During the Seedstars Summit, a range of prizes were awarded to the best traveling startup, the best global startup, etc… We have interviewed Caya, the co-founder of Slidebean, a startup that was awarded the public prize.
In 2011, Caya quit his job to start building his first startup with a co-founder, Phillipe Casorla, now head of mobile LifeSum. Unfortunately, this first startup failed and they chose to learn from their mistakes. While he was working at his previous start-up he had an interesting concept in mind. With the experience he accumulated and this new idea he created Slidebean.
HEConomist: In a few words, tell us about Slidebean?
Caya: Slidebean is a presentation software that designs slides automatically. It separates the content from the design: you just need to add your content and then the software works for you and proposes different designs to you.
We were aware that presentation software were making people lose time every day because of the number and complexity of the options available. We also wanted to make a product that people would like and use. We developed Slidebean over 3 years to make it the best we can, and we are still improving it.
HEConomist: What did you do to make Slidebean come to life?
Caya: During the first months we brainstormed a lot, to think about what we could develop, how we could do it… but what took most of our time was the consulting. We needed some help and advice to build our campaign, to make our project known by users. After those first months we joined a startup accelerator. That was the key point, we stopped consulting and we started focusing on our product. Obviously this step made our life and job easier and was the beginning of what Slidebean is today.
HEConomist: Have you encountered difficulties?
Caya: In every project or company you encounter difficulties. We made a lot of mistakes but when we discovered one we fixed it as fast as possible to keep momentum going. One of the biggest mistakes we made was that users could get our product for free, and subsequently free users were really hard to convert into paying users. Moreover, it’s hard to get investment if you don’t get revenue and if your product is free, you don’t get revenue… We wasted a lot of time raising money from investors, when we should have focused on making money from the software.
HEConomist: How would you describe your state of mind?
Caya: The state of mind of an entrepreneur: focused, hardworking, dedicated to my company. I’m working hard and I don’t get much free time! But I like it, then for me this is not a constraint. It has been a long time since I wasn’t 100 % disconnected. I have to check my emails constantly, even at the week end or in vacation. My state of mind changed during my early entrepreneur years, I was really naïve but this brought me and all my team the perspective we needed.
HEConomist: What are the main qualities required for successfully launching a startup?
Caya: When you start a business, you need a really good understanding of your business, you can’t afford to fail this part. The business model needs to be under control. Then you need to focus and do things really fast, you have no time to lose. Every entrepreneur needs to be realistic, don’t blind yourself, if you don’t do it well someone else will. What is important for most startups is to keep track of the data in order to know what’s working and what needs to be fixed or improved.
Surrounding yourself with talent and hardworking people is also key for a startup, we had a really fantastic team and that made it easier for me.
One of the main pieces of advice would be to win the race against time to achieve profitability before you run out of money. It is cool to get users but if your startup’s bank account approaches zero, that’s the end of the story.
HEConomist: If you could change something what would it be?
Caya: I wouldn’t change anything because failing is a step of success, I have no regrets. Every single day, we disrupt our business to innovate and improve.
HEConomist: Have you ever had the desire to sell your project? Have you ever wanted to quit everything?
Caya: We haven’t had the idea of selling it and we haven’t received any offers yet but we all know that the team which is building this project will change in the next years, time will tell.
I have never wanted to quit Slidebean, I love this entrepreneurship experience. But I would love to do it again and start from zero. Slidebean doesn’t really need me anymore, it is a challenge today but one day it will be in my past.
HEConomist: What did Seedstars Summit bring to you?
Caya: Seedstar Summit was a great opportunity for me and Slidebean. It made people talk about Slidebean and led to us getting new users. During those days in Switzerland I discovered the differences between the Swiss and Chilean markets. It is always good to understand how foreign countries work to develop new strategies and ways of thinking. The highlight was the opportunity to meet fantastic people. It’s also fantastic to make new contacts in different countries. Some are friends, others are business contacts, and we all help each other.
HEConomist: What did your previous experience in a startup bring you?
Caya: It helped with not repeating mistakes. We were too young, we had no credibility. After this first step, we were more comfortable with the startup experience. We learned to do things more efficiently and we discovered the needs of a profitable startup. It helped because we had some contacts that we didn’t have when we started our first start up. There are a lot of reasons, but most of them are linked with experience.
HEConomist is grateful for Caya’s generosity in spending time and sharing his passion about entrepreneurship and Slidebean.