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Brainio / Productivity / Czech Republic

Story of Brainio - App that combines note taking and mind mapping

Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on? 

Hi everyone! We're Brainio from the Czech Republic and we love to make apps that help you in everyday life with your productivity. We are working on an app that combines note taking and mind mapping. Our solution provides simple and effective way to capture your knowledge and ideas (text editor), organize and learn visually (mind map), collaborate online and share it with others.

What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?

We are lifelong learners. We know that process of enriching yourself with continued education can be a fantastic personal journey. But it leads to one universal issue: how to keep track of an endless amount of information.

How much time do you spend learning? Just realize that you are learning your whole life - at school or university, at work, taking (online) courses, training, doing specializations, certifications, etc.).

The answer is: A lot.

Therefore knowledge is expensive to acquire and even more expensive to lose. Not only in terms of money but mainly because it's very time-consuming. Time is our only limit in life.

If I ask you where do you store this knowledge?

The answer is: Notebooks, sticky notes, books, e-readers, online (Evernote, xMind, OneNote...), google drive, external hard drive, box, etc.

And that was our problem. Our knowledge was being stored in numerous places that were difficult to access if we needed it asap. From notebooks to digital textbooks, it can feel nearly impossible to keep track of the information we collect during our life.

So we looked for a way how to structure and manage this boatload of information. We wanted to make it easily accessible (anytime and everywhere) and help us with learning.

And because the brain works better visually than verbally, we came up with a solution that combines notes and mind-maps in one app.

Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?

After we came up with the idea we started to build our prototypes and we established our company Brainio Inc. At first, we created our websites with early access request and in a few months, we collected more than 1000 beta testers without any marketing activity. In the meantime, Matous moved from NY to Prague and we rent our first office.

Because all of us work in IT we were able to come up with the MVP very fast even though it's still a side project for us. We released the beta version at the end of 2019 and we started collecting feedback. After 3 months and plenty of improvements, we released the first production version. Now we are working on new features, because we have lot's of things on our roadmap like kindle sync, mobile app, linux version together with revamping our market fit and pricing model.

What has been your biggest failure or struggle?

One of our biggest struggles is a lack of time. We all have full-time jobs so we are doing Brainio as a side project right now.

The other struggle is marketing. As I said we are IT guys without any experience with social media or creating an online community. We know that we are not good at it. That's the reason we are trying to hire an in-house marketing specialist.

And what has been your biggest achievement or success?

We launched the Brainio at Product Hunt without any great preparations and we got more than 800 upvotes in one day. Moreover, we appeared on the first page at Hacker News.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We were able to attract customers through IT communities like Product Hunt, Hacker News or Reddit.

To retain customers we are collecting the feedback and feature requests that we are trying to implement to the next release of the app. One of our customers shared with us via Brainio a mind map describing feature requests he wanted.

Describe the process of launching the business.

- Have an idea

- Create a prototype

- Test it with real customers

- Establish a company

- Create marketing strategy and pricing model

- Build an MVP

- Release it for beta testers

- Do some marketing (i.e. launching on Product Hunt)

- Release it to public

- Collect feedbacks

- Never stop revamping your market and product fit based on feedbacks

- Play with a pricing model to make the project profitable

- Start finding the investors

- Never stop exploring

Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?

No

What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Monthly subscription plans:

Free (with 10 documents limitation)

Starter ($2,99)

Professional ($5,99)

We are currently playing with the pricing model and it's very likely we remove the limit completely.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?

If you run a non-US startup and you are going to provide services internationally, opening a US bank account might be necessary. However, opening a US bank account can be tricky and filled with a vast array of problems that at first glance are not easy to overcome. Most of the banks in the United States will ask you to visit a local branch and present your identity. Unfortunately, there’s no possibility to open a bank account with a foreign entity so your company must be registered in the USA

Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market Brainio and grow the service?

As we already told, we still don't have any marketing strategy. We are just using communities like Product Hunt, Hacker News or Reddit together with social media to increase awareness of our product. In the meantime, we are looking for an in-house marketing specialist.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

There is a huge community (accelerators, mentors, etc) that is willing to help you (often for free) with your idea and go-to-market strategy. Moreover, you can use lot's of startup programs that could help you to save some money at the beginning until you know you have a working solution (for example we are part of startup programs from AWS, Google, MongoDB, Zendesk, Crisp).

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Traction by Gabriel Weinberg or The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib.

What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?

Never give up ;)

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