This week we spoke to Andrus Purde, co-founder of the innovative startup Achoo. It was interesting to see how he is embracing lean techniques and clearly learning a lot along the way. We admire his candid comments which we publish below;
Tell me a little bit about your background and why you founded Achoo
I’m a lifelong marketer, after a career of selling various things people didn’t need via mass media, I made a leap to web/tech side of things, where product, marketing and users are much better connected. I started out at Skype where I spent 5 years, and have been building and consulting startups for a couple of years now.
Since quitting my last “proper” job more than 2 years ago my LinkedIn profile has become unimpressive at best. If you consult, freelance and work on multiple projects, and that’s is where the job market is headed, the traditional resúmé, and services built around that, simply fall flat. Achoo is meant for people like this, so we are just scratching our own itch.
What is Achoo all about? What is your vision?
Achoo is a place for “socially accepted bragging”. It’s a great way to showcase what you’re achieved and accomplished career-wise, and who you’ve really worked with. It lets others peek behind fancy job titles and impressive company names. This is the crux of professional networking, online and offline, and it’s almost comical LinkedIn and other networking sites are still using the traditional CV format.
How do you monetise? What is the business model?
Professional networking is great because there are multiple sources of revenue: profile owners might want to pay for highlighted listing and customisation, recruiters for access to more data. That said, none of the premium features are live now, we’re really focused on building the user base first.
Tell me about your team
We’re three people with skills that complement each other very well. I’m a marketer and not the worst customer development person (I guess time will tell). Veiko (http://www.achoo.co/veiko/) designs the product and he can also write front-end code. And ShyCTO (http://www.achoo.co/user/ashycto/) is a proper hacker, he just likes to code.
What stage are you at with the business and what comes next?
We launched publicly back in April and can’t claim to have found product-market fit right away. That said, we have some happy users and we’ve learned what we need to change, so now we’re busy getting the next version out.
Money-wise we’ve decided to bootstrap as long as possible. We might be able to try more things faster with external funding, but this would have meant sacrificing some time for fundraising. You win some, you lose some kind of thing and because we’ve seen a couple of startups suffer from raising too early, we wanted to avoid making this mistake.
What is the main challenge you face?
We’ve struggled with focusing on the right thing. You can work on countless features, improvements and use cases, and sometimes it’s been really hard agreeing what’s the one things that needs to ship fast. Because we’re bootstrapping, we haven’t been able to dedicate all of our time to Achoo, and this hasn’t helped either. On the positive side, we’ve gotten better and better at overcoming challenges in the process.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I fell in love with British stand-up during my four years living in London, so I started my own comedy night after moving back to Estonia. So every couple of months I invite someone like Patrick Monahan, Zoe Lyons, Paul Foot or Mitch Benn to Tallinn and have a blast. I think doing a bit of something that is not tech related at all helps to keep life balanced.