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6 Things I Learned Hosting My Second App Launch Party, for The Blast App
Headlines | January 29, 2020
by Abraham Williamson
Links & Social
If you’re an early stage tech startup founder of color, you’ve got 99 problems but too much cash isn’t one of them.

Less than 1% of tech startup capital goes to founders of color, and there’s no easy way for aspiring startup investors to connect with diverse tech founders on a personal level, in an obligation-free environment.  Here’s the deal, at our second app launch party, we leveraged something older than capital itself, humans and their realtime product feedback.

Our hypothesis: 

Real time feedback, in a light hearted environment, can save early stage tech startup founders countless months and money, eventually shrinking that $99 startup funding deficit. Also, funded startups can celebrate their fundraising rounds and simultaneously build partnerships with a diverse demographic of tech-savvy professionals.

The Blast App, app launch party challenged our thesis in ways we couldn’t have predicted.

Here are...

6 Things I Learned Hosting My Second App Launch Party, for The Blast App.

Friendships develop quickly (when you kill your ego).

I met Jhamar during our first app launch party for Esusu, around two months ago.  I knew his quiet spirit, from when he first arrived, was destined to emerge (at some point).  To me, his quiet confidence seemed trimmed by countless disappointments and surprises from navigating local tech startup scenes around NYC for almost a decade.  We still became friends.  Here’s what I mean…

...to borrow Jhamar’s dichotomy: 

There are at least two types of tech startup founders.

The first is “connected”.  These founders graduated (or dropped out) of the right schools, accepted lucrative roles in tech, finance or consulting post-graduation and otherwise have the right connections and enough commitment to raise at least $1M in startup funding.  These tech startup fundraising rounds still require incessant work ethic, relentless dedication and more keen resilience than most of us are willing to give (or, know only from our own dedication in other fields).  However, these powerful connections certainly help, and skew the proverbial $99 startup funding deficit. 

The second founder-type, is more “bootstrapper”.  The bootstrapper survives (if they can) for 3-5 years, pushing their product show by show, week by week, competition by competition gaining traction and gathering life support from loyal fans.  It’s a slog.  The Blast App founder, Jhamar Youngblood is in that second group.  From sharing basketball courts with Kyrie Irving (an early adopter of TBA) in high school, to partnering with the KIK messaging app, Jhamar fancied himself the next Black Mark Zuckerberg, straight out of Newark, NJ.  

Back to our first encounter moment. 

Our conversation nearly ended there, at Esusu’s app launch party.  Instead, he paused and pulled me close as we said our goodbye’s......to make sure I grasped the moment.  The atmosphere we accomplished for Esusu that night was nothing short of transformative.  Jhamar, on the other hand, had “broken bread” in my living room via a random LinkedIn message, sparking a lifelong friendship in innovative milieu across NYC.  The next day, Jhamar called me asking something so straight forward that an immediate sub-question quickly emerged,  

What are you hoping to get outta this,” he asked me.

Over the next four weeks, we met in hacker spaces around NYC, General Assembly in NYC’s Flatiron District (aka Silicon Alley) and about once a week, fleshed out capabilities and refined some key assumptions.  He treated me like a taciturn (but interested) high school senior, and I, a naive (but willing) high school freshman, accepting most of his suggestions and reluctantly asking clarifying questions.

Biggest zinger of them all?

“If you really want to do this, you need to take design seriously bro.”  Tough love.  As we built calendars and goals for 2020, what happened next was inevitable. Jhamar’s flagship product, The Blast App, would become our next app launch party.  We could test, iterate, and test again.  Despite scant interest in monetizing the app at the moment, our partnership has enhanced guests’ experiences, stripping back the layers that made App Launch Party #1 for Esusu, so inviting.  

Introverts can launch apps too...they just need your help.

Social anxiety disorder is real.  If you share this diagnosis, you might ask...  

  • Can I still be a tech startup founder?
  • Can we still launch our app with you?”

Absolutely!  Jhamar and I prepped weeks leading up to his app launch party.  Honing his product story, company messaging and how to use his app launch launch party time most efficiently.  I asked myself, of Jhamar,  “Why put so much effort into an online messaging and communication app?”

Especially when countless deficits exist in face-to-face communication worth exploring too?  Through TBA, I learned to lean into your mind to produce products that touch and inspire customers’ hearts.  Trust me, users can tell when you’re being truly authentic, and when you aren’t.  

Mood became the story.

Bringing strangers together is (tough) stuff.  Despite a well-lit and inviting living room in one of Harlem’s brownstones, with iconic African Americans imagery and artwork looking back at you from otherwise all-white walls......how did we launch TBA (with rousing Q&A) among a room full of introverts, drawn to the same curiosity that consumes us, when lulled into an uncomfortable familiarity?

We leveraged mutual vulnerability.

Our vision to unite our room under one mission, connect startup founders with aspiring tech investors and generate new relationships among young professionals in NYC, inspired by go getting founders and a welcoming atmosphere of highly stimulating intellectual symposia, we achieved.

There are millions of startup ideas floating around and trapped in crania all over the world.

Jhamar inspired in ways I hadn’t yet seen before.  Myriad folks came up to me after his launch with ideas for startups they’ve been sitting on for years, and either abandoned or got stuck in a rut. We grew at app launch party #2 and it reminded me of the truth that our greatest assets often never leave our minds.

The rain cut attendance, yet grew our momentum.

Emails began pouring in as fast as the rain precipitated outside our living room window.  That’s when I knew we’d struggled to get full attendance, although I hadn’t appreciated this fact until the end of the night, when one of our last guests had this to say…

I’ve been preaching 15 years. When I wake up in the morning and it’s raining, I know I’ll have my attendance cut in half

In partnership with mother nature, we secured a larger venue for subsequent app launch parties, replete with live piano playing and globally identifiable artifacts.  Several guests attend the TBA app launch party just to keep their commitment.  If you connect with enough folks like this, you’re destined to grow your business.  So what happened afterward TBA’s app launch party?  Just as many “thank you’s” and “I wish I could have been there’s” rolled in as cancellations and our energy was palpable.  Our resident tech startup spiritual advisor, Reverend Stephen A. Green, delivered a powerful message of love and unity during our interface blessing of the app, an X factor among our app launches.

This blessing intrinsically elevates our impact in ways that engender a love of spirit and sense of belonging.  We want you to join us for app launch party #3 for JIFF, a Brooklyn-based startup taking the curation world by storm.

Learn more at www.d-tech.fund.

The Blast App Inc.

WE MAKE SOCIETY-FRIENDLY SOFTWARE

We are dedicating our lives to inventing software that helps people communicate more effectively, efficiently, and authentically. We will try to not cause harm to our society and we will use our business to inspire people and other companies to try to make our world a better place. 

Learn more at: https://whatsblasting.com/

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