We chat with the COO of Persollo about the next phase of their start up business after being part of the Incubate program.
Persollo describe themselves as ‘the world’s fastest 1-step checkout for brands and retailers’, a platform that lets customers buy quickly over any digital space – especially via social media and mobile channels.
The company’s growth has been fast and exciting since they were first involved with Incubate, the startup accelerator developed by the University of Sydney Union, and sponsored by Lenovo.
After receiving seed funding, mentoring and guidance from Incubate, Persollo has entered their next stage of development with further seed-stage funding from Muru-D, another Australian startup accelerator program.
We recently sat down with Persollo’s COO Kyrylo Medvediev and CEO Olga Oleinikova to talk about their Incubate experience.
How developed was your idea when you came into Incubate?
We did already have a preview version, which we’d tested and validated to a broader audience, so we definitely knew the idea had potential. From there, it was a no-brainer to pitch the idea to Incubate, who I (Kyrylo) knew about due to doing my Masters in IT
management at Sydney University.
When we first pitched the idea to Incubate, we just had a simple work page without any back end. You could say it was really just a proof of concept with a sign up button!
How did your proof of concept evolve via Incubate?
The main thing is you receive a lot of great feedback from researching more and talking with potential customers. The core principle of the instant checkout was retained, but it’s definitely an evolution and a lot changed.
The process was interesting. We found all these new insights about the product we were creating by talking to customers – face to face and via social media. The feedback was incredibly valuable because it was often highlighting a problem all these businesses and customers were looking to solve. So what we did was collect and structure all that valuable feedback, and present it back to our Incubate advisors and mentors, who guided us from that point onward.
What have you personally gained by going through the entrepreneurial process?
When you first start out, all the responsibility is on the shoulders of you and your team. For the first six months or so, it feels like you’re personally taking on 20 different roles. As you grow, you begin to delegate to the point where you can reduce down to say 10 different roles!
But seriously, my advice to anyone thinking about doing a startup would be to just dive in and do it. Even if you fail, the amount of skills, knowledge and experience you will accumulate simply won't compare to the position you were in before, right?
The way startups are sometimes portrayed in the media isn’t always in line with reality, would you agree?
Absolutely. Even though I recommend doing it, the caveat is that it certainly won’t be easy! It can be painful, stressful, and exhausting, so the main thing I believe is to stay true to your vision… with adjustments of course.
It takes time and there’s a lot of trial and error along the way as you seek to prove your main hypothesis. The journey involves lots of changes and fixes along the way, but that’s why I believe it’s so important to have that bigger picture vision, and to remain true to it.
Did Incubate help with how you pitched the idea?
Yes certainly, they helped us to streamline the various ways we wanted to communicate Persollo to different audiences. Every audience is different and has different needs – whether you’re talking or pitching to investors, or to corporations such as banks, or to
resellers, or to the general public. There’s a lot of nuances to consider right there, and Incubate helped us polish our pitch to these different business groups.
Ultimately, Incubate helped us enormously in going from what I would call stage zero to stage one! You refine your pitch so much that you naturally gain so much experience. And it’s confidence that comes from experience.
Learn more: To find out more about Incubate, visit https://incubate.org.au/