Business wilderness hosted special guest Kim Parnell on the podcast this time round. Kim is the co-founder and chief evangelist of Blank, a software automation platform that seeks to help founders with no tech background build apps for their business.
Kim has a long history in business and veteran-like experience in entrepreneurship. She doesn’t have a software background so she had to spend a large sum of money in developing and programming, especially with app building. She realised that this was an expensive exercise so she began looking for a technical co-founder.
She found a guy named Paul, who not only had experience in software development, but had also made his own back-end automation tool. After a couple of months, Kim realised that if you automated the front-end, you could potentially have a tool that automates the entire app building process!
Along with her co-founder, she realised the benefit such a product could bring to many non-tech based founders and therein lies the beginning of Blank. Kim highlights the potential effectiveness of the app by mentioning that it could build approximately 90% of the apps that most phones operate.
Qualities of a Co-founder
Kim has been apart of many businesses before and officially established and built three, with Blank being her third. Hence her experience in working with and finding partners is substantial. She compares finding a business partner to finding someone you want to date or marry. The partnership requires that kind of commitment.
Much of what to look for in a partner manifests itself in the complementary set of skills, strengths, weaknesses and potential for them to grow the business. However, other less obvious things such as personality, ability to spend time with the person, having some shared interests and values are just as important, if not more so.
These beliefs and values they have as an individual will transfer over to the company they are helping you to build. Therefore, it is essential that you have conversations about where they want to take the business, how long they see themselves lasting, are they there for a quick cash-grab and run, where they think it should be heading, what direction do they see it growing and other similar questions before deciding if they are the right fit.
The persona of those who would be most interested in this service are those who want to develop apps rapidly, at a reasonable price and don’t know have a programming background. Most of the people that fit into this category are entrepreneurs, and with entrepreneurial experience herself, Kim knows what they’re looking for.
The entrepreneurial market is vast and ever-growing, however issue is that they often lack sufficient funds and many will fail before they become a legitimate business. Many of those that will become customers, will be those who have built innovative concepts but do not have the software background to execute.
With plenty of connections in the startup world, she sees this as an area to hone in on and has accommodated for the fact that many might be operating simply off their phone. The apps produced do not take up much bandwidth, hence they are easily operational on a mobile.
There are also plans to assist people in sectors such as retail and finance by adding simple apps to already made software for people in the company that may struggle with software technicality, making already available programs easy to use.
Kim mentions that there are still plenty of hurdles to overcome in this process. One of the major obstacles is education of both customers and investors.
The thing is, many say that they’re products are innovative or groundbreaking, however most have a source of comparison even if they differ in certain aspects. This product doesn’t really have a source of comparison. This has been our biggest complexity because it is difficult to explain to investors and clients without a comparison.
Nonetheless, thanks to social media and Kim’s willingness to talk to anyone and everyone about her brilliant idea, people are starting to roughly understand the concept behind Blank with qualifying statements such as, ‘you’re making the product that makes apps.’ It might not be completely correct, but it’s a good start.
Assisting Cash-Poor Startups
The typical app building process requires you to pay an upfront payment and then complete entire amount in monthly increments, in a process that can take up to 12 months to complete. This is excluding whether or not your app gets onto the app store and requires further adjustments from there.
Blank works the complete opposite way around. You do not pay a single cent until your app reaches the app store. From there, you pay in monthly installments and pricing becomes based on number of users and things such as storage requirement.
This gives entrepreneurs a chance to take a chance and try to create the next big idea, without having to worry about being cash-strapped. An app built via Blank can launch and it if it fails it won’t send you completely bankrupt. Just like with Shopify, if you open a store and it doesn’t work out, the level of difficulty in recovering from that is much less than in normal circumstances.
Future of App Development
We live in a world of instant gratification, with a world that prioritises lean, fast and efficient convenience. At the moment, the current pace of app development is much too slow to accommodate the rapidly moving environment. In this rapid tech-developing world, waiting 6-9 months to develop an app with the likelihood of multiple 2-week waiting periods for adjustments afterwards just won’t cut it.
Therefore, teaching kids to code is great so they begin to understand more of the way the world around them operates, however the solution does not lie in increased man power but in automation. The direction of the world is heading towards increasing automation.
Kim mentions that as a company, they do not believe they are doing anything groundbreaking, they see where the world is heading and want to be apart of helping others see this as well.
We thank Kim Parnell for her detailed insight into the world of app automation and valuable entrepreneurial advice.
Find Kim on:
Learn more about Blank on:
You can listen to the full podcast here: https://www.ahmadelhawli.com/business-wilderness-podcast/