10 essential gardening tools and what they do 11 Photos 2 Tags Share your voice Comments My Lawn: A Guide to Lawn CareMy Lawn (download for iOS or Android) makes lawn maintenance understandable and creates an easy-to-follow care plan so you know which products to use and when. Recommendations are based on your lawn size, location and climate. You’ll get an alert when it’s time to feed, seed and water your lawn, so you will never have to guess. You can also create a custom lawn care plan.Monitor the amount of water your yard gets each week from rain, hoses or sprinklers. Keep track of the specific needs of different parts of your yard, like the parts that are mostly shaded versus the parts that are always in the sun.My Lawn App Screenshot by Katie Conner/CBS Interactive GrowIt!Share your garden and connect with others through the GrowIt! app (download for iOS or Android). Share photos of your plants and ask the community for help identifying them. The GrowIt! community is a valuable resource if you’ve just moved to a new area. If you’ve got a pest that’s eating your tomatoes, for example, others on the app might be able to help.See what the people around you are planting to get some inspiration. If you find a plant you like, tap on the information tab to find out how to grow it. The information tab tells you how big the plant can get, how often to water and feed it, and when it will bloom. GrowIt! teaches you how to properly prepare your soil for anything you plant, grow larger vegetables, and what you should and shouldn’t plant based on your location.Read: 6 gardening tips you’ll wish you’d known all alongGrowIt! App Screenshot by Katie Conner/CBS Interactive iScapeDesign your outdoor living area with iScape (download for iOS). Use the design tools to make your project come to life. Snap a photo of an area that needs landscaping and virtually add flowerbeds, trees and shrubs to get an idea of what your yard will look like before you begin.iScape offers 2D and 3D designs so you can see what your physical outdoor area looks like with virtual plants. Once you have a landscape layout, you can share with your spouse or a landscape pro and get your project started.The app offers a free lite version, but to gain full access, you will need to subscribe to a monthly pro subscription for $20, or a yearly pro subscription for $200.iScape App Screenshot by Katie Conner/CBS Interactive FlowerCheckerIf you’ve ever wondered about an unknown plant in your garden, then you need FlowerChecker (download for iOS or Android). This app has a team of experts who can help you identify plants, moss, lichen and fungi.To find out about your unknown plant, snap a few pictures of it and upload them to the app. Try to capture the different parts of the plant like the flower, leaves and stem. The typical response time for an expert to identify the plant can take a few minutes or a few hours. So far, the team of experts has been able to correctly identify an average of 90 percent of plants.Identification costs $1 per plant uploaded. If the team can’t confirm what your plant is, you won’t have to pay anything. You’ll also have to purchase the app for a one-time cost of $1.FlowerChecker App Screenshot by Katie Conner/CBS Interactive Garden AnswersIdentify plants easily with Garden Answers (download for iOS or Android). Unlike Flower Checker, this app uses advanced image recognition technology to identify plants instead of an expert. Simply snap a picture and submit it to instantly get detailed information about a plant.To learn if your plants have pests or diseases, use the keyword search feature to ask Garden Answers a question. If you need more advice on gardening, ask the experts for more specific questions and recommendations. Access any of your previous plant questions and answers within the app.Garden Answers App Screenshot by Katie Conner/CBS Interactive SmartPlantLearn about healthy planting year-round with SmartPlant (download for iOS or Android). Watch videos, view images and learn more about how to care for your plants in the app library. Identify your plants and any pests that are preventing their growth. Scan plant barcodes in stores to receive monthly care tip notifications.The app has a free version that offers occasional access to premium features. If you subscribe to premium, you will have access to expert assistance. Premium costs $4 monthly, $10 quarterly or $35 annually.SmartPlant App Screenshot by Katie Conner/CBS Interactive Gardening CompanionMake your garden immaculate with the help of Gardening Companion (download for iOS or Android). This app acts as your garden assistant to help you care for your plants. Browse through thousands of articles on horticulture to take the best care of your garden.Track your garden’s growth by storing photos and notes in the app’s journal. The app records the weather in your location and you can compare how your garden did this year compared with last year.Set up notifications to remind you to water and fertilize your garden. Gardening Companion can also alert you when the time is right to plant your vegetables.Gardening Companion App Screenshot by Katie Conner/CBS Interactive GardenateLearn what you can grow in your area with Gardenate (download for iOS or Android). The app uses your location to show what is best for you to plant each month. Access plant descriptions and growing tips to become a pro. In the app, record planting dates, harvest dates and notes about your plants. Save the details in the My Garden section. The app will send calendar reminders when it’s time to harvest your produce. Access detailed information about your plants like when they germinate and at what temperatures, how far apart to space your plants and the amount of time it takes for them to harvest. Gardenate App Screenshot by Katie Conner/CBS Interactive Mobile apps can make gardening easier. Dragon Images/iStockphoto Not everyone has a green thumb or an eye for landscaping. Some people don’t even get to try because they’re so busy. Others watch HGTV over and over again and still never achieve the yard of their dreams because it’s easy to forget most of what you learned by the time you get outside.But since you can take your phone with you when you walk out into the yard, there are now some digital tools that can make you a more effective gardener. We’ve gathered together some gardening and landscaping apps that can walk you through how to take care of your plants and keep your yard looking fabulous. Mobile Mobile Apps iOS 12
Tags More Comic-Con 2019 The very best cosplay we saw at Comic-Con 2019 In a room surrounded by bars, with what looks like an electric chair in the middle, a constable asks me if I know anything about the Raven Society. I don’t. Secret societies aren’t really my thing. But I’m told if you download the Epix app, you earn admission to this mysterious organization. He says if I’m lying there will be consequences. Another one says, “Either way there will be consequences.”Ain’t that the truth. “As a side note, it’s also a photo opportunity,” the first one adds. I watch as groups of people pretend like they’ve just been torturing each other and having a ball doing it. Having flown through Chicago Midway Airport last week, I’ve had my fill of torture. As one group exits and another takes its place, I zip out to the exit, past a red phone booth and back into 2019 San Diego. Comic-Con Pennyworth’s world is posh but dangerous. Erin Carson/CNET The tray of utensils — the kind that would come in handy if you were trying to extract information from someone — was the first clue I wasn’t just hanging around a yet another dimly lit, posh-looking bar. The tray were sitting by a cot, in a dark little room hidden behind a bookcase housing books, pictures and an assortment of decorative knick-knacks, all meant to evoke 1960s London. Erin Carson/CNET Or at least, a certain part of 1960s London. This isn’t exactly Carnaby Street. I’m out at San Diego Comic-Con and this interactive experience mixing booze and intrigue is a promotion for Pennyworth, a show from DC Comics, airing son on Epix. Pennyworth tells the backstory of Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred, best known as Bruce Wayne’s childhood caretaker, butler and confidant, is portrayed in the show as a young man and former British SAS soldier, who creates a security company with Bruce’s dad, Thomas. Pennyworth, which premieres on July 28, isn’t the first show to dig into the pre-Batman world. Fox’s Gotham, which ended in April after five seasons, followed Jim Gordon, who goes on to become Gotham’s police commissioner, as well as Bruce Wayne as a boy and a middle-aged Alfred. At SDCC, Batman is an even more distant figure. There’s talk of secret societies called the Raven Society and the No Name Society. Constables are looking for information on them, and attendees are poking around the plush furniture, black jack table, post card station and, you know, torture dungeon. Post a comment 0 Stan Lee sang to me: 10 crazy Comic-Con moments I’ll never forget Comic-Con at 50: From hotel basement to massive cultural blowout First-time SDCC cosplay is terrifying, complicated and exhilarating 62 Photos Share your voice TV and Movies
Formerly known as the Google Home Hub, Google’s Nest Hub packs a wealth of Google Assistant goodness into a 7-inch screen. At $59, this is within a buck of the best price we’ve seen. It lists for $129 and sells elsewhere in the $89-to-$99 range.This is one item of many available as part of eBay’s Labor Day Sale (which, at this writing, doesn’t specifically mention Labor Day, but that’s how it was pitched to us). An Echo Dot makes a fine match for any Fire edition TV, because you can use the latter to say things like, “Alexa, turn on the TV.” Right now, the 24-inch Insignia Fire TV Edition starts at just $100, while the 32-inch Toshiba Fire TV Editions is on sale for $130. Just add any Fire TV Edition to your cart, then add a third-gen Echo Dot, and presto: The latter is free. Comments $6 at Tidal $999 Turo Lenovo 130-15AST 15.6-inch laptop: $210 (save $90) Boost Mobile Mobile,I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that stores are turning Labor Day into an excuse to sell stuff. Wait — no, I’m not. As much as I respect the original intent of the holiday (which became official back in 1894), to most of us, it’s just a bonus day off — one that’s blissfully tacked onto a weekend. So, yeah, stores; go ahead, run your sales. I’m listening. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Labor Day doesn’t bring out bargains to compete with the likes of Black Friday (which will be here before you know it), but there are definitely some sales worth your time.For example:We’ve rounded up the best Labor Day mattress deals.We’ve also gathered the best Labor Day laptop deals at Best Buy.The 2019 Vizio P Series Quantum is back under $999.Be sure to check out Amazon’s roughly three dozen Labor Day deals on TVs and audio. Google Express is having a big sale as well, one that includes deals on game consoles, AirPods, iPhones, laptops and more.Below I’ve rounded up a handful of individual items I consider to be the cream of the crop, followed by a handy reference guide to other Labor Day sales. Keep in mind, of course, that products may sell out at any time, even if the sale itself is still running. Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page. HP Laptop 15t Value: $520 (save $780) I thought this might be a mistake, but, no, the weirdly named HP Laptop 15t Value is indeed quite the value at this price. Specs include an Intel Core i7 processor, 12GB of RAM, a 256GB solid-state drive and a 15.6-inch display. However, I strongly recommend paying an extra $50 to upgrade that display to FHD (1,920×1,080), because you’re not likely to be happy with the native 1,366×768 resolution. Read Lenovo Smart Clock review See It Comments DJI’s answer to GoPro’s action cameras is rugged little model that’s shockproof, dustproof and waterproof down to 11 meters. It normally runs $350, but this deal drops it to $261 when you apply promo code 19LABOR10 at checkout. Lenovo Smart Clock: $59.99 (save $20) Amazon Recently updated to include digital-photo-frame capabilities, the Lenovo Smart Clock brings Google Assistant goodness to your nightstand. It’s a little smaller than the Amazon Echo Show 5, but also a full $30 less (and tied with Prime Day pricing) during this Best Buy Labor Day sale. MoviePass reportedly froze out subscribers and changed their passwords to keep them off the app. MoviePass MoviePass, the $10-a-month movie subscription service that once dominated the industry, has been hit with financial issues that essentially brought an end to the company as we knew it. It dealt with those issues in-part by changing some users’ passwords to keep them from ordering tickets, according to a Business Insider report this week. MoviePass parent company Helios and Matheson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Because MoviePass’ business model essentially involved paying theaters the full price for customers’ tickets, the company was quickly losing money, according to the report. CEO Mitch Lowe reportedly became frustrated with subscribers who took advantage of the low monthly rate by going to the movies every day, and ordered the company to limit subscriber access before the April 2018 release of Avengers: Infinity War. Lowe called for the passwords for a “small percentage of power users be changed,” which would keep them from going into the MoviePass app and ordering tickets, according to Business Insider.By the end of July 2018, the company was losing around $40 million a month, and on July 26 it ran out of money to put on MoviePass cards, Business Insider says. To get things running again, Helios and Matheson reportedly borrowed $5 million in cash. To deal with the loss of money, MoviePass reportedly made Mission: Impossible – Fallout unavailable for subscribers and froze half of them out on opening weekend, former employees told Business Insider.MoviePass has been wrestling with financial obstacles in the last several months by curbing its offerings. Last year, it reduced its plan to three movies for $10 a month. The company brought back its $9.95 unlimited movie plan in March, albeit with restrictions, before suspending its service indefinitely last month. $999 Chris Monroe/CNET Sarah Tew/CNET Rylo Read Google Home Hub review $520 at HP JBL Soundgear wearable speaker: $90 (save $160) Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case: $155 (save $45) TVs Speakers Mobile Accessories Cameras Laptops Automobiles Smart Speakers & Displays $90 at Daily Steals via Google Express MoviePass manages to get more expensive and less useful Angela Lang/CNET $155 at Google Express Mentioned Above Apple iPhone XS (64GB, space gray) Google Nest Hub: $59 (save $70) Read DJI Osmo Action preview $999 Turo is kind of like Uber meets Airbnb: You borrow someone’s car, but you do all the driving. I’ve used it many times and found it a great alternative to traditional car-rental services — in part because you get to choose exactly the vehicle you want (not just, say, “midsize”) and in part because you can often do pickup and dropoff right outside baggage claim.Between now and Sept. 1, the first 300 people to check out can get $30 off any Turo rental with promo code LDW30. 21 $299 at Amazon CNET may get a commission from retail offers. Best laptops for college students: We’ve got an affordable laptop for every student. Best live TV streaming services: Ditch your cable company but keep the live channels and DVR. Read the AirPods review Tidal 3-month family subscription: $5.99 (save $54) $261 at Daily Steals via Google Express Now playing: Watch this: DJI Osmo Action camera: $261 (save $89) The Cheapskate The problem with most entry-level laptops: They come with mechanical hard drives. That makes for a mighty slow Windows experience. This Lenovo model features a 128GB solid-state drive, so it should be pretty quick to boot and load software, even with its basic processor. Plus, it has a DVD-burner! That’s not something you see in many modern laptops, especially at this price. What’s cooler: A snapshot of a firework exploding in front of you, or full 360-degree video of all the fireworks and all the reactions to seeing them? Oooh, ahhh, indeed. At $250, the compact Rylo dual-lens camera is selling for its lowest price yet. And for an extra $50, you can get the bundle that includes the waterproof housing.This deal runs through Sept. 3; it usually costs $500. 1:38 Sarah Tew/CNET Turo: Save $30 on any car rental Apple iPhone XS Share your voice 7 Tags $60 at Best Buy Sarah Tew/CNET $59 at eBay Sprint $210 at Best Buy Free Echo Dot with an Insignia or Toshiba TV (save $50) Preview • iPhone XS is the new $1,000 iPhone X Use promo code 19LABOR10 to get an unusually good deal on JBL’s interesting hybrid product — not quite headphones, and not quite a traditional speaker, but something you wear like neckphones to listen to music on the go. See It Other Labor Day sales you should check out Best Buy: In addition to some pretty solid MacBook deals that have been running for about a week already, Best Buy is offering up to 40% off major appliances like washers, dryers and stoves. There are also gift cards available with the purchase of select appliances. See it at Best BuyDell: Through Aug. 28, Dell is offering an extra 12% off various laptops, desktops and electronics. And check back starting Aug. 29 for a big batch of Labor Day doorbusters. See it at DellGlassesUSA: Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 only, you can save 65% on all frames with promo code labor65. See it at GlassesUSALenovo: The tech company is offering a large assortment of deals and doorbusters through Labor Day, with the promise of up to 56% off certain items — including, at this writing, the IdeaPad 730S laptop for $700 (save $300).See it at LenovoLensabl: Want to keep the frames you already love and paid for? Lensabl lets you mail them in for new lenses, based on your prescription. From now through Sept. 2 only, you can save 20% on the blue light-blocking lens option with promo code BLOCKBLUE. See it at LensablSears: Between now and Sept. 7, you can save up to 40% on appliances (plus an additional 10% if you shop online), up to 60% on mattresses, up to 50% on Craftsman products and more. The store is also offering some fairly hefty cashback bonuses. See it at SearsNote: This post was published previously and is continuously updated with new information.CNET’s Cheapskate scours the web for great deals on tech products and much more. For the latest deals and updates, follow the Cheapskate on Facebook and Twitter. Questions about the Cheapskate blog? Find the answers on our FAQ page, and find more great buys on the CNET Deals page. Share your voice Rylo 5.8K 360 Video Camera: $250 (save $250) Tags Read the Rylo camera preview Sarah Tew/CNET Review • iPhone XS review, updated: A few luxury upgrades over the XR Though not technically a Labor Day sale, it’s happening during Labor Day sale season — and it’s too good not to share. Nationwide Distributors, via Google Express, has just about the best AirPods deal we’ve seen (when you apply promo code ZBEDWZ at checkout). This is for the second-gen AirPods with the wireless charging case. Can’t imagine these will last long at this price, so if you’re interested, act fast. Spotify and most other streaming services rely on compressed audio, which robs the listener of full fidelity. Enter Tidal, the only “major” service that delivers lossless audio — meaning at least on par with CD quality, if not better. Want to see (er, hear) the difference for yourself? Grab this excellent extended trial while you can. It’s just $6 for three months, and it’s good for up to six listeners. See at Turo $999 See at Amazon See it See It Best Buy
It’s official: Lenovo buys Motorola mobilityMotorolaMotorola has announced that the company has officially become a part of the Lenovo family.Under the deal, Lenovo will pay Google, the former owner of Motorola, a total amount of $2.91 billion dollars. The transaction will include 660 million worth cash and 750 million worth stock to be paid by Lenovo. The remaining money worth $1.5 billion will be paid to Google in three years.After the deal, Lenovo will handle the mobility device business part while Google will keep the patents portfolio.Lenovo, the prime laptop and PC manufacturer has not acquired that much of presence in the mobility segment in developed countries. On the other hand, Motorola is quite popular in those countries and is counted as one of the leading Android smartphone manufacturer. Their recent launches, Moto 360 Smartwatch, Moto G, Moto E, Moto X and Droid Turbo, are widely appreciated by the consumers. Even the latest, Nexus 6, the first smartphone featuring Android Lollipop OS is also made by Motorola.With raw Android experience, quick updates, great apps and awesome Google integration, Motorola has risen like a phoenix with good revenues and popularity.In the blog, Motorola mentioned: “We will continue to focus on pure Android experience and fast upgrades, and remain committed to developing technology to solve real consumer problems. And we will continue to develop mobile devices that bring people unprecedented choice, value and quality.”The acquisition of Motorola will add a huge amount of handset sales to Lenovo’s credit and they will hold a 8% share of the global smartphone market, which will lead them to the third best smartphone maker in the global sales, according to a report. Meanwhile, Motorola mobility alone has 5% share in the Indian smartphone market.Rick Osterloh, President and COO will still lead the operation of Motorola out of Chicago.”With an impressive portfolio of smartphones, wearables and PCs, our two companies will be uniquely positioned to push the boundaries of choice and value, and bring exciting new experiences to people everywhere,” Osterloh said.
Sophie TurnerReutersSophie Turner has been revealing a lot about her time on the sets of X-Men: Dark Phoenix lately.Her recent revelation could make fiancé Joe Jons a little jealous. Reportedly the Game of Thrones star joked that she is “in love” with on-screen boyfriend Tye Sheridan (aka Scott Summers aka Cyclops)… and that the Jonas brother is perfectly understanding of the whole situation, of course.”I mean, we’re in love,” Turner told Entertainment Tonight, with her co-star adding: “I’m in love with Soph.””And I’m completely in love with him,” the Jean Grey actress added, revealing: “[Joe] knows, he’s fine with it.”Wow, Joe Jonas sure seems like a pretty good fiancé. Apparently, Turner did gush genuinely about Sheridan, adding: “We’re like, such good friends, and I’ve always said to Tye, he’s my best onscreen boyfriend I’ve ever had.”And it’s just so nice to have such a wonderful relationship with someone that you’re sharing such intimate scenes with. It’s really important to have that connection.” X Men: Dark PhoenixInstagramSophie Turner also opened up about working with director Bryan Singer and how it wasn’t a completely pleasant experience as well as her on-=set confrontation with a fellow co-star on the set of Dark Phoenix. But the confession that got the Sansa Stark actress in a lot of trouble with fans was when she confessed that she had revealed the ending of the final season of Game of Thrones to her friends. The actress had to clarify what she meant. “I was on Twitter and saw these headlines like ‘Twitter followers are being so mean to Sophie Turner after reports she told her friends the ending of Game of Thrones’,” she said.”The truth is I’ve only told two people. It’s not that many. To be honest, I don’t read many of the mentions on Twitter because there’s normally quite a bit of hate. Everything I say will always have some negative reactions so I’m not surprised.The final season of Game of Thrones will air in April. We can’t wait for the final season of Game of Thrones.
Indian Real Estate SectorReuters FileMore than 6 lakh houses have failed to meet the delivery schedule in the National Capital Region (NGR), with nearly 2 lakh homes late for delivery by more than two years, according to data compiled by Liases Forras — a real-estate rating and research firm.Most of the delayed houses in the NCR are in Noida, Greater Noida and Gurgaon. While NCR is the top among 43 cities where such deliveries are stalled, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is second: 1.31 lakh houses are delayed here by more than two years, the Times of India reported.According to the research firm’s data, one in three houses gets delayed by more than two years in the NCR and one in four in the Mumbai region.Also, around 29.23 lakh houses under construction are delayed and over 50 percent of these are delayed by at least one year or more, according to the data.Besides the NCR and Mumbai, homebuyers even in Chennai, Pune and Bengaluru are facing delays in house delivery by more than two years.This analysis comes at a time when real-estate companies are pushing hard to finish incomplete projects with tougher rules under the Real Estate Regulation Act (RERA).The housing ministry has enforced the Act to make sure lakhs of people who have bought houses with their life savings but are still waiting for their houses are protected.”The law was brought to protect affected buyers and for future buyers. That’s why RERA does not differentiate between incomplete and new projects. The Centre has submitted its view on this to the Bombay High Court,” a government official said. Jaypee InfratechReutersDespite this law, real-estate firms such as Unitech, Jaypee Infratech and Amrapalli are being pursued by banks and homebuyers who had paid them advance but not received their houses, and have since turned to courts for recourse.They fear that they would lose out in case of liquidation because then the home buyers’ claims would be considered only after those of secured creditors like the banks have been settled.”The present situation has been the fallout of an investor-driven market, more commitment by the developers rather than what they could deliver and its arbitrary regulatory intervention such as stopping all construction activities in certain areas,” said Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of Liases Foras.Earlier this year, reports also suggested that as many as 826 residential projects in the country were facing delays extending to four years. Of the 2,300-odd under-construction projects in December 2016, 826 residential and 60 commercial projects were facing substantial delays.Sources in the housing ministry said they have now sought the details of delayed projects from each state.
People who overturn the apple cart don’t ask for permission. But it takes more than audacity for a 26-year-old to challenge an entire industry. For Ahmed Khattak, it was personal: He couldn’t buy a phone. An international student from Peshawar, Pakistan, Khattak arrived at Yale in 2004 at the age of 18 with no social security number and no credit history. That meant no one would sell him a cell phone.He was appalled at the barriers the U.S. cell phone industry threw in front of consumers at every turn. Restrictive two-year contracts?Indecipherable pricing schemes for voice, data and text? And, once he got a prepaid phone, $50 a week just to call his family back in Pakistan? This, from the most technologically advanced country in the world?”I couldn’t believe it,” Khattak says.In 2007, he went to London for an internship and discovered how to change the game–at the airport, no less, only moments after he got off the plane. “I realized that it was as easy as going to a vending machine, buying a SIM card and [thereafter] paying $22 a month for your phone bill,” he says.It was his “eureka” moment: unlocking cell phones, setting them free. “I decided that I had to change the way people in the U.S. go about their plans and phones,” he says. His New Haven, Conn.-based company, GSM Nation, had sales of $35 million in 2011, its first full year, and is on track to reach sales of $50 million this year.Three components to Khattak’s life help explain how he came to build his business. First, he was exceptionally competitive at squash, good enough to be recruited by Yale.”I am ethnically a Pashtun, and Pashtuns have dominated squash for over half a century. I went on to become a top-10-ranked junior national,” he says.The Pakistan Squash Federation is run by the Air Force, the second major influence in Khattak’s upbringing. He was a military brat–his father was in the Air Force–so he lived the gypsy life of moving frequently and with little notice, more than 15 times, to cities as big as Karachi and to tiny, remote villages.The third component was his can-do personality. “I have always loved building stuff and fixing it; [I am] a problem solver. I tend to look at everything to see where the stress points are and how to fix them,” he says. “I would fix my schoolmates’ and neighbors’ computers and PlayStations. All this was leading to a bigger venture for me.”The chance to study engineering at Yale, his ability to fit into any environment and his tinkerer’s bent laid the groundwork for him to tackle the multibillion U.S. cell phone industry.A Business is BornGSM Nation’s model is simple: Consumers buy manufacturer-unlocked phones that can be used with any network, then they sign up for significantly cheaper voice, text and data plans through third-party carriers such as H2O Wireless or Simple Mobile–with no multiyear contracts.These carriers resell blocks of minutes they’ve purchased from T-Mobile and AT&T.Seed capital for the company first came in the form of a $30,000 loan pooled from friends and family; later it would come from Junaid Shams, who co-founded GSM Nation with Khattak. At the time Shams was in medical school at George Washington University (he graduated in May). “In early 2010, Ahmed came to me with this raw business idea,” Shams says. “We spent the entire night developing it, talking about infrastructure, financing and concept, basically trying to figure out if it was feasible or not.”Raising capital was the first test. Once the company had revenue, Khattak and Shams raised an additional $120,000 in loans. A year after launch, capital arrived from an unlikely angel investor: Khattak’s dentist. Needing a root canal (but with no way to pay for it) Khattak searched locally for an endodontist who would do the work on credit. When he ran across the name Moin Ahmed, he thought, Sounds like he’s from my part of the world. Sure enough, Ahmed was a fellow Pakistani, and he told Khattak not to worry about the money.As GSM Nation stirred to life, Ahmed mentioned that he was seeking a place to park some private capital; Khattak suggested he write a check against equity in the company. Bang: Khattak landed $200,000. Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now So far, Khattak has managed this dance. And it hasn’t distracted him from the pleasures of starting a business. “It’s incredible coming to work every day and seeing what you have done,” he says. “I am obsessed with growing my company to thousands of people … the fact that I can get the thing I desire and [share] it with my friends and family is a good perk.”On a Saturday afternoon in San Francisco, the fog has burned off, and it’s a gorgeous summer day. Khattak has flown in early for meetings. He speaks rapid-fire, his brain clearly buffering half a dozen ideas that simply can’t make it into words fast enough. Despite the demands of GSM Nation, he is already at work on his next venture, eDrop.com, a new way of social shopping for great bargains. “I have assembled an amazing team,” he says. “We are going to release our first beta in [September] and hopefully go into a nice round of funding by October.”Khattak checks, then pockets, his iPhone and bids goodbye. He is taking a meeting at the airport, then flying back to Connecticut the very same day he flew in. Why? In spite of the insane hours he commits to his work, he reserves one day a week to spend with his wife and son to enjoy the fruits of his American dream.Storming the GatesWhen a twentysomething vaults into an industry with no experience, no contacts, very little capital and meager working knowledge about American business, you have to ask, How did he make this magic? Here’s what other entrepreneurs can learn from the success of GSM Nation’s Ahmed Khattak.Do your homework. “It’s fine to get into uncharted territories, but once you get in, do your research,” Khattak says. “Too many entrepreneurs spend too much time doing risk analysis [before they take action].”Find paying customers ASAP. James Boyle, managing director of the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, where GSM Nation was born, emphasizes the practical: “One of the pieces of advice we give students is to focus on finding the first paying customer as soon as possible. Whether you’re familiar with an industry or not, the process of getting someone to pay you money teaches you a great deal about challenges and opportunities in that space.”Balance the grand vision with immediate action. Ka Mo Lau, co-founder and CFO of advertising tech startup PaperG, calls out fellow entrepreneur and friend Khattak for his ability to move things forward: “Have a grand vision for where you want to go, but like Ahmed, execute on practical, immediate actions that bring you closer to that vision every day.” Enroll Now for Free Ahmed Khattak of GSM Nation. Did the endodontist see the growth potential in GSM Nation from the start? “Not at the time,” he says, “but I wanted to help Ahmed in his venture.” Believing in the man more than in the business itself, he handed Khattak the check.With desperately needed capital in hand, Khattak ramped up inventory, and two friends from Yale joined the company. Still, Khattak ran the show.”I am a very independent person, so I really don’t like a lot of interference. I didn’t seek a lot of help at all,” he says. Indirect help came from the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute, which gave him a tiny office space and required him to produce quarterly reports. “It instilled a great deal of confidence in me, and I owe them for that,” he says.GSM Nation was an instant hit. “It’s hard to put a finger on a particular occasion when I thought we were going to be successful,” Khattak says, “because we have surpassed our wildest imaginations. I mean, think of it, in excess of $50 million in sales in just over two years. We have taken such huge leaps that every six months we have a new aim and we literally treat that as our starting point.”He estimates the total market for his industry is $2 billion to $3 billion–but growing fast. “Fifty to 70 percent of T-Mobile activations came from contract-free plans in the past year, and now all carriers are going into this segment,” he says. This translates into more sales for the likes of GSM Nation.Full BoilSoaring growth poses the immediate problem of cash flow. On this point, Khattak and Shams agree. “I think the biggest mistake we made in the early going was not having as much funding as we originally thought we needed,” Shams says. “We were growing so fast [in] the first six to 12 months, faster than what even we had expected, that we didn’t have the funding at the time necessary to allow us to grow at the same pace.”Many of GSM Nation’s wholesale clients are based in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. So after a long day at the office, Khattak returns home, and calls begin coming in from the other side of the globe. With Khattak clocking 20-hour days, GSM Nation sidestepped major crises in its first year. Ever the problem-solver, Khattak admits he was constantly putting out smaller fires.The greater challenge is that there are practically no barriers to entry in the unlocked cell phone market, so the company must continually raise its game. “[It makes] the landscape insanely competitive; we started a company that was essentially a repository of information for people, and then if they wanted a device they could buy one,” Khattak says. “It might sound stupid, but our philosophy is to make sure the person who calls wants and needs what he thinks he does … We are not the cheapest in the industry, but we are the best. A lot of our competitors try to compete on pricing, and they never get anywhere.”Related: Young Entrepreneur Challenges the Way Americans Think About Their CellphonesGSM Nation certainly has its fans: A scan of reviews on ResellerRatings.com turns up myriad gushing comments (e.g., “You guys need a Superman cape.”).Yet cash flow remains the biggest obstacle to growth. “If I had a few million [dollars] more, I would do $200 million in sales this year,” Khattak says.Meanwhile, operations are lean at the New Haven headquarters. With just 14 employees, the company relies heavily on contractors. The work environment is casual, with “no sense of hierarchy.” As for his management style, Khattak says, “I am the kind of person [employees] respect and don’t want to disappoint because of my love for them, as opposed to them being scared of me.”Family ManWas Khattak ever frightened of failure? “Absolutely–still am. The fears are different, though. In the beginning, it was more along the lines of, I would have to go back to Pakistan having failed at something, and my friends and family wouldn’t understand,” he says. Today his fears are of disappointing customers. The fire dance of cash flow to keep product moving means that GSM Nation operates on a precipice. This story appears in the October 2012 issue of . Subscribe » 10 min read This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. December 10, 2012
This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Could Apple’s rumored acquisition of Beats Electronics open Pandora’s box to further purchases still?In a hilarious dig at the perceived capriciousness of the buy, a spoof by Funny or Die shows the tech giant tapping into its $130 billion cash mound to purchase entities as varied as Kohler Toilets and Totino’s Pizza Rolls.“I saw a very nice sweater at Fred Segal last week,” says an actress portraying Karen Mills, the company’s chief of acquisitions, “so Apple acquired it.”Related: Hear That? Apple May Buy Beats Electronics in $3.2 Billion Mega Deal.“Is this true?” asks a man portraying CEO Tim Cook, in his distinct southern drawl. “Are we getting an ape?”As various outlets have puzzled over why Apple might have its sights set on Beats, speculation includes that Apple is seeking to grow its digital music revenue, that it is eyeing Beats’ fashion-forward hardware for future wearable endeavors, or that the company is looking to poach Beats’ co-founder and music industry legend Jimmy Iovine.Either way, when and if the deal goes through, one thing is certain: Iovine and Beats co-founder Dr. Dre will be laughing all the way to the bank.Apple Announces Beats Acquisition from Funny Or DieRelated: Music Mogul and Entrepreneur Dr. Dre: I’m the ‘First Billionaire in Hip Hop’ Enroll Now for Free May 13, 2014 2 min read