’’From struggle to success’’ Entrepreneurship and paws
Our next interview is with Stef Ivanov. He is a Founder and Lead Designer of Swapaw. Are you a dog owner? If yes, you have to read his story and learn more about the idea behind his startup.
1. What is your idea/ business about? How the idea was born?
Swapaw is a platform that connects dog owners and help them take care of each other’s dogs for free when they’re away. Instead of paying for pet sitting, our members can find other vetted dog owners in their area to look after their dog for free and then return the favour when the same person or another community member needs help. We save our members hundreds a year on dog boarding and the best part is that their dogs don’t stay alone for long and don’t suffer from canine depression which is becoming a huge issue.
The idea was born on a cold January day before a holiday to Morocco when we’re struggling to find the right pet care for our french bulldog Bruno. The problem wasn’t only that it was hard to find someone we could trust, but also that it costs a small fortune every time we have to go away for longer periods. One week holiday costs a dog owner in London between £200-£250. We thought – what if we could leave Bruno with another dog owner and their dog and instead of paying, we just return the favour next time when they need help. The dogs would be pretty happy, as they’ll be able to play all the time. Their owners would have piece of mind and some extra cash in their poskets. I was surprised this model didn’t exist, so after months of research, we decided we could build it.
I think the best part of Swapaw is that it helps dog create canine friendships which is vital for their well-being. We launched just 4 weeks ago and we already have over 200 members and their pooches on the platform.
2. Tell me about yourself and your team?
I’m a UX/UI designer with 8 years experience. In the past few years I’ve been helping UK and US startups to build their MVPs and raise funding. My work has appeared on a number of web publishers including The Next Web, Techcrunch, Awwwards, CSSWinner.
My co-founder, Desi is a digital marketer with almost 10 years experience in tech companies. 2 talented engineers build the back-end of the product.
3. What are the main struggles that you have experienced?
It took us much longer than expected to launch the product, so we had to adapt on the go.
4. How did you solve your problems?
We never stopped working, that’s the only way.
5. If you had a chance what would you do in differently?
I wouldn’t wait for the perfect moment to go ahead with my idea. It never came. The sooner, the better.
6. What was the best advice you got and what was the worst?
The best advice is to launch small, explore how people use your product and then continue adding features. The biggest mistake is to wait for when you have the excellent product with dozens of features which no one uses.
I think the worst advice is to focus too much on raising funding rather than building a product people love. At least it wouldn’t have worked in our situation. There’re hundreds of great ideas out there and only a small fraction of them are executed properly. That’s what makes a huge difference between a clever idea and a successful business.
7. What will be your advice to the other entrepreneurs
Don’t listen to everyone’s advice and opinion, but only to people who you trust and your own gut feel. You have to find a way to filter what everyone is saying and take on board only the things you believe are valuable. It’s not easy especially if you’re just starting up and everyone is so willing to suggest new ideas. “You could do this, and that… Oh, and you must do it this way… Nah, this won’t work, because…” Smile, nod, change the topic and discuss your product only with people who can add value. The rest is time wasting and you surely don’t have enough on your hands.
July 22, 2016