Hi Michael, and welcome on board. Man, I’m feeling old! You are only 21 and already a University of Arizona graduate, entrepreneur, and author. Tell us a bit about you.
Michael: My name is Michael Jacobs, and I’m a 21-year-old entrepreneur. I have a strong passion for helping people realize their true potential and pushing them past their comfort zones. Also, I love creating ideas and bringing them into reality.
Being an IT guy, I loved the idea of socialising App. How does it work exactly?
Michael: SociaLink is one of my favorite ideas that I’ve had to date. The first step is to log into all your social networks inside the app. This is a one-time login, and all your passwords will be saved, so you won’t have to re-enter them. After pressing “link,” both phones connect via Bluetooth. Once connected, you select the networks you would like to be friends on, press connects, and all follow/friend requests are sent.
How did you come up with the idea?
Michael: I came up with the idea for SociaLink while I was in India on a study abroad program. I saw the need to connect individuals on social networks because of the challenges I faced when trying to continue relationships I created in person on social networks.
I know that just by looking at the app store, you can easily find that everything has been done before. Is it still a place for more ideas?
Michael: Oh, totally! Although the app store may seem saturated, there is still an enormous opportunity to create success. The app store is like any other market; it is constantly changing. If you can find a new trend or something that will bring value to the marketplace, there will always be an opportunity to succeed.
How did you get it done? I mean, building an app can be intimidating. Expensive. Far away results. Hard to get a good return on investment. You name it.
Michael: You know, all those questions came into my mind at first. Then I realized I just needed to start taking action and determine for myself that I would succeed. If you constantly think of all the things that could go wrong, then you wouldn’t be able to focus on the possibilities that could become.
You also wrote an e-book about building apps from ideas to development and launch?
Michael: Yes, I wrote an e-book titled, ‘Make Your Idea an App Store App – 8 Secrets Behind Creating a Successful Mobile Application,’ which is available on Amazon. It details how to come up with a successful app idea, find and manage a development team, and successfully publish your app to the app store.
Many entrepreneurs like to stay in the shadow while building their businesses. What’s your take on this? I noticed you got quite a good media exposure.
Michael: Personally, I like to get out in the open. I feel that media exposure is key to gaining traction for your startup and attracting users. My first app, SociaLink, was recently featured in Entrepreneur Magazine (June 2013 Issue), and it has helped us gain a large number of users. Also, my newest app company, Apps on the Map, released their first app, Official Cat Beard App, 2 weeks ago, and since it has gone viral. Emma Watson retweeted it (which received over 5,800 retweets since then), and Yahoo! Entertainment is currently writing an article on it.
What would be your advice for young entrepreneurs that run a business and need more exposure to increase sales?
Michael: I would advise them to find what is unique about their business and expose it. After you expose your niche, begin sharing it with the world. All news sources are looking for something unique to cover, and the best bet is that if you reach out to them, they may cover your story.
I bet this is going to be an interesting answer: how did it all start? How did you become an entrepreneur? And how do you make a living in the process?
Michael: I started my entrepreneurial journey my freshman year of college. The first company that I tried starting was a web-based company, and it failed miserably. Although it failed, I learned so much from experience and enjoyed the entrepreneurial lifestyle, so I continued to push forward. Over the first 2 years of college, I tried starting several different ventures, but all of them crashed and burned. In my 3rd and final year, I started SociaLink and pushed past all my fears to develop the success I knew I had the ability to create.
Do you think starting a business becomes harder with age? I mean, you have bills to pay and a family to support.
Michael: I definitely think there is an advantage to starting your business at a young age, but that doesn’t mean that those who are older can’t make
Are there any organizations/communities that help young entrepreneurs succeed?
Michael: I have personally joined a few different communities without much luck. For me, where I connect with most like-minded entrepreneurs is on Facebook for Twitter. If you reach out to people and ask for advice, you will most likely get a response. People are very willing to help out those who put in the effort to ask for assistance.
Coming back to the mobile app. How do you monetize it? It looks like you can get most of the things for free, and stats say most of the mobile apps developers hardly make a living. Is this true?
Michael: We have several different plans to monetize SociaLink, but they are currently in the brainstorming process. It all depends on the mindset and attitude that the developer holds. Each individual is different, and it’s impossible to make a generalization for all developers. I’m a big believer in your mind’s ability to create your own reality. If you believe you can do it, you will be able to. If anyone reading this would like to discuss more of the mentality of becoming successful, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, or through email.
Well, let’s say you do a free app, then what do you do? Wait for the users and hope a bigger company will like the idea and buy you off? We saw what happen to Instagram, but not everything is Instagram nor the next Facebook.
Michael: After you create an app, you must focus on the marketing aspects of the app. Many people think that it is ok to just create an app, throw it on the store, and it will gain traction on its own. This is simply not true anymore with so many apps available. A mobile app is like any other company; you must find your niche and exploit it. You should never “wait” for anything to happen because it won’t gain traction on its own.
What’s next? Any plans?
Michael: I have several different companies I’m currently working on as well as SociaLink. I have created a web show, Pursue Your Dreams, where I interview different successful entrepreneurs about the struggles they have overcome to create success in their lives. I have interviewed many successful individuals, including Gary Vaynerchuk, and you can find these interviews at PursueYourDreamsInterviews.com.
Also, I am currently in the pre-launch of my newest motivational project, Influence A Million, where I have a goal of positively influencing 1 million people in an 18-month period. I will be delivering this motivation in the form of a video blog with videos releasing multiple times per week starting July 22nd, 2013. You can learn more about the project at www.InfluenceAMillion.com!