ELEVATOR PITCH: "Guidecentral helps makers create and monetize their DIY projects through an intuitive mobile app that produces well packaged and beautifully designed tutorials."
Hi Gaston and welcome to InspiredStartups.com!
But firstly tell us a little bit about yourself. What brought you to Dublin and where did you begin your startup journey?
"I was born and raised in Argentina but lived in several countries including USA, Switzerland and Peru. I came to Ireland 5 years ago. I relocated with Google after 3 years in Buenos Aires, where I was the fifth employee. I stayed with them for another 3 years and then decided to start Guidecentral
here in Dublin. I never thought I would stay more than 2 or 3 years in Ireland but it's been a great experience and I'm still here."
Previously you had worked for Google and YouTube. How did you decide to take life in your own hands and start your own business? How beneficial was your Google background for your startup?
"Google was a fantastic experience and had a very positive impact in my career. I could mentioned hundreds of things but I'd say the most important one were:
1) Working in an innovative environment
, with very diverse
and intelligent people
from all over the world
2) Thinking at a global scale and setting very ambitious goals.
3) Developing a customer-centric and metric-driven mentality."
Now tell us about your most recent project Guidecentral. How did you come up with the idea and what inspired you to build the community of DIY enthusiasts?
"Our vision at Guidecentral is to help people work and earn money doing what they love. The first step in that direction is to help makers create and monetize their DIY projects through an intuitive mobile app that produces well packaged and beautifully designed tutorials. The idea is a combination of 3 main things:
1) My experience launching the Maker Program in Europe, where the goal was to identify talented content creators, help them develop their channels and ultimately become professional YouTubers.
2) I had previously developed two successful iOS app and sold one of them to KIA motors.
3) The raise of the maker movement and the spectacular growth in smartphone penetration and usage."
Did your community platform require many course corrections or pivots to find a successful formula? Did you benefit from the lean startup model at all?
"Yes, the first 6 months were quite chaotic in terms of figuring out what to do and how to do it. We pivoted once and made several corrections along the way. We still do but I feel we are now more mature as a company and know how to deal with those situations better. We do apply some lean startup principles but we aren't religious about it, intuition is very important too. Our product roadmap is a good example - we started with the the iOS app
and made iterations for about a year until we felt comfortable and users were happy enough. Only at that stage we decided to develop a new website and the Android app
Tell us a bit more about your online community of makers and DIY enthusiasts: how did you build it? What stages did you have to go through?
"Our community has been growing organically and at good pace but it's no simple task. We target middle aged female crafters in English speaking markets. It's a very interesting group but as founders we have a very different profile, which makes it more challenging. Hiring the right people is very important in that respect. We are fully focused in understanding their needs and building as much value as possible into the product."
I suppose there where times when you wanted to quit? How did you manage to pass over crises?
"Being an entrepreneur is hard and the journey is a real roller-coaster but passion, desire and resilience help you overcome the obstacles. It's important to put things in perspective, celebrate the baby steps and keep going because good things take time to develop. There are lots of setback but you have to learn from them and use them to your advantage in the future.
As an entrepreneur you have to trust yourself, your intuition but at the same time be humble enough to take feedback and make adjustments when needed.
What was the moment when you realised your community could be successful?
"A few months ago we launched the Guidecentral Maker Program, which rewards makers every time they share a new DIY project. Some users are making a few hundred euro every month and some of their comments suggest there's a lot of potential - Heidi (USA) says the Maker Program is having a very positive impact in her family, and Linda (Italy) mentioned being unemployed and finding a very good source of income in Guidecentral."
We were pleased to learn that you have raised $650k in seed funding. What are the key factors when pitching for capital? Any recommendations?
As a startup CEO, what are your favourite startup resources?
"At an early stage (angel, seed rounds) is mostly about the team. At a later stage other business factors come into play but at the beginning is about building trust and relationships with those early investors. We have 10 investors and many of them are people at Google. The best investors look for trends so showing consistency throughout time is very important. I send a monthly report to all our investors and then I forward a similar version to a list of potential investors and people I want to keep updated. One of our most recent investors had been reading them and watching from the sidelines for about a year before he decided to invest."
Any big mistakes you did in your previous startup projects? Could you advice other young entrepreneurs how to avoid?
"As most entrepreneurs, I've done lots of mistakes. My main recommendation, especially for people working in large tech companies, is to spend a significant amount of time assessing the opportunity, gathering feedback, challenging the idea, building relationships, understanding the startup world and even raising money before leaving their jobs. Being an entrepreneur and starting a business is completely different and requires a whole new set of skills. Some people at Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc don't understand that they contribute to these companies but they aren't the reason why they had traction and became so successful in the first place. As an entrepreneur you are building something from scratch, you've to develop a successful product and earn that traction - as opposed to simply contributing to it. In many ways I respect and admire more a failed entrepreneur than a large tech company employee."
Two main things:
1) To work on something they are really passionate about but, at the same time, making sure it's a good business idea.
2) To find the right co-founders because that's a make or brake decision. I think entrepreneurs should spend enough time working on these things, even if it feels like they aren't making enough progress at the beginning.
Thanks Gaston for sharing your startup story with us and for giving us some great entrepreneurial tips. We wish you and your Guidecentral team great achievements on your exciting entrepreneurial journey!
ARE YOU INTO STARTUPS? DID YOU GET INSPIRED?
Why don't you share your startup experience with other entrepreneurs in the comments below:
What pivots did you have to go through to find a successful formula for your startup?
What was the moment when you realised your startup could be successful?
What are your favourite startup resources online?