How to get Advice from the winner of the iPad Business App of the Year Award
We are so excited about the relaunch of our Business Advice Programme and all the amazing NextAdvisors we have lined up, ready to give you the expertise you need to make your business fly!
To celebrate and showcase the wonderful high profile entrepreneurs, investors and experts who have signed up to provide advice to our community, we'll be publishing excerpts from articles and interviews with them from the archives.
For more details on The Business Advice Programme and to sign up, click here.
Amongst our new recruits is Lisa Falzone, Co-Founder & CEO at Revel Systems, a company which offers a fully functional Point of Sale system to manage every task that retail and restaurant workers encounter on a daily basis.
Resulting in one of our most popular articles of all time, we first interviewed Lisa in 2012, after Revel Systems raised $3.7 million in a series "A" funding round and was officially announced as the winner of the Best iPad Business App of the Year Award at the Macworld – iWorld event.
A couple of months later, in a piece written especially for The NextWomen, Lisa shared her thoughts on the benefits of partnering in business:
Whether you’re a first time entrepreneur or you’ve built several businesses, it is difficult to bring a business idea from conception to implementation.
After 7 years of experience and many lessons learned, if getting help is an option, I will always choose to get help.
You can’t do everything yourself and in most matters of business, two (or three or four!) heads are better than one.
When I started Revel Systems, we started out doing everything from software development to hardware creation to hardware installation. We were doing it all because no one else had yet combined all of those services. We quickly realized that, as the old saying goes, if you’re a jack of all trades, you can be a master of none. So eventually, as our business grew and we gained a better understanding of our goals, we decided that we could outsource some of our production and services to other partners in our field.
For example, when we built Revel Systems there was no card swipe technology available for swiping credit cards using an iPad. Nor were there any printers to print receipts from. So my co-founder, Chris and I set out to build a swipe unit that would work with the iPad and allow customers to print receipts.
Everyone we approached with the idea said it couldn’t be done.
We contacted many colleagues, from Apple employees to Stanford engineers, and all of them told us it was impossible. But we were determined to build it – and build it quickly.
We didn’t give up and after many, many tireless hours of planning, building, and trial and error, we were the first company to provide clients with the technology to both swipe credit cards and print receipts successfully from the Apple iPad 30 pin connector.
This was a situation in which we were forced to begin the project alone, despite our best efforts to find a partner! But it didn’t take long for others to realize that we were on to something, and after we had been selling the swipe units for about six months, other hardware manufacturers began producing them for much cheaper than we were able to.
It cost Revel Systems about $400 to make each swipe unit. The other manufacturers began selling them for $180. We quickly realized that in order to best serve our customers, we needed to partner with the other manufacturers.
This not only decreased our bottom line, but we were also able to provide the same high-quality product to our clients at a much lower cost.
To read the rest of this article, click here.
We went on to interview Lisa for this month's 'How-to' Theme, about how entrepreneurs can go about building an app for their business:
TNW: What have you been up to since our last interview in February last year?
Since last year, Revel Systems has become profitable, hired a total of 90 people, raised 10 million dollars last month to further expand our iPad POS Systems, and brought on over one thousand clients.
TNW: Is building an app something an entrepreneur can do themselves or would they need to outsource parts of the process?
LF: Yes of course!
An entrepreneur can do anything if she puts her mind to it, but it does depend on where her skillset lies. If you really want to be a good leader, do not do everything yourself.
Think about it: you are the inventor, the idea maker and that’s what you need to focus on. The number one reason why entrepreneurs fail is because they are too busy trying to do too much themselves. You need to learn to delegate!
TNW: Can you talk us through the basic app building process, step by step?
LF: 1. Map your product out on mind mapping software like MindMeister.
2. Build the UI (user interface): Draw a storyboard with the UI example. Make it like a movie on the storyboard: screen one; screen two, etc. will have examples of your UI that tells a story.
3. Ask yourself if you need a database. If you need to store information, then you need a database.
4. Lay out the fields in your database (for point of sale you have to map out every field in the database, i.e. menu items, modifiers, products, orders, payments, discounts, taxes, etc.). I suggest getting a database admin for this or a consultant for less than $1,000 to consult with you. For simple apps you can use SQL Lite a free software library.
5. After you’ve followed these steps, you can give your app to a programmer, or code it yourself. Any programmer can build your app if you give them a UI, storyboard, and database.
TNW: Is there anything we haven’t asked you, but you’d like to share with our community?
LF: Trust yourself because everyone will tell you they know best. Of course that is tricky, as you can't be an expert in everything. Always try to find a co-founder who knows everything you don't know, and vice versa. If you are successful in doing the above, you might still not be clear on everything, but that is another story to be told.
To read the complete interview, click here.
Lisa is ready and waiting to start advising you on your business. For more details on The Business Advice Programme and to sign up, click here.
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