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NJ Tech Meetup 76 w/ WeWork Head Of Digital Design, Bobby Ghoshal

September 2016 NJ Meetup Tech Meetup Review

Written by Stacy Zolnikov | NJ Tech Meetup Member & serial technophile. 

At each NJ Tech Meetup, aspiring entrepreneurs take 5 minutes to pitch their “revolutionary” idea to an audience of entrepreneurs, engineers, designers, investors and other tech enthusiasts to spread their mission, acquire new talent, seek investor funding or if they’re good enough, be awarded the holy grail of startups….the NJ Tech Audience Choice Award.  I mean, it’s no easy feat to stand up in front of a large audience and pitch an idea that may or may not be worthy enough of our time so kudos to all.

For those of you who missed the NJ Tech Meetup last night, here they are. Let us know what you think.

First…

Their mission: They want to give “every cyclist, living and working in NYC, peace of mind when leaving their bike in any given location.”

That’s right….all you bike thieves out there….these guys are on to you.

How it works: You enter your location, book your parking spot and drop it off at that location. Once your time is up, you pick it up.

The good: It gives users a sense of security that their bike is safely stored throughout the duration of whatever they may be doing. It also gives users a list of stores, bars, restaurants, and parks nearby.

The bad: There’s currently only 4 locations for users to choose from. Three of which are in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. Additionally, users can only drop off and pick up bikes during the nook’s operating hours...which, for most bike shops, means it’s a bizarre schedule like 10:30 am to 4 pm….right between your working hours.  For a city like Manhattan, on-demand services need to be available at all times.

The takeaway: Potentially big market. As New York gets more condensed, capitalizing on any free space is a great idea, even if it’s literally 70 x 16 in. Plus, the moral gain - putting thieves out of business.

Next…

Their mission: They offer on-demand laundry service including pickup and delivery, commercial laundry service, drop off laundry service and in-store washing.

I know what you’re thinking…we’ve heard of this before. FlyCleaners, Cleanly, Clothespin, Boomerang and Washio (who recently shut down) are all startups sharing the same goal. Good thing we’re all dirty enough to keep these guys in business!

How it works: A customer makes an order. WashClub picks it up and delivers it to the operator’s facility, where clothes are washed and folded. WashClub then processes the transaction and delivers it back to the customer.

The good: It helps small businesses grow while cleaning your clothes without you ever leaving your apartment (God forbid we take a break from our Netflix binge). Seems like a win-win to me.

The bad: It requires you to put an estimated weight (in pounds) of clothes needed washed. For someone like me, who has no perception of weight, height, time, reality, care….etc, I would either be paying extremely over or under the actual amount. I guess if it’s the latter, I wouldn’t mind but I’m an honest citizen and would lose sleep if that happened.  Furthermore, the consumer app isn’t all that pretty. As a mobile developer, I can attest to the importance of design in a user’s experience. It’s functionable, which is good, but for an app to be great, it needs to enhance the user’s experience between his/her interaction with the product.

The takeaway: They’re well established and know what they’re doing. It doesn’t really seem like they’re in the startup stage anymore. For a business who doesn’t show up on the first few pages of Google SERP’s, they must have a killer marketing team. Add a little SEO juice and we may never have washer dryer in unit.

And finally...

Their mission: Bring report cards to the sports arena. They want to make sure parents and coaches are on the same page regarding their child’s athletic performance.

If you’re anything like me, you hated report cards growing up and probably took every measure possible to hide it from your parents. But this idea is great! If my parents saw that I excelled in gymnastics, maybe it would justify my lack of “A’s” in the more scholarly subjects…..just kidding!

How it works: Coaches create an account, sign up their team, set up goals and give appropriate feedback to each individual on a scale of 1-5.

The good: It gives feedback to the parents on their child’s performance. Sports are expensive, like extremely expensive, like why-pay-for-my-child-to-do-sports-all-these-years-to-hopefully-get-a-scholarship-when-I-can-just-use-this-money-to-send-them-there expensive, so not only does this give parents a better insight into their child’s capability, but also gets the parents and coaches more connected. Coaches are extremely influential in youth. It’s important parents and coaches are in sync.

The bad: Not on mobile yet but they’re getting there. Coaches would probably have a more thoughtful and accurate feedback while out on the field as opposed to after the game. Also, it doesn’t include specific topics needed to work on. It gives the score of each skill but doesn’t mention how one should improve on it, whether it’s specifically coming from the coach or it’s automatically populated from a predetermined and standardized suggestion.

Takeaway: Pretty solid idea, especially since it won the Audience Choice Award. You receive an A++.

Next up was a Fireside chat with….

Bobby Ghoshal - Head of Digital Design and Growth at WeWork

Ghoshal is the founder of Flud, a once promising and hopeful social newsreader that unfortunately failed. Startups are hard. Brutally hard. Bobby was kind enough to give us some insights into why his failed and what you can do if you’re an early stage startup.

Bobby and his co-founder Matthew Ausonio envisioned a social news ecosystem that was visually appealing and aesthetic. It makes sense it was design-centric since he’s...well a designer, and a phenomenal one for that matter. After launching its app in 2010, Flud was on fire. The demand for a better newsreader was there, and Flud was one of the promising ones to deliver it. But what kind of capitalist country would we be without a friendly competition. With Flipboard and Pulse already on the market, Flud was in for a challenge. And although it’s easy to blame competition for a startup’s failure, there are many other things that take play.

One contributing factor for their demise was focusing on press too much.They would push hard for press, which would cause an influx of user downloads resulting in the dreaded “Application Not Responding” crash notification. When you have a new product, sometimes the best thing to say is absolutely nothing.

Another lesson they learned was the invaluable advantages of testing. Calling all QA testers!

Test. Test. Test some more. Put it away for a little bit. Repeat.

Launching a product with glitches and bugs is like dividing zero by zero. You end up with no cookies and no friends. You just don’t do it.

And the most important takeaway. Build a product users want. Don’t build a product based on what your competitors are doing. And don’t build a product just to focus on user acquisition. Build what you believe in. If you build a good product, users will come to you.

That wraps up this meetup….thanks for reading and hope to see you at the next one!

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