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My Journey to Founding Quesma

My Journey to Founding Quesma

2024-01-07 12:40:06

The 2023 was a 12 months of exploration for me.

Upon leaving my decade-long tenure at Sumo Logic in December 2022, I used to be happy with our outstanding achievements ($299 million ARR). However beneath that pleasure, a nagging doubt lingered. I feared being trapped in an area optimum. My singular ambition for 2023 was clear: to uncover what would spark and gas my ardour for the forthcoming decade.

I made a decision to go away gracefully, do the perfect transition, however be clear that there isn’t any turning again. Regardless of this, ideas of my earlier function usually crossed my thoughts all year long. Whereas a few of these reflections had been optimistic, I regularly discovered myself burdened with a way of duty and caught up in countless ‘what-ifs’. The tumultuous tech market of 2023, with its finish to the period of zero-percent rates of interest, definitely didn’t make issues simpler.

I began the 12 months with many satisfying pursuits—a style of early retirement. But, this fixed indulgence in leisure quickly misplaced its sheen. After the preliminary three weeks, I yearned to have interaction in one thing impactful. Thus, I selected to stability work and play all year long.


Scouting for Alternatives: My Three Gigs

Up to now, a number of affords to work collectively had come my means. I revisited these, searching for roles the place a brief, intensive two-week engagement may make an actual distinction and supply me new studying experiences. My honesty about these short-term commitments narrowed my choices, however I finally landed three thrilling gigs.

The primary was with an African fintech agency working in difficult frontier markets. Seeing a enterprise tackling important infrastructure points in harsh situations was enlightening. Regardless of restricted capital, they confronted extra challenges than many firms I’ve identified. As they grew, engineering hurdles grew to become outstanding, primarily dealt with by one distinctive engineer. I tackled a number of outages and helped implement adjustments to stabilise their structure and recruit a everlasting chief.

My second stint was with a really early startup within the San Francisco Bay Space, aiming to revolutionise training via developments in Massive Language Fashions. Engaged on an early prototype utilizing TypeScript and OpenAI was thrilling. Though the expertise was enriching, it didn’t appear the appropriate match for the lengthy haul.

The third gig introduced me nearer to my experience—a late-stage enterprise SaaS firm. I relished the architectural discussions and admired their sturdy practices. I may envision a future there, but my aspirations to construct one thing from the bottom up held me again.

I additionally explored alternatives in cloud value optimisation however couldn’t safe a becoming challenge. A full-time function may need been extra easy, however it wouldn’t serve my final objective: beginning my startup.

Tarpit startup concepts

I all the time wished to construct an organization. Startups are regularly essentially the most environment friendly method to make a profound affect. Construct one thing that individuals want.

I discovered a great companion, adept in authorized and operational issues, to affix me on this enterprise. Collectively, we had a grand imaginative and prescient of revolutionising the insurance coverage market and different promising concepts.


Venturing into Insurtech

At first, the insurance coverage sector appeared ripe for disruption. The shopper expertise was lacklustre, and incumbents had been reaping substantial income. Our thorough evaluation of startups on this area revealed quite a few well-executed makes an attempt to shake up the house. But, even profitable ventures like Lemonade confronted challenges. In depth buyer interviews confirmed our findings: success on this sector hinges extra on environment friendly go-to-market and strong long-term relationships than technological innovation. Sure entrenched enterprise practices, just like the intentionally arduous claims course of, appeared so worthwhile.

Whereas we did spot some area of interest alternatives, they didn’t pave the best way to constructing a billion-dollar enterprise.

Exploring Employment of File and Payroll Companies

Subsequent, we shifted our focus to employment of report and payroll providers, a sector that had grown post-Covid. Following a disciplined method, we carried out buyer interviews and market analysis. Regardless of the growth, we noticed saturation with a brand new supplier each week. The problems with main distributors had been rising pains quite than systemic. To many potential purchasers, these providers appeared interchangeable, with some even utilizing a number of suppliers by mistake.

Though the idea was sound, we missed the prepare. Our timing was too late. The market is just too crowded, differentiation appeared difficult, and we anticipated future margin compression.

Plunge into AgriTech

Our journey led us to technological developments that agriculture ought to have adopted extra extensively. Our speculation didn’t survive contact with the primary batch of potential prospects. Massive farms already use many methods, whereas smaller farms want extra scale to reap the benefits of present ones. Former ag tech founders warned us about this being a useless zone. Even with essentially the most progressive farmers, the conversations had been difficult. We merely lacked founder-market match.

Considering Local weather Tech

The dream of tackling local weather change is frequent amongst my era. Profitable startups usually excel by providing progressive options which might be ten instances higher.

Nonetheless, impactful local weather expertise usually includes the widespread adoption of present applied sciences and studying by doing at a mass scale (Solar’s Future is Insanely Cheap). It’s typically a low-margin, commoditised sector.

After studying about hydrogen and consulting specialists, I realised its hype didn’t align with practicality. Electrification and batteries usually outperformed it in my calculations.

The one local weather tech concept that handed preliminary scrutiny concerned superior drilling methods for floor warmth pumps. Nonetheless, this idea confronted substantial hurdles. It was a capital-intensive endeavour with important obstacles, reminiscent of reluctance from owners to disrupt their yards. Furthermore, a mixture of developments in low cost photo voltaic, warmth storage and air pumps may be a greater different. Constructing a prototype is a several-million-dollar train.

This exploration, wealthy in insights and worthy of its weblog put up, is one thing I’m wanting to share brazenly. I’d be thrilled if it impressed a startup.

Let’s construct

Although I loved the method, months handed by, and I saved failing, cheaply and effectively, however I nonetheless wanted to seek out my subsequent factor. The shopper discovery was beginning to really feel painful. Responses had been scarce, and rejections had been frequent, testing our perseverance.

In search of a change in surroundings and perspective, we organized a week-long offsite in Barcelona. There, we developed a productiveness SaaS software. We recognized our goal market, created a glossy touchdown web page, and developed mockups utilizing Figma, enhancing their attraction with the assistance of Fiverr contractors. We even invested additional effort into producing a demo video. After a number of weeks of onerous work, we started pitching our thought.

Sadly, the response was disheartening. We organized over ten conferences, primarily with people inside our superb buyer persona – a lot of whom had been buddies. The suggestions was unanimously unfavorable. Even when supplied free of charge, nobody was fascinated with utilizing our product. The frequent narrative was a development in the direction of consolidating and decreasing the variety of SaaS instruments of their workflow, not including new ones. Our analysis revealed an awesome record of over 50 competing instruments claiming comparable functionalities.

Throughout this journey, my co-founder and I additionally got here to a pivotal realisation about our partnership. Whereas we shared an excellent private rapport, our enterprise visions diverged considerably. My inclination was in the direction of refined B2B enterprise expertise, whereas my companion favoured B2C fashions centered on operational excellence. Our efforts to align our distinct approaches in the end highlighted our partnership’s strengths and limitations. With mutual respect and acknowledgement of our differing paths, we determined to pursue our entrepreneurial journeys individually.

Barcelona submarine

New Focus: The Journey to Founder-Market Match

In Could 2023, I made a decision to pay attention solely on B2B enterprise software program, particularly in areas the place I may have been a buyer in my earlier roles. This focus considerably streamlined my decision-making course of.

See Also

Throughout this era, I participated within the Inovo Combating Membership and comparable boards for founders. These communities have been invaluable, and I’m immensely grateful for the help and alternatives they supplied. Amongst these was an invite to an exit social gathering in Ibiza, celebrating the success of an Immerok information processing startup, an occasion that was each an honour and a spotlight.

This journey reaffirmed my affinity for the B2B enterprise software program sector. Fields like information infrastructure and developer tooling usually are not simply inside my space of experience; they’re my ardour. Partaking with quite a few trade leaders and reflecting on my experiences made it more and more obvious the place I may make a significant affect.

One space that significantly resonates with me is information migration. In contrast to many engineers who dread them, I discover these challenges invigorating. My background contains changing database codecs throughout an internship at Fb and spearheading comparable initiatives at Sumo Logic. I’m aware of firms’ struggles throughout these transitions, having persistently encountered tales of woes, challenges, and setbacks. These points may be seldom mentioned on convention phases, however they’re a grim actuality in on a regular basis company life.

By June, I felt a profound shift in my journey. Suppose I had beforehand appeared like a penguin awkwardly navigating on ice, questioned for not flying like different birds. Now, I used to be in my factor, gliding swiftly via the water. This realisation was not only a course however a calling the place my abilities and passions are completely aligned with buyer wants.

I had lastly pinpointed the issue I used to be keen to resolve: simplifying the method of creating adjustments in information structure.

Contemplating in Ibiza

Securing the Proper Co-Founder

Although my buyer growth, tech analysis and studying progressed over the summer season, I wanted an equal co-founder. The product is advanced on this class, however the go-to-market is equally difficult.

I used to be dedicated to discovering somebody who matched my excessive requirements and was able to dive in full-time, even with out concrete assurances. My search concerned a co-founder matching course of with a number of folks from my community. The 2 candidates had been shut, however we didn’t companion after an extended dialogue.

The perfect co-founder is usually somebody you’ve identified all alongside however appeared out of attain. The tech trade’s downturn in 2023 opened sudden doorways as many proficient people started exploring new alternatives. Thankfully, this shift meant that my former enterprise companion, Pawel Brzoska, was now accessible. Our on the spot connection was plain. Though we went via the same old vetting questions and processes, our prior 4 years of each day collaboration supplied a powerful basis for a brand new enterprise.

Pawel and I shared enthusiasm for the area and its mission. We started our collaborative journey in August 2023. Pawel got here up with our firm identify, “Quesma” and helped form our imaginative and prescient.

Our efforts quickly bore fruit as we efficiently raised over $2.3 million in funding and recruiting our preliminary group.

Jacek Migdal with Pawel Brzoska

As I sit up for 2024, I’m crammed with anticipation and pleasure for what the long run holds for Quesma and our group.

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