Hello! I am Andrei Stoica, CEO & Co-founder at Brunch, a tech tool that enables teams to collaborate better when building or optimizing websites. Launched this year, Brunch allows adding comments directly on a live website, changing content and style, and an easier collaboration by adding an unlimited number of partners. Live collaboration experiences move online for digital agencies/specialists and their clients, which reduces time and effort spent on managing feedback on live websites. Before Brunch, I launched and was working as part of a digital marketing, design, and development agency, Stoica.Digital, that is still active.
We started Brunch in 2020 but we launched this year when we also raised our first round of seed funding from a local business angel (structured as a 250k EUR commitment with a first 35k EUR transfer) - Mihai Ivașcu with Ulpia Ventures, which also helps us with knowledge support and network access.
So far we have around 20 active users and two paying users (with an MRR of $38). We’re also currently raising a 285k EUR round on Seedblink (a regional crowdfunding platform) at a 2.3M EUR valuation.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve been managing Stoica.Digital for more than 5 years. Before that, I worked as a freelancer, on digital marketing/design projects, collaborated with various NGOs, and tried a few businesses.
Create value through your work and constantly ask for feedback, but listen only to people that have relevant experience with that topic.
Brunch was born from a need we faced ourselves at the agency: when we were building websites for our clients, the feedback processes took a lot of time and could confuse us very easily.
Print screens are highly inefficient, too many calls or email threads negatively impacted our productivity and the delivery time could take more than expected because too many decision factors were involved.
So we decided to create our solution, suited to our necessity. This is when, together with our CTO, Razvan Statescu, we started building Brunch. The most important validation came from our investment partners who believed in us and helped us aim higher.
Take us through the process of building the MVP.
Because we were comfortable with building and we were good at it, we started to build the product without much feedback from potential customers. We thought we understood the market and that probably other digital marketing agencies would have the same needs as ours.
We contacted a few people (direct messages to people we know, designers and marketers) from the beginning to get feedback on the idea but over time we understood it would have helped to get at least 30-50 to show interest so we had enough to test the product once we had the first version.
Working on building Brunch at the beginning was only me and my partner Razvan. I was doing design and marketing and Razvan was working on the development side. We got some help from the agency as well on building the website, web design, and marketing. We designed a wireframe, mapped used flows, and started to build UI and the whole platform right from the beginning. It took us 2-3 months to have the first version. Over the next year, we rebuilt parts of it a few times to get it right.
Brunch, as any other Saas product, is improving constantly and we try to get as much feedback from our users as possible. At some point, we started to build a “feedback on images” feature but realized the active users didn’t need that. It would have been extra work without much-added value so we stopped. It became obvious to us that the users needed to see all the added feedback in one place so we built that part.
During the last two months, we had a lot more discussions with our active users and potential users so we started to understand that people use the app more for feedback on content or translations so we will probably switch our focus and messaging to test if that direction has better traction.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We are still an early-stage startup, with many things to learn and a long way to go. But we are very optimistic about our future and are sure about the positive change Brunch can bring.
We launched our product this year with a press release and social media campaign that went well (the press release is available here) We developed the first version of our website and have recently launched the second one, have started creating insightful content on our blog and have started targeting a broader audience through paid ads to boost our content visibility.
Recently, we launched a Chrome extension and announced our Zapier integration. We plan to build a lot more integrations once we’re sure that the current version of the app can be scaled.
One important lesson would be that it’s important to communicate as much as you can and get feedback early and often from your users. Plus integrating feedback fast into the product, short feedback loops, helps a lot.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our main communication channels are our branded Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and our blog. We are still testing various acquisition methods that involve working with ambassadors, running special campaigns, connecting with various communities and influencers, and launching new communication channels.
We just started promoting the product so we’ll need at least 3 more months to be able to clearly say what works and not for us but for now the three main directions are: building relevant content and distribution, direct approach, and integrations.
We started to build content with some of our users and a few community managers of communities with potential users. We tried Facebook Ads but stopped because it started to cost too much for what results in we could see. We built an integration with Zapier so far and focused a lot more on the direct approach of potential customers so we can get feedback from them and make sure we build the right features.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today we are approaching and testing various ways of targeting potential clients and expanding our reach. We sell directly through our website and build integrated marketing funnels that service our future client's interests.
We are not yet profitable, as this is our first year of activity. Our focus is on putting Brunch in the face of as many digital professionals as possible, as we know we can bring real value.
Brunch is a startup launched in Romania, with a small team, but with international ambitions and we are determined to grow it exponentially in the months that will follow.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons since the start of my entrepreneurial journey and I don’t talk only about Brunch here. I think that it is very important to build products or services that do good and help your users.
I am a strong advocate of balance and mental wellbeing, meaning that for us, people come first - happy clients and happy team members keep you going for longer than burnt-out employees that struggle every day to work towards a goal that they don’t share. Transparency and togetherness are also two principles I value greatly and I think they can also make or break a business.
Of course, there have been mistakes made and missed opportunities but we try to take it to step by step and try to do better next time. I like to think that everything I’ve done led me here and I like where we are today.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our team uses Slack, Google meets to stay connected and we have recently switched to Notion for project management and Linear as a wiki for knowledge management. They allow us to keep everything in one place, making it easier to maintain a unified public and internal communication.
For Brunch we use Stripe for payments, Wordpress for the website, Rewardful for the affiliate program, Intercom to manage interactions with users, and a few other tools for tracing and reporting.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Tim Ferriss with his The 4 Hour Workweek and his podcast was a really big influence for me. Peep Laja is someone else I admire and read anything I can find. I try to read as much as I can.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Learn as much as you can, from as many people as you can. Give back and aim to help first before asking for anything. Create value through your work and constantly ask for feedback, but listen only to people that have relevant experience with that topic. Your own time is precious so make good use of it.
We all define success definitely, but one thing is sure: good, trust-based, honest relationships are key to anything you’ll do so take time to invest in them - and I am not talking solely about business relations, but personal ones as well.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’re constantly looking to collaborate with people that could help us build our product or can build content to serve our community. Right now we don’t have any specific job openings but please visit usebrunch.com/jobs for the latest updates.
Where can we go to learn more?
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