Ali Rehan, CEO and co-founder of Eyedeus Labs, tells the tale of Groopic’s inception:
“We were just a group of five students studying at LUMS when we first decided to start Eyedeus Labs,” Ali Rehan, the charismatic chief executive, described his team during a telephonic interview with Youth Correspondent.
He added that they were a part of Computer Vision Labs at LUMS, and had published journals and attended various conferences. “We used to see all these apps at the app store during our research, and just feel so disappointed in them. We believed it was the lack of computer vision technology in the industry that resulted in such low quality apps. That’s when we decided on Groopic.”
When asked about Groopic, Rehan’s voice was filled with pride as he spoke of the first ever product introduced by Eyedeus Labs.
“We were all interested in photography – it is a passion of mine – and we were looking to develop apps in the same space. It was a very interesting project and a unique problem to solve. We started Groopic in March, last year.”
Talking about the obstacles that the team faced when developing the product, he stated, “we were very good at the technology developmental side of it. We wrote the basic code for the app in one night and the finished data was with us within a week. However, user interface was the part we did not know about.”
He added that it took the team seven to eight months to develop the basic user-interface structure of the app.
Groopic’s beta version was released in smaller economies, such as Pakistan and India, for a pilot run in December 2012. The team of five at Eyedeus Labs then gathered feedback from the smaller markets and improved Groopic consistently over a span of six months. Only then was it released in the target main market – USA, Europe, Japan, among others.
According to Rehan, they were never comfortable with the terms set forth by investors who approached them. “The terms were not really workable for us. That’s been happening for quite some time now.”
When the final product was ready, they were faced with the dilemma of properly marketing Groopic.
“We wanted to launch with a bang!” Rehan remembered. “So we created a big list of journalists and bloggers who wrote in a similar space. That somehow worked for us, and then the story got picked up by different magazines like Gizmo Rope, Mac and all these other tech blogs. CNN also picked up our story, and it went from there.”
When asked whether they were planning on launching another version of Groopic soon, Rehan declared that he and his team were constantly working to improve their products.
“We’re constantly working on it!We just released a totally different version a few days ago. We are now working on the user experience, sharability and social network aspect of the app.”
He further added that they were especially concentrating on building the android version.
When asked about the kind of response Groopic had received so far, the CEO of Eyedeus Labs enthusiastically stated, “We’ve had really awesome reviews on the app store so far!”
He declared that 80 percent of the users had given the app five stars, as opposed to only one percent of those who were not in favour of it.
When asked for a comment regarding Groopic’s great success, Rehan stated that they had only made a good impression on the market and had a long way to go.
“We have a long way to go,” said the 26-year-old chief executive. “We have just started.”
When asked whether the environment in Pakistan was conducive with regards to entrepreneurship, he ascertained that the country was “heading in the right direction.” He further added that over the past one year, a huge change had come over the market with more people leaning towards entrepreneurship.
“There is more awareness, positive experiences of entrepreneurship – obviously, such things will take time! You have to go slowly and steadily, but it happens.”
He added that there was a greater need for youngsters to work in Pakistan, rather than look for jobs abroad. “You can’t just say that you want to work for Microsoft or some other company. We need more employers than employees. That’s how we can change this country’s future.”
Rehan’s message to the new-blood out there wishing to start their own businesses was, “You need to be passionate about things! I remember this dialogue from this movie I recently saw, which went like you have to be ready to take your chances. Always do what you are passionate about! You cannot blame the environment for not being conducive enough if you are not ready to work for it. It has been a year – we started in July last year, Alhumdulilah, and we have come so far. But we still have a long way to go.”