So it’s time for another founder chat, and this is an exciting one. We’ve been wanting to do this for a while; how Fabian came up with the idea for Hangry. Funny enough, it all started while he was waiting in line for coffee, which he has now given up on for the unusual and arguable allure of the notable matcha green tea.
‘I was waiting in line for a coffee at school’ he starts. ‘The line was so long, that I actually had to contemplate whether or not to get my much needed coffee and NOT go to class, or go to class without a coffee.’
‘What did you choose?’ I interrupt.
‘I chose the coffee, and arrived late to my class. In law school the professors have no sympathy, so he locked me out’.
The story is simple, but the concept behind Hangry is simple. In this day and age, everything is becoming so convenient, and lines are not convenient. What started as a one-man app aimed to keep students from waiting in line, is now a full-fledged mobile enterprise that allows students to order from anywhere on campus from their phone, skip the line, and earn rewards.
But we’ve missed a big gap in the story, and that is what I want to talk about today.
‘So you were pissed you had to wait in line for the coffee, and then the idea just came to you. It’s a good story, but anyone can come up with an idea. How did you make it happen? What would you say to all the potential entrepreneurs out there who have an idea, and are dying to make it happen?’
Fabian nods to my pen and paper, as if he’s ready to watch me take a test. ‘You ready?…
You need to ask your 4 questions. The first one is …’
Let the blog begin.
- Is it a product or a feature?
This is the most important question to ask yourself when you come up with an app idea. You have to ask yourself, if this something that another company could add to their product or is it a stand-alone? Take Snapchat for example, the core of their product is ‘stories’. Instagram was able to take this feature and then add it into their own product. In our case, Hangry isn’t just about adding mobile ordering to your POS system, it’s an enterprise, a complete platform that bridges all auxiliary services.
- Does it already exist?
Don’t let this question scare you, and don’t let similar products intimidate you either. Just because it already exists doesn’t mean there isn’t a market there for you. For Hangry, we aren’t the only player in the mobile space, but we know we are the most complete and the most cost effective. We acknowledged a gap in the marketing—there aren’t apps that cater to ALL auxiliary services, so we wanted to be that. Do your research, and don’t be intimidated.
- Do you have the skill set to bring it to life?
Fabian grins, ‘I think being naïve is a strength in a startup because you aren’t aware of the bumps and hurdles you have to overcome, you’re just excited.’ Just know that your product will evolve, and you have to be open to your vision changing based on your customers and the conditions in the rest of the market. You need to be willing to sacrifice, you need to be willing to work while everybody sleeps and get up while everybody else is still sleeping. Make sure it is something you’re passionate about and know you’re making a difference. I always say, ‘most entrepreneurs are crazy, but you have to be realistically crazy.’
In addition, the startups that are successful are the ones who have technical founders. If you don’t have the skills to build your vision, you need a partner who does. For Hangry, Fabian developed the original code, and had his hand in all the code for our IOS app, Android app, Backend API, and our enterprise dashboard. Knowing the product intimately allows you to have incredibly successful meetings with potential customers, because when they ask if something can get done you know exactly where in the code you are going to insert their request.
- Minimum Viable Product
What do we mean by this? Building the base product, and building a product that solves the problem you’re trying to solve, without the bells and whistles (initially). Whatever your product does, it needs to do it well. Fabian adds, ‘Instead of having a half-assed product, you want to have a half product’. Once you have that, then you can slowly add the additional modules based on what your market wants. Glossier, a strong new-comer to the beauty world, has followed this process from the beginning. They released a very small amount of beauty products to their customers, waited for reviews, and then used their social platforms to work their customers to create products THEY wanted. When Hangry first started, we didn’t have push messaging or dietary filtering. We focused on have the absolute best loyalty platform in the campus market. We wanted to have the smoothest mobile ordering operations and integrations in the market. As we grow, we continue to add book stores, event tickets and more to expand our offering. But whatever we do, it’ll be best in class as opposed to rushing out a feature.
I take a brief note-taking break, ‘Now that we’ve covered those 4 main points, is there anything you want to say to all the future entrepreneurs reading this right now who are feeling a little discouraged?’
Fabian picks up his cat Denny, ‘Yes. Startups are a roller coaster. You’ll have big breaks, and sometimes you’ll have quieter periods of growth. It’s all about staying positive and staying grounded. And… always believe in your team and your product. Especially when you have the best product in the market. It’s like when Denny ruins my expensive couches, and I have a brief moment in my mind where I wish I never owned a cat. I have a moment of darkness and then remember I have the best cat in the market.
… aint that right Denny?’
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