He is indeed a magical young man
Listening to Jahanzeb Sherwani talk at T2F on Saturday made me smile indulgently (yes I am old enough to do that :)). There was a feeling of pride that filled the room. Here was a young man who was from amongst us, had graduated from LUMS with a BS in Computer Science and who is now a Final Year PhD Student at Carnegie Mellon University AND had developed an application that was selling on the Apple iPhone AppStore.
He stood there and spoke with a great deal of confidence to a small group of about 20 people who had come to listen to him out of curiosity and because they wanted to share in the thrill of his achievements and know more about his journey.
In the group were some young programmers, some slightly older techies, a CIO from a bank, a CTO from a Silicon Valley based company with a development office in Pakistan, as well as some non-techy Apple iPhone fanatics and bloggers.
Like most geeks, Jahanzeb had started developing applications soon after completing his BS simply because it was something that interested him although there was one slight difference between him and many others, and that was that he identified a user requirement (or as Jawwad Farid is fond of saying, he identified a pain and found a cure for that pain).
As Jahanzeb took us through the history of Jaadu, the product that has brought him fame and hopefully fortune (although he wouldn’t tell us how much – yes i did prod!), he told us how he developed the first version made a rough video-cut of what it could do, put it on YouTube, and was blown away by the amazing response – 100,000 views the first week – it sort of reminded me of how Scrybe got started. JS’s video was the #1 most viewed video on Sci/Tech that week.
The website made it to all the top tech blogs overnight – Digg, Engadget, Gizmodo, TUAW, etc.
Having always developed on Windows and for the Windows platform, why did he decide to develop an application for the iPhone? Simply because the iPhone is the first truly “converged” device and it has what he terms a “revolutionary” interface. That’s what attracted him to it.
Was it difficult to get Jaadu onto the App Store? Apparently for him it really wasn’t. Lucky break perhaps, the right app at the right time, an idea that appealed to iPhone users apparently since Jaadu received wide press coverage and was on the opening page of Apple iTunes in “What’s Hot” and “Staff Favourites” internationally as soon as it was launched.
Look at some of the Press Coverage it initially got (it was called Teleport at that stage):
Some of the lessons learnt that he passed on – especially to the other youngsters who were at T2F for his talk (those who weren’t really missed out!)
1. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. I did it. Any of you can!
2. Always concentrate on the Interface Design and on the user. Get a non-techie to test it. Make sure you are building the app for the users and not for yourself. The coding is the simplest part of the exercise.
3. Develop it, check it for bugs and put it out there. Get a response to see if it worth much more time into (of course he said the flip side was that if you wait too long, it might not be relevant any longer).
4. Put a value to it. Jahanzeb sold his very first simple app for US$5, then added value to the product and it sold for US$15 and 15 Euros and now Jaadu is selling for US$25 on the App Store.
5. Be sure you can provide Tech Support to users who will call in with all sorts of questions.
6. Make sure the app is easy to instal – with guidelines for the simplest problems that users could have – so that at least 80% of the issues will be taken care of. This is what he has done.
7. If Apple is keeping 30% of the revenue, they are also dealing with a lot of the headache in terms of tech support, sales, returns, etc. Well worth it. And the Apple website is a huge marketplace as the population of iPhone and iPod Touch users increases.
Jahanzeb, all I can say is you are a cool dude. You make us proud. Good luck. And if you haven’t yet made your first million, you will soon! I am willing to place a bet on it. BTW next time you will have to sing. You cannot be let off the hook again.:)
Ooops I forgot a very important review of the product.
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