FounderTalk: Pic-See’s Yen Lim discusses apps with a purpose

Pic-See

Sydney-based Yen Lim has developed Pic-See, an incentive-driven visual communication system for children with early learning needs. She was inspired to embark on this journey by her experience working with a 3 year old boy with autism while she was completing her Honours Degree in Psychology at The University of Sydney.

As a passionate psychologist she believes that research and technology can, and should, be integrated into widely accessible solutions that improve quality of life. Through this filter she observed how special needs teachers were taking many hours to source and create libraries of visuals to use in day-to-day therapy. It struck her that there must be thousands of parents, carers, teachers and therapists around the world laminating paper-based visuals and she thought, “Surely, there has to be an easier way!”

This is so often the catalytic event that launches entrepreneurs into action!

The original concept behind Pic-See was to make it easier to construct and implement visuals, so valuable time and energy would not be wasted. Yen felt that time should rather be invested in what matters most to dedicated parents, teachers and therapists, namely engaging and connecting with those they care for.

In developing Pic-See Yen wanted to utilise touch-screen technology to reduce the long-term labour-intensive, environmental and monetary costs associated with producing visual communications systems.

Pic-See not only replaces outdated paper-based systems, but also captures the imagination of users to make visually-based learning fun. The app is packed with images and animations designed by graphic artists, purposely created sound effects to enthral users, an drag-drop interface to build visual sequences, the ability to customise visuals with imported images, the ability record audio to promote verbal communication skills, an emotions centre, a choice board, and a data centre to capture the achievements of users and areas in need of further development.

 

Yen’s key lessons learned in embarking on this adventure are:

  •  It’s a full time job. Surround yourself with people who can help.

What she thought would be a straightforward app to develop, soon turned out to be a highly complicated technical project. Being new to the world of entrepreneurship she had a steep learning curve. She says, “Be prepared to dedicate yourself as it’s a full time job. Surround yourself  with people who can make the journey easier. If I could go back in time, I would definitely seek out a mentor who can guide me through the app space and the broader ecosystem, not just to survive but to thrive.”

  • Once the app is developed it’s just the beginning

The market moves quickly. App-spaces are dynamic environments. You have less than 18 months to take your product to launch, listen and respond to the ecosystem, keep your ideas fresh and turn your brand into a household name. This is a process that requires time, perseverance, a lot of hard work and a willingness to venture into the unknown.

  • Marketing is everything

A strategic marketing plan is essential. It’s one thing to have a great product, but if no-one is benefiting from it your app can get swept away by a flooded market.

  • You need  a strong business model

Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” Having a great idea for an app is definitely the first step, but deciding to take the plunge, backing yourself and growing a startup, is arguably the most difficult. A strong financial and business plan is needed for your idea to realise its true potential.

  • Secure funding

Passion has driven the development of this app. Yen invested her personal funds into Pic-See. She strongly suggests seeking government grants (if available) and skilling up on how to approach investors.

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Sydney: The New Years Eve Capital Of The World

Sydney lived up to its well deserved reputation as the New Years Eve Capital last evening. Here is a short video of the fireworks shot from my vantage point:

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Adios 2012, thanks a million!

I’m looking forward to seeing how Sydney’s spectacular harbor transforms itself tonite with the #NYESYD festivities. I snapped this picture on the harbor recently.

As the year closes, I want to thank all those of you who have visited this blog: over 1 million visits — a huge month on month increase. I will endeavor to post more regularly during 2013 as there is clearly strong interest in the various topics I curate.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Shedding Light On Kickstarter, Open IP and Moore’sCloud

I’m a big fan of Kickstarter as it’s empowering entrepreneurs to come up with a whole range of interesting products that may not have seen the light of day through traditional funding mechanisms.

I’ve personally backed a Kickstarter project called Light by Moore’sCloud. The product is billed as:

Beautiful, intelligent, connected light. Open hardware, open software, endless possibilities for play and delight.

Not only are they developing a fun product, but they are pioneering the way intellectual property is distributed as well. As the team says in their latest update; they are an organization dedicated to sharing all of our intellectual property as freely and as widely as possible.

I caught up with Mark Pesce, the Sydney-based serial entrepreneur behind this project and asked him a few questions:

>What prompted you to build this?

It’s something I’ve attempted several times over the last decades, but only now have we gotten to high-performance (what used to be called ‘workstation class’) computing at an incredibly affordable price point – around $12 in components. It opens the door to entirely new design methodology. And it’s why we’re named Moore’sCloud.

> What is the biggest challenge you face in getting the product to market (not including fundraising)?

There are a lot of subtle UX issues involved in creating a device that has a lot of interiority; how do you present that depth in a way that is not confronting to people without deep technical skills?

> When can I expect my own Light – in the Xmas hamper?

We hope to have them rolling off the assembly line in May.

> Is this the first of a range of products you plan on releasing – what else do you have in mind?

Christmas lights, for one thing. And room lighting. But we see ourselves as getting a toe into the pond of the Internet of Things. We’ll learn a lot that can be applied to other possible forms and appliances.

Thanks Mark! I am certainly looking forward to playing with the product.

They’ve currently got 1,721 backers with $202k pledged towards their $700k goal. 13 days to go – sign on and make a pledge!

 

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Startup Motivation and the Triple-Helix of Entrepreneurial Success

Yesterday was ground zero for the eight teams selected to participate in the Summer 2012 intake of Incubate, the student incubator at The University of Sydney.

I will be Entrepreneur Coach to the teams for the duration of the program. I got to spend some time with them at lunch time and I shared with them my thoughts on the what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and building a meaningful startup. My talk was predicated on my Triple-Helix of Entrepreneurial Success thesis.

I used the analogy of a space shuttle (a rocket doesn’t quite work because it breaks up into various parts and only the top module re-enters the atmosphere). The key motivators, the WHY, is represented by the engine of the shuttle and these are what drive the individuals and the team to take on the challenge of building a new business. When things go pear-shaped, when they are having those inevitable moments of doubt, that is when they should draw on their motivations, which will help them build resilience.

The shuttle’s fuel consist of the core ingredients needed for any startup to be a success – capability, team, market, need and finances. These are what keep the shuttle powering ahead and it is important to achieve the right mix of ingredients to ensure the engine works efficiently and effectively.

The real differentiator is the triple-helix – the operating system of the space shuttle. This is what can put a startup on the path to success. Having all three parts of the helix at work: FOCUS, ACCOUNTABILITY & BALANCE, will ensure the shuttle has an optimized journey and successfully achieves its mission.

Later on in the day I spent a few hours one on one with the teams and was excited to see them working through a range of the inevitable startup decision points already.

Congrats to the teams and I wish them all the best for the summer.

The teams are:

WeSit: A high-tech version of the Babysitters Club that connects a trusted networks of parents with babysitters.

TheBestDay: The Best Day is a social planning tool for the web and phone that makes it easy for a group to agree on a time and place for an activity.

VIC: We have designed a robotic kit that is controlled through common interfaces that we believe will revolutionise the toy market in Australia

Muro: Muro is a context-based photography platform that allows people at the same event to connect with each other through image sharing.

SnapDisco: We’ve built a visual search engine for shoes — shoppers find local stores selling their perfect shoe, businesses pay for analytics.

Don’t Panic Watch co: A watch that watches you. An automatic panic button built into a watch to detect medical emergencies such as falls and heart attacks.

Feedback: Our startup is a smartphone application that allows users to raise money for charity by completing market research surveys on the go

CloudHerd: CloudHerd will be a business that offers value for livestock sellers and producers by providing advanced inventorying systems and auctions that interface with current legal requirements, such as the NLIS in Australia. It will provide the in depth features necessary to move a lot of the inspections and other typical livestock transaction business tasks online.

Tags

Related Posts

Share This

Crane Fire in Sydney

I was sitting at my desk on Tuesday morning and as I like to do when on a call, looking out my office window. It was something of a dark sky and I noticed a spark of light on one of the cranes in the city. This caught my attention and the spark quickly turned into a growing flame.

At first I thought it looked odd, but as the flame engulfed the platform myself and a number of colleagues looked on in horror. We held our breath that no-one would get hurt. Looking across at the other building sites nearby I was amazed to see that work had all but stopped and on every floor of the buildings were construction workers in their bright orange and yellow vests dotted across the skyline. We were all fascinated by the fire.

The highlight was when the jib collapsed. It seemed to melt like a straw in a flame and smashed down onto one of the nearby buildings. Thankfully it didn’t land on the very busy roads below and no-one was hurt.

I managed to shoot this footage:

 


 

Further coverage of this incident can be found here:

CFMEU

ABC

Herald Sun

Sydney Morning Herald

 

Tags

Related Posts

Share This