Revolutionizing App Development with AI: An Interview with Tooraj Helmi, CEO of Apsy

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Check out this interview is with Tooraj Helmi, CEO of Apsy

Can you tell us about your career path to becoming an entrepreneur?

Let me take you on a journey through the exciting world of software development and entrepreneurship! It all started back in high school when I discovered my talent for programming and built a system to manage my dad’s inventory. From that moment on, I was hooked on solving interesting problems with software.

As I grew older, I continued to seek out new challenges, eventually landing a spot in Y Combinator’s winter batch. Even though my first startup wasn’t successful, I learned valuable lessons about the real-life struggles of being a founder.

Undeterred, I then took on the role of head of product and engineering at a startup, where I created a low-code app development platform. This was a massive undertaking, but I and my team rose to the challenge and delivered a powerful low-code tool.

I didn’t stop there. I saw an opportunity to leverage AI to automate the app development process even further. With my deep knowledge of software development and entrepreneurial spirit, I am now on the cutting edge of innovation in the industry.

What inspired you to start your current company, and what problem does it solve?

What inspired me to start my current company was a realization that many businesses struggle with developing custom software applications, which can be time-consuming, expensive, and require a lot of technical expertise. I saw an opportunity to help these businesses by creating a platform that uses AI to automate the app development process, enabling anyone to create custom applications with minimal technical knowledge.

Our platform solves the problem of expensive and time-consuming app development by allowing businesses to create custom applications in a fraction of the time it would traditionally take. Our AI-powered platform removes the need for manual coding, making the app development process more efficient, cost-effective, and accessible to businesses of all sizes.

 

How did you identify your ideal customer profile? What steps did you take to validate your product or service with them?

When I started my business, I had a clear image of my ideal customer profile in mind. I envisioned someone who had no background in technology or design, but who had a need for custom software applications. I wanted to create a product that was accessible and easy to use, even for those who were too busy to learn the technical skills required for traditional app development.

To validate my product with my ideal customer profile, I turned to the startup communities I was involved in. These communities were full of entrepreneurs who fit my ideal customer profile, so I had easy access to potential customers.

I began by selling my product to this group and gathering feedback on their experience with it. Based on their responses, I adjusted the pricing and offerings to better meet their needs. I also asked for suggestions on how to improve the product, which helped me fine-tune it even further.

In addition to gathering feedback from my initial customer base, I also conducted market research to validate my product with a larger audience. This involved surveys, focus groups, and interviews with potential customers. By doing this, I was able to better understand their pain points and needs, and adjust my product accordingly.

These days, there’s a lot of talk about company culture. What type of culture are you building?

I believe that building a positive and collaborative company culture is essential to creating a successful business. At my startup, we prioritize creating an environment where employees are encouraged to do what they love and are passionate about.

At the same time, I understand the importance of maintaining organization and orderliness within the company. That’s why I am always providing direct feedback when I see a deviation from our desired culture and encouraging others to do the same. This approach has helped us to create a company culture where employees trust and respect each other and are comfortable providing and receiving feedback.

In addition to fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment, I also believe in treating my employees as friends rather than just as subordinates. By creating a friendly atmosphere where employees feel comfortable and respected, we’re able to build strong relationships and a sense of community within the company.

Can you walk us through your company’s growth trajectory and success to date?

Our company’s growth trajectory has been both exciting and rewarding. It all started when I sold my first app for 3K on the last day of 2020 to a student at Boston University who wanted to create an app similar to Clubhouse. This initial success fueled my motivation to continue growing the business, and soon after, I secured my second customer, a Cambridge University student who wanted to create a social-educational app for graduating students to find the best career. For this project, I charged $3.5K.

As word of mouth spread, we soon landed our third customer, a startup from UCI that had previously spent almost 50K on a non-functional app from an offshore development team. We were able to build them a functional app for just $5K, establishing our reputation as a reliable and cost-effective development shop.

From there, our customer base grew rapidly, serving 10 customers in 2021 and 40 in 2022. Our current annual recurring revenue (ARR) has passed 0.5M, and we have served close to 100 customers worldwide.

Our growth can be attributed to our ability to deliver high-quality products on time and on budget, as well as our strong customer-centric approach. We prioritize communication and collaboration with our customers, ensuring that we understand their needs and deliver products that exceed their expectations.

Most founders we chat with are looking for a junior, associate, or fullstack software engineer and some talented tech sales folks. Are you actively hiring? Who are your ideal candidates?

We are not looking to hire software engineers right now but we will be after we complete our next investment round.

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