SCU Alumni and Co-Founders of “Locals Insight” App Share Nine Tips for Entrepreneur Success
With 85 percent of mobile users preferring mobile apps over mobile websites, it’s no wonder many entrepreneurs are joining the app market. Santa Clara University alumni Malika Singh BS ’21 and Chantel Allegakoen BS ’21 embarked on this very entrepreneurial journey following their graduation from the Leavey School of Business in the spring of 2021. The co-founders and Bay Area residents recently launched their new app, “Locals Insight,” an idea inspired when the two coincidentally studied abroad together in London.
They wanted to discover the city not as tourists but as Londoners–to experience the neighborhood eateries, activities, and amusements most frequented and preferred by locals. However, they found uncovering each hidden gem required researching and comparing different websites, apps, and tips from locals they met along the way. As they traveled to other cities during their abroad program, they had the same experience. They wished there was an easy, accessible one-stop-shop for a true local’s guide…an app.
Upon returning home, Malika decided to develop the resource she had wished for, and she asked Chantel to be her partner. This was the beginning of their Locals Insight app, launched on March 14, 2022. Locals Insight will start with a Bay Area focus, and Malika and Chantel envision expansion to other regions in the future. The two co-founders talked with MOBI about their experience and shared valuable insights and advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
Locals Insight Co-Founders Share Nine Tips for Entrepreneur Success
Write it Down and Map it Out
When asked how they got started, Malika and Chantel said the first night they got together they drew out their vision. They were two different people each with her own ideas, but in talking it through and mapping it out they combined their thought processes. “That first night we came up with the designs we are actually using today,” says Malika. Writing down your ideas is an important and valuable step, whether as a high level vision or detailed business plan. It can help you identify what you have and what is missing as well as providing a roadmap to help you achieve your goals. MOBI provides a free Business Plan Template that can help ensure all key areas of the business are considered.
Lean Into and On Your Community
Malika and Chantel both agreed that getting the immediate support of their friends and family was much easier than they expected. When they first shared their idea and asked for support from their community they received 200 responses within the first two weeks! Chantel comments, “People were so willing to mentor us or just share ideas. We met with so many different people, and we were so pleasantly surprised that people would listen to what we were struggling with and offer insights. The entrepreneurship community is incredibly supportive.”
Ask for Help
Early on Malika and Chantel realized the huge amount of work that was in front of them, from developing the app to the marketing, the finance, and more. Chantel suggested that they build a team. This wasn’t something they had initially considered, but they put out a notice on LinkedIn and other channels to recruit help. “Right off the bat we had 20 interns, and in the past 13 months we’ve worked with 40 interns in all, many working for free to gain experience,” says Malika. The program has been so successful Locals Insight continues to employ interns, recruiting through its online channels.
Use the Resources Around You
Malika and Chantel say they leaned heavily on the resources available at Santa Clara University which gave them a lot of guidance and hope. They sought information and guidance from the SCU Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship as well as participating in the Center’s Bronco Venture Accelerator’s Prep School. This program allowed them to advance the various aspects of their business with mentorship, workshops, and constant networking opportunities. When faced with organizational questions that required legal expertise, they utilized the free services provided by the Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic (ELC) offered by the SCU School of Law. To gain additional experience Malika and Chantel also attended a small business exposition and participated in a hackathon.
Many communities and organizations support economic development and small businesses, so entrepreneurs can be sure to look into local resources that might be available for entrepreneurship. There are also many online resources such as MOBI’s free online entrepreneurship courses, which provide a broad range of business topics such as Marketing, Digital Marketing, Ecommerce, Selling, and many more.
Leverage Your Strengths
Malika and Chantel agree that partnering was the best decision they’ve made so far. They’re able to share ideas, bounce questions off each other, and increase their outreach and networking. When asked how they decided on responsibilities Malika says, “It came naturally actually. We sat down and discussed the areas where we had experience and where we felt we were strong. From there it just evolved.”
Don’t Give In to Imposter Syndrome
“Starting our own business was both exciting and scary. We didn’t have any experience in entrepreneurship, and I didn’t feel like I had much to offer. It felt like imposter syndrome,” says Chantel about the early days of their journey. “As I became more comfortable, I realized that everyone is learning, they’re all taking it day by day too.” Malika agreed adding, “People don’t see you as a fraud at all, if anything they are impressed that you are doing it!”
Always Re-evaluate Your Goals
From the beginning Malika and Chantel wanted Locals Insight to be a platform that not only provided an insider’s view of favorite eateries and activities, but also supported small businesses. Malika had the idea of interviewing small business owners and sharing their stories to achieve this important goal. Chantel commented, “In this way we support the small businesses and provide context in order to draw people into the culture of the community. When you go to new places you can use Locals Insight to understand and appreciate the perspectives of the people who live there on a deeper level.”
While promoting small businesses is a key goal for the app, there are other goals that change. Malika and Chantel sit down every few months and talk about their goals. “It’s important to always re-evaluate your goals because things evolve quickly,” Malika says. “When we meet to discuss our goals, we ask ourselves, ‘what are we making this for’ ‘what is our purpose’ ‘what do we need to do now’ ‘what do we anticipate in the future’ to help us understand and focus on our goals.”
Malika says “When you embark on starting a business you know you are getting yourself into something really difficult. And it’s such a learning process. You just have to accept that and focus on the one thing that will pull you through. The positive feedback we received from so many people along the way really encouraged us to stick with it.”
Take the First Step
With so many possibilities of where to begin when starting an entrepreneurial journey, it can feel overwhelming. The most important thing is to take the first step. “If you want to start a business, you should tell someone, at least one person. That’s the best way to turn it into a reality,” says Chantel.
The Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic are both MOBI partners and we are honored to collaborate with these outstanding programs and many others to support entrepreneurship.
The Ciocca Center’s Bronco Venture Accelerator’s Prep School and Bronco Venture Accelerator accept applications from all members of the Santa Clara University community including students, alumni, staff, faculty, researchers, and visiting scholars. Visit the Ciocca Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship website and its Bronco Ventures page for more information. The Bronco Venture Accelerator also provides an opportunity for Bronco Venture Fund investment for the most promising participating businesses.
The Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic (ELC) and Bronco Entrepreneurs Advisory Clinic Hours (BEACH) support the local startup community by delivering free legal services to entrepreneurs through the use of second- and third-year law students. More information can be found at the Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic website.