Roger Ebert once suggested that the film stock of a movie he disliked should be cut up and used for ukulele picks. That’s not a bad way to dispose of paper business cards either.
Nobody wants to collect them anymore. Nobody wants to manually enter information. Just as it’s a pretty good idea to go with a stove and microwave in your kitchen instead of an open pit to cook your dinner, you need to have a digital business card for your business.
But they’re too difficult to share. Different people should receive different information…
No longer problems. Corda is an iPhone app that’s already thought of such hangups, and created virtual business cards equipped for modern networking. Their versatile cards are easy to use and ensure you’ll never lose important contact information – or the context behind your connection – ever again. Co-founder of Corda, Jon Acosta, tells us more in this exclusive interview with KillerStartups.
Tell us about Corda.
Corda App, LLC, was formed to develop an app for the iPhone that will eliminate business cards. The passion and need for Corda came about after attending a long video industry event with my co-founder in Vegas. We returned home 4 days later with over 100 business cards… and absolutely no way to remember who we met, where we met them, or what we talked about in our “networking” conversations.
The wheels in our heads started churning as we realized that we’d much rather have digital business cards that could be saved directly into our phones, rather than having to hold on to them and type in the information manually once we got home. After asking and searching high and dry for a solution like the one noted above, as well as asking friends, family, and various sub-Reddit communities, we realized there was nothing that would help us.
So, we decided to take this issue into our own hands and develop the solution ourselves. Thus, Corda was born. Corda was created for anyone who’s ever – Not had a business card – Forgotten their business cards at home – Lost their business cards – Ran out of business cards – Ordered a million business cards and then suddenly changed jobs, addresses, or job titles – Gotten sick of their business cards all together…
What’s the greatest thing about Corda?
Corda allows you to create virtual business or “social cards” right on your iPhone. You can also customize these cards to only share what you want, depending on the social setting that you find yourself in. And best of all, Corda was built to send your contact cards to anyone with a smartphone or email address. All of our competition relies on the hopes that everyone will have their app. We live in the real world… not everyone you meet will have Corda, and that’s okay. We’ve made it just as easy to send your information to them.
How’d you come up with the name Corda?
My co-founder and myself spent 3 whole days “name-storming” to come up with a name that would sound catchy, elegant, and sleek, while still maintaining the presence of a “first point of contact solution” that you’re proud to say out loud. After searching various databases and playing with a ton of root words and prefix/suffix variations, the name that stood out most to us was “Corda.” Corda is actually Latin for “string” or “connection,” and it fits every aspect of what the app does.
What was your first computer? How old were you when you first got on the world wide web?
When I was 12, my dad gave me his Windows 95 induced PC by Acer. It was awesome. I mostly enjoyed playing Solitaire, Chess, and fiddling with the properties menu. I thought it was so cool that I could configure everything to my own liking. Then the internet came along. And by “The internet,” I mean AOL And by “AOL,” I mean AOL Instant Messenger. It’s safe to say that at the age of 12, chat rooms consumed me more than power rangers. I don’t think I’ve ever been the same since…
What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?
My co-founder and myself have a strict schedule of 7:30am every morning. We hammer out the goals for the day, and like to have all pieces of development in motion by 9am. We’ll typically work until as late as 9pm and have a rule that we must attend at least 2 networking events every week in order to – Expand our horizons – Spread the word about how business cards can be replaced with Corda. Weekends are non-existent for us.
When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?
My dad is from Medellin, Colombia (South America), so back in July of this year, he invited the whole family to go and stay with some of our relatives and experience the passion that the World Cup of 2014 brought upon a Latin American country. Seriously. they love futbol (soccer) as much as we love hating on Kim Kardashian here in the States.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Sip on a coffee, set a 5 minute alarm, and play a “brain exercise” game with my co-founder to get the creative juices flowing for the day. ex – Write a sentence where every word has to start with the next letter in the alphabet. (A Brick Calendar Does Everything…)
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?
Honestly, in the car when I’m listening to a great song in silence. I enjoy the rush that feel-good music gives me. All those endorphins must somehow pull mounds of creativity out of me.
How many people started Corda? How big is the Corda team now?
We started with 2 and are keeping it absolutely lean, since we’re currently bootstrapping. Contractors are hired for coding and web development tasks as we need them.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?
The fact that every other solution for “virtual business cards” were either: a) An “app to app” solution where both users have to have the app b) A solution that you have to pay for c) A “photo/card scanning” solution that tends to be faulty, and you still have to fix things manually. We’re savvy entrepreneurs that know the resources to leverage in order to get shit done. So tackling this problem head on suddenly became the only thing we could focus on.
Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.
Getting the right talent in place to develop our app was a bitch. Also, making sure that we tried every single marketing tactic possible in order for Corda not to end up like the rest of the deadweight apps that get lost into the black hole abyss that is the App Store is frightening.
How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?
Over the last year, I’ve taken meditation very seriously and do it on a regular basis. My secret weapon is actually “Buddhify 2,” which is an iPhone app that allows you to meditate under any condition, and truly has helped me calm down during stressful [situations].
My biggest frustration in the professional world is when people don’t follow through with what they promise. After being burned many times in the video production world, I learned to protect myself from those types of people by saying “no” to shady people and writing off anyone the minute they dub themselves unreliable. Also, unhappy people. “Energy drainers” as I call them. Stay the hell away from me…
What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?
We work out of a shared space in Atlanta, GA, called the Atlanta Tech Village. Think of it as an “incubator” for startups with access to mentors, great company, snacks, events, and all the WiFis you can dream of. When I’m trying to hammer out some marketing and future concepts for development, I like to pop my earbuds in and listen to classical music as well as instrumental indie music. Really gets my brain going.
What will Corda look like in 5 years?
Partnering with a multitude of enterprises to offer “information capturing” solutions that would be helpful at industry trade shows for CRM managers and their respective software. Also, everyone will be using Corda to transfer information to people they just met… but it’ll be through “NFC” technology instead of MMS, email, or Corda to Corda users.
Who or what inspires YOU?
Steve Jobs was a shithead and a genius, so I definitely appreciate him. I also worked for Apple for 3 years and once sat next to him at lunch at the Apple campus, so it’s hard not to respect him. Elon Musk (creator of SpaceX, the Tesla cars, and once owner of PayPal) is doing things for humanity that consistently blow my freakin’ mind. He’s a genius and an all around good guy. I aspire to be just like that man.
How’d you fund Corda?
Self-funding (at the moment). We bootstrapped the shit out of ourselves. And took gigs doing video production on the side (which is our “day job” profession), in order to fund this brilliantly expensive idea. Especially since we’re not coders…
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
Yes. Use Fiverr gigs and Elance.com to leverage the “gig-economy” world for remedial tasks like landing page creation, marketing materials, etc. Seriously. Never has there been a more beautiful time to be an entrepreneur than Now because of these platforms. That is the future of work. Also, always use a task management tool in order to keep your team on the same page and hold everyone accountable. Our team uses Asana for all of our tasks, note taking, meetings, and roadmaps for future/upcoming features. We’d be lost as hell without it.
What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Always validate your idea before you start anything. Make sure that there is a need for your startup that you will build a solution for. Not the other way around. Don’t build first and then hope for the best. That’s how you waste a lot of your time, resources, and worst of all… drain your belief in yourself. And finally: Failure is a good thing. Always. Even if it hurts at the time. I can’t tell you how hard I’ve failed in the past. It’s a bitch to go through. But it makes you resilient and teaches you how to become the most awesome version of yourself.
What would you do if you had a year off and $500,000 to spend?
Probably invest a third of it into some startups and people that I believe in. Buy a house for my parents. Get myself a nice car. And spend that whole year living in a foreign country like Colombia or Spain in order to soak up my heritage and understand how I can create a solution for another culture that I’m not 100% familiar with.
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?
I honestly hate the word “entrepreneur.” What I do feel like is a successful “solution creator.” And I feel most successful when I have a purpose and passion behind my solution. I love, more than anything, when I get to present our solutions to people who have a need for them. I get to witness the pain leaving their eyes after experiencing how easy life can be now with our product. The frustration that they once had before slowly melts away from them as they smile with satisfaction. So yeah… that’s when I consider myself a successful “entrepreneur.”
Top 5 websites you couldn’t live without and why?
- Reddit – a huge source for creativity, collaboration, hilarity, and most of all: validation I need to create my solutions.
- IFTTT – I am obsessed with automating my life. This company and their online service helps me do that using my iPhone and all of my digital/social accounts
- Elance – I’ve been a video editing contractor as well as a client on this platform for as long as I can remember. They’ve helped me grow my video production business, make money, and then find talent to create the products that I’ve been able to create over the past 2 years.
- Asana – this task management website has kept my life in check. I don’t know where I’d be without it
- AppSumo – Noah Kagan and his team are always offing incredibly awesome digital product deals. And the inspiration that they give along the way to fellow entrepreneurs is just amazing. Love following these guys.
Top mobile apps you’re in love with and why?
- Buddhify 2 – Mentioned it earlier, but it’s a meditation app that allows me to get back to “reset” mode in my head with anxiety and frustration.
- Pocket – Amazing “save this article for later” app that’s also a Chrome plugin. I love it because I enjoy learning and reading everything of tech and nerd interest… but I also like to stay focused. This app lets me do that.
- Skype – I love how you can take “Skype calls” as well as chat while on the road. It helps me stay in contact with my contractors at all times. Great for me, especially since our contractors can often times be in completely different timezones.
What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?
Spotify. Duh… Lately, I’ve been jamming out to “Lymbic Systym.” They’re an all instrumental band that plays hella cool indie/ electronic music. Good for work and great for the soul.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @spaceX – because they’re making “commercial space travel” possible (Thanks Elon!)
- @Growthhackers – because their tips are invaluable for bootstrapped startups. The game is changing and it’s important to be in the know.
- @TechCrunch – because I’m a tech nerd like you wouldn’t believe.
Please share some specific numbers that highlight your growth.
Our user base is currently still in “landing page / mailing list” collection at the moment for beta testers in 2 weeks. We’re fresh right now and looking forward to our official launch in the App Store in mid-September. As for the goal: We’re trying to get 10,000 sign-ups before we release the app. So far we’re at 1,000 in the first week. We like to aim high.
Where can our readers find you online?
Photo & Video Credits
Corda | Courtesy of Jon Acosta