By Zak Niazi
Joshua Weiss founded Teliapp, a builder of mobile applications that focuses on geosocial networking and games. The inspiration for his first product came when he was sitting in a coffee shop and watched a teenage boy try to approach a girl. The experience, he thought, could have been made much simpler with app technology where people log in and see who around them wants to engage in a conversation.
Soon after, he created the app WannaHang in an effort to do just that. The company launched another app called LadiesNight which offers guys and girls an easy way to meet at bars where girls who want drinks create a post, and guys who want to buy girls drinks receive them. His approach to management is to be a “Do It Yourself” kind of person. Roll up your sleeves and take on any job your company needs to get done and the rest will follow.
What is geosocial networking?
Geosocial networking means situational awareness, so me being able to actively introduce myself or know where I am or someone else is, based on our locations. So we have several apps that take advantage of this technology.
What kind of apps are you currently working on?
We have two apps that are already on the market. We launched an app called WannaHang in July. WannaHang was based on an idea I had when I saw a 17-year-old boy, at least I think he was 17 years old. He was sitting in a Starbucks, trying to approach a girl who was sitting a couple tables over. But she was in a group and he didn’t quite know how to insert himself in without it seeming awkward or weird. So he never walked over to her. So I thought to myself wouldn’t it be great if there were an app where if you could see the person in real life, and you could see them in the app, then just with a click introduce yourself without having to meet her. And that’s exactly what WannaHang does.
Do you guys work on the apps yourself or do you outsource to developers?
No we have our own in house team, our own graphic designers and our own developers.
How long ago did you guys start and what are you noticing from the market in terms of feedback on the products?
We started developing in May 2012 so we’ve been at this for a little over a year and a half. It took us almost a year to finish WannaHang. We’re leveraging that technology for other apps. We have one called LadiesNight which is designed for the bar and club scene. Same concept except with LadiesNight, ladies always drink for free. So a guy can offer a girl a drink in the app and a lady can invite a guy to buy her a drink through the app but either way, the guy has to buy her the drink. So girls want free drinks, guys want to buy girls drinks and so LadiesNight was born.
How many people are using these products at the moment?
So we launched WannaHang in July. So far we have just over 5,000 users. Which sounds like a lot but it’s really not at all. We’re going to be partnering with Frozen Yogurt shops and we have an exciting relationship that we hope will lead to close very soon.
So people in the founding team have these relationships?
Right, so for instance, if you go to a Frozen Yogurt shop, there will be a private label app for it where teenagers and adults are hanging out. And with LadiesNight we have a marketing company that signed on board with us and they have points of distribution with bars and clubs nationwide. And that’s how we plan to grow Ladies Night.
What would you say was the toughest thing about bringing these apps to market?
Well, we’re a startup in the true sense of the world. We had no significant startup capital. And so it was facing an illustration, graphic design, and software team to stop what they’re doing and believe in my ideas. Come on board and work full time, was a task that took several months. But we put together a team of 8 or 9 people at the time. We’re still 8,9 strong. And I would say that after that obstacle was overcome, we developed a very team-oriented, collaborative environment. We’re all friends. We’re all like a clinical close-knit family.
When you had these ideas two years ago, what made you decide ‘I’ve got to get into this field. I’ve got to start this.’ What made you take the leap from whatever you were doing work wise?
So I had app ideas since I was a kid. I mean I always knew that this device, I’m holding an iPhone right now, but something like this would exist. And I’ve had other app concepts that I had years ago before mobile apps were mobile apps, that were done. And after seeing it and being frustrated, I decided that I have to stop what I’m doing and start my own company. Because I can’t take watching ideas that I’ve had on my own, and watching them become billion dollar companies. It’s just a painful experience.
What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs, specifically people getting into the mobile space?
It takes a lot to get someone to believe in you, and based on my experience people like a leader who’s willing to lead by example, who’s going to roll up their sleeves and do it themselves. So there is no job that is too great and no job that is too small. Be a ‘do it yourself’, lead by example and you’ll get others to follow.