The BizSpark startup of the day is Loopt, based in the US. Below you will find an interview with Sam Altman, Co-founder and CEO of Loopt. All the best to them and congratulations for being the startup of the day!
Tell us who you are and your role in the company:
I’m Loopt’s co-founder and CEO. My primary responsibility within Loopt is driving the product vision, assembling a passionate team to realize that vision and making sure people have fun while they’re at it.
What did you do before creating your company?
Prior to Loopt, I studied computer science at Stanford, mostly focusing on security and machine learning. One of my favorite projects while there was helping build an autonomous helicopter navigation system. The idea for Loopt also developed while I was at Stanford.
How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?
I feel very honored that Loopt is being recognized like this. We’ve worked really hard to build a great product in the location space and we have a great team. This is really a tribute to all their hard work and to the BizSpark program. BizSpark has allowed us unparalleled access to tools, software, and information from experts and peers. Programs like BizSpark are tremendously valuable to startups like Loopt, and we’re proud to be to a part of it.
What is your company’s mission?
Loopt’s strives to connect users to the people, places, and events around them. We’re passionate about designing apps that harness location in order to help users discover the world around them.
How did you get the idea for your company?
The idea for Loopt actually came from my time at Stanford and trying to find out where my friends were at a given time. Calling or texting close friends to find out where they were wasn’t very efficient and it got old for me. My co-founders and I decided we could remedy that problem with a mobile app, and the rest is history.
Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?
Loopt got its start as a Y Combinator company. We’re also backed by NEA and Sequoia.
How many employees do you have? How many developers?
We have just over 40 people right now. About two thirds of those are developers and engineers. We put a lot of resources into designing and building great apps.
Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring for and where?
Yes! We’re always looking for great people to join our team in Mountain View, CA. You can find a list of current openings here: http://about.loopt.com/jobs/
Which platform are you building on? Why?
We’re primarily focused on building mobile applications. We have apps that work on all the major mobile platforms, but we’re especially excited about Windows Phone 7. We think it’s going to be a great mobile platform for users and developers with a spectacular interface.
Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/Internet area?
We feel that mobile is going to continue to be a great area for developers. Obviously we think there’s a lot of value and potential in the location space, but opportunities in mobile are going to continue to grow as mobile platforms become more developer friendly and devices get more powerful.
What do you think about the BizSpark Program?
BizSpark has been tremendously valuable for us. In addition to all the tools, software, and info that the program provides, we’ve also found the exchanges with fellow startups, developers, and experts have been invaluable.
Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?
Hire the best people. Your company and products depend on it, so hire a strong team you trust. Also, work as hard as you can to make the best product possible. Listen to your users. It’s easy to get distracted, but user feedback will usually refocus you on the right priorities. Also, take advantage of all the amazing programs, people, networks, and tools that are out there to support you. BizSpark is a great example of a program that will plug you into great tools, software, and communities.
Who’s your role model?
I think Larry Page and Sergey Brin are very inspiring in the sense that they were able to take a simple idea and expand it into a suite of products and services that we use every day. While it’s important to focus on your core competencies and whatever you’re working on at the time, make sure you don’t forget where your product or service fits into the grand scheme of things and how it could potentially expand and add more value to users.
What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview?
Seek out and take advantage of the resources available to you. Whether they’re developer communities, networking events, other entrepreneurs, or programs and tools like BizSpark, make sure you tap as many helpful resources as possible.