Stories written on the road
Once a month, it starts all over again. I’m packing the final documents in my suitcase, check my list if I’ve got all I need, get my coat and off we go. I’m travelling a lot these days and try to make the most of every trip. With my team I have been working on our visual story telling app Edgar Tells since mid of 2013 and we have now reached a stage where we are not only developing the product. It has become important to us to also focus on the exposure and outside connections. To go places means spreading the Edgar story and this is just what we need while we’re still validating the product. Moreover, at the moment we’re fundraising and hope to be able to close our seedround within the next months. So, travelling is a must to shake hands, get into the good books and strike those deals – this is more crucial to us now than ever. As a CEO I have taken this task full-heartedly.
Take off for Edgar
It all started with a big meetup in September where the whole team came together in Maribor for dinner, wine and work, of course. While the main part of the team lives in Slovenia – me and Marusa, as well as Marko (CTO), Ziga (Product), Karmen (Design) and Jernej (Design) are working on the tools and details of Edgar from here – Ralitsa and Mila are our content queens based in Sofia, and also some of our freelancers are based in Bulgaria. Not to forget Bistra, our Macedonian friend helping us out from Vienna.While the get-together was an opportunity for us to chat and have fun over some drinks, with our combined efforts we also managed to get some major projects done. But as productive and joyful as spending further days together might have been, it soon was time to move on.
Next stop: Eleven
While one could argue that in our hyper-connected world of today you can be at several places without lifting a finger – sometimes physical presence can’t be substituted by technology. There is nothing as personal and fruitful to connections as meeting someone face-to-face. Visiting different places is necessary for spreading the word and when it comes to pitching, being on the spot is simply needed. So Mila, Ralitsa and I got on a plane to Bulgaria where we met with accelerators, partners and friends in the following week. Time flies when you’re on the road and after the productive meetings with our previous investor Eleven who introduced us to some potential VCs and mingling with some of their startups the next destination was already waiting.
How to choose destinations
Since I’m travelling at least one week of a month, it is crucial to choose my travel goals wisely. At the current stage of Edgar we not only focus on the crowd and the community but also consider whether we can get important leads and contacts at an event.
So, end of September I visited Startup Istanbul where Edgar was chosen to pitch on stage as one of the finalists in front of big names such as Dave McLure, Jason Ball or Rahul Sood. This is one of the biggest events in the region and we plan to take Edgar to the East, starting with the MENA region, so my expectations were high.The best thing was that Dave didn’t throw me off stage, he actually liked Edgar. We’ve been pitching a lot in the past months, but in Istanbul we pitched the new business model and it was important for us to test it. And… It worked like a charm! Moreover, the conference was a great chance to meet cool people and I’m still in love with Istanbul for the pistachio kebab, thefresh fish and the great sweets.
Always expect the unexpected
Soon after I was on my way to Vienna. I spent a lot of time talking to partners and enjoying some coffee in the city centrebefore heading on to Dubai where quite some surprises were waiting for me. Although everything was neatly planned in advance, some meetings were cancelled last minute and I was not able to meet all VCs and potential partners I wanted to. Lesson learned: overbook next time going there.
While also our CTO Marko and Ziga are going to places to grow the Edgar community, it’s mostly me going on big journeys. In this time, relaxation mostly happens while in transit, so I started to appreciate things like a cold Indian Pale Ale at 3 am at London Gatwick and in between meetings I love to find a hidden coffee place, take out my sketchbook and reflect on the things happened so far. It’s these small moments that give you time to breath and to sort your thoughts.
Back home but the journey continues
The next startup event was waiting in Nova Gorica, Slovenia where I pitched at the Coinvest Venture Days. We have practiced presenting our project on stage during the last year but since every event is different and every crowd and jury unique it’s still a rush of adrenaline before you step on the podium. The recipe is, the more you pitch, the better you get. And it helps if you love telling stories. I get the goosebumps every single time I go on stage and therefore I prepare every time. I have the script, I know it by heart. But I always improvise at the end. As funny as it sounds, improvisation is only possible when you’re well prepared.In the end we managed to win this very competition and received the first place out of 30 startups!
It is these successes that boost the motivation of the whole team and remind you why you are accepting all the exertions that come with the startup life. For us, however, success is not a reason to rest on our laurels, it rather drives us forward and keep aiming for higher goals. So our next endeavours are already on the go.
The goals ahead
I will be on stage of the SEMPL event in Portorz, Slovenia, not to pitch, but to talk about the “Art of Storytelling” in a panel discussion. Also our Edgar app is getting new dimensions. Currently we are working on a SaaS tool called StoryHub are planning to launch the first version of our new StoryMaker by the end of April. This means a bit less traveling and more work in our headquater.
As exhausting as it can get, I’m always extremely hyped while on the road. Some of the best ideas for Edgar were born abroad and also some of the business development hacks we use today. As a startup we’re always on budget and there’s always the pressure to come home with something in your pocket. Some good news, something to cheer up the team. And yes, you need to be motivated. I’m motivated by our clients and the feedback we get while on the road. It proves we’re on the right track. And yes, being stubborn helps as well.
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