Q&A: Sameer Ahmed Khan, Karachi-Based Developer Takes on Hootsuite and Buffer


Sameer Ahmed Khan is the CEO & Co-founder of Social Champ. The Karachi-based firm has developed several apps over the years, but their latest creation is starting to grab attention as an alternative to the more well-known social media scheduling tools, such as Buffer and Hootsuite.

Branding in Asia recently caught up with Khan at his office in Karachi.


What was the first app you developed that you are still proud of?


 

Every time someone codes their first app, they become proud of it until they code their next app and start loving it more. I developed ‘Namaz Reminder’ with my friend, Zohaib Ahmed Shakir, and after winning several competitions we coded more apps which turned into fine products and won international and local competitions. Right now, ‘Social Champ’ is something we are the most proud of.

How about one that you wouldn’t do again?

I wouldn’t do any app that is ‘good to have’ rather than an app that solves a very strong pain point for users. Sometimes the pain point is not that complex as we assume it to be, this is the mistake we made when developing ‘RemindZapp’, an app that allowed users to send trackable reminders to their friends.

We contacted Guy Kawasaki and asked for feedback. To my amazement he replied back and gave his opinion and feedback. This is how ‘Social Champ’ came to be.


 

Now when I think, I should have burned 1-2 months in surveying strangers (not friends) about the necessity of the solution ‘RemindZapp’ provided, rather than burning 6-7 months in its development and then realizing that the pain wasn’t real.

What inspired you to start Social Champ?

To begin social media marketing of ‘RemindZapp’ I researched the best social media strategies. After The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki & Peg Fitzpatrick, I realized the potential of ‘The Art of Repeating’ method. I started to search online platforms that allowed repetitions, however I couldn’t find any that had that feature.

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I shared the idea with Zohaib who promised to help me out and have it finished before my upcoming birthday and present it as a gift. So, we spent a few weekends together, and managed to get it done. Once it was ready, I shared it with an e-magazine “TechJuice” and they loved the entire concept as it helped them in increasing their audience reach.

Afterwards we thought of a name for the product, contacted Guy Kawasaki and asked for feedback. To my amazement he replied back and gave his opinion and feedback. This is how ‘Social Champ’ came to be.

This isn’t the first venture that you’ve started. What are some lessons you’ve learned from the past that have helped you in developing Social Champ?

Social Champ is our fourth product, the lessons we learned from previous experiences that helped us shape the execution of ‘Social Champ’ to it’s best form.

Our very first product, ‘GameOChat’, a multiplayer gaming platform, taught us that doing everything at once will create total chaos. We targeted to have an Android App, iOS App, Windows Metro App, Web App and release it all at once. We made it happen in 3 years time, but had many bugs and design fixes to be done. Only when ‘Unity Platform’ launched we decided to kill the product.

For startups, money cannot be the ultimate motivation, it’s something beyond that, that sense of accomplishment when you fade away from this world and your product lives and serves the world. That’s unbeatable.

‘RemindZapp’ taught us to identify a real pain is an art, but to make your app, a habit for your users is a bigger art. People will agree to use your app, but if it’s not helpful or tempting enough they won’t. Focusing revenue totally on ADS is not an option in the start. Growth of an app takes around 2-3 years so prepare accordingly.

What is your assessment of the current offering of social sharing apps out there? What are they doing right and what are they lacking?

There are many social media scheduling platforms out there with slight differences, so many that it confuses the users. Some are too complex, others are overly priced and have too few features. What surprised me was that none of them helped in repeating old content, imagine yourself to be startup or brand wishing to promote your content again, and having no way to repeat it.

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There is a tool, Edgar that does it, but it doesn’t show analytics or help you track your repetitions as I wanted to. So we picked the best design, necessary –features that social media managers actually used, and formed Social Champ.

What is your main motivation for all this?

To do something for the people & for the betterment of my country, always pushes me further. I have always felt indebted to give back to society. The skills that I’m trained with, the friends who have been with me, the teachers & mentors; I feel obliged to serve them all.

For startups, money cannot be the ultimate motivation, it’s something beyond that, that sense of accomplishment when you fade away from this world and your product lives and serves the world. That’s unbeatable.


You can visit Social Champ on the web here.

Picture of Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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