Interview with Iulian from BookVoyager
This post originally appeared on blog.up.co
Hey Iulian, how are you? How are the things?
I am great! Enjoying last days of summer and working on our startup - BookVoyager.
At BookVoyager we have developed an objective approach toward book recommendations that combines traditional friends and magazines recommendations with an automatic content analysis based on reader’s specific criteria. This allows people to discover books they haven't heard of and select books according to their own taste. BookVoyager is focusing on providing detailed cross-criteria filtering that the reader selects, making the recommendations more objective. This will save people's time and will improve the experience of choosing the next book to read.
The last time we had chatted you mentioned you got into the accelerator program Founder Institute Chisinau with the idea you won our startupweekend in Prague. I also know that your team had to split, could you tell us a little bit more about your journey?
I have applied to Founders Institute Chisinau with one of my colleagues in April this year. However, BookVoyager wasn’t the only idea we had in mind. While in the Founders Institute Program, which lasts for 3 months, you have to do research and customer development for at least three ideas, in order to pick the best one that can succeed. This step lasts for one month, after which you have to select a single idea on which to focus.
We had 5 ideas and needed to figure out which one to go with. After thorough research and customer development, we were left with two and decided to go with BookVoyager, as it had more validation, including at Startup Weekend in Prague.
Regarding our team, we had to split, because right after the Startup Weekend I didn’t have the opportunity to work on the idea, as I had to arrange some other work. Besides that, our team probably was the only one that consisted of team members from 3 countries :), which would make it harder to collaborate, especially when in the beginning you need to be closer to each other as there is plenty of strategic planning and product development. But we had a great team with a skillset that helped us win.
We also agreed to meet some time in the future, when some of us will be in the country we reside in. Also, when my colleague and I decided that we will go with BookVoyager, I wrote them and asked if there is no problem if I would go further with it in the Founders Institute program and they were not against it.
What would you like to achieve with BookVoyager? As we all know, sky is the only limit, maybe not anymore :)
As any startup, we have grandiose plans :). We have shifted from B2B to B2C, but eventually, we will get back to B2B, as we can bring more value to publishers and bookstores, which inevitably will help people who read books get a better experience and find books they will enjoy much easier. In the end, we want to become the leading provider of relevant book recommendations for online bookstores and publishers who also sell books online.
Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about pitching but they are not sure if their idea is good enough or they are simply afraid? Since you stood up and pitched it.
If you don’t have experience in pitching - you will definitely be afraid and have emotions, but that is normal. At Startup Weekend you can practice and become better. But you should realize that there will always be people who will like your idea and people who will say it is worthless. And if there are not too many people who dislike it, consider working on it further. But you won’t know for sure which group prevails until you pitch your idea to those people.
Any secrets or learning from the participating in startupweekend you would like to share?
As I am a technical person, naturally I tended to get to the coding part faster, but coding is by far not the most critical part. First of all, define the problem you want to solve and get out to your potential customers, talk to people and find out what their pain points are. Having a great UI with a working backend is cool, but showing the jury how you approach an existing problem and how people you talked with reacting to your solution is way cooler. Talk to participants, to organizers, and to mentors and you will get amazing insights and will make valuable connections.
If there is anyone from abroad and he would like to join our startupweekend, let us please know, since we are able to accommodate you for free - airbnb style :) As well as taking care of you from any station you arrive in.