Cassie's Startup Journey

Christina and Stephanie share their experiences as they create Cassie.

Read about our startup experience and let us know what you think.

New Year, New Cassie


Posted by: ssocias on January 5, 2016



We started to take a different approach at the end of 2015, focusing on very specific user sub-groups and tailoring our content accordingly. We limited Cassie to certain communitites only. We also took an analytical approach by partnering with a University Economics forecasting class. This class was was going to anlayze our predictive data, assessing how closely the mass forecasts correlate with reality.

The main take-away from these tests was the need for a native iOS app...Well, the people spoke and we listened! We have designed a completely new iOS app and are hoping to release it in the next few weeks. I recently finished our Python API and the backend is in place. Now, we are working on the Swift side of things.

This new app could be a game changer for us and we are very excited about the possibility. There is so much more we want to do, and this is our first step.


To a bright future,

S




September Update


Posted by: ssocias on September 9, 2015



Our blog has been quiet lately but, never fear, Cassie is here! We’ve been making lots of changes and are gearing up for an iOS app release in the near future. For now, though, here’s the latest rundown:

  1. We added a new team member- Jim Alderson Smith.
  2. Cassie is now for select communities only. We’re taking a more focused approach and promoting Cassie in specific communities before expanding. We’re currently live at my old high school in Tampa and have recently added a “University of Florida” category. Go Gators!
  3. Google Play! You can now download Cassie from the Play Store.

To a bright future,

S




Finding a New Team Logo- The Cassie Rocket Ship is on the Outs and a Puffy Vest is In?


Posted by: csocias on July 18, 2015



About a month ago, Stephanie and I changed Cassie’s colors from blue and white to green and white. We decided that since Cassie is the first of its kind (the first mainstream social prediction market) it should be unique in its appearance. We also wanted Cassie to be more recognizable and aesthetically memorable. Not many apps or social sites are green and we love green so we went with that! Blue seems overdone with Facebook and Twitter being major proponents of the blue and white layout.

Now that we have gone green, we are ready to get a new more recognizable/unique logo as well. The Cassie rocket ship is easy. It’s fitting for a company focused on the future but it’s generic and overdone. We want something a little more meaningful and unique. So far, Stephanie and I are deciding between an octopus logo and a puffy vest logo- two unique and meaningful logos.

The octopus is for Paul the Octopus who accuratley predicted many results of the 2010 World Cup- meaningful. The octopus is also unique and very cute. How many social sites use the octopus as their logo? Github surprisingly uses an octocat as their logo but that’s about it.

The octopus may technically make more sense than the puffy vest idea but I actually love and prefer the puffy vest logo. The impetus behind the puffy vest is that my personal favorite time traveler of all time donned a red puffy vest during all his travels to the future and back in time. Who do you think I am talking about? Who is Marty Mcfly from the Back to the Future movie series! The first Back to the Future movie is my personal favorite movie ever, narrowly beating Interstellar (a movie with time travel too...notice the coincidence). The idea of Cassie was in part influenced by Back to the Future; ever since I saw Marty in that red puffy vest travel back to the future I was obsessed with the future and time travel. I started wondering how the future would turn out or how someone in the future would think of us now. Today, I am still obsessed with these thoughts on the future. I think that the relativity of time and the ambiguity of the future are two fascinating thoughts. I want to be able to go back and see how accurate my predictions on the future were. For instance, I just celebrated my one year anniversary of working fulltime at Goldman Sachs. One year ago today, I would have had very different forecasts on my life and my work than what reality is today. I would have forecasted that I would stay at Goldman for 6 months. Amazing to see how time changes things! Finally, with Cassie we have created something that can track our future forecasts, like how long will you work at your current employer, and show us how accurate we are. Overall, the puffy vest would be a constant reminder of Marty Mcfly and his ability to go back to the future. This is unique. This is meaningful. And this is memorable.

Okay should we go with Octopus Paul or Marty Mcfly’s puffy vest? The puffy vest may be more confusing to look at than an octopus and people may not get it at first but I don't think a company’s logo has to be 110% obvious to everyone. Do you? I mean I’m currently typing on a computer with an apple on it! People could say what’s with the Apple just as they could say what’s with the puffy vest. Do you like the puffy vest or do you prefer the octopus?

Checkout some original sketches below (by our friend, the very talented Carmelle Kuizon, and also Jimmy and Stephanie)




To a bright future,

CMS




Happy 4th!


Posted by: csocias on July 4, 2015



I lied! This blog post isn’t about our quest for a new logo but rather a “Happy 4th of July” message!!! Stephanie and I are currently enjoying a family vacation in San Francisco. Our parents really wanted some family time (it’s not frequent us four are all together) and what better way to do so than a family trip to the state that houses Silicon Valley and other startup aficionado landmarks!

I am a big SF fan now after a few days here. I know I will always be an East Coast person but California is a great state. I am also still very proud to call NYC Cassie’s home state. We are an NYC based startup and proud of it. Where do you call home? Are you an East Coast or a West Coast person?

Also, how do you celebrate the 4th of July? This holiday is always a big deal for me because I love this country. For example, I originally enrolled at West Point my freshman year of college because I wanted to serve my country. Although West Point ultimately was not the right place for me and I ended up graduating from Johns Hopkins as a civilian, I still strive to serve my country in other ways. Stephanie feels the same way.

Stephanie and I are also the children of two Cuban refugees. Our parents came to the USA when Castro came to power thinking they would return to the island nation after the revolution. Our parents’ stories of how they lived the “American Dream” as political exiles to prospering American citizens is beautiful. The USA has given my family so much. Stephanie and I are still proud of our Cuban roots, the Spanish language and Cuban culture are integral to our lives, but we are most proud to call ourselves Cuban Americans. So, celebrating this country’s birth is a great day for me! Plus, have you ever read an American history book or taken an American history class? This country is an anomaly that should be celebrated everyday.

Let me know how you think of America. Do you believe in American exceptionalism? What are your family roots? We’re all immigrants in the end!!

And, this time, the next blog post really will be about our quest for a new logo- we’re thinking octopus or puffy vest.

To a bright future,

CMS




Nailing Down How to Best Articulate Our Value Proposition- Apparently, investors want to know one’s value proposition in the length of a tweet! (thanks Twitter)


Posted by: csocias on July 1, 2015



It’s very much in vogue to hear people qualify statements with “but remember no longer than the length of a Tweet”. Twitter is great and all but now we have to be proficient at communicating in under 140 characters!! I know brevity and concision are valued in writing but, 140 characters is tough.

I bring this up because recently Stephanie and I were asked to describe Cassie’s “value proposition”; why is Cassie special or why should I (investor xyz) care about Cassie. Well, great question. At first, we wanted to go off on our long tangent (I’ll go on this tangent now to demonstrate) about how Cassie is the only platform that provides one central location for people to place forecasts on world events and track their accuracy. Or how, Cassie is the only platform people can go on to see what their friends think about the future, both personal life events and public world events. Oh and how Cassie is the only platform that provides a formal outlet to all of our informal predictions, no matter how trivial. The we would mention how Cassie has a gaming aspect, through leaderboards and points, which is intended to be fun and keep people hooked. And then finally, through all of this, we would conclude with the grandiose claim that Cassie generates invaluable predictive data that will be useful for companies and governments.

Quite the tangent right? I’m surprised you’ve made it this far if you’re still reading this. Imagine how investors feel when they get thousands of emails from hopeful entrepreneurs all pitching the next big app or social media platform. So, Stephanie and I had some brainstorming to do; what do we think is most important about Cassie? why do we think investors should care? and what problem is Cassie solving?

I decided to google what other major companies’ value propositions are and found interesting results. For example, there was an article on Hacker News from almost 5 years ago that talked about how Facebook’s value proposition to users is that everybody you know is on it and that this is not a good value proposition because it is a fad. Whoops bet the person who wrote that feels silly right about now.

Twitter splits up its value proposition in its prospectus in terms of its value proposition with respect to users, platform partners, advertisers, and data partners. So, do you think we should do the same? Have multiple value propositions in terms of the end user? Or should we have one wide-reaching value proposition?

Regardless, here is what I came up with as our main value proposition. This isn’t something that would make a user want to sign up for Cassie but it is something that would make an investor want to invest in Cassie because this proposition is tied to how Cassie would be profitable and make money.

Cassie’s value proposition;

Cassie sources the potential of the wisdom of crowds to create accurate predictive data on geopolitical and cultural events.

126 characters! So what do you think of this value proposition? How would you go about articulating your company’s value proposition?

Next blog post I’m going to tell you about our quest for a new logo! Stay tuned.

To a bright future,

CMS




Finding another Co-Founder;- A Major Hurdle (More like a Mountain)


Posted by: csocias on June 30, 2015



Disclaimer: The writer of these blog posts uses very sarcastic language and appreciates dark humor. Please do not take offense.

Instead of going back in time and detailing our every move, I want to tell you about our current situation. Today, with just 248 users (two more users and we can round up to say ~300!), Stephanie and I are juggling all operations, up-keep, programming, design, marketing, and promotion of the company. It is very obvious that we need to expand our team! After countless phone calls with candidates we found through Angel List (https://angel.co/cassie-innovations), we are still searching for another key person to join our crew. I remember reading once that finding another co-founder or finding people to join your team will be one of the hardest things you do for your startup; whoever said that is right. I mainly want to find someone who truly believes in our idea, the purpose behind Cassie, and Cassie’s value proposition.

So, I keep sending emails to strangers using Linkedin, scouring AngelLIst, and even tweeting at folks all in the hopes that one person views our site and thinks that a mainstream social prediction market is genius and they have to be a part of this. This task is made most difficult because we don’t have $$$ to give people in exchange for work. We would be asking someone to join for equity in a company that is currently worth, well, technically nothing. Of course the intent is that the company will be worth a significant amount so you’d want to join now regardless. That may sound crazy but to the person who believes in our idea, crazy is what interests them, attracts them to do something bold, and motivates them to take a risk.

For now, I will keep using my tactic of spamming people online and through emails but eventually, this tactic will be over saturated. I know most successful startups find their initial team via personal connections and relationships. After looking as far as my family for my first co-founder (my sister Stephanie) and as far as my best from Hopkins (Jimmy Lin was involved before he started medical school), I’m afraid I don’t know where else to look in terms of personal connections. I am not actively in the startup/tech scene here in NYC so I do need to be more proactive about that and then eventually I could find interested people that way.

What do you think? How should we find our next software engineer to join Cassie? Any suggestions? Any empathetic stories you could share?

Come back to see what Stephanie and I are grappling with next! There is no shortage of conundrums and struggles we’d like to tell you about and get advice on.

To a bright future,

CMS




The Beginning


Posted by: ssocias on June 25, 2015



Christina had a great idea: let’s create an app where we can make forecasts on future events and share with our friends. We’re constantly making predictions for the future anyways so how great would it be to have a place to keep all those predictions and actually figure out how accurate we are!? With this app, we can predict everything from “What will I have for dinner tonight?” and “Will our friend Johnny drop out of college?” to “Who will become the next president?” and “How many games will the Bucs win this season?”

Yes, this is awesome. But, where do we start? We’ve never created an app before. While I “studied” computer science in college, it was mostly theoretical. I didn’t even write my first program until Junior year (having transferred to the major late). The learning curve would be huge. Christina and her friend Jimmy started designing the app using Illustrator and Powerpoint. They put together the basic layouts of the app and played around with prototype software like InVision. I reached out to some of my old professor for advice and also started talking to various software companies. We quickly found that we had nowhere near enough money to just hire a firm to make our MVP. And I couldn’t do it myself- it would take me waaaay too long. What now?

Stack Overflow to the rescue! In the time since Christina came up with the idea in May and now (November), I had started working for a lab at Harvard Medical School. My work was focused on web apps using Django. I had barely even heard of Django and had never done any web programming at all, but I was slowly getting better, one tutorial at a time. Stack Overflow quickly became my go-to site. After struggling for days on one problem in particular, I made my own post on SO. Who would answer my question.....Brandon! Maybe he regrets that fateful day when he replied to my post but Cassie is forever grateful.

After Brandon solved my problem (and voluntarily helped me work through the issue via screenshare), I mentioned that I was trying to build an app. By this time, we had decided to build a web app (instead of a native iOS app) since it would be “cheaper” and universally available to all users, regardless of phone type. This would be our MVP and the first step to eventually creating native iOS and Android apps.

So, Brandon agreed and we were off! Throughout this development, I learned much more about web dev and worked alongside Brandon to build Cassie v1. There are still many changes in the works and I’m working on them as fast as possible. Cassie is a deceivingly difficult app, with lots of moving pieces, so hang with us as we continue to improve! Suggestions for new features are always welcome.




Hello from Christina


Posted by: csocias on June 23, 2015



Allow me to introduce myself. I am Christina Socias, the other half of Cassie. Stephanie is my sister first and co-founder second. I never planned to have a startup with my sister, we just fell into this together and haven’t looked back since. Anyone who has spoken to me in the past year would think someone named “Cassie” is my sister. Nope! Cassie has been the focal point of our lives now since May 2014. As such, we decided to start this blog to document Cassie’s growth.

This blog is meant to be a complete reveal of the development of our startup. We don’t want to hold anything back because I think anyone who has any interest in starting their own company could benefit from uncensored access into another’s struggle at developing their startup. I use the word struggle because I am not afraid to admit that Cassie’s journey has not been easy. It has been the most exciting and satisfying venture but not easy! As we write this blog, please feel free to give us pointers, tell us what you think we’re doing wrong, and help us make Cassie a true success. Our intent is that in the very near future you, your friends, family, and strangers on the street are forecasting on Cassie right from their phone.

Thanks for reading

To a bright future,

CMS




What's this all about?


Posted by: ssocias on June 22, 2015



Howdy Everyone (and by everyone, I mean the millions of people reading this blog of course)!

Stephanie here. I'm one of the co-founders of Cassie Innovations. My sister Christina and her friend Jimmy are the other two co-founders but since Jimmy is now in med school, it's just Christina and I at the helm. We've been working on Cassie since May 2014 and have come a long way over the past year...but there is much more to come! Our beta version is live at cassieapp.com and we have this cool website/blog to tell you about everything we're doing to get Cassie off the ground.

In posts to come, Christina and I will share our story of building this startup. In the meantime, make sure to create an account on Cassie and start forecasting. I've been at the top of our leaderboard for some time so feel free to try and take my spot!

Oh, and if you have any comments or suggestions on how we can make Cassie better, leave a message below or shoot us an email at teamcassie@cassieapp.com.