Startup Diaries: From Bubblegum To The App Business!

Misty Gibbs, creator of the Hype This Track appMisty Gibbs talks to The NextWomen about the inspiration for starting her own business and the creation of her app Hype This Track. 

I’ve always loved businesses. I love the idea of coming up with an idea and researching and refining it until you’ve created something you are proud of, and that the world can enjoy.

My first ever business plan was at age five. I decided I was going to make and sell those colorful candy-coated spinning top bubblegum. I remember working out how much I’d sell them for (five for 5c.) and writing a list of things I needed. The list was:

1. The recipe

2. An adult to help me with the oven… I just assumed you had to bake them!

I knew it would be hard finding the recipe, and thought I might have to wait until I was older before I’d ever know. This was all before Google of course. For some reason, I’ve never ever looked up the recipe. I guess I want it to stay that elusive five-year-old dream!

As I got older my business ideas leaned toward fashion and retail, then later toward real estate. I became a real estate agent at 19 years old.

This was my first taste of being my own boss, managing my time, building a brand, marketing, developing client relationships and networking.

I loved it; it was exciting and I liked the feeling of being in control of my own business. However, after four years I wanted a change. I loved real estate, but the lifestyle side of it wasn’t quite what I wanted; you work constantly. It’s hard to take a day off, let alone a long weekend.

I studied my first year of a business degree with a double major in marketing and entrepreneurship. At the end of my first year, I decided I’d spend the summer making as much money as I possibly could. I managed to find a job in Western Australia driving trucks - something so far removed from anything I had ever done. I loved it. It was such a jump out of my comfort zone, and ended up being so much fun that I stayed a full year instead of my initially planned three months.

I constantly thought about the business I was going to build. Whilst I was driving at work I would listen to business and marketing podcasts in the truck to gather ideas and get inspiration.

I started to build up an idea of the ‘type’ of business I wanted; I wanted to be able to run it from anywhere, it had to be highly creative, I didn’t want the business to be focused on having a high maintenance client base (like real estate), and it had to be something I was incredibly passionate about.

While I was in Australia I brought an iPhone. I loved apps, and was amazed at this ‘new’ industry that was suddenly opening up for a new breed of entrepreneurs. The idea of building an app turned into a business plan. This is what I wanted to do.

I had no experience in software or design at all. I returned to New Zealand and tossed up between starting my company right then, or travelling the world with a friend first and coming back to it later. After a few weeks of deliberation, the idea of travelling won. I bought a ticket to Amsterdam and set a return date of three months via India. The three months in between Amsterdam and India was decided as we went along, only keeping a few days ahead. We travelled through France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and spent a month in Northern India. It was amazing.

The trip further cemented my plans of building an app when I returned home. Throughout the trip, I took advantage of all the free Wi-Fi and researched the process of app building thoroughly. Once I got home, an idea was settled on, and my app, Hype This Track was in the app store within four months. The Hype This Track is a social music app and allows people to share, discover and listen to their favorite songs.

Building the app has been such a great experience. There’s a lot to learn, and things can change very quickly; iOS 7 is a great example of this. For anyone thinking of creating their own app, I would recommend them to research these five things before you start:

  • Other developers. Find out what tools they use, what their landing page looks like, read their blogs and look up articles about them. Researching several other developers will give you a huge head start on what tools are available and favored. From there, you can decide what you feel comfortable using.
  • Trends. Follow what’s hot in apps, look through the App Stores top lists, both free and paid.
  • Business models. Look at the business model the most popular apps are using… spend a ton of time researching the word ‘freemium’!!
  • Designs. Google something along the lines of ‘best app UI’ and save pictures of app designs you like; layouts, colors, icons, anything. It doesn’t matter what the app actually does, if you like the look of it visually, save it for inspiration later.
  • App Store policies. Make sure you know the App Store guidelines before you come up with your idea… this could save you a lot of time later on! The change from Apple to iOS 7 has meant a lot of apps, including this Hype This Track, have to repair design issues from the new compulsory guidelines… we are working on these now! 

In addition to this, listen to podcasts, read articles, follow people… always be learning.

I’ve set up a website and blog to help out anyone who would like to set up their own company, make an app, or just needs tools and inspiration. I finally feel like I’ve settled on the right path, and it’s so exciting seeing everything come together!

Misty is based right on the edge of rural New Zealand beside the sea. With a passion for new challenges, Misty has been a real estate agent, a student (entrepreneurship and marketing), a radio show host, a yoga teacher, a truck driver and trainee digger operator and a bit of a gypsy. She loves things related, but not limited, to: business, tech, books, travel, music, yoga, startups, Alan Watts, art, and of course apps. At the end of last year, she started her first company, Hype This Track, and has been growing ever since. You can follow her on Twitter: @allmisty or Facebook.

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