Focus on simplicity, listen to your customers and iterate if you fail – Jan Koum
Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, has lived by this principle and now, he has become one of THE most successful entrepreneurs we have seen in this century. Born in Ukraine, Jan faced a life of true hardship. He knew the meaning of living in the throes of deprivation. At one point of time, Koum was so poor his house did not even have electricity.
Jan Koum’s mother decided enough was enough. When Jan was 16 years old, both him and his mother left their home in Ukraine to move to Mountain View, California, in an attempt to create a better life for themselves. Even while they moved to have a better life, they had to leave Jan’s father behind. He never made it to the states and passed away in 1997.
The great American dream did not make its way to Jan’s life as quickly as he hoped. Everything in the United States was expensive. By 18, Jan knew he wanted to learn to program. He knew this was his destiny. Jan studied by buying second hand books and stationary and returning them after he was done.
Just when things seemed to fall into place for Koum, he was hit with a major blow when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Koum had to work odd jobs in order to scrape together enough funds to get his mother the treatment she needed. Unfortunately, she succumbed to cancer in 2000 and Koum was left to fend for himself in a strange and unknown country.
While working and studying, Koum realized nothing about college excited him and he decided to quit. In 2007, Koum joined Yahoo and this is where he met Brian Acton. Acton would become one of Koum’s closest friends. Very soon, Koum and Acton realized they were not excited about the direction in which Yahoo was going and decided quit together.
WhatsApp was developed over cups of tea. What started off as only an idea had now developed in a first of its kind, full blown app. By 2009, Jan publicly released the app and it became an instant hit. This pushed him to create the 2.0 version.
WhatsApp now has over 1 billion users worldwide and no one can seem to shake off the greatness of this app. WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in a landmark $ 19 billion deal over the course of a few days and a bottle of Johnie Walker!
WhatsApp has come a long way from just being a messaging service, to being a globally used app that enables voice calls, video calls and provides end to end encryption of messages. Watch the amazing journey of Jan Koum from Ukraine to the United Staes of America and the development of one of the easiest and earliest messaging services, WhatsApp, here!
Storage For Rent: This Startup Idea Is Seeing A Huge Demand During COVID-19 Pandemic
If you could travel six months back in time and tell yourself how the world would look now, you might have dismissed it as a hoax. The world changed suddenly when the COVID-19 virus broke out and started spreading across the world. The virus which manifests in the form of a flu before attacking the respiratory system currently has no vaccine. This forced governments across the world and India included, to enforce a strict mandatory nationwide lockdown.
The lockdown was initially announced in India for just three weeks and many businesses and startups never expected it to go beyond a month. However, the lockdown is still continuing albeit with a few relaxations, but many industries continue to be badly affected by it as they saw zero revenue in the last three months. Many organisations and businesses have made the shift to remote work as their offices remain to be closed for fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus.
As software companies continue to declare work from home for the foreseeable future, many employees are looking to return back home from technology hubs like Bengaluru and Hyderabad so as to save money on huge rents in the metropolitan cities considering their offices are not opening anytime soon.
This is where a unique concept where companies offering storage spaces for long term rent is seeing a huge spurt in demand. As software employees in Bengaluru are slowly vacating their accommodations to move back home in order to save on rental expenses, they have no place to store their personal belongings. Firms like SafeStorage, Storagians, StowNest Storage and MyRaksha, which provide the service (storage for rent,) have seen a spike in clients and quotation requests. Even some gyms and restaurants, both of which are yet to reopen completely, are offering their facilities for storage in order to reduce their own rental expenses.
These storage firms offer facilities like pickup services, CCTV monitoring and individual locker facilities apart from providing insurance coverage against theft, natural calamities and fire. Ramesh Madisetty, co founder of SafeStorage, says “We have 13 warehouses with 1.16 lakh sq ft space in Bengaluru. We have signed up for another 27,000 sq ft facility near Whitefield. There is a 10x jump in enquiries due to Covid-19 , from 30 to 300 now (sic.)”
Another company named Storagians, which offers storage for rent in Bengaluru has already run out of storage space and are having to turn away customer requests. Prasanna Kumar, founder of Storagians says “Unfortunately, we are turning down customers’ requests due to the non availability of slots sic.)”
The average monthly rent is based on the volume of goods. While goods accommodated in 1BHK are charged a monthly rental of Rs. 2,500-3,500 and it will be Rs. 4,500-5,000 for 2BHK. As more and more enterprising people are embracing this concept, many others are racing against time to get their own facilities up so they can offer storage space for rent. This concept will continue to see a huge demand as long as companies keep working remotely.
4 Things To Know About Instagram Reels
Instagram Reels is the latest offering from the photo sharing platform Instagram and was launched as a replacement for the video sharing application TikTok. Instagram Reels was launched only last year and was being tested in Brazil where it was called Cenas. TikTok was enjoying an unrivalled popularity in India as it became a means to keep boredom at bay during the nationwide lockdown which was imposed in light of the COVID-19 virus. TikTok amassed more than 200 million users in India and this is mostly due to the cheap internet plans rolled out by Jio Telecommunications, which made the internet accessible to every person even in the remote corners of India.
However, the Indian government announced that it would ban 59 Chinese applications in which TikTok was one, along with WeChat, Helo, Cam Scanner and many others. This left a sudden void in video making applications, and Instagram realised the need for urgency to capitalize on this void. Therefore, Instagram immediately pushed their latest feature Instagram Reels which lets its users create 15 second videos with music from Instagram’s database. These videos look very similar to the ones made on TikTok and therefore Instagram is hoping to entice TikTok users to come onboard their platform.
Instagram users can open the explore tab on their mobile app and can see videos made from Reels. These videos are displayed on the top of the explore tab and take up half the screen space to ensure more visibility for the feature.
Here are 4 things you need to know about Instagram Reels:
1) Create 15 second videos:
A user can use Reels after updating their Instagram application which is available for both Android and iOS users. The Reels option is displayed when a user swipes right on their Instagram home screen. A user can record upto 15 seconds of video and can string multiple 15 second videos to make a Reel.
2) Reels can only be edited in App:
The Reels can only be edited in the Instagram app where users have a plethora of filters, music and video effects at their disposal. The Reels can be reviewed to see how they look when they are stitched together (if two 15 second Reels are merged.) The Reels can be deleted and re-recorded if they are not up to the mark.
3) Reels can be shared as a story or made public:
Unlike the normal Instagram Stories which can only be shared with your followers, Reels can be made public so they can be displayed on the explore tab for everyone on the platform to view it. If you share your Reels to your Stories or in Direct, they will disappear after 24 hours. You can also save Reels to your drafts for posting later.
4) Featured Reels:
According to Instagram, Reels which may be watched by a lot of people depending on the cultural relevance and relativity to the audience will get a featured tag to them. These featured reels will only be chosen from public accounts.
The chances are high that Instagram Reels feature is rolled out to almost everyone using Instagram in India. Let us know if you began experimenting with it and created cool videos!
5 Books For Every Entrepreneur In 2020
It is easy to talk about entrepreneurs and look at them with envy for pursuing their passion but what no one knows is the amount of sweat, blood and tears which go into making an entrepreneurial dream come true. Entrepreneurs are expected to be highly competitive in the cutthroat market and at the same time continually strive to set an example for others to follow. The sad truth however is that not all entrepreneurs succeed in their mission because some may give up midway through their entrepreneurial journey, or some might run out of cash while some are just not able to scale up their business.
Many successful entrepreneurs have documented their journey and their thoughts in autobiographies or novels for aspiring entrepreneurs seeking inspiration. These books would manage to scale up your game, improve your business strategy, potential to connect with new people and most importantly would give you courage to persist on your journey.
Here are five books in 2020 which every entrepreneur should read
1) The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss
Published in 2011, this book is still relevant even in 2020 as Eric Reiss outlines a guide to help entrepreneurs to develop methods to manage their startups/businesses. Entrepreneurs can set their strategies according to their needs and runway cash to optimise their business opportunities. The Lean Startup offers entrepreneurs, in companies of all sizes, a way to test their vision continuously, to adapt and adjust before it is too late.
2) Zero To One: Notes On Startups Or How To Build The Future by Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel is the co founder of PayPal and an entrepreneur as well as a venture capitalist. Zero To One tries to teach entrepreneurs about how Peter Thiel thinks , his approach towards business and how one can shape the future of their startup. WhilePeter Thiel was teaching a class at Stanford University, a student named Blake Masters took notes which led to the book Zero To One released by both Thiel and Masters.
3) The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Bob Dorf and Steve Blank
This book is touted to be the perfect guide for any entrepreneur to scale their business. This book has detailed step by step instructions on building successful, scalable, profitable startups. The Startup Owner’s Manual is so popular that it is taught in university courses at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia and many other universities. The Startup Owner’s Manual follows the theory of customer development, agile, and lean engineering.
4) The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino
Although first published in 1968, this book is still a bestseller and widely read by entrepreneurs. The book aims to serve as a guide to philosophy of salesmanship, and success through the story of Hafid, a poor camel boy who achieves a life of abundance. The Greatest Salesman In The World is written in the form of ten scrolls.
5) Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston
This book is a collection of some really unique interviews done by Jessica Livingston with some of the greatest startup founders in Silicon Valley like Apple, PayPal, TiVo, Yahoo, and TripAdvisor. This book aims to offer wisdom and insights straight from the mouths of some of the most influential entrepreneurs.
Let us know if there are any other books which deserve to be read in 2020.
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