Imagine you are a small business owner looking to build an app for your company. You can describe the exact vision and use cases you want to achieve, but simply lack the time, budget, or skills to build one yourself. Fortunately, thanks to the power of artificial intelligence, that goal is no longer out of reach.
Tooraj Helmi is the founder and CEO of APSY, a startup that harnesses the speed and accuracy of AI to generate mobile and web apps at a fraction of the cost and time. The platform is the first truly no-code site that allows a customer to describe an app and witness their vision materialize into a fully functional creation.
For small businesses including Chime Beauty, Drives and Detours, and more – APSY has been a much-awaited answer to building networks, community, and the foundation for successful app-centered businesses.
In a Founders Network webinar on July 6, Tooraj shared how to build a cutting-edge company using AI, how to create a product that meets the market gap, and his tips for success as a tech founder.
Developing The Idea
Tooraj worked for several years as the Head of Engineering for Builder.ai where he enabled the development of an advanced automation pipeline to build apps for customers. This work led him to think more about using deep learning when it comes to building apps.
“To me, AI from the point of view of users is something that acts like a human. So when you talk to it, it does everything for you so that you don’t need to. It got me thinking: How can we actually leverage AI to build an app for customers? The idea for APSY came from there,” Tooraj says.
From his experience working to build products, Tooraj saw a few major stumbling blocks that customers kept hitting when it came to developing an app. The first was time, the second was money, and the third was expertise.
In fact, the average cost of building an app is projected to be between $40,000 and $100,000 – making even a no-frills project prohibitive for most small-to-medium-sized businesses. According to Tooraj, in addition to the cost, it can take months for an app to be produced.
When all is said and done, it is common for customers to invest money and time into an app that doesn’t look great and falls short of the original aspirations.
“When an app looks good and works perfectly, customers are satisfied. I wanted to create this feeling but without relying so much on humans who have a lot of inefficiencies,” says Tooraj.
Understanding How APSY Works
The process of building an app with APSY is iterative. It starts with a customer describing their vision to the AI agent called Gamma – a personified AI developer that greets you on the company’s home page.
From there, Gamma builds an initial prototype of the app with a visually sleek design. Once the initial design is landed a user will continue to chat with Gamma until the design is ready to go.
“A user may come back and say, ‘That screen doesn’t make sense. I want to replace that.’ And as they go through the discussion, the AI changes colors and features until they land on the customer’s idea for the app,” shares Tooraj.
The model for APSY is proven to work. As of 2023, the company has close to 100 apps worldwide and has helped businesses and customers build apps from start to finish for as little as $100 per month.
Lead With Patience and Persistence
Tooraj is proud of the work he has accomplished at APSY and has learned many valuable lessons throughout his journey. At the top of his list for other founders is keeping two values close to him: flexibility and persistence.
“A startup goes up and down just like a roller coaster. Things change so fast that you should be flexible to say, ‘I’ve done enough of this, I need to move on to the next thing and come back to this later.’ You should also always be flexible in the way that you operate things so that things move fast enough and you can show traction,” says Tooraj.
He also reccomends not being afraid to try new things.
“I had never sold anything in my life when I had to start selling to customers. But I saw people trusted me even more than my sales teammates because I wasn’t only trying to sell to them. You never know what you may be good at. You should always be willing to try new things,” Tooraj says.
In his Founders Network webinar, Tooraj shared lessons learned from his startup journey in addition to offering advice on:
- How to develop an AI-focused startup
- How to find your product-market fit
- How to continuously improve your AI through customer pilots
- How to create plans to establish and grow a customer base