AspiredSteps is a mobile-first DIY platform that empowers users to learn and earn with friends. AspiredSteps takes digital DIY media a step further, and integrates a dynamic crowd-sourcing technology to provide a mCommerce for all.
At whom is your startup aimed?
We are targeting people who like to buy, sell, make, and share DIY projects. Primarily makers, which includes DIY enthusiasts, life hackers, and creators. But we believe that everyone is a creator at heart and can utilize our platform to begin earning money from the things they love to do or make. The possibilities are endless. Some examples include individuals with a passion for fashion, interior design, DIY electronics, traveling, cooking, building businesses, health, and much more.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
Our direct competitors include Snapguide, Wikihow, eHow, Instructables and digital platforms that provide instruction guides. Our platform is similar because it allows users to learn and share any DIY projects. However, we are different because we integrate a dynamic crowdsourcing technology that empowers our users to earn while sharing awesome actionable content.
An indirect competitors are Etsy, Shopify, and Hatch. They allow creators to sell handcrafted products, but lack user generated content. User generated content is the most important type of marketing. While creators are expert artisans, there are multiple channels to find customers, which makes it difficult to attract loyal customers. Artisans are busy making their beautiful work and need help when it comes to generating great content about their product.
It can be a frustrating experience optimizing your website, and then having to create a Facebook fan page, pinterest boards, g a twitter account, etc.Much like Instagram’s ability to instantly share a photo on multiple social channels, we allow our users to instantly share DIY content – along with recommending the creator’s product – on external digital channels when published.
What sets us apart from our competitors is our unique ability to work with small business owners to share their profits with users who recommend their handcrafted products to their followers. Our community thrives on this dynamic collaboration between Makers and social influencers.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
Around the same time last year, my fiance and I made a pact to always learn something new. We found a beautiful terrarium on Pinterest and wanted to build it. We went to Home Depot, Michaels, and even Ross to purchase the terrarium glass, but couldn’t find it, so we gave up. We thought, with all the innovation in tech, why isn’t there a platform that includes the DIY instructions with the supplies?
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
Everything is a concern when you start your own business – from the product, the budget, the relationships you have with yourself and the people closest to home. But when you believe in something with everything you have, the pieces just fall into place perfectly, and everything balances each other out. It’s an interesting paradigm to be in fear at one moment, and complete resolve the next.
My biggest concern is my ability to control my mind. Thoughts will take you to the darkest places, but where there is darkness there is light. Focus is a formidable ally, it keeps me positive all the way through. Just the other day, I felt like crying and then I took a deep long breath, and suddenly, I remembered that experts in the field make all the mistakes. So I keep on truckin’.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
Soon after getting my B.S. at USF, I worked at Yelp. The training was more useful than the education I got at USF. I grew up with them and experienced my first IPO in 2012. My affinity for startups began at Yelp and grew even more when I worked with Tint.com – the coolest bootstrap tech company in SF. I fell in love with the marriage between familial culture and explosive growth. I love the challenge of scaling the unscalable, and attempting the impossible with my teammates felt like my ideal home.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Initial funding came from my savings and the next humble round is from our backers on Kickstarter. We are very lucky to have our friends, family, and community of DIYers backing our startup. By the way, we are live would appreciate any support via our Kickstarter page.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
I grew up very poor and had a rough childhood. Although, I’m proud to have put myself through college, and experienced a very interesting career which improved my quality of life, my greatest achievement is being able to take the leap of faith founding a company that I truly believe in. My life’s purpose is to help kids, like myself, get the best education to be able to make the world a significantly better place. And with mobile being widely used, I think I’m on my way.
How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years?
We were founded in September 2014, so we’re in our infant stage. We’re relevant because we study user trends in future generations. Millennials and homelanders are digital natives who are environmentally friendly – not to mention entrepreneurship runs deep in their blood. Which means, we love to reuse and recycle materials to create other cool projects. We grew up in a world of layoffs and that’s why autonomy is ideal – we want to be our own boss. And finally, we’re attached to technology. Information is ubiquitous and it is our job to make them useful, actionable, and fun.
How long has your business been in making, and who is the team behind the business?
Steve is our CTO, he is the builder of all things aspiredsteps. He has seven apps in the app stores and will be graduating CS this semester.
Alex is our growth hacker, he is the content king behind the infrastructure. He served in the Air Force and is now working on his first autobiography to inspire others.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge for us is funding. We have our prototype and user validation. We want to take AspiredSteps to the next level by going to market with investors, who have a deep care for a better mobile world with domain expertise.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
We want to showcase and build successful case studies for our creators and users alike. We want to demonstrate how AspiredSteps takes DIY a step further by empowering users to earn through collective learning Our goal is to bring in 100k active users by the end of 2015.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
Time is the most valuable asset because it’s constant. Community is life because it’s dynamic. Self is an illusion because it’s perception.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Do it! You’ll learn so much about limits within yourself, those around you, and the environment you live in. It has been the most empowering decision I’ve ever made.