Mr. Alok Pratap, an exuberant entrepreneur and founder of a widely popular iPhone App THANKQUEUE. This app gets rid of all that hassle of thank people every single day for anything and makes it easier thing to do. He is also an eminent Research Assistant at University of the Ryukyus. He has accolade with numerous award like Dean Award by Director of University of Ryukyus, Zenrin Datacom Award by Mashup Award 9 and many more. He has also published a number of publication on Electrical and Power drive systems. So, let’s discover more about him and his journey throughout his exhilarating career.
Q.1) A very warm welcome from Ideasmakemarket.com team. We are really obliged for your cooperation and support towards our newly introduced section covering majorly emerging Start-ups worldwide. Sir, you are pursuing your full-time PhD in Energy Engineering, how did you end up being an entrepreneur? Please tell us something about your journey so far?
My journey so far is amazing. This was always my dream to work on my own start-up. During my PhD course, I read many articles, journals and observed what other researchers and Scientists are inventing and innovating. And that gave me a lot of motivation and passion. Entrepreneur is not only about success, but I would rather say it’s about everyday learning. The more you learn, the more you get knowledge and go deeper in your journey. I am researching on wind power generation and trying to propose “How wind energy can solve human mankind problems”. Being an Entrepreneur is all about solving problems to make yours and other’s life better.
Q.2) Would you like to throw some light about your company- “THANKQUEUE” and also how it formed?
Saying “Thank You” is a two magical words for gratitude and happiness. It is an acknowledgement for appreciation. After doing some research, I found out that somewhere on the internet that we are lacking in saying “Thank You”. We have options to Like, Comment, favourites but we never have the options to say Thank You. Saying Thank You is as important as saying Hello, Good Morning, Good night, etc. Thank You are two beautiful words which are never made up artificially. It comes natural. You can say to your mother, father, brother, sister, friends, colleagues, clients. This is what I am trying to make a platform so that anyone can say Thank You to anybody on any occasion. THANKQUEUE is basically the queue of thanks.
Q.3) Over the time, you have been majorly involved in renewable and environment sector, how this start-up is helping you in fulfilling those career goals aligning with your domain expertise?
As I said earlier, Entrepreneur is not only about success; it’s about learning. During my PhD course, I learnt many new programming languages, management skills, research activities, etc. that gave me enough motivation to work on my own start-up. Start-up is my passion and I loves taking challenges. I always like to try to solve new and tough problems.
Q.4) “THANKQUEUE” is one of the few Apps which provides an easy way to thanks people by connecting emotions with technology, what are differentiating factors which helps you to market your product in comparison to other popular apps like TouchNote, Thank You Cards, etc?
THANKQUEUE is a very convenient iPhone app that is designed to help you perform one of the most common tasks of a day with the press of a button, i.e., THANK YOU. I will not say TouchNote, Thank You Cards, etc as competitors but rather I would appreciate. These kind of services should be appreciated on a large scale. But on differentiating factors, THANKQUEUE is different in many ways. In THANKQUEUE, users can make friends or just follow them. You can send Thank You privately, publicly, to your followers or whom you follow. Moreover you can download this app for free. THANKQUEUE app is not about sending cards. Our primary target is to send or receive Thank You from anybody. You thank people every single day for anything, whether they’re your clients, your parents, your siblings or whoever and while normally saying thank you to anyone may take some time and would require you to make effort whether it’s in person or over the phone or by cards, the THANKQUEUE app gets rid of all that hassle and makes thanking anyone you want and seems like the easiest thing you can do.
Q.5) In a short span of time, many iPhone users have downloaded your app, which is really impressive. Could you share some strategies for how you grew your customer base?
First of all, thank you for the comment. We did social media marketing, writing blogs, word of mouth. I am a student and through that I know many people in my university. This was my plus point for marketing my app. People liked it and feel proud when students talked about THANKQUEUE.
Q.6) Since this application has been recently launched on iPhone Platform, do you have any plans, in future, to introduce it over android & other Social media platforms and expand your target audience?
Yes, we do have but not at this moment. We are currently focusing only iPhone users. We have some basic features to add before going to other platforms. After iPhone, we will target Android and then to the web. We do not have enough man power to go everything altogether so we are going step by step.
Q.7) Can you share some of the biggest lessons you have learned so far as an entrepreneur and working toward your passion?
I learnt actually many things which I never leaned before. Never give up attitude, managing people, time schedule, solving problems in no time, patience. I have faced ups and downs during my Entrepreneur journey. At the beginning I got frustrated, lost patience and felt like to give up. But now I did not. I took those weaknesses as my challenge. Working on own Start-up is like an addiction. I don’t know about future but from the past what I learnt, I believe I am not in the wrong path. I am actually enjoying my journey with 100% commitment and passion.
Q.8) How do you see Indian entrepreneurs shaping up in recent times and impacting the global business environment?
Indian entrepreneurs are growing very fast and not only in India but globally. Indians have capability to do anything and especially the challenging problems. Indians are really impacting to global Start-up environment. We should actually promote more Start-up activities in schools and colleges. India is a land of technologists and Indian Entrepreneurs are doing a great job in Start-up world in comparison to other great entrepreneurs.
Q.9) Apart from ideating and entrepreneurial activities, what are the other hobbies you pursue in the meanwhile?
I like travelling, learning new technology in different sectors, watching Sci-Fi movies, cooking.
Q.10) What people do you look up to and model yourself on?
My father. I actually learnt so many things from him. I always observed him how he takes decision in difficult situation, being patience and never give up attitude. My mother who always support me. Also, I look up to Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook), Steve Jobs (Founder of Apple), Hiroshi Mikitani (Founder of Rakuten). I learnt a lot from their struggle as well as their achievement.
Q.11) Do you have any favourite business or related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?
Yes, I do want to recommend.
1) The Lean Startup – by Eric Ries
2) The Lean Entrepreneur – by Brant Cooper, Patrick Vlaskovits
3) The Art of Starting Up – by Abhishek ANAND
Q.12) Being an inspiring entrepreneur, do you have any advice for how young entrepreneurs can bootstrap? (Not spending a ton to get something off the ground)?
For young entrepreneurs, I will tell them not to be in a hurry. First understand your Start-up before presenting to people. Be assure, you will give all answers related to your Start-up. You know your Start-up more than anyone; so be confident. Listen and understand perfectly what others are saying about your Start-up. Don’t feel bad if someone say negative or give bad feedback about your Start-up but rather you should take it as a challenge. You should feel proud that somebody looked into your Start-up and give you an honest feedback. Spend your money wisely. Spend money until it’s too necessary or else keep doing things by yourself. I follow these 6 ethics of life (I got it from Internet somewhere):
1) Before you pray – Believe
2) Before you speak – Listen
3) Before you spend – Earn
4) Before you write – Think
5) Before you Quit – Try
6) Before you Die – Live
Q.13) In your experience as a student in Japan, how is it different from that in India?
It’s nothing too much difference. In Japan, they are focussing on Research on a large scale even in Bachelor course study. I studied both in India and Japan and I learnt a lot from both countries.
Q.14) What do you think are the areas where Indian higher education can learn from Japan?
It depends on student what and where they want to learn. India have many great institutions for higher education like IITs, IISc, NITs, etc. where they are doing a great research. Language is an important factor here in Japan.
Q.15) Tell us something about your university in Japan. Also if you can through some light on your research there.
My university, University of the Ryukyus, is located in Okinawa, Japan. There are many foreign students studying in my University. We have Undergraduate, Masters and PhD students as well. I am currently working on renewable energy – wind power smoothing of output power fluctuations caused by wind speed variations, fault ride through. I used control methods to smooth those fluctuations. Also, I consider Fault-ride through enhancement such that my system will stay connected when there is a grid fault. My research is based on simulation by using Matlab Software.
Q.16) Finally, you have lead by examples and been an inspiration to many ambitious minds. What would be your advice for the young MBAs and entrepreneurs?
As I said in my previous answers, understand your Start-up before reaching to people. Try to present your whole idea in simple words. Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. As an MBA, you have the best skills about management which is very good for MBA Entrepreneurs.