What’s an economical way of creating an app?

On Quora a while ago, I answered the question which forms the title for this blog post. Below is an unedited version of the answer which I gave. 

Their is no “economical way” per say. But assuming you are following lean startup principles, you want to make sure that its a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) which is build with the barest minimum features which are needed. For a startup you are trying to validate and learn more about those you want to market the product towards.

How important is a logo for startups?

On Quora a while ago, I answered the question which forms the title for this blog post. Below is an unedited version of the answer which I gave. 

For an early stage startups, coming up with the most fancy logo should never the high on the priority list. But coming up with a simple logo which distinguishes the startup and which has appeal is one of the first things to be done. This can be carried out fairly easily using online software such as Canva or even Adobe Photoshop.

But remember something, if you look at all tech companies which began as startups, their logos have had an evolution and are constantly evolving. Whatever logo you begin with will probably change along the way (especially if your startup is a success and evolves into a company), so don’t bother too much about coming up with the best logo design possible.

Self Direction and Expression

In taking the entrepreneurial path, one of the things I am learning is self-direction. Direction under a job in which external rewards and sanctions exist compared to a setup in which one is trying to forge ones own dream and reality on their own terms are two radically different ball games.

For starters, I plan out each day and what I have to get done in order to move the startup in the right direction. I also plan different activities I do which pertain to personal development. In reality, more time is spent on personal develop almost each day. If I were in a formal work setup, I would be given task with along with the deadlines for getting such done. But by being an entrepreneur, no such external push or sanctions exist. I have to motivate myself to get everything done through thick and thin.

In my case, it’s the guilt of not getting things done and the possible rewards which push me. I’ll confess, that on some days I can be quite ambitious in the task which I set that I am forced to roll some of them over into the next day. While on some other days, I am simply not in the mood or have the motivation to get task I have set done.

Even though entrepreneurship has its rewards, and without it, society and societal progress will come to a halt, its everyday workings are not necessarily as glitzy as portrayed. Its ultimately is a process through which those involved come to understand themselves better and aim to produce better versions of themselves each day.  It is ultimately when entrepreneurs can be the best versions of themselves possible that their ventures, which ultimately are an expression of themselves, will fully blossom and serve society well.



A Few Thoughts On Privilege

A video clip is currently making rounds on social media in which some kids – probably around high school – are told to line up at the start of what is probably a football field. For different statements which the instructor makes, if it applies to them, each kid is to take two steps forward. Statements ranging from parents still being married, to kids growing up with a father figure, and to having access to private education are made. Obviously, as with such an exercise, after a point some of the kids had a massive head start.

At a point, the instructor stops and tells those in the lead to turn around and look at their position and realize the head start they have in the game of life. He then goes on to say that their privilege is not because of their choices or anything they had a hand in – which is absolutely true. After some quick pep talk, the instructor instructs the kids to race towards the finish line. Obviously, those in lead won while those at the back lost.

The video clip then ends with a voice which says “if you didn’t learn anything from this activity, you are a fool.”

While I concede that the clip does contain some wisdom, I believe care must be taken in trying to apply its lessons to complexities of life. For one, such a setting is highly controlled and is at best a static snapshot of a point in life while the real world is dynamic with a lot of variables at play – both known and unknown. Furthermore, in analysis talking about privilege, little focus is put on the actions and values of those who  seem to have a head start in life. Finally, even if the exercise had good intentions, the wisdom conducting such among children should be questioned.

A fundamental fact of life is that values, preferences, and wants differ from person to person. Such affects peoples outlook on life and in many cases how they end up in life. Sure, some might have a massive head start, but its not a guarantee that they will have positive life outcomes. For example, some might be sent to the best prep schools in the world but if learning is not a priority, nothing can be done. On the other hand, some might be born on the wrong side of the tracks, but yet have a yearning to know all they can and make themselves better. Sure, their path might be rough and might take longer than it should, but for those who have grit, they will make and in some cases outshine those who had a massive head start.  I have seen too many examples – both up close and at a distance – of people who seemed to have it all but either blew it or can’t really account for themselves. On the other hand, I have seen kids who never had a massive head start in life and have gone on to do things which statistically speaking,  few in the world would ever do.

The wisdom of such an exercise among children should be questioned for a number of reasons. For one, many of these kids probably don’t have any coherent worldview and are just entering the stage in life were they begin asking questions. Many of those kids definitely left the field that day asking questions which they simply cant answer or handle. For the kids who did not seem to have a large head start, such an exercise is capable of undermining their self-confidence (after all, self confidence is the big thing in education today) and could send a wrong message which says that they are doomed at the game of life no matter how hard they try. Yes, there are many who come from backgrounds which might not be very privileged, but as a society, we make a mistake when we emphasize these things and never focus on how individuals can rise above their circumstances.

I know that this is a sensitive topic with a lot of complexities. But we owe it to ourselves to approach this topic with the most utmost wisdom possible if we truly seek the best solutions.



Spotting the Light at the End of the Tunnel

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

– Aristotle

We all have challenges we face; some of these challenges have easy answer while others other don’t. But for the most part, it can be said that the answers to these challenges are within our grasp. But in order to reach these solutions, we must first focus with a laser beam intensity. To focus, that means removing all which stands in our path and dedicating all our mental and physical energy towards the task at hand.

Be Like Jeff Bezos

In anticipate of strong Black Friday sales, Amazon stock soared and added enough wealth to make Jeff Bezos the second person in history to be worth over $100 billion.

Obviously, this development will elicit a lot of reactions ranging from people who will see it as another sign of the worsening wealth gap to people who will see it as another sign of a stock market out of touch with economic reality thanks to lose monetary policy.

But regardless of peoples views, nothing can change the fact that Amazon is one of the best stories of American business in  at least the past 50 years and Mr. Bezos will still be talked about and studied long after he is gone. Even if Amazons stock value is indeed overvalued, Amazon offers a service which has improved the lives of millions and the company will still be standing in the event of a stock market correct.

What I want to focus on are the choices which Mr. Bezos made before he founded Amazon and how people can apply it to their lives.

Mr. Bezos was a successful hedge fund trader who amassed some sizable wealth enough to start Amazon before deciding to found Amazon. Upon telling his boss he wanted to leave to go do his thing, he was offered a raise to woo him from going. But he turned it down and left.

In essence, if Mr. Bezos never followed his intuition and dream and was content on a job which offered a lot of stability, the world probably will not have Amazon today. If Mr. Bezos allowed himself to be wooed by the offer of his old boss, no one will know who Bezos is.

We all have dreams and aspirations but to many people are timid in try to make such a reality. This timidity is created by everything from self doubt, to thinking too much about what other think, and even social pressure. Not everyone is going to be wealthy or a Bezos. But in whatever you do and in whatever field you are in, follow your dreams and passions, you never know what can come of it and how it can affect people positively in ways never imagined. By Mr. Bezos following his dream and idea, tens of millions are better off through his lower prices he constantly offers.




Giving Thanks

On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for all I have. Most importantly I am thankful for the health and energy which I have which in a way I take for granted.  Without good health, there is no ability to work hard on my goals and ambitions and make the world a better place.

I am also thankful because I can say that right now I am chasing my dreams and ambitions on my terms like I have dreamt of since I was a kid. For many my age, that exact might not be the case. I never knew how everything will fall in place but a few years ago through intuition and circumstances, things began falling into place earlier than I would have ever thought.

I am thankful for the great country we live in and the opportunities it affords me to chase my dreams. We might not be a perfect society and might still have room for improvement but we should never lose appreciation for what is good about this country. Despite being well versed in our flaws and having become numbed to the the great life in this country which even people of modest means see as the norm, we should never forget that many people exist who want to come to this country and envy such.

Most importantly, I am thankful to all my friends and family and the support they have given me whenever I needed such. I am especially thankful to my parents who I will confess I decide when and when not to pick their calls but are always a phone call or an email away ready to give me advice and support me in whatever way they possibly can. And yes, I am still very close to my parents and they give me advice and encouragement when needed and we even share prayer topics. I am also thankful to my siblings who despite the fact that age and profession has scattered all of us, we still mutually support each other.

As we look towards 2018, be thankful for the year 2017. Be thankful for all you learnt and experienced this year – good or bad. Take that wisdom and us it to turn 2018 into your best year ever so at this time next year we all can give the most thanks we ever have given to the Almighty.

My startup idea can easily be stolen. What do I do?

On Quora a while ago, I answered the question which forms the title for this blog post. Below is the answer I gave unedited with typos.  This question actually has the most views ever for a Quora question which I have ever answered.

You can do two things:

  1. Go ahead and begin working on the startup.
  2. Don’t start the startup or tell anyone about the concept because you fear it will be stolen.

Fear of your idea being stolen is simply a fear of something much deeper, that is a fear of rejection.

Two set of people exist: those who talk and those who act.

Far more people talk about what they want to do than those who act. Its only a few people who would take your idea and try and work on it. Even then, almost no one can have the same passion you have to make your startup idea work.

Another way to look at it is that in order to make your startup idea feasible, you must tell people so you can get feedback. No matter how much you think you have your idea refined, such refinement is usually made up of assumptions and simplifications. Its only feedback from people that can make your idea better and bring it closer to success.

Is a college education less of an advantage financially than it used to be?

On Quora a while ago, I answered the question which forms the title for this blog post. Below is the answer I gave unedited with typos. 

Ill say a couple of things. These answers assume they apply to this country:

  1. If you want to study something in the social sciences in college like history or sociology, Ill suggest you think hard if college is for you. Why not go do an apprenticeship in which you can come out of within about 2 years max with no debt earning what people coming out of college earn. Many people who study social sciences and come out of college with tons of debt end up doing jobs which absolutely have no match with what they did in college and in fact is bellow their skills level (e.g. working at Starbucks or Walmart).
  2. If studying something in STEM, the financial advantages are still there even with debt. But I will say before going into college, make sure your math (e.g. calculus etc) and science (e.g. physics and chemistry etc) foundations are rock solid so your freshman year is a relative breeze and you can max out all possible grade points you can earn in those classes.

To be honest – I guess this has its biase – if thinking about studying something outside STEM and maybe even finance or law up to a degree, think hard about the cost and benefits. Ask youreself if you are prepared or not.