James Sun has been an entrepreneur since childhood and was the first Asian American contestant and finalist on “The Apprentice.” His latest venture is Anomo, a social discovery app that provides an opportunity for quality social interaction that is easy and safe. It allows users create an anonymous avatar that gives them the opportunity get to know the people around them while interacting in games and chats.
I had the opportunity to ask James some questions about Anomo, entrepreneurship, and of course his time with The Donald (we can pretend we don't care that much, but that would be a lie).
Tech Cocktail: When did you first get the entrepreneurial bug?
James Sun: I started my first company at age 11. It was a window cleaning marketing company that sold cleaning services around the neighborhood. And after working for large companies like Intel and Deloitte Consulting, I realized I love creating new products and services. So I left corporate America and focused on startups – particularly in mobile.
Tech Cocktail: What has been the biggest challenge in building Anomo?
Sun: The biggest challenge has been building for future scale vs. managing today's minimum cost. We are now experiencing a 500 percent month over month growth in usage, which forces us to increase our scale – which means we have to raise more cash. It's a good problem to have, but still very challenging to quickly scale a mobile social platform.
Tech Cocktail: What is the biggest success you've seen with Anomo so far?
Sun: We have an incredible app-opens per daily-active. We also have an very large percent of downloads to daily-active. Our users are opening up the app 18.3 times per day! That is better than Facebook, and we have also nailed it in the 16- 22-year-old market! Ninety-five percent of our users are in this coveted tough-to-reach market.
Tech Cocktail: How has being on “The Apprentice” changed you as a businessperson and entrepreneur?
Sun: I understand much better how to leverage media and storytelling. As an original database programmer by training, I never learned the importance of storytelling, marketing, and media.
Tech Cocktail: What hacks could you give for future “Apprentice” contestants?
Sun: Focus on differentiation. When Donald Trump looks for someone, he wants someone unique and different. This is so true in building products. Build something unique! Anomo took a big risk in going against the trend of social networks showing 100 percent transparency to your private info. from day one. We believe in revealing things about ourselves over time to individuals that we feel comfortable with. Not to the whole world from day one. This use of Anomo avatars makes us unique and different.
Tech Cocktail: What is the key to finding the right people and keeping your team motivated?
Sun: [Look for people with a] big vision with [an] executable plan of action. Great people want to do great things. That's who we look for, and they stay motivated because they are changing the world.