important to surround yourself with people you can relate to," Chiang said.
"It's important to remember that where your company is now, it won't be the same in 12 months, so don't create a big business plan. Don't spend a lot of time polishing it. Try the lean startup method. Build your product until you get your first dollar without spending anything," Fernandes said.
"The most disruptive thins is feedback and responses," Chiang said. "Steve Jobs said, 'No one knows they want an iPhone until we put one in their hand.' When you're creating a startup, you're coming up with an idea that's never been thought of before or you're replicating an idea and making it better. You might just get picked up by a bigger company. Also, bring some ideas that you're passionate about so you have motivation to go on. Make the least that your product can do. Think about the MVP—minimal viable product—and get it out the door."