Amber Reyngoudt, Co-founder of Skull Ninja Labs
It seems that every founder had an experience, an epiphany or a mentor that inspired them to become an entrepreneur. I started my career as a developer of enterprise software. From coding feature to feature, I eventually transitioned to a management position where I learned a whole new skill set, which included communication, managing multiple projects and delegating resources. The skills I learned in management were invaluable later when I applied them to my company.
The launch of the iPhone and then the App Store in 2008 opened my eyes to the potential of mobile apps. At the time, I worked for a social network company and the new smartphones provided an engaging experience that we couldn’t replicate on the desktop. I managed the mobile engineering group and we struggled to find applications for the new platform. Eventually, we came up with a product for the iPhone that my team was excited to push forward. However, the project was terminated before reaching the App Store, and that’s when I decided to take the initiative on my own.
In my spare time I learned Objective-C and started prototyping iPhone app ideas with a co-worker, who is now my co-founder at Skull Ninja Labs. We applied our social networking background and tried several different product directions before focusing on fashion commerce. Freed from the constraints and red tape of a large corporation, the ideas and app builds came fast—even if many didn’t get very far.
Most people, no matter how smart, are not born with the skills to be a successful founder. It starts with the desire to be an entrepreneur. From there, it’s a lot of learning, experimenting and failing. Surround yourself with supportive friends and reach out to people that have been through the experience themselves. One thing I’ve discovered through the years is how eager people are to help and share their knowledge.
To be successful, the most important skill a developer must learn is to communicate well. When you’re a shy, slightly introverted developer, that’s a tough thing to master—but like everything, it gets better with practice. I was so nervous for my first investor meeting and was not sure how to plan for it. I worked hard to prepare, but it was a painful process and I’m sure it showed. Believe in the product and yourself. When you are confident in the fundamentals of your work, the mission statement and the sales pitch come naturally.
Founding a company and having it survive is difficult, but very rewarding. The commitment and passion you put into your product makes all the difference. Great ideas are common; most likely others are doing the same thing. It’s been more than two years since I conceived the idea for my fashion commerce app, ‘Hit or Miss.’ At the time, ‘Tinder for Fashion’ did not exist, but now there are a few similar apps in the App store. Regardless, I am determined to figure out shopping on mobile and turn this idea into a thriving fashion tech company.
Amber Reyngoudt has an extensive background in technology—coding over 15 years. Amber has been developing beautiful and engaging iOS apps for over five years. Her first job out of college was at Intel as a Software Engineer, and she has held several software development jobs with corporate companies. Her first start-up collaboration was with Kevin Rose on Milk Inc., where Dave Peck and Amber helped develop Oink, a food-rating iPhone app acquired by Google. The duo has consulted many startups, such as North Technologies, Airbnb, about.me, and Madison Reed. Amber personally has a passion and love for fashion and launched a fashion app called ‘Hit or Miss’ in the iOS App Store last year.
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