We talked to Pascal Seibold of ulaunch.me on how to go to market quicker, with less cash and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pascal Seibold: I’m doing well, besides some challenges a lot of people face these days. Adelaide, Australia, is probably one of the best places to be right now. We hardly had any lockdowns or bad restrictions. So I’m very grateful to be here.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ulaunch.me.
Pascal Seibold: I’m the co-founder of ulaunch.me, a platform that helps early-stage founders find in-kind investment and get their MVP to market quicker with less upfront cash requirements.
I’m originally from Germany but moved to Australia in September 2018 for initially six months to join a pre-accelerator for migrants and refugees called Catalysr.
After the first couple of months, the founder of Catalysr, Usman, told me about an entrepreneur visa which was about to be piloted in South Australia. I prepared all my documents, and as soon as they launched the program, I applied and ended up receiving the visa. A few months later, I moved to Adelaide, the place I call home now. Here is a post with some more information about my background: https://medium.com/catalysr/when-dreams-become-true-5c18b7e6579e
Like a lot of companies, we also had a big impact due to Covid. Besides some other challenges, the uncertainty led to the decision to not follow through with our old company as we were in the hospitality and tourism market.
After making this decision, I’ve offered other peers in the incubator (Innovation and Collaboration Centre) to help them wherever I can and started interviewing them about their challenges. We found that a lot of startups can’t go to market with their MVP due to a lack of skills, not having a tech co-founder or -team or enough cash to buy in quality services. On the other side, there was a huge decrease in revenue for software companies globally. I saw an opportunity to solve this huge challenge I cared about and started working on this project. That’s how I ended up working on ulaunch.me
How does ulaunch.me innovate?
Pascal Seibold: We offer a unique solution for early-stage founders to get their MVP to market without spending a fortune for quality services.
ulaunch.me helps startups without the required tech skills to go to market with their tech product quicker for less upfront cash payment and increase their runway. The money that startups can’t pay at that stage is a time investment, which can be paid back in the future or converted to equity. In case a founder decides to give away equity, they give away less compared to cash investment. Why? If an investor gives you $100k to develop software, they have to pay taxes before they have $100k left over. If someone invests time to build software worth $100k, there are no tax implications. But the startup still has the same outcome and can go to market with their MVP. So time is, carefully said, worth ‘less’ than cash. Other differences we offer are; the pool of service providers who are happy to invest their time and also the flexibility for founders to gain back the full control of their company.
During our primary market research, we’ve found that most founders struggle with getting their tech product to market as a result of not having enough cash and/or the right tech co-founder and team.
This quite often is a big challenge because of short windows of opportunity and competition, and it also delays receiving invaluable feedback from early adopters and generating the first revenue.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Pascal Seibold: We had to close the previous company. With the new project, I found things almost easier in the early stages as the research part was done online via video calls, which saves heaps of time and money for travelling. The downside at the moment is that in certain countries the markets are challenging and that some early-stage founders plans have changed, which also had an impact on potential deals for us.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Pascal Seibold: The most difficult decision was whether I personally wanted to keep working on the old project or not. The lesson I have learned is that if there is a door closing, other doors will open and it is up to us individually how we cope with those situations and decisions and whether we want to be a victim or see the positive side of things.
What specific tools, software and management skills are helping you navigate the crisis?
Pascal Seibold: Definitely zoom when it comes to software. Another one I started using during this time is ClickUp.
Personally, I use ‘tools’ such as meditation, physical activity, and spending time in nature and healthy food to keep sane, which helps to deal with the changes. But in general, we’re very lucky here in Adelaide, and I’m super grateful to be able to be here instead of Germany at the moment.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Pascal Seibold: Competitors are Toptal.com, freelancer.com, Upwork, Fiverr and other software agencies. A strong focus to nail one small niche will not just allow us to stay in the game, but to own it and expand from there. Also, being close to the customer and always talking to them and doing research will allow us to quickly adapt to changes in the market.
Your final word?
Pascal Seibold: We’re looking for EOIs for a pilot cohort at www.ulaunch.me. For this cohort, we’re only able to support 3 ideas and help you to launch your MVP quicker for less upfront cash.
Build your MVP with an award-winning software house and save cash with a SAFE note!
Pay back the service provider at a later stage to keep full control over your company or turn it into equity.
Explainer video: https://youtu.be/CP7kaa4BSug
Express your interest here: https://forms.gle/
Applications close Monday 22 March 2021, and shortlisted applicants will be notified on 26 March 2021