Ampl is a news app designed with built-in messaging for article sharing and a personalized news feed of user trusted sources & interests. Ampl’s mission is to help close the loop of news consumption and discussion in a social capacity. More than ever before, users are losing confidence in the integrity of news on platforms like Facebook and Twitter due to news crashing, echo chambers, and media meddling from foreign entities. Consumers are demanding a non-biased news platform to easily follow trusted news sources and read quality content. Ampl meets this need with a unique news app that enables users to easily gain control of their news exposure and quickly share articles with their network simultaneously.
Designed with a built-in messenger to hold meaningful conversations without leaving the content. When you share an article on Ampl, individual and/or group message threads are automatically created within the article. Complete with the ability to annotate specific areas of the article and add comments to drive focused conversations. “It’s the most seamless way to discuss an article on mobile and avoid the annoying experience of screen-hopping between an article and messaging application.” said Erik Lefkowitz, Ampl’s CEO “We’re excited to make article sharing fun and easy, while introducing a social platform focused specifically on sharing & discussing meaningful news”.
The Journey To Ampl
The story begins with the founders’ vision of creating a better way to share articles and experience news. Before Ampl, the standard method for sharing an article on mobile was the antiquated and fragmented process of copy/pasting links and sharing via SMS/email. Erik initially came to the concept of messaging within articles while listening to songs on Soundcloud. He noticed that you could leave comments at specific points in the song, which typically drove more community engagement & comments. Leading to the aha moment of seeing value in having this capability for news articles and crafting the vision into a complete social news app.
Entering into today’s highly competitive tech news industry would turn most entrepreneurs away from taking a shot. However, we became extremely confident in our vision through our due diligence process and recognized a gap in the market. We identified that each of the competitor apps (Flipboard, Apple News, Twitter, SmartNews, to name a few) are doing certain things great, but none of them are bringing it all together in a dedicated social news experience. So, we decided to embrace the risk and set off on the journey of realizing our vision.
We bootstrapped the cost to have a prototype designed and created, which ended up running upwards of $15,000. A big investment for two mid 20s entrepreneurs. The business development and product design process during this period really pushed us to think critically about what we were creating and how it would be different from anything else on the market.
With a strong vision and prototype, we began the arduous learning process of fundraising. Developing an app is not cheap in today’s market, especially for two non-technical founders. The amount of capital needed is quite substantial in order to create a product that can be competitive in today’s social landscape. Long story short, the cliche statement “Double the time & budget you expect the development to take” proved to be true.
As we began fundraising, we got crushed out the gate. Looking back now on the first few investor meetings, we were far from actually being prepared to execute against our vision. Over the subsequent year and a half, we scheduled upwards of 50 investor meetings and continued to get no after no from every VC or Angel investor we met with. Without letting the temporary failure discourage our vision, we continued to refine our pitch and business plan. Until finally we partnered with our Head Of Growth, Jared Amzallag, who connected us with the perfect fit Angel Investor, Roger Kirk. Roger had previously created and exited a successful software company, Computer Guidance Corporation.
Once we secured Pre-Seed funding, the next challenge was hiring the right development team capable of bringing our vision to life. Since Erik and Andy are not technical co-founders, this was a major challenge to overcome and build a successful team. The guidance from our angel investor was critical to the successful development of Ampl as his years of experience and mentorship helped us all the way through this process.
Ampl is now available on iOS in Apple’s App Store and were faced with a whole new set of exciting challenges as we scale and build a highly engaged community. We’re already seeing great initial traction from our early adopters and we’re excited to continue innovating and meeting the needs of our community for the best possible social news experience.
Our best advice for anyone who desires to set off on their own entrepreneurial journey is to be extremely passionate about what you’re creating. It’s guaranteed that you’ll encounter an immense amount of doubt along the way. However, If you passionately believe in your mission, the doubt, and challenges that come along with developing a business actually become fuel for pushing forward towards your goal. Additionally, it’s the recognition that challenges are absolutely critical to the growth and are actually the path to success. When you come across a challenge, you have to attack it head-on with everything you’ve got instead of trying to navigate around the obstacle. Expecting to try things and fail often as you overcome challenges helps to shape a mindset for perseverance and ultimately find solutions to any problem you come across.