Thoughts Around Me: Kassem Younis
The app's founder explains why taking a prototype to market was instrumental and why a business idea is nothing without the right team
Name: Kassem Younis
Company name: Thoughts Around Me
Date launched: 15/06/2015
Tell us what your business does:
We're an anonymous online community app.
The app uses anonymity to breakdown the social barriers and democratises social media to help people build new connections and share experiences, irrespective of their demographic or social graph.
It works by users writing ‘thoughts’ which can also include a number of additional items such as photos and GIFs. These ‘thoughts’ are initially treated as equal but can then be voted on, either positively or negatively, meaning trending ideas can spread quickly.
Overall, it seeks to empowers people to speak freely and engage openly, without fear of compromising their real-world image.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
In the early days we were working on one of our other apps and had a bit of downtime. We started thinking of small ways we could re-manufacture the current app we were working on to do other stuff.
That night I went home, made the blueprints and two days later we had a Thoughts Around Me prototype which was quite basic.
How did you know there was a market for it?
Once I had the basic version on my phone, I would always show it to people in meetings or social situations and a lot of the time it garnered more interest than the rest of the things we were working on. It really intrigued people of all ages and backgrounds and that's when I knew.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was working as a product/project manager for a software company that focused on the hospitality sector. While doing this, I was studying law part time at the University of East London where my end focus was on Intellectual Property law in software.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yea, I have always wanted to create and grow my own business.
How did you raise the money?
In the early days I took out a few personal loans but now we are using our capital generated from other business ventures.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We are currently just at the stage of trying to get as many users as possible. We have a monetisation strategy which we will announce at a later stage which will not change the amazing experience for our users.
We are very excited about it and think it could revolutionise a few things.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
There are many challenges at the early stages, probably the biggest one was finding the right business partner and employees.
It’s all about the team and the people, no idea can succeed without the right people. I’ve been very lucky to have found such a great team.
What was your first big breakthrough?
Finding the right business partner and the right senior developer.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Be prepared to fail a thousand times. Embrace all feedback and learn to put your ego to the side when it counts.
You will be wrong more times than you think and will probably get rejected when you think you won't. Things don’t always work out but you should start every day like they will.
Where do you want to be in five years' time?
To have international offices, and to have products that serve millions of people and truly change their lives.