“Don’t Quit – Kick.it”
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your app Kick.it?
I’m an ex-smoker, I have been smoke free for 4 years now. When I used to smoke I was smoking around 7-10 cigarettes per day. My journey to quit smoking began when my friend and I decided to kick the habit together. We both wanted to stop smoking so we used peer encouragement to help each other quit.
I then realised that people get into smoking with their friends so why not build an app that helps people quit smoking together with their friends too. There are over 3 million smokers in Australia and almost 1 billion smokers worldwide. In Australia alone, according to Australian Government Department of health each year, smoking kills an estimated 15,000 Australians and costs Australia $31.5 billion in social, health and economic costs. Smoking is the leading cause of premature death in the world.
“It is my mission to wipe out smoking in my life time.”
A lot of organisations worldwide have already attempted to help smokers and no one has really cracked the right formula yet. Helping smoker quit smoking is the most liberating thing you can do to for them. I just hate the fact that big tobacco company are destroying the world and I wanted to create an app that really helped smokers by providing them with confidence and proper guidance in order to increase their chance of successfully kicking smoking. Kick.it enables users to record their smoking habit in order to help them quit with their friends when they are ready. We Kick.it to create a movement to help encourage smokers to quit smoking. Our vision is to become the world’s leading app to help people quit smoking.
Guest speaking for Adelaide University Entrepreneur Club at Microsoft Innovation Centre SA with Robert Parton, Jason Cross and Michael Macolino.
(Credit: Adelaide University Entrepreneur Club – http://theauec.com/the-auec-at-microsoft/)
What makes your app Kick.it stand out from other quit smoking app?
We are not here to reinvent the wheel, we are here to combine current best practice for quitting smoking from research. We are also using best practice for the most engaging apps, such as the elements that make apps addictive and habit forming. There is no point in creating just an app if no one is going to use it. We learn from other main stream example like facebook, twitter, snapchat, whatsapp, duolingo etc. We package up all best practice approaches and help people go through the program in order to help people Kick.it together.
“Being an entrepreneur and running your own venture is really hard. The start up lifestyle is very intense, it can consume you. If you do it wrong you can easily lose a few good years of your life and all your money.”
Kick.it will become a research platform for researchers, so once we start getting more momentum we will allow anyone in the world to work with us to perform research. We can then use their research to create more relevant experiences to help different types of smoker quit smoking easier. Right now we are focusing on creating the app first then this app will enable us to integrate into the healthcare system. From then we can move onto helping people kick other negative additions to things like gambling, heavy drinking, porn etc. However I strongly feel that it is my mission to wipe out smoking in my life time.
Can you tell us what a little bit about your journey with Kick.it so far?
There is a billion smoker in the world, so when I failed at my first attempt in 2011 I thought someone will come after me and offer an ultimate solution to help people quit smoking. However I didn’t see anything exciting come out and one day I told my friend about it and he really encouraged me to try again. So one thing lead to another and then I spent 6 great months doing a leadership development program at Onkaparinga council. One day I went to an event called Entrepreneurs in Conversation and listened to Daniel Flynn from Thankyou Group. He spoke about Thankyou Group and I found that really inspiring. Getting a chance to listen to something so inspirational was the catalyst that made me want to create a business that could make positive social change. On that night same I also meet Matt Salier who is the director of New Venture Institute. He asked about my story, I told him how I failed in New Zealand and he told me to do the Venture Dorm program.
“The water fall model is extremely hard to accomplish for young entrepreneurs who do not have enough experiences and inadequate resource.”
At Startup Adelaide pitch evening with Ryans James, Davis Ciaran Keating, James Stewart, Robert Parton, MP David Spiers and Nick Hayden.
My experience with Venture Dorm program from Flinders New Venture institute was awesome. I am a strong advocate for New Venture Institute. I learned to use design software, create a mock up prototype, talk to smokers and show case what we are doing to get feedback – this is known as the Lean Startup approach. I started the program without thinking of trying to win but as we made great progress I realised we have a good shot at winning it.
So at the end of the program we presented and got into the final seven for the eNVIes graduation and pitch. The competition was tough and I was nervous during my pitch. I even went over the time limit but I guess we did well because we won second place. The prize was a trip to the United States which was a great opportunity. We got to see Google, heaps of startup’s, New York, San Francisco, Austin, Texas, Philadelphia. We got to learn a lot and hanging out with Matt which was awesome because he is such a gun. Important knowledge such as the Lean Start up method that we gain from Venture Dorm was crucial to help us start our venture.
What momentum has Kick.it gained after your graduation from Venture Dorm program?
All of the momentum we gained from Venture Dorm catapulted us into Adelaide startup scene. During that time we also got into the Hub Adelaide Spark Young Entrepreneur program which was another 6 awesome months learning new things. I also did the School for Social Entrepreneurs Accelerator Program in Melbourne. During the course of 4 months, I went over there for an intensive 3 days of learning each month.
“There are people out there with great potential to become an entrepreneur and they choose to work for people who are even more talented than themselves in order for them to learn. Use these working years to build up your skills, experiences, resources, and network and become an expert in your particular field and try to identify possible candidate for cofounder as early as possible.”
We have hosted numerous focus groups and talked to a lot of potential customers to get even more feedback on our product in order to ensure we are on the right track. I have personally talked to over 1000 people about Kick.it.
Christmas party with at Majoran roof top party with John Kamuchau, Patrick Deruvo, Michael Macolino, Chris Hooper, Sammie Johannes, James Martin and Benjamin Dowie.
We ended up getting 3 different investment offers. One was from a Hybrid Marketing, one from the director of PWC and another $200,000 from an investor. However the $200,000 dollars did not come through but we did get the investment from PWC director and the marketing company.
We have been lucky enough to work with a great User Experience designer who has since been hired by Google in the US and are currently working with a designer who was made an offer by Apple. So hopefully early mid 2016 we will have something to take to the market. Recently we also won the $25,000 research grant from The Hospital Research Foundation which will help a lot.
“However for those having an untameable passion for entrepreneurship, they can start their own business straight away.”
Why did your venture fail in the past?
Back then a lot of things happened that make it hard to survive. However the main reason I fail was I was trying to do too much with too little resource. We didn’t have a technical cofounder so I was trying to pay people to build the app. Back then I didn’t know about the lean start up approach so I used the water fall model which was trying to build everything and fund everything. The water fall model is extremely hard to accomplish for young entrepreneurs who do not have enough experience and inadequate resource. Thanks to the Venture Dorm program, we learned the lean start up approach which allow us to build thing slowly from the ground up and allows us to continuously test our assumption to make sure we are on the right track of creating something people actually want.
Winning $25,000 from The Hospital Research Foundation for Kick.it.
Do you have any advice for people who want to start their own business and pursue an entrepreneurial career path?
First of all, I am not going to be the guy that tells everyone lets go become an entrepreneur, the chance of you go out there and smash it and become the next Mark Zuckerberg is very rare. Being an entrepreneur and running your own venture is really hard. The start up lifestyle is very intense, it can consume you. If you do it wrong you can easily lose a few good years of your life and money.
When you are young, you can afford to take more risk since you don’t have as much responsibilities to fulfil. Once you get older you have family and bigger responsibilities to fulfil so you cannot take the same amount of risk. Ideally you can learn from your failure and others’ so you can avoid them.
“All of the momentum we gained from Venture Dorm catapulted us into Adelaide start up scene.”
If I could go back in time I would tell myself to go work for and hang out with successful entrepreneurs. Learn from them. There are people out there with great potential to become an entrepreneur and they choose to work for people who are even more talented than themselves in order for them to learn. Use these working years to build up your skills, experiences, resources, and network and become an expert in your particular field and try to identify possible candidate for cofounder as early as possible. So when you start your business, you will have all things in places and your chance of success is a lot higher. The Stanford video series on YouTube on “How to start a startup” is a great starting point for young people to learn and start their journey. However for those having an untameable passion for entrepreneurship, they can start their own business straight away but make sure you learn as much as you can before you do. After you start it is an ongoing journey of self-guided learning to be able to do all the things you need to do to build and run a company.
Last but not least, you’ve got to make sure you are solving a real problem for real people that people are willing to pay money to you to solve this problem for them. For example, if your business charges customers 5-10 bucks a month but it helps them save hundreds or even thousands of dollars then they will definitely pay and want to use your service.
To find out more about James Stewart’s awesome venture, check out www.Kick.it What do you think the future hold for Kick It?