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How to succeed without any prior experience or knowledge?

Youssef S. Freelance Designer / Full-stack Developer

Last updated on August 10th, 2017

I'm 25 years old wantrepreneur, working full-time as a freelance graphic designer / web developer (self-taught), recently I noticed that "remote jobs / gigs " isn't really a good career choice, especially for this industry. Plus, I have a hard time make a decent living and pay my bills, yet, I'm living in a poor country.


My dream is to be a successful founder, so long story short, I've done some research about AI and machine learning and I strongly believe that is the future of CS. I've been working on this project for about 2 months, first as part-time, then full-time, for now I have a fully functional proof-of-concept/mvp that apply sentiment analysis on both news headlines and tweets to help traders and investors evaluate topic's sentiment and monitor changes over time, and also it help to collect data that are so large and complex because it can no longer be processed adequately by traditional methods (I assume that is technically painful).


My problem is that I only have a high school degree and my college years was a succession of shameful failures (I studied Physical chemistry and then switched to Public law but never graduated) so actually, I'm pretty sure that any investor / incubator will not take me seriously.


The app was built using Python and multiple APIs (in 2 months with no prior experience) so the truth is that I didn't built any NLP algorithm or done some advanced classification / regression but the app solve a problem. (I start to doubt that I'm just naive and it's not a real world problem or more precisely I just imagine that my target market has this problem. I didn't do any market research.)


I have few questions:

  • Should I devote more time by adding more features?
  • Should I launch it as beta version and ask for feedback?
  • It's worth to invest in ad campaigns to measure the viability?
  • If I find a couple of paying users, can I apply for fund investment?
  • Is my lack of experience an obstacle?

Any sort of feedback is welcome. At this stage I'm looking for ideas as much as critique. English is not my native language, sorry for any typing errors.

Joy Montgomery Disrupting the Product Placement Industry

August 10th, 2017

Firstly I think you've done so well already so don't doubt yourself. And secondly there are so many successful entrepreneurs who didn't finish high school let alone go to university so that is not a prerequisite to being successful. Believing in your product and yourself is key. The world is really your oyster so don't give up. I'm looking for a business partner myself so can't help you I'm afraid but I can tell you this investors will want to work with someone who is confident so don't share negative feelings about yourself keep looking up good things are coming

Ephar Mayondo Focused, Disciplined, very social and loquacious. Goal-driven and visionary. Big thinker and Learner

August 11th, 2017

Believe in yourself and remember forward is forward your speed doesn't matter. Take it easy and enjoy it any mistake you make is your greatest treasure so keep learning and start small, Just do it. Follow your passion.

Yanfeng Lee CEO of an independent advertising agency and co-founder in a shopper marketing and digital agency

August 15th, 2017

1.) Solve one good problem that everyone desires. Do without more features unless an overwhelming majority of your testees ask for it, even considering whether to pivot to that problem instead.


2.) Always launch beta and ask for feedback.


3.) Ad campaigns don't measure viability. Usage does.


4.) Yes, but investors are looking for overwhelming incontrovertible evidence that your product applies well to solve the problem and will exponentially increase usage, so make sure it's not one or two guys who are willing to help you out, but rather 7 in 10 people want to use it and actually use it.


5.) Your lack of experience is an obstacle if you make it so. Everyone is weaker in one area and stronger in the other. Either compensate your weak areas or overcompensate your strong ones.


PS: I never went to college and barely made it out of highschool. I count myself quite fortunate to have started several profit making companies.

Sean Cornelius I am a 16 y/o entrepreneur & CEO of Contend

August 10th, 2017

Hi Youssef,


Congrats on taking the initiative to go through with your project! First off, you shouldn't be doubting yourself because of your education or your age. I'm 16 and still haven't gotten my high school diploma, yet venture capitalists will take my meetings and I work with a few notable Fortune 1,000 companies also.


In regards to your project, you should really think of what your customers or end users want to see out of the product. When we built our software application we partnered with a marketing agency (our target market) so they could test the product and give feedback on our work. In addition, I wouldn't do any marketing or take on paying customers until you know for sure that it represents your company completely.


So overall, you're on track for being an entrepreneur and your education or age should not hold you back ever. It never held me back, and I look like a little kid a networking events!


Cheers,


Sean

Naiem Yeganeh

Last updated on August 11th, 2017

Trying to answer this question honestly with no motivational intro. Because this is how I want people to answer my questions. Find your answers from my point of view inline:


I have few questions:

  • Should I devote more time by adding more features?
    • No! Features are waste of time. Solve one problem, but do it good. There is only one way to do it good either. To test it with real customers and iterate. If you cannot find any body that is willing to try your app, go find those people. Unless your goal is learning python not building a startup.
  • Should I launch it as beta version and ask for feedback?
    • Definitely. Not beta, alpha. Spend as much time as you can on customers and "meaningful" feedback.
  • It's worth to invest in ad campaigns to measure the viability?
    • Depends on the product. Create a free webpage using squarespace or wix, and use sumo or some other solution to put an email collector on the page. Invest a tiny bit on ad campain to see if people care enough to enter their email addresses.
  • If I find a couple of paying users, can I apply for fund investment?
    • With a couple of paying users, good luck with finding investment these days. I wouldn't hold my breath
  • Is my lack of experience an obstacle?
    • Definitely. Means you need to work harder. You have a day job, which means less fun on weekend and more discipline to work at nights.

Final advise: Everybody can make an app. What people cannot do is to build something people will use. If you can demonstrate an exponential growth in customer interest. For example you put up an ad campaign and collected 20,000 emails in a day, very experience developers would work for you for free any day. I would work for you for free with such numbers.

Bob Njiru CO - FOUNDER AND CEO OF CYSTYS LABS

August 18th, 2017

Search the market. Dig deep and search your market.

vivek kumar Co founder

August 12th, 2017

Definitely get some feedback but first you can create a landing page to get the users Excited about your app. Try to see the problem you are trying to solve has some target audience. If you want to discuss more you can reach out to me. Failure is not a bad thing. You have show the potential audience that you learned from your failures. That will make it positive

michael Livingstone Real world entrepreneur, Experienced risk taker, made more money then I lost,

August 18th, 2017

To paraphrase Henry ford, he once said that if there was a problem that he couldn't solve he had a row of buttons on his desk that would connect him to various people that could. You don't need to know everything Youssef, but you do need to know how to find the solution.

Build a mastermind group of individuals whose opinion you respect, meet regularly and listen to their advice.

If you can position your product and achieve product market fit then your chances of success will substantially increase.