€500 000 + 6 months = Advice from Datamolino’s CEO
It’s over 6 months now since Datamolino received €500 000 seed investment from the Slovak Innovation and Investment Fund, so I wanted to take a moment to share what that’s meant for us as startup and myself as an entrepreneur.
Since our investment we left beta testing and launched in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. We have two core products, one for accountants and one for businesses/individuals. The core functionality of Datamolino to extract and archive data hasn’t changed much since we started – but the way we have segmented our customers has. Our team has increased significantly – we added a CTO, more developers and our ‘human verification’ team. We outgrew our co-working space at The Spot in Bratislava’s Old Town, and moved across the Danube to our very own office at Digital Park, complete with a castle view. Our live version has been released and we’re busily preparing our sales processes – it’s getting exciting now.
Never stop validating
Receiving our seed round of investment back in February was incredibly exciting. It meant that we could keep accelerating post Wayra to building our business. The investment meant that FIT believed we would succeed, a huge validation for Datamolino. We have have blogged before about validation because it has been one of the driving forces of Datamolino. More validation, leads to better decision-making. Jan and I have asked a lot of questions about this business. We consulted mentors, experts, friends, and family. There is a limit to our abilities and outsiders give a vitally critical approach
CX is great for your startup
Development at the moment is about the customer experience – the more we see how customers interact with it, the better idea we have of what’s needed and what may be obsolete. The greatest data extraction solution in the world means nothing if it wasn’t easy to use, from when you land on the page to when you ‘re processing documents automatically. We’re focusing on the totality of the customer experience – search, UI, UX, functionality. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the facets of bringing a business to market, so we take time to prioritise and build things incrementally. The benefits of an exceptional CX cannot be underestimated. A satisfied customer equates to higher retention, higher usage, and lower marketing costs – all because you do what you set out to. Satisfied customers want to tell people about your product – and they do it for free.
We’ve welcomed new people to Datamolino, and had to see a few leave, this is a natural part of the growth process. People change, the business changes, and that’s OK. It’s important to take the time to work on every new relationship, you have to spend time with these people everyday. Get to know them. Forget about easy interviews, take the time to know these people socially as well, it can tell you a lot about how they’ll fit into the existing culture. I talked a lot about this at the Shift Conference earlier this year, because the right people can make the journey so much easier. As always communication is key. Never stop talking to each other.
Accepting investment means accepting significantly more responsibility. People trust you to follow through and keep your promises, if you don’t your business and reputation is gone. Spend the seed money as wisely as you can, there’s no second chance to spend the cash. I never expected that the sales cycle would be slower than anticipated. It will get quicker as we refine and develop the process, but my advice is to prepare well and don’t rely on your expectations. Rely on what is actually happening and improve the process as quick as you can.
I was pleased with our archiving feature, we had an idea that it could be as useful as the data extraction technology but we were happy when our customers said how much effort it was saving them. I felt that we were doing what we promised, saving time and money.
The most exciting part of the last 6 months has been putting all our theories and ideas into practice and seeing Datamolino come to fruition. What I love about being an entrepreneur is that there is no second chance to make these decisions again, it has to count now. In the next 6 months we are after the larger markets, that has always been key for us, now we’re really focused on it and I can’t wait!
PS: I’ll be presenting a solution forum at the Exchange Summit in Barcelona from the 6th-7th of October 2014. The conference focuses on e-invoicing and I’ll be talking about ways small businesses can get ready for a change in electronic AP processing. If you’re there I’d really enjoy meeting you!