Saul Garlick is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Fabric, a social app in augmented reality (AR). You open Fabric right to your camera to see and share messages in AR as thought bubbles overhead. Messages can include text, photos, and videos and can be seen by everyone within a half-mile through walls and other physical barriers. His first company ThinkImpact is an award-winning global immersion experience for college and graduate students working on social innovation in Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, and Panama. Over 750 students have lived and worked in rural communities through ThinkImpact’s innovative model, which is based on “The Innovator,” a workbook Saul co-authored. He sold the company in 2018, which was subsequently rolled into a conglomerate of international experiences called Impact Global Education. Saul is the founder of Unleesh, a social, experiential training app dedicated to closing the global skills gap. More than 75,000 individuals have benefited from Unleesh’s unique approach to education and ensuring employees develop necessary skills on the job. Saul served as president and senior adviser of a nonprofit, expanding the organization from serving 184 children daily at one school, to 19 schools, which now serve more than 4,000 children daily. Saul is a Truman Scholar, an Inc. 30 under 30 entrepreneur and a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He lives in LA with his wife and two sons.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Saul says:
Start with a very focused community or location, learn, then test in a new one. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Hire for attitude, and I think that’s always been right. You can’t work with people who don’t want to learn, work hard, test things, and move forward. A good attitude will lead to excellent outcomes.
I probably would have been more patient 10 years ago, and committed to plans more deeply. In the early days, I was trying everything, and it could lead to too many distractions. Stay focused!!!
Read on to know more about Saul Garlick and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background, and what are you working on currently?
Saul Garlick: I’m a serial entrepreneur who has started four different organizations over the past decade in technology, education, and travel. Currently, I am building Fabric, a social app in augmented reality (AR). You open Fabric right to your camera to see and share messages in AR as thought bubbles overhead. Messages can include text, photos, and videos and can be seen within a half-mile through walls and other physical barriers. We started the company to strengthen the community by sharing real moments and connections. During the Coronavirus, we see it as an opportunity to connect neighbors in real-time.
How have you attracted users and grown your product from the start till now?
Saul Garlick: We’re just getting the product off the ground. Right now, we’re focused on identifying local ambassadors who want to build community and bring Fabric to the people they know nearby. The opportunity for people on the app to discover real moments around them in augmented reality is fascinating, especially during a time when a large percentage of the world has been forced into isolation. It could change the way people feel while sitting at home.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue? What strategy worked best?
Saul Garlick: Our business is focused on user acquisition and growth over revenue in the short term. We believe there will be opportunities for businesses to organize users and build a community that will be worth paying for in the near future. We also anticipate partnerships where companies use the platform to increase engagement at events after Coronavirus.
What are some marketing tips to help maximize the success of a product launch?
Saul Garlick: The key is to balance awareness and user adoption. When you are a new app, nobody knows who you are or what you do. Fabric is building credibility through media, blogs, videos, and partnerships. We already have thousands involved in the work we are doing and plan to empower locals to lead the way in their community, bringing relevant ideas to friends nearby. The more organic and peer-to-peer, the better. Start small, think big!
What’s the hardest thing about product launches? And What is a good product launch checklist to be well prepared?
Saul Garlick: There’s the unknown about your target market and who wants your product most. We call this our ideal first user. This is hard to define in the early days, so the key is to run a series of focused tests and get as much feedback as possible. Then you have to interpret and analyze the feedback. Is the feedback from the right demographic? What are the barriers? What do people love? You do it over and over again until you find your ideal fit. In the meantime, you build your presence through social, website, media, and video content to explain what you have created.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Saul Garlick: Our product and company are global from day 1. The app is available everywhere, so the more significant challenge is creating meaningful adoption in each place that the app is used. We plan to nurture communities, tweak the product to improve peer-to-peer sharing, and, ultimately, be relevant in most urban areas.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global marketing?
Saul Garlick: They try to do too much too soon. Start with a very focused community or location, learn, then test in a new one. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Saul Garlick: There are two sides to this question: marketing and financing the company. On marketing, we have to adjust our plans to adapt to how users are living their lives. With people unable to attend events, our plan had to be more digital. Regarding finance, we have to continue on the path and prove why we are a solution during COVID119 and beyond. The key is to build a great company in any environment.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? And What advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Saul Garlick: Someone once told me to hire for attitude, and I think that’s always been right. You can’t work with people who don’t want to learn, work hard, test things, and move forward. A good attitude will lead to excellent outcomes.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Saul Garlick: That’s a tough question! I have made so many decisions along the way, and it’s hard to know which were right and wrong. I probably would have been more patient 10 years ago, and committed to plans more deeply. In the early days, I was trying everything, and it could lead to too many distractions. Stay focused!!!
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