Got it. Want it. Need it. Out of it. 💵
So then what? 💵
Since it's hard to talk business without talking money, today's Generation Si! newsletter, gives you a look at how money matters influenced the start-up journey for the founders of Defy Trends, including COO, Daniela Henao Moreno.
In Part One, Henao shared how having money growing up influenced her goal of helping those who didn't.
Now, in Part Two, learn what happened when her start-up dreams hit a money wall.
And while I'm not asking for your money, I am asking for your support for this newsletter. Please subscribe and use the share button above to share this article. 👋👋🏼👋🏾
“We hit a point where we were like, um, we’re out of money. Like, we were actually supporting each other because we weren’t making any money.”
That’s what it, sometimes, comes down to – relying on only your co-founders, according to Daniela Henao Moreno, one of the entrepreneurs behind Defy Trends.
Henao is the Chief Operating Officer of Defy Trends, an AI and crypto database platform for research. She’s candid about the struggles of bootstrapping the business (Note: Bootstrapping refers to funding a business without outside investors or with minimal capital).
She and her co-founders, Chief Executive Officer Imge Su Cetin and Chief Financial Officer Elena Garidis, had already been paying people out of their pockets when the well ran dry.
They had to cover for each other financially.
The co-founders rationalized it this way: “We believe in each other so much that I’m going to invest in you – because I believe in you without having anything… All we had [was] a deck.”
Speaking of that deck, it represented their hopes, dreams and grand plan for Defy Trends.
Henao recalls Cetin showing her the deck containing Cetin’s big idea and saying, “‘I need some structure. I need some help.’”
Henao responded, “Imge Su, I got you. I am incredibly good at organization. I can make this happen, and we can take this to the next level.”
Eight hours or so passed.
“And we realize we need another person. You know, I’m not a math person. Neither is she. She’s a tech person and data scientist. I’m an organization person and have a lot of experience with education. We don’t know numbers.”
Who could be the missing link? Who could be their numbers person?
Their mutual friend, Elena Garidis, came to mind. She had previously worked at JP Morgan and had a background in finance and trading.
“And Elena’s, like, ‘Absolutely. I’m so ready for this.’”
And just like that, Henao says, “In a matter of two hours, we built a company.”
I asked Henao to go back to the point in time when there was no money left to move forward.
The co-founders were trying to figure out what to do to keep the operation going.
Henao says, “We actually got an investor who invested our first $50,000.”
She describes it as a “super bittersweet moment.”
“Because it was, like, okay, this is real. It’s happening. But also, now, we’ve got to move to Miami. And we all were scattered around the world. So it was, like, time to start a new life.”
The nomads knew the critical moment had arrived.
Figuratively speaking, they had to bury their previous lives. It was time to move on to a new phase. “That person has to die so that we can birth this entrepreneur that’s going to build a multi-million dollar company.”
They all agreed that it had to happen.
But Henao admits, it was a process. They used an angel investor. Then they got venture capital. And then they were raising money for a token.
“We are launching our Defy token. And through that token, we’ve been able to meet a lot of amazing investors because… our check sizes are very small.”
Basically, when it comes to funding, Henao says, “Yeah, we’ve done it all.”
Henao, Cetin and Garidis are setting their sights on reaching all kinds of targets now, including social media connections and users to their platform, which starts beta testing this month.
“We are hoping to reach five million users by 2024.”
They’ve also done courses and webinars trying to expand their social media reach. Henao says they have 20,000 people on their social media channels.
But there’s a more relatable goalpost that will signify success for Henao.
“This is when I will know… when I’m in line at Starbucks and I will see somebody in front of me using Defy Trends… That is when I will call my friends and be, like, ‘Girls, we did it!”
THE TIP JAR (tips passed out courtesy of Daniela Henao Moreno)
STARTING OUT: In Part One, Henao told us the key thing to do is to find good co-founders. So I asked her where you find them.
Henao says, in general, she recommends Facebook groups and Instagram groups (Note: Since Henao mentions Facebook and Instagram in her answer, for transparency, Facebook (now Meta) is my partner for this publication which runs on the Meta newsletter platform, Bulletin).
For the crypto space, specifically, she says, “Telegram is what we use. And Twitter.”
“People are hungry to build. So, really, really, all you need is to be transparent…”
Here’s the script she suggests: “Hey, guys and girls. I have a dream. And I want to build this thing. And I want to bring it to life. Who’s with me?”
STEEPED IN SKILLS (mid-career): “The biggest value that I have learned matters when being successful or not successful, not just in a company, but in life, is grit.”
PRACTICAL EXAMPLE: “This is the first time that I’m… a COO in my life. I didn’t go to school for business. I studied international development. But I’m constantly learning… constantly reading books. Constantly reading articles. I’ve done accelerators… I have mentors. I have people that are older and have done this 10, 20 times. And what differentiates me from somebody in my shoes and with the same resources… is just the fact that I have grit… I am willing to learn, and I want to learn. Teach me.”
STARTING OVER: “Accelerators can be useful. There’s pros and cons to them, so it’s important to evaluate [them]. But they can also offer a lot of direction, especially, if you… didn’t go to business school…”
BONUS TIP (BOOK RECOMMENDATION): “I’m actually reading… six books at the same time.”
Henao says the book that’s really grabbing her attention right now is called "Create the Future + The Innovation Handbook: Tactics for Disruptive Thinking" by Jeremy Gutsche.
“And, yeah, it’s just a really interesting book. All the pages are different. And there’s graphs. I really like this book because it walks you through how to create long-lasting change – and not just [at] the company level, but also in our life, in general… I’m actually reading it more for pleasure than for work.”
I’LL NEVER DO THAT AGAIN: “Setting boundaries. That is really important. Setting boundaries between co-founders. Setting boundaries between companies.”
NO NEED TO GO IT ALONE
HELP ON THE OUTSIDE...because we can all use a helping hand:
Venture Capital – Is it Right For You?
Curious about whether or not your business idea would be a great fit for venture capital? Who are the investors in this type of funding? What’s important to them when choosing companies for investment? Find out by attending this FREE webinar. Here’s more info:
Thursday, March 17, 2022
1:00 p.m. EST – 2:00 p.m. EST
WORKING ON THE INSIDE...because we know our culture has a hard time asking for help:
Calm Your Nerves – Public Speaking
Terrified of public speaking? At ease. It can be scary. This FREE program from the Florida Library (yes, the library) concentrates on what the instructor calls the “3 Ps” of public speaking (practice, preparation and presentation). This webinar is led by a teacher and researcher who will help you approach public speaking in a way that puts you more at ease with a different mindset. Register through the library’s Niche Academy:
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
10:30 a.m. EST – 11:30 a.m. EST
“The Basics of Public Speaking – I’ve got a presentation coming up and I think I might die!”
INSPIRATION FOR THIS ISSUE:
Many of us grew up being taught that when we pursue something, we have to be overprepared. In many cases, it helps. No doubt. But at what point does it work against you? When does that type of thinking keep you from taking action?
It seems like it might be a generational thing, but younger people come across as much more comfortable going through with something, regardless of whether it’s perfect, fully thought out or hashed out.
Daniela’s pitch to seek a co-founder struck me with its simplicity and authenticity. It, basically, translated into, “Help me build my dream.” Even in Part One where she suggested picking up the phone, recording yourself and posting something online, day after day, is consistent with that way of approaching any task or challenge, without regard for perfection and just doing it.
Daniela advocates for learning non-stop in many ways and through different formats. But that’s not creating any delays. It’s almost like a parallel track.
It’s something to keep in mind as you pursue your plan and your dreams. You don’t have to have everything figured out. Just do something every day to get you closer to your goal.
I’ll see you en route.
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