How to Turn an Idea Into an App

The CEO of Knack does work on his laptop at the office's headquarters. A light up Knack signs is hung on the wall behind him.

Samyr Qureshi is CEO of Knack, an app that connects school college students with tutors at greater than 60 school campuses throughout the United States. Qureshi co-founded the app in 2015 with Dennis Hansen and David Soker. Qureshi was photographed on the firm’s headquarters in Tampa, Fla, on February 2, 2020. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Samyr Qureshi and his school buddy Dennis Hansen had an concept for an app that may match college students with scholar tutors on the identical school campus. That was 2015. Six years later their firm, Knack, has secured greater than $1 million in fairness investments and is value 20 occasions greater than when it began. It additionally landed Qureshi, CEO, and Hansen, Chief Product Officer, on the 2020 Forbes 30 beneath 30 checklist, which highlights the nation’s prime innovators.

The steps they took to make Knack a actuality provide a sport plan for anybody with a viable concept and the drive to flip an concept into an app.

1. Find a Need and a Solution

Qureshi was tutored as a younger youngster after which was a tutor himself in school. He and Hansen knew tutors helped with educational success, however realized it wasn’t all the time simple to discover one. Through analysis they realized the “near peer” idea was profitable. The extra lately somebody has taken a category and realized an idea, the more practical they’re at serving to another person perceive it. They determined to create an app that may match college students on the similar campus, one needing assist in a course and one other who has had latest success taking the identical course.

2. Do your Homework

Airbnb and Uber have been taking off so Qureshi and Hansen realized all they might about how these apps obtained began and why they have been a hit. They additionally researched how individuals have been discovering tutors on Craigslist, Wyzant and different sources, and what was working and what wasn’t. They determined what they wished their app to provide and researched what it could take to create it.

three. Build a Team with the Variety of Talent Needed

The mates requested David Soker, who had a grasp’s in electrical and laptop engineering and knew how to construct apps, to be a part of their staff. He’s additionally a co-founder and now Chief Technology Officer at Knack.

“We intentionally put our team together to have engineers,” Qureshi mentioned. Paying an exterior firm to construct the app would have simply price six figures.

Sonia Duraimurugan is an MBA scholar on the University of South Florida who used the Knack app to generate income as a tutor. Before utilizing Knack, she relied on meals banks for groceries. “I was literally strapped for money,” she mentioned. The app offered a method for her to earn as a lot as $12 per hour. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

four. Take Advantage of University Incubators

Qureshi and Hansen, each graduates of the University of Florida, secured a spot at UF’s Gator Hatchery, an incubator that gives college students workspace, workplace assist, mentors and different sources for startups. There are tons of of University Business Incubators (UBIs) throughout the nation at faculties of all sizes. Some provide grants or stipends to assist assist college students financially whereas they create their enterprise or product. Others have relationships with banks that present particular loans to entrepreneurs. Most UBIs are adept at creating networking alternatives for college students to achieve entry to potential funders, usually alumni. They even have media relations groups that get publicity for college students and their endeavors.

5. Get Feedback

Whether it’s a product, service or app, testing a beta model with a large viewers (past your mother and next-door neighbor) is important for understanding what works and what doesn’t. Knack launched a beta model on the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida to work out the kinks.

6. Enter Contests, Apply for Grants and Raise Equity

UBIs hold college students knowledgeable about competitions and grant purposes. But even for those who aren’t in a UBI, there are a lot of competitions for entrepreneurs and school college students launching an concept in addition to grant alternatives. In 2016, Knack received first place and $25,000 money in UF’s Big Idea Business Plan Competition. That led to extra curiosity from buyers. A number of members of the family wished to put money into the corporate to assist it get off the bottom. The Knack co-founders offered them shares within the enterprise in alternate for fairness. They priced their inventory by evaluating their firm to the market worth of comparable current startups.

7. Get Your App in Front of Users

To attain an viewers of customers and tutors, they ran digital advertisements and marketed the app to college students on quite a few school campuses. One of the simplest advertising instruments was making a community of ambassadors on school campuses to signify Knack

“We recruited them cold from job postings, interviewed them and hired them,” Qureshi mentioned. “We gave them $300 to $500 a month and a list of tactics that we had tested at UF: ‘Go buy pizza and entice some students to hear about it.’”

eight. Have a Side Gig or Full-Time Job

Qureshi, who had been working professionally about two years, stop his job and lived off of his financial savings after becoming a member of the UF enterprise incubator to create Knack. Later, when the corporate moved to Tampa, he labored for a cookie supply enterprise on the facet to make ends meet.

Final Advice: Go For It

Qureshi’s recommendation to school college students or latest grads who’ve an concept that would flip into an app is to “go for it.”

“We were pretty naive and that gave us some pause. I was a pre-law student so I didn’t have any business experience. The majority of our team did not study business,” he mentioned. “We learned a lot from mentors. We were srappy, scraping up dollars where we could.”

Katherine Snow Smith is a contract editor and reporter in St. Petersburg, Fla., and writer of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.

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