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imoji - Tom Smith

imoji – Tom Smith

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About the Episode

Today’s guest is an ex-Apple employee and he shares why he decided to leave the company and pursue his entrepreneurial career. He also shares how the company started as a stand alone app and how it has evolved into a platform. Also, he shares his advice on whether you seek investment before you launch or after you get traction.

Tom Smith is CEO & Co-Founder at imoji.

Show Notes

From Apple to Entrepreneur

Working with Apple gave Tom a unique opportunity to observe that the machine that makes up Apple is actually composed of cogs that work in sync to produce new things. The sheer, incredible number of products produced and the efficiency of the assembly line that Apple has extracted at each product stage with a 12-month refresh cycle are revelations of focus and creativity. If a person has the entrepreneurial inclination, he cannot avoid observing the pieces in place that make it work for the Apple setup and apply it on a smaller scale to whatever app he may have in mind to develop.

Tom started is entrepreneurial career because he was at that certain point where he had a number of ideas and the only way to keep his own development curve up was to have his own business. The risk of a new business was less than the risk of not trying it. He felt he had a good chance of succeeding because he knew he could apply Apple’s formula for success to his own business.

Evolving from a Standalone App to a Platform

Tom started his company from a standalone app that evolved into a platform. He did it with these several milestone steps:

  • Look for an existing app that shows promise but is not moving at all. In his case, the standalone app was called “Newsstand.” It was preinstalled in more than 330 million Apple devices and no strong development.
  • Buy the app, create or buy the tools needed to improve it, fulfill its potential. For Tom and his partner, they bought Newsstand, procured the needed tools and on boarded a dozen magazines.
  • Put in features, make it real attractive, make the design clean, the audio clear and increase utility. Imoji, Tom’s latest app also started in a similar manner.
  • Continue and maintain the standard of excellence through new forms of technology. The apps in Imoji are all user-generated but what Tom and his company are doing is to continue improving how the platform looks and works.

Should investment happen before or after traction?

Tom has convincing reasons for getting investors early in the game. He knows that convincing investors take time and will probably take several conversations over a number of months. The developer-investor relationship does not happen overnight but more of a gradual development. Thus Tom advises to start the process of presenting the idea to potential investors early.

Show Mentions

Fav app: Facebook Paper: (iTunes)

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