This is the second interview in an ongoing series on innovative thinkers and business leaders. Firstpost will explore technical expertise to a lesser degree and focus instead, on what makes them outstanding leaders.
As one of the masterminds behind Pulse News, Akshay Kothari, 24, has been called “one of the new kings of apps” for designing what The Next Web has dubbed “the best newsreader ever.” What started as a graduate student project at Stanford University has since grown into a product used by more than 3 million people and a company with 10 full-time employees. Kothari speaks with Firstpost about how he’s benefited from mistakes, why it’s good to not get what you want, and a new Pulse News product feature that will be released this summer.
It came out of a class called “Launch Pad.” At Stanford, there are a lot of entrepreneur classes from MBA to the Design School. The most unique aspect of the class is that we didn’t spend time writing business plans or pitches. The intentional bias was toward action. You came in with your team and the only requirement was that you launch a product before you finish the class. We were working in a compressed time frame of 11 weeks.
Did you already have the idea when you started the class?
Ankit [Gupta] and I had completed our requirements at Stanford and we had a fun last quarter and we were resisting taking up corporate jobs. Both of us are really into the news space. We had seen a couple of trends and we were mostly looking at news consumption and realising that people are reading their news on their phone and now, on their tablets. And there is not a single news source that people go to; there are multiple sources. In general, we thought the whole idea of consuming news was very broken and that was the gist of the idea before we went into the class.
The first week of class is when the iPad got released. We decided that would be our first product, an iPad app. We started testing it at cafes nearby. Ankit would code up the app while I would go out with an iPad and test it with people around me. We would give the iPad to a person and have them play with the app, and look over their shoulder to see what they easily understood, and what they were having trouble with. We changed the product 10 to 15 times based on reactions from users. We came a long way from where it started by watching users closely. Along the way, we made a lot of mistakes also. These mistakes get corrected when you go out and test it.
To read the full article, head on over to Firstpost here
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Updated Date: May 23, 2011 13:47:49 IST