Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Andrei Povaliaev. I’m the CPO and co-founder of Muver, a U.S.-based mobile app for gig workers. We help drivers earn more money and drive safer by allowing them to multi-app seamlessly between Uber, Uber Eats, Doordash, Grubhub, Lyft, Instacart, and more within a single app!
We show ongoing growth, and our revenue for the past 12 months is over $270,000.
The goal of gig workers is to earn as much income as possible during each shift. It doesn't matter if it means working for multiple companies at once to minimize downtime between orders.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
After graduating from the Russian University of Humanities and spending a year as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry, I decided I wanted to do something different. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the job I wanted, so I resigned myself to becoming an Uber driver in Russia. The job was not easy, and I often struggled to make ends meet. Funny enough, this decision eight years ago was the start of the journey that led me to where I am now.
After a month at Uber, I had a sense that I could improve on this service. I felt like I had nothing to lose by trying, so I decided to take the plunge and act on my ideas. That was when I decided to sell my favorite BMW and invest the money in my own business for drivers.
I invited a few of my closest friends into a partnership, and, within just a few months of operation, our company became Uber’s largest partner.
After this, we opened a taxi company called Smart City LLC, where I was responsible for managing a fleet of more than 100 taxis. During my time as co-founder there, we also developed a more sophisticated platform for dispatch services and eventually came to the idea of creating a super-app to improve the experience of drivers working in ridesharing and delivery.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
To create a product, you must understand how it can solve the problem(s) of your target users. My personal experience on both sides of the transportation and ridesharing industry gave me a unique insight into a major problem that I knew all rideshare and delivery drivers share: They all want to make as much money as possible during each shift, which often means working for multiple companies so that there is little to no downtime between orders.
While there was no single “epiphany moment” that led to Muver’s formation, I can say with confidence that all of the experiences I had, from my first day at Uber to my last day at our thriving taxi company, essentially coalesced into what the Muver app is today.
However, my knowledge of the problems faced by rideshare and delivery drivers alone was not enough to create the product I was envisioning, so I invited two partners with complementary skill sets to the project. One was a tech genius who became our CTO, and the other was an expert in online marketing.
Because I knew what our target users needed, we combined our knowledge about the market, product, technical base, and marketing into a coherent whole and created Muver.
Describe the process of launching the business.
For Muver specifically, I had to move to the U.S. while the rest of my team stayed abroad. We developed a special in-house platform that helped us track app activity and any issues that arose. On my end, I tested the app in the U.S. and shared feedback with my teammates. They were able to add new features and fix issues remotely, but the whole process felt like a long-distance ping-pong game.
Upon the initial launch of the app, users could sign up for a 7-day free trial before deciding on a paid subscription. We reached out to drivers via Facebook and Google Ads, and we asked several top influencers to help promote our app to drive initial interest. It’s always hard to turn people on to something new, but we ran ABCD tests to figure out what the most effective channels were.
In a more general sense, to launch this kind of business you need to:
- Form a team
- Assign tasks and responsibilities
- Negotiate terms and conditions of work
- Hire employees
- Register a company
- Create a site
- Create a prototype of your mobile app
Aside from that basic flow, you also have to factor in things like weekly meetings to discuss the next steps and any progress that’s been made. You also need to develop a plan for attracting investments, work on hypotheses for new iterations of the product, and look for ways to expand the business.
When you are first launching a business, there is always a list of tasks that you must complete, so it is important to prioritize your time to get the most out of each day and maximize your chances of success.
In my experience, it is extremely important to put down everything you have negotiated about terms and conditions of work and job responsibilities in writing. Once things are set in formal writing, there can be no confusion, frustration, or “he said-she said” disagreements if someone is not fulfilling their duties in a particular position. Even if your business is among friends, this is an ideal way to save headaches and keep friendships intact.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
In our case, we tend to attract the majority of our clients through platforms like Google Ads. Believe it or not, about half of our acquired customers came from Facebook ads! We also have seen success with attracting and retaining customers through bloggers in the rideshare and delivery spheres as well as related spaces. I think that founders should remember how vital it is to stay on top of which online platforms are popular to ensure that they’re not missing out on a possible avenue for attracting and retaining customers.
Remember that marketing is an aspect of the business that should be constantly evolving and improving. You should always have multiple marketing hypotheses to perform A/B tests on your target market, and once you have data, you can choose the best strategy and begin the testing process again. This is how many startups find the optimal methods for customer acquisition and retention. For Muver, we tested dozens of marketing strategies, but only a few ended up being successful. Trial and error is an essential part of the process.
It’s also important to note that word-of-mouth plays a role in our customer retention and attraction strategies too. When drivers find a tool like Muver that proves to be genuinely useful and helps them make more money, they’re far more likely to talk about it to other drivers, which helps our reach tremendously. We don’t have a very sophisticated referral program yet, but we still get a decent amount of organic referrals. In the future, we plan to enhance our referral program to increase word-of-mouth effectiveness.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I’m happy to say that Muver is already in its third iteration the app, and we are continuing to grow and refine our model all the time. The most recent version of our application has made major changes to the overall design, and it improves the funnel of user involvement. We are constantly working to make sure that our app is easy, intuitive, and useful, and our diligence is daying off.
We also have plans to greatly expand our available features for users, and we are already looking toward the future and how we can grow even more. Eventually, our goal is to allow Muver drivers to fulfill orders entirely through the platform that we are building so that they don’t have to juggle managing several different deliveries and rideshare payout accounts. Instead, our ambition is to create our ocosystem for gig drivers, and I can say with confidence that we are well on our way to realizing that goal.
The stress of building a business can also lead to burnout if you don't have like-minded friends on your team.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Of course, a lot has been done. But perhaps the most valuable lesson of all is that I have substantially improved my English and learned a lot about raising investment through the cold list of VCs and how effectively reach out to them.
The truth is that I have learned so many lessons throughout this journey that it would be impossible to cover them all. However, there are a few lessons that have been particularly useful and valuable for me, both personally and professionally.
One of the greatest advantages the entrepreneurial process has given me is the ability to constantly improve and perfect my English skills. I was proficient before, but it’s vital to be able to speak and write well in English when you’re starting a global business, so I’m thankful for this opportunity.
Aside from that, starting my own business gave me a crash course on how to navigate the world of investments. I had to learn on my feet when it came to approaching venture capital funds and other potential investors, and there was a fair amount of trial and error involved in understanding how to effectively reach out to investment groups to raise the capital I needed to realize the ambitious goals of Muver.
I also think that it is advantageous for founders to learn how to be stubborn (or persistent, to put it more kindly). The startup scene is always moving at lightning speed, and there are generally more failures than successes, which can be discouraging. However, the sooner that you can learn to be stubborn enough to keep pushing forward despite everything else, especially when you believe in your idea, the better your chances are for success.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
At Muver, we use the following tools:
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My favorite book is Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad. I also enjoy listening to The Joe Rogan Experience podcast because he hosts such a wide variety of guests with such varied opinions. I think it is good for entrepreneurs to stay as open-minded as possible, so I enjoy hearing the thoughts of people who are different from me. I also find the story of Ferruccio Lamborghini to be interesting and incredibly inspiring.
Finally, I was very fortunate to have a father who was a huge influence on my life. In my younger years, I looked up to my father because he was a man with a boundless passion for life and a strong will to be the best he could be. I took those lessons to heart and have made it my mission to leave the world a better place than it was before.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t be afraid to test every possible option before you give up. I would also recommend they rely only on themselves and keep in mind that opportunities are in their hands - nobody can stop you from reaching your goals.
Never stop, explore our world, find out something new to keep your mind in great shape on one hand, and wisely filter all the information you receive, check facts and try to educate yourself as much as possible.
First, I would advise young founders to earn their own money and use that capital to start their businesses. This way, you have full control over how the money is spent and in what direction you take your company. Once you get staked by other investors or venture capital firms, you are usually obligated to consider their opinions.
This isn’t a bad thing, but at the very beginning, I think it is best to stick to your own money and find other friends who share a similar vision to invest their funds as well. Having like-minded friends on your team also helps you from feeling burned out due to the stress of building a business. When you’re surrounded by people who are supportive, uplifting, and able to share some of the burdens of stress, things are much easier and feel much brighter, even if you’re at a particularly low point.
My motto is, “Keep moving forward without stopping!,” and I think it’s advice that any entrepreneur could benefit from. Remember that the surest path to achieving nothing is to do nothing.
If there’s ever a dark period or a time when things feel especially confusing or discouraging, I always remind myself that the only way to get out of that situation is to take one step forward and then another. The bad times don’t last forever, so you just have to evaluate your situation, figure out the single step you can take that will propel you forward, and then keep repeating that process until you’re back in the proverbial light.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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