The Money Question

By Viktoriya Nikulina

Building an app requires funds like any other business.
Wow, what a secret I have just revealed, right?

The whole purpose of this blog is total honesty, because when we were researching potential costs, problems, legal stuff, we couldn’t really find an answer to our question – how much is it going to cost us.
Kat and I are simple office workers, single, have no parent support ( I mean financial) and have not found an investor. Yet.

Although it may sound very awesome in many startup stories, we are not in a position to quit our full-time jobs and fully dig in into app promotion.
Sometimes I read and listen to inspiring stories and usually after a part “we quit our jobs in May” goes “we launched in December”.
Where is the middle part? Were there savings/investors/parents/husband?

So, let me make a list of our expenses so far (Please forgive but I don’t remember the exact amounts):
– Developers. Like I said before, our investors are from Belarus, which make them less expensive than American ones. Our contract is for $10.000 for a fully working version + Android. And I gotta tell you something – the amount of work they have invested is incredible.
– Paperwork. We have spent a total of $300-400 for legal stuff, registering our S-Corp, IRS, etc.
– Our domain cost me $11.99 because I didn’t buy a .com extension + $7.99 a year for a business email. On GoDaddy.com you can customize your subscription, adding more services. For the money, of course.
– Azure subscription. It is a web hosting site from Microsoft office where our developers keep all the data. $20 a month
– Apple subscription – appx $100 a year
– Icon design – $40. I used fiverr.com and tried few icon designers ($5-$15) and chose the one liked

So far that is all that we have spent.

And Im not including all the wine we consumed discussing our ideas…

 

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Policies / IRS Update

Kat Tsarkov

*I highly encourage you to consult with an attorney in your state regarding Privacy Policy and Terms of Service/Terms of Use

Privacy Policy and Terms of Use is the bare minimum you will need before making your app accessible to the public use. Without this two Apple will not accept your application to publish in Itunes. These policies could be revised at any time, and users must be notified about the changes. Your policies will be published on your web and published at Itunes.

When I was doing diligence, I read 30+ different policies (hello to all that time when I was scrolling without looking at the context down and hitting “Agree”, while downloading something new J ). Terms of services are specific to each company. In this policy, you will provide essential information about your customer’s legal rights, remedies, and obligations. In addition, you will summarize what is your application, how it works and what are the requirements to get register.

Privacy Policy is the biggest headache and major concern for all companies that store personal information about their customers. You oblige to protect your user’s private data. FB scandal and multiple breaches of information of major corporations, raise user and government concerns at the same time. More laws, compliance, and rules are implemented every day. We spent about three weeks until we finalized both policies and we will have to keep an eye on all the updates and changes and notify our pikkcommunity.

These policies should be written at the earliest stages of app development. Additionally, it will give you a better understanding of the specifics of your business, potential liabilities and your rights and obligation as a company and as a user.

The article that I found interesting while researching, was “Five Reasons Why Copying Someone Else’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy is a Bad Idea” published by Lila Bailey: https://medium.com/@StartupPolicy/five-reasons-why-copying-someone-else-s-terms-of-use-and-privacy-policy-is-a-bad-idea-fd8d126ac0b3

 

IRS Update is coming…

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The importance of D-U-N-S number

This number is a requirement for any type of business.
D-U-N-S Number, a unique nine-digit identification number, for each physical location of your business. D-U-N-S Number assignment is FREE for all businesses required to register with the US Federal government for contracts or grants.

It is free and you can one on http://www.dnb.com/

Like I advised before I would definitely recommend getting all the paperwork rather sooner than later.
Two facts you need to know about D-U-N-S number:
– it is really free and it takes about 5 business days to receive it
– while filling e-papers make sure you chose a correct category for your business. If you are an organization or corporation – add “organization” or “corporation” to your name. If you are sole perpetrator – file as an individual

You won’t be able to register as a developer if you don’t have this number.

With this being said we have finally sent our app (working demo version) to Apple!
Yohoooo!

I will recap all the steps we went through soon.

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Pikk Story

As every story has many stories..
Vi’s Story 
The idea of our app was born on the streets of Montreal, where 2 of my gfs and I were strolling down the city without a clear plan. We checked all the touristy places we found online, made reservations in very so-so restaurants and even went to a nightclub with 18 years olds by mistake.
We craved new experiences and wanted to meet new people just to mingle and socialize. As new yorkers we can have a small talk anywhere we go, but that is not the same if the person you talk to is not on the same page with you.
Then we went to Georgia and had a fantastic time with a group of strangers we met on a tour bus with whom we rented a private tour the next day and helped each other with tips and suggestions.
I am not even saying that splitting cost was surely a good idea.
Those few days were a highlight of our trip. We didn’t only explore a new country with new people we shared something more intimate – new impressions.
Another push to start our app was our dating life. It is nowadays reality to find people online and we are not exceptions. We meet men online, have conversations and then, if all goes well, meet in person. Sometimes you won’t even have a conversation in spite of having matched with each other. And it happened quite a few times to me and Kat that we matched with tourists and visitors who were probably bored as hell and wanted a local, quote, to show them around.
Don’t get me wrong, 2-3 weeks a year I also become a tourist and do an exactly identical thing – go on a dating app and look for a local “to show me around” like they don’t have anything better to do.
And in most cases, neither I  reply to a man who indicated in his profile that he is visiting, not I get responses when I claim that the visitor is me.
That was when Kat and I looked each other in an eye and…no, we didn’t suddenly become gay and fall in love with each other, we just realized that tourists want to mingle, and the best people to mingle with are …tourists who are also visiting right at this time.
Locals can be picky or moody (we are) or they simply don’t want to meet a visitor whom they never going to see again (we don’t).
And Pikk was born.
Kat’s Story 

Caramba, one moment you are a local who knows all the “secrets” of the scene and confidently navigates through the city using phrases such as: “I will meet you at the north-west corner of the twenty-third and we will head up.” Six hours later you are a tourist in the new, exciting, beautiful country where everyone speaks Dutch, except you. Our girlgang takes every chance to travel. But how  do we travel? We add one-two days around holiday weekends and go away for 4-5 days. One day to get to the place, one day to get back home. So, after all, you have 2-3 quality days at your destination.

In the past 2 years, we visited Iceland, Canada, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Georgia, Mexico, Columbia, and to multiple US States and Cities.  We have no problem to start a conversation anywhere with anyone. However, when you stroll down the streets of e.g. Montreal and a group of guys/girls/couple with kids similar age as your kids are heading your way, you are exchanging this eager looks and.. nothing. Another thing is places to visit. Yes, we do the research, yes, we read “tips “and check travel Instagram’s of local bloggers. But still, given the time limits and the fact that we are new, it’s often that we “waste” our evenings’ at a disinteresting/stuffy/overpriced/boring/to touristy places. By the time we get to meet other tourists who can say that between XYZ which you both saw on TripAdvisor, they would recommend E, that is around the corner of their Airbnb, it’s time to pack your bags and go home.

So, what do we, single girls do, when we are cleared by the customs and happily riding in Uber to our home for the next day. We do the same thing that annoys us so much in NYC.  We go on Tinder, Bumble, Happn, Inner Circle and keep swiping. Who do we match with? With locals who are definitely looking to entertain group of people, who they have little in common on their day off, or worse, after work. There are plenty of profiles on dating websites that state the days of the visit, or “working on the project for a month” and many other variations. But this is Not the point, the point is that you want to have quality time on this short/long trip, and don’t want to cheat and connect with someone who’s obviously looking for a different experience.

Additionally, there are so many things other than mingling. How many times we thought that it would be great to go on a tour with someone else, because travel agency requires a group of 8+, or rent a car with other girls to see waterfalls on the other side of an island. There’s a good chance that you will meet someone that you will click at all-inclusive hotel in the Caribbean, but how you’ll find same people in the center of Madrid “right now”, or better “yesterday”?

Moreover, you want to get to know the person before going for a drink, not to say for a 6-hour tour together. And this is how we came up with the idea of our application. With Pikk you simply look for likewise humans at the location where you are at the moment, or you can, and actually should start looking for a travel buddy while planning your journey. There are no limits: search for couples, individuals, parents with kids and do all that stuff that you wished for. On the other hand, we have an option for locals as well. If you love to share your passion and love for your city with visitors, we gotcha ya too. There are no strings attached, spend as much time together as wished, not only share your experiences and ideas – share your worlds. When travel – Pikk.

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Name and Domain

By Viktoriya N.

That is the perfect example of how people should plan first, and then blog.
How could I forget about name and domain?


Name.
I currently work at a beauty supply chain where we make beauty products and I witnessed how our creative team come up with ideas for a new makeup tool. They literally lock themselves up in a room and play in associations – they hang a picture of anything on a wall and write down whatever comes to their minds. Nouns, adjectives, feelings, memories…anything they can think of looking at that picture. One word leads to another, then they may translate it to a different language, just to check how it sounds.

Same with your name. Write down on a piece of paper what you imagine thinking about your product.
A little tip from me – have some wine, it helps creativity.
Look at the list, I bet all of the words will be actual existing words and I can guarantee that most of them already taken.

Look at it again, play with associations with every word, or try to combine them with another one, add/erase an extra letter, misspell it, etc.
Don’t be too obvious, think it loud, talk to yourself, google the word – you may be inspired by the images you find.
Ask your parents and friends about their impressions, have as many names as you can.
After you come up with a decent list of possible names or combinations – google them. But google thoroughly, look for description (if there is any), existing website/groups/pages/forums. After you are 100% sure this world is not connected to anything that may pop up in future, go to godaddy.com and buy a domain.


Domain.
Be prepared that .com are expensive or not available unless you did create an unusual word no one came up with. However, there could have been a nerdy person 10 years ago who figured out the needs of domains and purchased as many dot comes as he could.
Why do people buy domains they don’t use?

The answer is simple, to sell them.
Back in the day, when internet just started there were a bunch of smart people who thought ahead of time and knew that if they buy popular words plus dot come(Apple.com, weather.com, money.com, etc) they would be able to sell them for a big buck in future.

That is why all of the big sites and apps that come up to your mind are not actual words. What the hell is Expedia? Tinder or Bumble? Concur?
To be able to purchase .com for the small money you have to have a new and unusual name.
Yes, there are various dot nets, dot org, dot tv..blah blah, but you know that dot come is the best choice.
But please, do not underestimate NETS or ORGS or INFO. coms. They may work perfectly fine with your name and they are way more affordable.
Imagine that you came up with a name for your site and it is Neet. (I have just googled it and it is an acronym for “Not in Education, Employment, or Training”, jeez…) And it will look kind of cool with a .net.
Neet.net
Or the name Kiborg.
It can easily become Kib.org

Like I said before – have some wine and play with your imagination.

I cant say Godaddy.com is super easy to navigate but it is manageable.
Type in the name of your project in the search and look at the results, some of them will be surprisingly fun!
If you are very persistent and want only .com there is a way and it is called money. After you typed in your desired name in the search results will show only available domains, and if .com is one of them you will be able to purchase it.
You will see the price on your right and if it is ok with you – contact the seller.
Otherwise, look at different variations GoDaddy offers as domains.

Once you are happy with how your name looks with a domain of your choice – buy it.
Then there will be options to add different features such as email, security… You can always add them later, do not worry!

For example, our domain cost us not more than $30 a year including email option.

You can easily purchase your domain when your developers start working on your website. Although the website is not a necessary condition, I would recommend buying a domain anyways, who knows what is going to happen in future. And there are numerous ways to create your own site with your own hands without paying developers. Just buy it.

Good luck!!!

 

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D-U-N-S Number (Kinda Step #4)

By Viktoriya N.

Here I am not sure whether it is actually the 4th step since it includes a lot of mini-steps.
Let’s summarize what we have for now:
– The idea (dah)
– App developers
– Registered company (LLC, or a different type of corporation, Kat posted about it earlier)

Our app is currently at a stage where it is almost ready to be sent to Apple, we have a working demo-version and we have successfully registered our company.
Note, that your app developers should lead you through most of the steps. There is no way a regular person would know what documents to prepare for sending them to Apple.
What our developers told us to prepare:
– Privacy Policy (look at similar apps policies, but do not copy it without reading, you should know your rights, what you offer and how to be protected)
– Terms of Use (same as above)
– About (brief description of our app)

Besides that yesterday we spent an hour trying to create an App account at Apple on https://developer.apple.com
Don’t forget to save every single email and password you use because you know how anal Apple could be if you happen to forget your login credentials.
And while creating a new Apple Account for developers it turned that we lack one number… It is called D-U-N-S.
The D‑U‑N‑S Number is a unique nine-digit identifier for businesses. It is used to establish a D&B® business credit file, which is often referenced by lenders and potential business partners to help predict the reliability and/or financial stability of the company in question. “D‑U‑N‑S,” which stands for data universal numbering system, is used to maintain up-to-date and timely information on more than 285 million global businesses.

What a bummer. It is supposed to be free and I will update you if it is incorrect.
We have requested the D-U-N-S at this website http://www.dnb.com and hopefully will receive it soon.
So if you need my advice, I would certainly recommend getting this number BEFORE you send your app to Apple.

 

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Step #3, Finding an App Developer

By Viktoriya N.

Well, life is way easier when you have tons of money. Kat and I don’t. So when I started looking for developers I knew that I will chose a freelancer and most likely from the country of my origin, which is Ukraine.

There are two, or actually three, reasons I made my choice in favor of Ukrainian developers (in fact, they are from Belarus, the neighbor country, but I don’t want to bother you with geographical details)

  1. Money. Economy is not the strongest over there and in comparison to US prices their quote was the least expensive. But not because they are less professional or experienced, they charge less simply because of the economy. (Thank God for it sometimes). Despite the prices, I tend to hear a lot of great reviews about Russian-Ukrainian-Belarus teams, they do have great work ethic, they don’t argue and they can create an outstanding product.
  2. Language. Yes, I do speak English and the idea of our app is very easily explained but since we couldn’t afford an American developer our choice was already limited. And choosing between Russian speaker or a english speaker from another country with an accent, I chose Russian speakers.
  3. And the third reason is a moral one – I want to support the country I’m coming from.

I found these guys whom I will gladly recommend on Upwork.com. It is a site for freelances from all over the world. I mentioned before that I was  bored at work browsing internet and decided to contact them “just to see what they will tell me”. It was a slow day  and man I need to mark that day as the last slow day I had. I emailed their main manager and briefly explained to him the idea. Alex responded shortly and we agreed to initiate a Skype call.

Cant lie, I was a little nervous to share our idea because it wasn’t patented and everyone could steal it from us. However, I think I have a decent bs radar and thought that if I sense something weird I wouldn’t come back to them.

Alex and his teammates called me the next say and we spent 20-30 minutes discussing all the features and functions and what amazed me was how quickly they understood the whole concept, even though they live in different reality and may never use our app for their own needs. They gave me few suggestions I never though of before, they listened, they didn’t interrupt, they were very polite to each other and, of course, to me. We clicked.

After a week they presented a demo-version of the app and, again, I was stunned how their vision was so close to what I had in mind. It was simple and exactly how I pictured it. Alex was super nice and said “Viktoriya, we give you a week to think and then, if you decide to proceed, we will send you the contract”. What? I didn’t want to wait a second longer! I told him right away that I am in and to please send me the contract.

Let me tell how Uprwork works.

  • Create a profile
  • Find a freelancer you need. You can either create a job in your profile, describing criteria, terms, languages, etc, or you can look for freelancer yourself. In our case I typed “app developers” and then chose the country I prefer
  • Contact them with a brief message

Once you and your developer, or whoever your freelancer is, agree on a price they send you a  scoop of work and a contract. Depending on a project they may divide it on scoops and give you approximate or exact dates on when the first part of the project will be completed for a review. In our case the first part was a demonstration of  a ready working app, which took them little more than 2 months to develop.

After we signed the contract the first 50% of the total amount were withdrawn from my account, however, they did not receive it right away. By contract, they will only receive it once they complete the first part and I approve.

The second 50% in our case will be with withdrawn after one month once the first part is approved. The app will be fully working and the developers will be watching how all the features work and fix bugs if needed.

After that we will, most likely, sign another contract with the same team, but that’s another story:)

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Running Business with the Friend

By Kat Tsarkov

March 6, 2018

This slippery road, that many take and don’t make it to final destination, or, have a great success as a company, but become enemies forever. What could be possibly worse than working with the friend? Work with your husband. Even worse than that? Work with your ex-husband. I did all of the above, and have to say friend lost to husband 0:1.

So why making this decision again and start working with one of the closest friend, with who you share all your emotional ups and downs, with who you travel and spend holidays? First of all, our idea is brilliant, but requires tons of work on creative/technical/marketing/financial/customer service/administrative/operational side. Secondly, me and Viktoriya have absolutely no interest in each other areas of business. She’s creative, competitive, goes with the flow, can flip out, or wake up one day at 2am and work till 5am to complete a marketing project. I’m on the other hand more “by the book”, structural, the one who is pro classic education and don’t have to be the prettiest and wittiest. When we will start working in the same shared space every day, we want to apply the “Separation of the church and State” principle. So far it happens naturally, I don’t question Viktoriya which development team creates our app, or what’s the background of our web page will be. She, from her side, don’t interrupt or “suggest” anything regarding operations side. Of course we discuss and run by each other all aspects of our newly business. We didn’t have an argument yet, which I’m sure will eventually happen, but our intuition and experience of traveling together tells u, that  we will be a success without lost of the friendship.

As for our progress. We were supposed to get an I-phone version on March 1st and send it to Apple for approval, approximately it takes two weeks.  In the meantime, Ukrainian team of developers were supposed to work on completing an android version. First delay was for one day, but unsurprisingly it’s delayed for a week now. Unsurprisingly, because when you put your idea on the paper and compile few power point slides is one story, and working with the real project is another. I have to say, I’m thrilled by the professionalism and work ethics of the developers. They keep updating Vi constantly, and giving her very elaborated answers. They do try to explain all technical aspects in the simplest possible way. All in all, our product is technically completed, all the functions work. Right now the team is working on the “beauty” aspect. On March 9th, fingers crossed, we will be able to download our application to our phones. After this breathtaking moment, we will have to face it – we did it, what’s next?

 

 

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Which one should you be: LLC, INC, C-corporation, S-corporation, Non-profit?

By Kat Tsarkov

March 1, 2018

There’s a Russian saying: “You are not a person without a piece of paper.” Meaning, you are not a specialist in the eyes of the employer, if you don’t have a diploma from the university; or you are not a bank client unless you have a passport.

Our app was still an idea, up until the point when we received our first letter from our best friend – Internal Revenue Service. IRS will be mostly my best friend for the next very successful decades, as I’m officially a COO of our company. My dear Viktoriya is a CCO aka “Chief Creative Officer.” We mutually agreed, without even talking about it, that neither of us will be President/CEO. In the future, when we will have bigger staff, we might try an idea of “taking rounds” in leading, or we will hire consultants to give us feedback and guidance.

As for the status of our company. I do have some expertize from my past experience. I already was an owner of S-corp., it was an offline clothing store in NYC that rose and shine for 5 years, when I was attending Baruch. However, an application is totally different story, and as Vi mentioned, neither of us have experience, or education in tech. We went with S corp. for our app as it suits the business better and it was less expensive to form a company. I will not go into details, there are many resources on the web that breakdown all types of commercial and non-commercial businesses in the US. I will mention few things. As a similarity, and one of the most important features, both LLC and S-corp. protect your personal assets. One of the differences is, as S corp., you can have a max of 100 shareholders, in comparison to unlimited partners in LLC.  Shared economy companies such as Uber and Lyft are LLCs for this reason too. Again, to decide on the status of the company you need two things: 1. Know what you will be doing. 2. Research and compare all forms of organizations.

Filing. It took me 3 weeks to figure out what to fill out, where to get all the EIN, Federal ID number, register agent status … It’s a lot, it’s overwhelming, but with some patience and constant research is doable. On the State level, we filed in New Jersey, there are many options to file online. You do send IRS your original forms, make sure you have few copies for your record.

Oh, last, but not least. We will deduct all that wine that helped me and Viktoriya to start building our awesome company, which will serve all of us around the world in the future.

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Step 2. Put your idea on paper

After we came up with the concept it was time to have it on paper.
In our duo, I’m more of a creative type though that still doesn’t make me a designer or even a semi-pro. Besides, don’t forget, neither Kat or I belong to a tech industry, we are two white collars office workers.
I did a phenomenal job designing our app, it was stylish and user-friendly but that only happened in my imagination. On paper even my handwriting was lame. But I tried my best to list all the features I want to include in our app and I did my bestest to draw as understandable as I could to present this idea to web developers.
It is 21 century and using various apps on daily basis gives you an idea of their main functions.
Listing all the features is a never-ending process, even now when the app is 70% ready I want to add few more but I’m holding my horses not wanting to overwhelm poor guys who are building the app.
Then I draw the idea in PowerPoint, it is a very easy tool for people who have no idea how to operate the professional software. Photoshop was too complicated.
While I was pretending to be a designer Kat on her side was looking for the info about the legalization of our app and creating an LLC. Well, LLC was what I suggested her to research since that was the only abbreviation I knew was related to creating a business. In fact, there are so many ways to create a corporation! We ended up signing S-corporation.
I will have her write all about it.
So far our expenses are about $300 for all the forms we sent to IRS. And maybe the same amount of the wine we drank while discussing our baby-project. Unfortunately, I don’t think we will be able to expense it next year.

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