How One Startup is Shaking Up the App Industry

Uber proved that when an entrepreneur takes a simple concept and introduces it to the market correctly, it can shake up an entire industry, forever changing the way the world does business. But, before the startup Kholo arrived on the scene, developing an app was time-consuming and expensive, discouraging a lot of would-be entrepreneurs from ever taking the leap. 

According to Nick Wood, Kholo’s founder, “Kholo is here to help eliminate this high barrier to entry. By cutting costs and development time tremendously, our software allows entrepreneurs to get their idea to market quicker and in a much more economical manner.” 

“Whether it’s the Uber of cupcakes, mechanics, or massages, there’s an opportunity to apply the concept to every industry,” says Wood. “Unfortunately, ideas are a dime a dozen and mean nothing without execution. The barrier to entry is still high in terms of making it to the App Store.” 

“Let us worry about the development and you focus on getting people to use your products. Without customers, your business is nonexistent,” says Wood. 

Wood is a former door-to-door salesman who made a living selling security systems, but could no longer resist his entrepreneurial itch. Here, we learn how Wood took the leap to business owner, all the while transforming the app industry for his fellow entrepreneurs.

What inspired you to be an entrepreneur? 

It sounds so cliché, but it is 100 percent my Dad. Ever since I was little, he always planted one idea in my head: Regardless of what you decide to be, be the best. You have every opportunity and resource as the next guy, so there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t be the best. If you fall short, it’s on you.

This truth is now engraved on my soul. I eventually came to realize that it isn’t just about believing you are the best. It also means you have to work harder and put in more reps than everyone else. He instilled that confidence in me. 

This translated over to business. After a few years of working for someone else and being paid what they told me I was worth, it hit me that I was every bit as deserving as the owner of the company. If he could make hundreds of millions of dollars, so could I. Assuming I was willing to put in the long hours and sweat it out.  

I learned and continue to learn so many things from my Dad. I grew up helping him on the farm. Every day I didn’t have school, I worked. That included Saturdays, holidays, and every summer day. We didn’t go on vacation during the summer. I never once went to the lake. I didn’t step foot in a boat until after I graduated high school and moved out. 

I played football in high school. There is no week I dreaded more than Hell Week; the infamous week in high school football that includes rigorous two a day practices. I would go lift weights and condition in the morning with the team. Afterwards, my friends would hang out and play video games in the air conditioning. I would go work all day in the sun, then go back for another practice. It was brutal, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

How did you come up with a business idea? 

I got really into podcasts back in 2015 and became obsessed with a guy named James Altucher. Kind of an odd dude at first sight, but is one of the most intriguing and brilliant guys I’ve ever listened to. In one of his episodes he talked about exercising your idea muscle. He promised that if you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur, but didn’t have a business idea, write down 10 ideas a day, every day for a year. After that year, you will have something to pursue.

I started exercising that idea muscle in November 2015. I did it six days a week for eight months. I was selling home security systems door-to-door at the time too. I’d go knock doors for seven hours a day, come home around 10:30 or 11:00 PM and write down 10 ideas. There were days I had no ideas flowing and was entirely exhausted. Some days it felt like I was wasting my time. It paid off in the end. 

Eventually, I began thinking about my time spent in West Africa. I had developed some close relationships and wanted to give back. At one point my parents tried to send a package to a dear friend, but unless you were willing to spend $300 on shipping, the package would likely never reach its destination. It seemed like such a joke; there had to be someone travelling to West Africa at that very moment. If I could just give them the package, they could get it there.

The idea of sending things with passengers on airplanes quickly fizzled out, realizing I was up against a lot of legal issues. But I knew I was onto something. I knew this same concept could be utilized to make shipping more convenient and cheaper. 

My original idea was a shipping app. I set out to calculate what the development cost would be. After getting quotes ranging from $80K to $150K, my partner and I were ready to bite the bullet and just go for it. Good fortune and a little bit of luck put us in contact with someone last minute that built the app for an incredibly reasonable price. 

What made you pivot? 

The app was nearly completed and we were just about to launch when we met with an investor who hears 40 to 60 pitches every month. He said that 25 percent of the ideas he hears every month all boil down to the same concept when you peel back the layers. He really got us thinking, was there something else here?

That’s when we made the pivot. We decided that instead of building the one app, we would tweak the software to allow us to launch other app ideas off our platform. We would set it up on a subscription model, and build it out in half the time since we would already know what features that app would require.

Our platform and business model work similar to how leasing a phone works. We build your app, add the customization, get you the features you need, and let you lease the platform from us. That way, we provide the upgrades and maintenance, and you pay us an ongoing fee. Since it’s set up on a subscription model, it allows you to get your actual idea to market for a fraction of the cost and go and get your first customers within just a few weeks. This makes the fundraising process much smoother for entrepreneurs. Investors are much more apt to invest if they can see money already coming in. 

How does Kholo help ideas get to market faster? 

We are very niche. We refuse to develop any and every idea that comes our way. This allows us to anticipate exactly what features our customer needs before we’ve ever even met. When you already know what a customer wants, it’s easy to streamline the process and have a percentage of it already built. Because we are picky with who we work with and have so much of the development already completed, we can develop a beautiful, professional, and robust app in as little as eight weeks. 

What lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur? 

From 22 to 26, I thought about being an entrepreneur; I read book after book. I just couldn’t bring myself to taking the leap. I’m extremely grateful for what I learned knocking doors for four years. It was very mentally taxing and difficult. You never regret doing hard things. 

At the same time I wish I would have trusted myself two years earlier and made the jump. Even at the very worst, had I started a business and failed miserably I would be further ahead of where I am now. You can’t put a price tag on experience.

What advice would you give new entrepreneurs? 

Just do. Stop being a student. Consuming good material is wonderful, but it’s so easy to feel like you are moving forward by just studying. We are continuously bombarded by advice: Read a book a week, go to college, pick people’s brains, etc. I’m sitting here staring at hundreds of books I’ve read in the last four years. The education I received in just the short time…I’ve been grinding away at this business is 10X as valuable as everything I’ve learned from those books. 

Secondly, do the things that suck. I wasted a few weeks telling myself there had to be an easier way to prospect new clients than good old fashioned cold calling. After a couple weeks of no traction, I did what I should have done from the get go and started dialing. We now call as many as 150 new businesses a day and guess what? Our sales pipeline is bursting. There is no replacement for doing the hard things. 

Nick Wood (left) and Abhilash Patel

What have been the 'perks' of entrepreneurship? 

I didn’t leave a high paying job for the “perks.” Entrepreneurship has no perks when you first start out. In fact, it’s quite the contrary; you have double or triple the work for sometimes no return in the beginning. Yet, it’s so much easier and more enjoyable to put in the time and do all the hard things when it’s your own thing. You may not see an immediate return, but you know that when you pull it off, it’s going to be a day you’ll never forget. 

Nick Wood is the co-founder of Kholo, an app development software for entrepreneurs ready to test “Uber-like” ideas with less upfront capital. For the latest updates, follow Kholo on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn, or email Nick Wood directly at nick@kholoinc.com. 

Originally published on LinkedIn.