Dec12010

“The more open you are to feedback, the more progress you’ll make.”

CEO and Co-Founder at Webcrumbz
Ciprian Borodescu
Webcrumbz
CEO & Co-Founder

Interview by Kevin Ohashi of KevinOhashi.com
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(Pictured above from left to right: Ionut Ardeleanu, Alexandra Anghel and Ciprian Borodescu.)

This is part of our Startup BootCamp (SBC) 2010 Coverage.  We will be profiling many of the teams that have recently completed this seed funding program in Copenhagen, Denmark.  You can also read our interview with the founder of Startup BootCamp, Alex Farcet.  The format is slightly different from our regular format.  Each interview will begin with a set of questions about the experience of going through SBC and follow up with questions about the specific startup.

Disclosure: I know many of these teams personally and have worked with some of them informally to varying degrees.  However, I do not have equity in any of these companies nor have I received any type of compensation from them (other than a couple beers!).

Ciprian Borodescu is the CEO and Co-Founder at Webcrumbz.  Ciprian studied Computer Science at The Polytechnic University of Bucharest.  Ciprian and his team have worked together for five years at Neokinetics Software, which does outsourced website development in Romania.  Ciprian and his team founded Webcrumbz while at Startup BootCamp.

Webcrumbz is a mobile site building platform.  It allows non-technical users to quickly and easily build a mobile friendly website that works with all the major platforms: Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and Symbian.

MO:
Where did you hear about Startup Bootcamp (SBC) and what made you decide to apply?

Ciprian:
On June 28th, with two days before the Startupbootcamp applications were closed, I learnt about this project on Facebook. The funny thing is that I didn’t tell my team anything about it, not until I received a phone call from Carsten (Rainmaking) because I didn’t want to get our hopes up. For  us, there was no argument about it, Startupbootcamp is an amazing program – so the only question for was if we could be accepted or not.

MO:
After going through the SBC program, what did you find added the most value to your startup?

Ciprian:
Programs like SBC are valuable mostly because they offer access to an important network of mentors. It is not called a business-accelerator for nothing – for a start-up, it is very important to gather feedback as early as possible, and this is why we switched to another project idea just after a week into the SBC program. Without the valuable feedback that we received, who knows how long before we would have even recognized that our first project had major issues.

Webcrumbz.net – Demo from Ciprian BORODESCU on Vimeo.

MO:
What sort of progress did you make while in the SBC program?

Ciprian:
Our progress can be measured on both professional and personal levels. Before SBC, we had always thought at the product first, and developing a quality product was our main focus. Here we learnt that a successful project involves a lot more than a good product – and you have to first think about the business and how you are going to sell it. On a personal level, we met a lot of interesting people and we learnt that everything is possible if you have the right team, the right mentors and the right attitude.

MO:
Looking back, what could be improved upon for seed funding initiatives like SBC?

Ciprian:
Only one thing comes to mind – connections, connections, connections. Not only during the program, but also after it is over. We found out that being in the same space with 9 other great teams and having access to mentors, has had a great impact on our team. It is amazing how much you can do when you work together – this is why it is so important to maintain these connections after the program is over.

MO:
Any other thoughts about the SBC program?

Ciprian:
It is a bit hard to believe how much progress one can make by being in a program such as SBC. The more open you are to feedback, the more progress you’ll make, and from this point of view, I encourage every young entrepreneur to apply. SBC won’t guarantee you will gain investment or earn a lot of money, but one thing is for sure – it will show you how you can make the distinction between a successful project and a possible failure, which is the most important lesson that any entrepreneur could learn.

MO:
What was the most exciting day for your startup at SBC? The most stressful?

Ciprian:
It was no doubt the Investor Day. The level of adrenaline was so high that it’s not surprising at all, but besides that – it was a wonderful experience to see how each and every team stood under the spotlight and delivered a great presentation. All the presentations were so good that it was hard to believe we were the same people who at the beginning of the program, we didn’t even know how to pitch our own project. And I think we can easily conclude the situation would have been entirely different if we hadn’t benefited from the SBC training – in other words, a 3 months program such as this can and most surely will transform you from a muttering frog into a prince of presentations.

MO:
You pivoted while in the SBC program, what was your original idea and how/why did you change?

Ciprian:
It was more like a change of project rather than a pivoting. The original idea had something to do with “green” websites – a very interesting concept to be honest but not scalable enough and that’s why we took the decision of switching to Webcrumbz, which in fact was in on our radar for some time. We’ve been fortunate to receive really good feedback for the new business idea and we’ve managed to build a beta during the SBC program, gather some important beta-customers and present everything on the Investor Day.

MO:
I watched the demo on your site and it looks quite simple, it’s hard to believe it was built so quickly.  What are the biggest challenges facing Webcrumbz right now?

Ciprian:
We made it our goal to provide a simple-to-use platform, a tool that can be used also (and perhaps primarily) by non-technical people. Alexandra and Ionut did a great job implementing the beta version of Webcrumbz and we are currently under-development for several other features that will be included by the end of this year. Right now we are focusing on being attractive to possible investors and I believe this is quite challenging and hopefully rewarding soon enough.

MO:
You mention a pilot AdWords campaign in your presentation for investor day.  Could you tell us about what sort of strategies you have tried using to market Webcrumbz?  Were there any surprises in terms of what worked/did not work?

Ciprian:
Yes, we did a pilot AdWords campaign and the results were amazing, taking us to the conclusion that this should be our main focus in the immediate time period. Of course it goes without saying that we’re continuously discussing with possible partners that can act as duplicators for our product and actually we are already working closely with one of them for integrating our platform into their system.

MO:
A common trend I notice, at least in the media, is companies are advertising their mobile app rather than a website.  I am not saying you cannot have both, but as a business owner deciding to allocate resources: how do I better understand what are the trade offs between the two?

Ciprian:
When deciding to go for a mobile app you should know that there are two types of apps: native apps or web apps. As a business owner you probably don’t care too much about these terms, but you will care about the price: the difference between the two is that web apps are cheaper and can provide almost the same look & feel as the native apps while being accessed through an URL. Another concern is that once you develop a native app for iPhone, for example, you will need to develop one for Android too, hence the high costs. Our approach is aimed towards small and medium sized businesses. And we are doing this by enabling them to better reach and target their mobile audience, by building and distributing a mobile-friendly version of their website within minutes and without any advanced technical knowledge.

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