"It’s essential for the industry to attract people with deep technology skills and keep them so that it can benefit from the hacker attitude of developing an idea, making it quickly, and iterating on it - and not just build sites that simply display fashion and never evolve." By Karin Levi (Founder & CMO, JustUs)
When I was a kid, I always loved playing quest games. Sam&Max, Monkey Island and Indiana Jones were my best friends. Not long ago, someone told me that the things we relate to in our childhood will have an enormous effect on our life as an adult.
I've looked up the dictionary definition of "quest" and here it is: "The act or an instance of seeking or pursuing something; a search". I think this is one of the most accurate definitions of a beginning entrepreneur.
My name is Karin Levi, I'm 24 years old, live in Brooklyn (originally from Israel) and have a startup with my two beloved partners. Let me tell you a little bit about my personal quest that has been happening for the last 11 months called Weesh. One of my partners in the quest is Ofir Beigel. We met at the "Zell Entrepreneurship Program" at college. During my last year of study, we worked side by side and knew we had good chemistry together. Just to illustrate - if I say white, he says black and in the end, it turns into gold. Together, we went out to find our first piece of the game, which was coming up with a killer idea.
From the start, we knew we wanted to deal in the relationship area. We both feel it is one of the most interesting fields and thought there was something missing in the romance-meets-technology market. We have researched and brainstormed a lot; every week we thought about 15 different ideas that are related to this field, from the most bizarre ones (virtual boyfriend?) to the most complicated. After some more brainstorming, we've picked and developed a really simple version of our winning champ, got a result and were ready for our next mission in the quest – getting startup funding.
This was a challenging stage. While visiting and pitching to angels and investors, we understood something crucial was missing on our team - a great Chief Technology Office (CTO) that could take our product to the next step and complete our basket of skills. Back then, finding a great CTO in Tel Aviv who is talented, unemployed and also suitable to our company's DNA was almost impossible. Luckily for us, the answer was right under our noses.
My best friend from childhood, Amit, was at the right place at the right time. Amit has joined us and now we are a complete triangle - the business side, the marketing side and the product side. We past almost half of our quest (first part) – we have a great idea, great team but no money, but with our new addition we were much more confident on finding and on passing the next stage of the game.
Three years ago, I was in a lecture by Jeff Pulver. I really enjoy from it and kept in touch with him (with no special reason. This is how quests are - you collect things without really know for what they could use you. When I heard that Jeff coming to Israel, I thought maybe he would like to join our quest? Jeff is an asset for every startup - he has an enormous knowledge on the industry, a lot of connections and most importantly - he really believes in his invested founders. It was love from first sight, and there we were, hugging our new member in the family.
I learned a couple of things from pitching to investors. There are two types: the believers (the one who will fall in love at your idea) and the other type ("show me the money" / ROI type). Both of them will look much on the team as on the product. Since we're doing mobile app in a new market, the first type was much more suits us.
Idea, Team, Investment
Looks like the quest is ready for the next item - product. At least a minimum viable product (MVP) that will help us to see the market reaction.
When building the product and corporate the company I found out over and over that it's amazing how people that are not your best friends or family keeps helping you - if it with offices (thanks to Genesis VC on enable us to work at the "junction" space), with designers (thanks to many consultancies with other startups) or with connection. There is a great high-tech community, which I'm proud to take part of. Going to those meet ups prove me time after time that there is no replacement for face to face interactions.
When all the community participates in their own personal quest, it's getting really similar to karma - everyone trying to give clues all the time because you don't really know from where it could come back and you will get your next step in the game. If you ask me, this is the secret of this community.
We are currently staging towards our next step which is reaching our market, and we still have a long way to go. Ofir, Amit and I are currently in NYC, participating in the DreamIt Ventures accelerator program and launching our iPhone app, Weesh, this week.
If I had to describe my life in the past 11 months I would describe them as the best quest ever, where the journey is no less important than the goal. We would love to see you taking part in my journey and love to hear your feedback on Weesh.
Editor's note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below. Photo credit: Lina Hayes on Flickr. About the guest blogger: Karin Levi is Co-Founder and CMO of JustUs, maker of Weesh, a mobile app that lets you share and discover things you want to do together as a couple. Previously, Karin worked as a market researcher and a PR marketer for environmentally-friendly products. Karin has also worked as a Behavioral Science Analyst and in Internet marketing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Karin holds a BA in Business Administration, majoring in entrepreneurship and marketing. Follow her on Twitter at @karinlevi.