Pol Frances Goded, founder of Ekiter tells us about startup validation process.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Pol Frances Goded: All things considered, we are doing quite well. It has been a tough year for us, but I guess that is true for most of us. We were lucky so far with our closest family, all being healthy. We all have our health and make do with the circumstances that seem to plague most of the world right now.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Ekiter.
Pol Frances Goded: Everything started at my final degree thesis on computer engineering at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB). I wanted to use the time and resources invested in that thesis both by myself and my mentors in order to create something useful. 2 years later and pivoting over and over we finally created Ekiter. And here we are, 1 year on offering our services to Spanish entrepreneurs helping them save time and money during the validation process of their projects.
How does Ekiter innovate?
Pol Frances Goded: We are located in Spain, and so we have some legislation to follow during the process of creating a company. But this bureaucratic process handicaps the launch of new startups because of the high cost of money and time. We believe that during the validation process of a business model all the resources should be spent on the validation, not bureaucracy. And so we came up with the Ekiter Method. A way to evade the creation of the company until is absolutely necessary, helping the entrepreneurs protect the property of their project between the team members, raise funds on a crowdfunding pre-equity FFF (family, friends, and fools) to get the initial resources to validate, and a simple way to contact with mentors and other collaborators that they would need in order to develop their MVP and make the first steps to make their idea real.
We are aiming to offer this same service to the rest of Europe and many other countries as soon as we consolidate ourselves in Spain because we know our community and services can help many more people around the globe.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Pol Frances Goded: Considering that we created the company a few days before the pandemic restrictions, we received an extra bureaucracy because of all of the old and obsolete procedures to follow to create a company here in Spain. Luckily, because we already used our method on our project, we had some FFF backers that helped the project before the company creation, we could raise a small pre-seed round that helped us keep going.
Our Idea was to promote our project at events like 4YFN, MWC Barcelona, and many other events held in Barcelona for entrepreneurs and Startups, But because of all the restrictions, we are growing much more slowly than expected.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Pol Frances Goded: We based the structure of our platform on a third-party service to make all the payments, and we were also implementing blockchain for some procedures. We asked the third-party service if there will be any problem regarding blockchain and they said there was none, but 1.5 years of development later, their compliance team decided to reject our project because of exactly that. So, we had to redesign and remake our platform (now much faster because we knew what we were doing) with another service that was already working with other blockchain projects. And as if that was not enough, the company we hired to develop the blockchain process failed us in the end and we had to adapt again to go out without blockchain. All of that during the pandemic restrictions, of course.
I think one of the true main lessons that we learned because of that is: Validate with the minimum MVP and do not involve high-cost procedures on it until it is validated and working. Because the amount of time and money lost was so much we could be up and running maybe 1 year early.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Pol Frances Goded: We are using all the Google services to communicate within our team, Whereby.com for quick meetings and a paperless mentality for the whole company. With that, we can just stay in touch without any problems at all.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Pol Frances Goded: Currently, we don’t have any direct competitors on our main service, the Ekiter Method. We offer something that will help people in Spain, no matter if they come from an incubator, accelerator, coworking, or just by themselves. We offer an extra value to the process of validating an idea with only gains and a win-win mentality, so we hope we can get in touch digitally with all the Spanish entrepreneurs so they can benefit from our service to save time and money.
Your final thoughts?
Pol Frances Goded: Trying to innovate can push teams to make ambitious projects with high initial costs, but we have to be able to look out of the box so we can see what is really necessary and what is not. Try validating with minimum resources and if things go well and the market accepts your product, go for it. Don’t let yourself down because of a worldwide pandemic, but try to do your best on what you really believe. If you succeed is absolutely worth it, and if you don’t, you at least tried and learned from the process. Keep the entrepreneurial spirit high and try to find a good team and/or community so you can help each other in what you could need.