My eyes were glued to the Keynote presentation. I quickly scanned the room as Google made more announcements about their global Android expansion, most people appeared disengaged, waiting to hear more about products that would affect them immediately. Android One, a smart phone that would use less cell data with faster speeds for spotty third world networks struck an empty chord with the crowd. However, I grew excited about the possibilities this would bring to areas that lacked true access to the grid.
Google is truly trying to encroach their software and technology in developing countries to help inspire innovation, by providing as many assets as they can, so individuals can help themselves become entrepreneurs. Many pockets of the world have yet to reach their full potential, areas such as Indian, Indonesia, and the Philippines are experiencing intense mobile growth. Google is ready to take these regions by storm and help individuals modernize their countries with the help of their tech and software. Let’s start by examining Google’s strategy in these developing countries and how one person can become an entrepreneur with just a phone in their hand.
Over 1.2 Billion phones are expected to ship to developing countries within the next year, the majority of which will be Androids. Not surprising considering the cost of an Android is extraordinarily cheap compared to an iPhone. Possession of a smartphone is still considered a luxury in rural areas, where ten percent of a person’s income goes to the phone itself. The technological needs are so great in these areas there are reported businesses where individuals race over to nearby towns with electricity to simply charge phones.
Google’s release of Android One is but a stepping-stone, the software giant also announced changes to its features allowing Maps and Youtube to work offline. Thereby diminishing cell data usage for impoverished users, many of which still rely on SMS. Imagine poor farmers saving videos on agricultural upkeep without economic detriment, or refugees crossing foreign lands using offline Maps to safely guide them to their asylum. The kicker here is that Google and Android will go one step further and give the entrepreneur an online market place and the educational tools necessary to succeed in the global market.
Android Nano Degree, and the Cloud Test lab were also announced at Google I/O. The ramifications of which are enormous. Individuals who aspire to be developers can take a Nano Degree course for $200 dollars online and pursue scholarships if they lack the economic resources. This is an enormous push for online education especially in areas that lack access to human resources that can teach these valuable skills. While the Cloud Test lab allows full-fledged developers to test their apps, without having the device on hand or even phones allowed in the country! The costs in savings are enormous in resource strapped areas.
Google also announced the creation of Developer pages, were people can view apps by person, similar to a market place where people can walk around and see what is laid out virtually by stand. Well what about marketing? Have no fear. Google also announced the Universal App campaign that will automatize the marketing for home made apps. Imagine new developers across the globe creating apps for their people, because access has become easier and supportive. A girl in Indonesia can purchase an Android One phone, take the Nano Degree course online, and within a few months test her app idea in the Cloud Test Lab. If she is successful she can create her own Developer page and have Google market the app for her. Just within the course of a year, she can become an entrepreneur.
As much as Silicon Valley continues to praise itself for innovation, very few companies have managed to create substantial change in developing worlds. Change has to come from within. You can create an amazing app in a first world country and transfer it over to a third world, but basic access, resource constraints, and cultural obstruction continue to hinder expansion. Android and Google will pave the way for more and more entrepreneurs across the world to enter the digital global arena in their own terms. If you are someone who lives in a developing country it is worth your time and money to invest in the Android/Google ecosystem. The technology, support, and resources are now available to use and implement. Go change the world. Your world.
Its Saturday morning. You are sipping on your coffee/tea while eating your bagel and wondering, “OMG WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!?!”. Don’t worry! Here are some suggestions on where to go from here.
Business Model Canvas
The Business Model Canvas allows the startup to document the 9 key areas of a business model. Rather than writing long paragraphs, each of the boxes is filled in with short notes to document the hypotheses associated with the specific sections of the business model. This approach allows the initial business plan to be documented in a couple of hours rather than months. Here is a great breakdown and explanation of the canvas along with some examples: http://www.slideshare.net/esaife/business-model-canvas-101
You should have your first version completed by lunch time so you can move onto customer validation.
As Steve Blanks says all the time, “GET OUT OF THE BUILDING”. Steve has a set of videos that really cover this topic well: http://vimeo.com/user2776234. It’s really important to talk to your potential customers. They may be in the same room/building, they may be across the street. They may be on Twitter/Facebook. Go find them and ask them the right questions so you can get the feedback that you need. Some sample questions are:
- Do you suffer from this problem? What apps/services do you use now?
- Would you use this idea/product? No? Why not?
- Would you pay $X.XX per month/year/one-time to use? No? What is an acceptable price?
- What features would be most important for you?
- Can get your email so we can keep you up to date with our product?
If you are collecting information via the Internet, you should create a form to collect your feedback. Google Docs allows you to create surveys on the fly: http://www.google.com/google-d-s/createforms.html
Take as much time as you need to work on your validation. You can’t accomplish everything you need in an afternoon.
Based on the feedback that you get, your assumptions will either be proven to be true or false and you will discover things you didn’t think about. Make sure to update your Business Model Canvas to reflect your new findings. (eg: “We discovered through our customer validation that our target audience is not really women, but men!” OR “Monthly subscription was too much. People preferred a pay-as-you-go model. )
The coaches and mentors will start to arrive at around 2PM. They will walk around the building and interact with all the teams. Feel free to chat with them see how they can help you. They were here to help you so make sure you take the time and chat with them. The mentors range from developers, designers, product, marketers, PR, founders and much more. There is bound to be someone that can help you with what you are trying to do.
For a full list of mentors/coaches: http://www.up.co/communities/usa/new-york-city/startup-weekend/4419
Startup working on your MVP (Minimal Viable Product)
Based on the feedback that you have gotten from customers, you should have an idea on what to build and what not to build. Here is a great article talking about different types of MVPs: http://scalemybusiness.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-minimum-viable-products/
If you have people on your team that can help start building it, then great! By all means, start laying your code. But if you don’t have the developers or designers that you need, don’t worry, you can still use plenty of tools out there to help you prototype your app/idea without laying out code.
WARNING: If you decide to go and only make wireframes/mockups, they had better be the best mockups/wireframes that you can produce in a weekend. Don’t draw a box on a piece of paper and say its your mobile wireframe. Bring your “A” game this weekend.
You only have 54 hours. We don’t expect your app to be scaleable to 1MM users. It doesn’t need to hook into every social network platform out there. Your MVP needs to show us (the judges) that you put some thought and effort into app. They know you only had 54 hours to work on it, do the best that you possibly can.