Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hi there! I'm Jose Bermejo .
I'm thrilled to be interviewed by OyeStartups. Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my journey!!
My purpose is to push human progress through innovation. To achieve that goal, I'm building StartupBuilder.MBA as a step by step process to validate + plan ideas. Aiming to help 10,000 entrepreneurs, the goal is to help them validate their ideas before spending too much time and money so that we all can benefit from their success and quick innovation path.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea with the inputs of several things: firstly, I was a startup mentor in a University, and I realized the entrepreneurs were almost always making the same mistakes, not following best practices about lean-startup, innovation, research, decision-making. Secondly, after comparing the startup ecosystem in the USA and Spain (I'm from Spain), I've realized that in the USA there are tons of opportunities to have mentorship, incubators, and have guidance on the startup process, but not in Spain and the rest of the world. So I came up with an idea to democratize access to mentorship worldwide: growthseeker.io. But it did not work. With the same foundation, I pivoted the idea to StartupBuilder.MBA and tried to pack lots of best practices, resources, and guidance to help founders worldwide accelerate their startup journey.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
After the failed experience with growthseeker.io (for the ones interested, here is a podcast and a recent interview about it ), I had a good knowledge of what were the main problems the founders were facing, GrowthSeeker.io helped me to perform the research after talking with more than 70 founders. So I came up with a new solution: startupbuilder.mba. Right I continued working on idea validation, validating the rest of the 5 critical factors (the ones I help to test with StartupBuilder.mba) to get initial traction.
I already had a prototype of the product in Coda.io that I moved to Notion.so. I took some screenshot, built a pre-sales landing page, and soft-launched it with some blog posts, Twitter announcements, and social media screenshots. The first value proposition was oriented to build a business plan, but it did not work (0 conversions in the early 48 hours). I pivoted the value proposition to validate ideas, and it started working right away. Before launching the product, I made almost 2K$ of sales. Once I reached 500$ in sales (the KPI I set to validate the idea) I build the product. Then I released the product on the promised date, November 18th. Now I'm working 20% on evolving the product, 20% trying to have feedback, putting a community together around the product, and the other 60% promoting scale growth.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
It was growthseeker.io. I had to close the community. It took too much time to make the decision and realize that it was not going to work. It would have been better to fail faster and pivot faster to launch this new product that seems working.
How many hours a day do you work on average & can you describe/outline your typical day?
10 hours/day plus most of the weekends. A typical day starts around 7AM working and having some calls with Europe; then I go CrossFit for my daily workout dose for 2 hours. Once I'm back from crossfit, it's all in working until 7 or 8PM that I spend time with my wife to recap the day, have dinner, view a series together, and prep to rest.
On weekends I work but in a more relaxed way. Usually, one day of the weekend is to make plans with my wife. The other I work but more relaxed than during weekdays/
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
I'm still too close to answer this question. But I'm happy with the awareness I'm creating to help people not be afraid of failure, make a change and help others in that way. Humanity needs to push innovation with more founders working on new products (hopefully validating before building!!).
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Building in public is working very good. Twitter is my first acquisition channel. Then publishing consistently in IndieHackers posts like milestones, how I validate or talk about failure helped acquire customers.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I still don't consider I launched it. IMO "launch" is relative. Each founder/maker has a different perspective of what a launch is.
If publishing a landing page and having the first customers is launching, I've launched it. Still, I consider that idea validation. Now, after validating, is when I'm working on a future launching. To be ready for a hard launch, I consider the next things to be ready:
- Have a minimum community/audience of happy customers ready to help with the launch with Word Of Mouth
- Having detected the best channels to scale and promote the business.
- Having ready marketing automation and viral loops to take profit of the initial traction
- Having workflows to support onboarding, customer questions...
- Having the landing page optimized for conversions
- Having nice product design materials (logo, screens, illustrations, photos, branding guidelines) to make the page and social media posts more desirable (more trustworthy).
- Having a series of factors ready to derisking the product and be adopted by the mainstream market (see the diffusion of innovations by Everett Rogers).
I consider still far from all this steps. I'm Work In Progress for the real launch!!
Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?
I used Betapage to soft promote StartupBuilder. PH will arrive when all the things in the last step are ready. I'll test Betalist soon.
So far Betapage is working great, providing a great ROI. I'd use it again.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
StartupBuilder.mba is a digital product (a Notion.so template with guided steps to validate ideas) + validators community. Now that I'm still getting initial traction, I have a simplified offer with a low price lifetime deal. It will soon change, as I will separate the digital product from the community to scale revenue with the community and raise the product's prices. More changes will come as I get traction.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
I think it was to make a value proposition work and have the audience ready to pay for it. I'm including here GrowthSeeker.io, as StartupBuilder.mba is a pivot. So I spent 5 months to figure out a Value Proposition that work. And that's not the best scenario. It should have been way less (weeks, as I defend in my product). That's one of my big learnings, the faster we "fail", the better!
In the near future I'll continue working on improving the product and scale the sales at the time to build a consulting business to help SMBs and founded starps with strategic guidance on innovation and GoToMarket.
Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market StartupBuilder and grow the service?
The initial acquisition channels are twitter and indihackers. Still very soon to talk about what I've done as I did not do too much promotion but build in public and share an article on how I validated my idea. I have some acquisition channels detected thanks to sparktoro.com tool (the tool I use to detect digital channels to test) that I will test shortly like reddy, hackernoon and others.
Besides, I'm building partnerships with other digital product makers to sell bundled products and with universities and incubators as an acquisition channel. Partnerships are an essential part of my GoToMakert plan.
Do you have a model to get product feedback? What’s your favorite way to get product feedback? Did product feedback help you get the results you hoped for ?
To be honest, that's still not working. I'm struggling with having product feedback. I created 3 channels, and I let the customers know the channels by sending them emails and posting in the community. These are the feedback channels I've built:
- Feedback Survey with Typeforms.
- Feedback group in the community.
- 1 weekly live session to ask Me Anything + gather feedback
- 1:1 sessions
I'm considering invetivate customers in some way (gifts) to have more feedback.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I't been an amazing learning journey! Here are some things I've learned, but there are many more!
- With more than 300 hours of calls with 70 founders, I've learned more about their problems, helping me to figure out a new solution (StartupBuilder)
- Met great people + learned with them.
- I met the Chasm Framework (Crossing The Chasm), and I had the opportunity to work and learn from him about product adoption.
- I've increased my brand awareness, exposed my brand more, and built more audience. Learned how to build a twitter audience.
- Learned about the maker and indihacker movement.
- Learned how to pivot quicker, better and how to validate faster, better.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Notion.so for the product itself right now, a set of notion templates divided in 5 validation blocks and 27 steps/checks with guides, resources, and specific use cases.
- Circle.so for the validators community, included with the product.
- Umso for the landing page.
- Paddle.com for payments. I changed from Stripe after having customers asking for PayPal support. It helps too with conversions because it converts the $ to the local currency.
- Paritybar.com for Purchasing Power Parity discounts. To be the most accessible tool, I need to adapt the price to the countries average income, so I offer discounts automatically depending on the country you are based. The user is the one who decides to pick the deal or not. I assume people will be fair in determining if they need it or not.
- Drip.com for email automation + newsletter.
- GrowthTools.com for viral loops, integrated with the email automation and lead magnets.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources? *
- Jobs-To-Be-Done by Tony Ulwick
- Lean Canvas
- Crossing The Chasm
- Customer Alignment Lifecycle by Warren Schirtzinger
- Value Proposition Design and Testing Business Ideas by strategyzer.
- Disruptive Strategy by Clay Christensen
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
Plenty of thoughts on this question! I'm glad you ask!
As in the podcast, I like to emphasize the importance of not being afraid of failure. Failure is growth. It's easy to say and hard to do. I've been there, I understand, I feel it.
But try to face the launch as one of the most fantastic learning opportunities you will have to grow, build your brand, and connect with amazing people!
Don't stay too high in your expectations; don't stay too low either. Just try to give your best, add value to your audience, be genuine, helpful, and consistent.
I believe that you'll get a "positive" outcome at the end of your trip, regardless of the outcome that you thought you'd have!
Jump in, go for it. You'll learn a ton.