Have you ever thought about having your own business? and/or launching a side kick while keeping your full-time business? Most people dream of being an entrepreneur for the sake of not having a boss on top of their head or just for the unlimited vacation dreams. The real entrepreneurs know that it is not easy. The sacrifice level is usually more than anticipated and the emotional burnout is usually a common syndrome.
While these are real facts, Steven Choi and his Spetcial App team are creating an amazing success story. Steven is from GoogleX, he is already a great engineer in his field. He is simply unstoppable. During his free time, he travels and does his best to manage a full-time job and his start-up. His team is a form of Facebook, Google, and other well known high tech company employees. They are passionate and represent a great example for the young generation.
I had the honor to meet with Steven personally and I hope this interview will give you a glimpse of his success and learn from his recommendations.
About: Steven Choi
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, USA
Work Experience: GoogleX
Title & Company: Founder/ Spetcial App
School: University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign & USC
Can you please tell us more about yourself?
I’ve been In the Technological business for about 10 or more years. Both in hardware and software specifically, anywhere from Automation, Autonomy, and Communication platforms. Software development and Satellite is the broad sense of technology span that I was involved in. Currently, we are working on a small social platform called Spetcial and we are enthusiastically excited to have recently launched that platform and hoping to see growth in it.
Interviewer: Steve, what is your typical workday and weekend?
Steve: My work day consists of the following: at 6 am I wake up, check all the emails as necessary that have come overnight and then slack of the startup. After which, I try to get to work by 8 am exactly. From 8am to 6pm I would always be in a back to back meeting within a 30 minute time span. From 6 to 9pm, is where I actually have my work and from 9pm to 12 midnight, I would work on the startup with all my colleagues. That basically comprises my normal workday. Also, on the weekends, it would have to mostly be spending time for our current social application platform, Spetcial, which we currently are developing.
Interviewer: Do you have spare time and how do you utilize your spare time from work?
Steve: I personally do not have that much spare time at this particular moment. However, when I use to have spare time, I used to always love outdoor activities (scuba diving, skiing, hiking, etc.) and I used to travel a lot, I’ve been to about 100 plus countries. Also, I particularly believe the solutions to human problems are actually on the surface of people and not on the desk of actual Technological companies.
Interviewer: How many people are working for you and can you please tell us more about your team?
Steve: We have a total of 12 people that work a part time basis. They all work at Silicon Valley or across the nation to be specific; the developers in my team are mainly from Brazil. Also, my team consists of 8 developers, 2 vets, and 2 go to market people (business development folks).
Interviewer: What is it like to work for CEO Steve?
Steve: Well, our team specifically does not have a ladder system when it comes to designating work. However, I do not consider myself a CEO, even if I may be the founder of the actual company. Everybody has equal shares of acuity which is completely different of how other startups basically run, because valuing people is my main point of view in a harmonious and cooperative workplace.
In fact, at the very last acuity distribution, there was a specific developer who actually had more acuity shares than I accumulated. We truly believe that he placed more work than I what I specifically did. There is no certain title that can certainly describe me; I focus on a team environment to promote a democratic type of work area.
Interviewer: In your own terms, how would you define success?
Steve: I personally do not think there is a success matrix to be exact. Different companies have different formulas to achieve success accordingly; you do not need to be the next big company to achieve a substantial success platform in life. They have different missions and they make changes in society that promotes higher platforms of results for individuals interested in the company’s products.
You do not necessarily need to change to world to claim that having been successful. However, if you are adding value to society regardless of the specific area of work you specialize in, those small changes imbed in humankind to progress to another platform that highly progresses them to become better. This determines an individual’s success.
Interviewer: What advice would you share with the young generation in the high school level or college level that would want to follow your path?
Steve: I would say always be ambitious. It is not incorrect to be ambitious; however, it is wrong to be boastful though. You have to be humble in a sense there are reasons that some of your solutions may not provide a pleasant outcome to your society. However, you can always challenge the status quo, but, be humble about it.
The human character is what determines the individual’s success or failure. If you are the most intelligent person but no one really would want to work with you would cause a hindrance to advertising your product to society. There are times when difficult people and difficult mindset people are successful however. Secondly, being distinctively hungry and always striving for new things to build your product is highly important in determining a person’s chances in becoming something that they have always dreamt to achieve Dream big, be ambitious, and always strive for excellence would be my advice to students.
Interviewer: What is the biggest risk you have ever taken in your life?
Steve: Every small step, I believe, is a risk to every engineer and to every business folks that currently reside in San Francisco. This does not solely imply to San Francisco alone, rather, across the globe. I, myself, cannot distinguish the biggest risk factor exactly. However, if someone were to ask me what the biggest risk I’ve ever taken in my whole life would be, I would probably reiterate; taking engineering as a major. I actually could not use my talent and passion with the major I chose and would had rather taken communication or majored in legal matters, considering Law school as a recommended choice. However, I constantly was endearing Math and Science which led me to major in engineering and strongly is considered the biggest risk I’ve ever taken.
Interviewer: Can you tell us more about the, “SPETCIAL APP”?
Steve: Spetcial is platform that incorporates a social application for pet owners. If you explore on the overall social networking system, there is a premises for human kinds but not pet owners. If you were to ask a pet owner today, “Where would I take my dog or cat over to”? The information would be very sparse and would go through various kinds of platforms, this makes it complicated for users to locate the necessary application which is suitable for their needs.
Spetcial, on the other hand, clearly combines numerous solutions into a bridge of organized components to rectify certain issues for pet owners and not provide a single solution alone. This relays from a Photo-shoot application, to product reviews which can considerably assist pet owners in purchasing a pet product in the future, services that include vets similar to a yelp platform (an application that provides services and locations for activities of daily living and emergency care respectively. Also, a feature highlighted on the application is the reliable, “Pet finder/tracker” which allows a pet owner to locate their pets in an organized and convenient manner instead of posting banners from block to block to locate their missing pet.
In the United States alone, about 30 million pets are getting euthanized for the reason of not locating a new home which is a huge number we are trying to significantly decrease. As well as, Rover.com, a platform for dogs, is valiantly compared to as a Dog care center which saves dogs from humanistic cruelty and abandonment.
Interviewer: How did the Business App come to life?
Steve: This is a very interesting story. I was on a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco that day and was seated next to an old lady around the age of 60 years old with a little Chihuahua dog beside her. I asked her, “Why do you bring your pet with you on this flight?” she reiterated, “It’s very difficult for me to find a pet hotel for my dog”. It was momentarily compensable to have left the dog in San Francisco I thought. We then departed and coincidentally met at the baggage claim and she let her dog stroll around. Suddenly, there was this magical moment when all the children ecstatically flocked around her dog. All the children’s parents came over and asked permission if it would be considerable to have their kids fondle and take photos with the dog. That was a brilliant moment for me and I started to research on this enthusiastically. I pondered, what could possibly be the problems that pet owners face today? There were various problems for different breeds of pets which I constantly strove on attacking and solving distinctively.
Interviewer: How can we access the SPETCIAL APP?
Steve: For the Spetcial application, a miniature viable product version is available on the ios store for Apple. Also, we definitely plan to launch a website version by the end of July time frame. On the other hand, for Android, we plan to release it by January with the full set of features which we actually planned for a year and a half ago.
To watch the full interview on Youtube, click here.
To listen to the podcast of this interview, click here.
To check out the Spetcial App, click here to download.