Think about how some of your favorite apps were created. A few bros, or gals, coming together with a unique idea, and the goal to make life a little more, simple. Snapchat: an app that gives you access to the experiences of your friends, virtually anywhere; Venmo: an app that creates a seamless effort of transferring money between friends’ bank accounts; Instagram: an app that allows you to post pictures of memorable events in your life where people can react to them.
When it comes to creating apps, it’s normally the most simplistic ideas that are the most valuable in today’s society. I was fortunate enough to get in touch with the creators of a keyboard plug-in that essentially vocalizes your thoughts and feelings. Aybo allows you to play on the sense of sound, in an area that is historically silent, messaging.
For example, you’re out at a bar and your buddy goes up to talk to that smokeshow (a very attractive girl) standing at the bar. He walks over to spark conversation and buys a round of shots for the two of them. You sit back, and wait; he doesn’t disappoint. The “cheers” goes wrong, and he ultimatelyhurlsthe shot back up at her. The next morning, you want to be sure to remind your friend of his shortcomings, so after a quick search, you find Billy Madison telling him, “YOU BLEW IT!” Fitting.
So I got up with Will Carpenter, 1 of the 5 founders of the app, to help get me in touch with the team and get their take on the apps unfolding. How did this idea come about and what made you want to invest and startup this app? “Since we’ve started Aybo this has probably been the most asked question, and my answer is that I have always loved taking ownership of as many aspects of my life as possible and this is a new opportunity for 5 guys from North Carolina to do our own thing. I remember the day Craig, our CEO, pitched the idea to me. I knew it was genius and we had to take our life’s into our own hands and follow through with it.”
From CEO Craig Cook’s point of view, this was his reasoning: “There’s the people that figured out what everyone else (the consumer) wants and there’s the people that haven’t. I think my friends and I are looking to switch over to the ones who have figured it out. Autonomy and following your dreams just seems like the right thing to do – with all the resources out there and the balance of power we’ve seen because of the internet, there aren’t really any valid excuses anymore.”
Another founder, Dominic, attributes most of it to freedom just like Will. “In short, freedom. Freedom to make our own choices/decisions – and the freedom to be in control of what happens next. In jobs, many people are handicapped in what decisions they can make – starting our own business allows all of us to have the “final say” and be able to do what we think is best. With that comes mistakes and mishaps, and many learning curves – being young, we can take these risks – and as Craig mentioned, we have an abundant amount of resources to help us along the way.”
So you’re thinking, okay, now what? What is this app going to do for me? What is this solving in my life?
Craig: “I don’t think we’re solving a problem really – I think we’re providing a better way to communicate. Uber didn’t make it possible to travel, they just made it more desirable than a taxi. People don’t need a reason to do something anymore, we’ve automated all the difficult tasks as a society. If you don’t get off the couch you can still eat 3 meals a day. Aybo is just fun, so hopefully people will like it. At the end of the day, if words were to disappear, it does provide a way to communicate at its core.”
Dom: “I wouldn’t say we are solving a problem, but we are filling a need. Texting is evolving – first with emojis, then with GIFs – the next logical progression is with sound. Everyone relates to music, and music already is a way of expression for most. Aybo provides people with another way to express themselves.”
Will: “So the fundamental question we asked ourselves is wouldn’t it be cooler to respond to a message with Drake rather than a mundane text message? We think it would be. We really believe that using sound to express yourself in iMessaging, whether it’s Will Ferrell or Fetty Wap, is going to be huge. Right now the messaging 3.0 trend, whether it’s GIFs or Snapchat, is on the rise and here to stay. People communicate every day, why not give them another tool to help them express themselves”
The idea is there and seems very well thought out. I asked them where they saw their biggest worries coming from with the app. Collaboratively, they all mentioned that the rapid improvements in technology and connections in the industry are aspects that will cause concern, but Dom’s specific response really resonated with me. “One concern is time. All of us are working full time jobs, and I feel that at times we aren’t allotting enough time to focus on Aybo – as Will said, with as fast as everything moves, we need to be on top of the changing environment. Another concern for me is just the unknown of everything – we are all so new in this business/industry that every experience is a learning experience.”
As far as what this on-going experience has taught them, they said that it has definitely built up a tougher mental callus for them all. “I’ve learned a lot about perseverance and learning from mistakes. Starting a new business, whether it’s a mobile keyboard or a deli, comes with complex decisions you have to make on the fly and not everyone always makes the right ones. I believe if you can do that, make those decisions with confidence, and find a way to land on your feet no matter what the outcome is you can be successful in life” said Will.
And it takes a mentality like this to overcome all of the obstacles and minefields that are thrown their way. “Starting your own business comes with tons of hard decisions every day. For me it’s been watching my own hard earned money go towards Aybo and further investment into the app. Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything though because I love this idea, the people I’m working with on it and working on something I’m passionate about” stated Will.
Craig: “Each day presents decisions that bring us to a crossroad. Luckily, as a team, decisions are made to the best of our ability. When you’re doing something different or that hasn’t been done before (to our knowledge, you can’t find the right answer in a book), you just have to put yourself in the users shoes, and ask yourself, what would they want?”
But the message they’re looking spread at the end of the day is this: it’s hard work.Craig: “1. Follow your dreams, not the money (broken record, but it’s true) and 2. Just do it – our society likes to make you think that the people who work hard are only where they are because of where they were born, who they knew, how privileged they were. It’s just an excuse for everyone that wakes up everyday and doesn’t do what they really want to do. Theoretically, you pay your taxes, and a part of it funds the USPS to deliver your mail. But what happens if you don’t pay your taxes? You still get your mail. Unfortunately, despite the views of a lot of people, I don’t believe success works in the same way.”
Dom: “1. Who better to invest in than yourself? You start your own business and you are responsible for your own success. 2. You create your own opportunities. Don’t wait on something, be vulnerable and put yourself out there. 3. What’s meant to be is meant to be – trust the process/journey and enjoy whatever path it takes you down.”
And lastly, Will wanted to end it on this note and with a story he shared with a start up group called “Story Slam.”
Will: “It’s going to be tough and not everything is going to be as easy as it seems so keep your head on straight and never get too high during the success or too low during the hardships. Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react so always be agile and ready to learn.”
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