Bootstrapping An All-in-One Business Card Solution, Whilst Saving The Planet

Published: February 8th, 2022
Giuseppe Milazzo
Founder, Contapp
from London, UK
started March 2020
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My name is Giuseppe Milazzo and I'm a Solopreneur & the proud Founder of a tech startup called Contapp. We’re on an exciting bootstrapped journey to improve the way business professionals use, share and manage business card data. Our startup has a very strong focus on saving the planet with our sustainable business tool.

Built for business professionals - Contapp is the smarter and more convenient way of digitally managing, using, and sharing business card data, whilst reducing paper waste globally.

Our user-friendly platform works as a digital business card, business card scanner, and business card manager, for simplified contact management. It’s everything you wished your business card could do.

In short, you’ll be saving time, money, and the planet, simultaneously.

The growth rate we’ve experienced since launching has been steady, as we continue to create a community of users that engage and become part of our ongoing development.

Adding value to users, their feedback, saving the planet, and data security are at the heart of everything we do at Contapp.


What's your backstory and how did you get into entrepreneurship?

My background has always been in marketing and graphic design, which lead me to build Contapp. I’ve always been very creative and wanted to work for myself from a very early age.

Build a community and then build the product, you’ll find a lot of value in doing that in terms of feedback and saving valuable time/money.

I started my first business at the age of 17, doing brand design and social media management for friends and family as a freelancer. This soon went from a side project to a business as people began to refer me to a wider network, hence why I then put a business name to my work, which was MILOGO. All the business I generated was from referrals and word of mouth, so everything I was earning was profit.

After leaving 6th form, I dismissed the idea of the university and got myself an apprenticeship as a Marketing Executive for a Xerox concessionaire. My job after that was as a Marketing Executive at Mercedes-Benz. In both of these roles, I gained valuable experience in marketing, but also working environments.

At the time of launching Contapp, I was working as a Marketing Manager at 23 years old. I soon left my role there to take on Contapp full time. It was beginning to gain traction and I completely believe in the product, plus the vision for the future of what we’re building here at Contapp.

I was lucky enough to be financially stable to launch Contapp and self-fund it myself. Thanks to my previous roles in various industries, I gained first-hand experience to leap into building something completely on my own, with a unique approach in the tech industry.

We’ve grown completely organically since and now have active users in all 4 corners of the world. This followed with many interviews and blog features, including a live prime time interview on Australian News for business & tech, which you can see here.

Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. How did you go from day 1 to today?

I was sick and tired of coming back from networking events & exhibitions with piles of unmanageable printed business cards. There are so many flaws with printed business cards, it just doesn't make any sense why you’d use them when compared to a digital solution like Contapp. They’re not eco-friendly, incredibly expensive, easily lost/damaged, manual data entry, and not convenient in today’s digital world.

I had to find a better way of storing these cards digitally, which is why I searched on the App Store. It was shocking to see that there wasn’t an all-in-one business card solution available that worked as a business card, but also an efficient business card manager as well. Many apps are either a simple business card scanner or a digital business card, not one that does everything. From my research, I found that these apps were difficult to use, expensive, rigid in design, lacked key features, and had no customer support.

After identifying a gap in the market for an all-in-one business card solution that was easy to use and packed with streamlined features, I conducted some market research to validate my idea. From that, I understand price points, what people valued from a business card, and if this solution was needed amongst business professionals.

Long story short, I built Contapp completely on my own. Everything is done by myself, from the app screen designs, marketing, branding, content marketing, articles, networking, and more. The only thing we outsource is the coding. Given my experience in marketing and graphic design, this has helped me hugely to go into the unknown and build my first ever business tool app.

We have a really exciting roadmap ahead which we’re on track with at the moment and our branding differentiates us from the competition. We’re a user-centric startup and encourage our users to be part of our journey at every stage, including development. It’s a big thing for us as a bootstrapped startup to involve our users as we continue to grow as a community.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We’re still an early-stage startup but we’ve seen continuous growth since launching, which shows we’re heading in the right direction. Users are growing daily, our partnerships are becoming more popular and above all, we’re seeing more users become premium members.

Users now have the option to use our free plan or subscribe to our premium plans. The premium packages haven’t been active on our platform for very long and only start from £1.33 per month. Very affordable for any level of business professional or student.

When we launched the Innovators & Early Adopters Programme, we saw a great response and it shows that businesses/individuals support what we’re trying to achieve as a community. Not to mention, all of our marketing and growth has been organic. We’ll look into paid marketing as a tool for growth in the new year once we’ve launched our upcoming app update.

What makes Contapp exciting for users is our roadmap. We’ve got plans to completely revolutionize how we use, manage and share business card data, including powerful integrations from leading software. This is something that no one in our field has implemented yet.

Contapp invests a lot of time in creating content for our social media pages, as well as collaborations and blogs. If you check out our LinkedIn, Instagram, or other social media pages, you’ll see we’ve got some great content that regularly gets shared with our followers. This content is to educate and share cool tips for business professionals, in a fun and easy way, rather than boring poor graphics and text. Give us a follow today!

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

As a first-time Solopreneur launching a bootstrapped tech startup in a new industry, I always knew that there would be mistakes happening along the way. First of all, we have few resources and not a huge budget for marketing. Not investing time into building a community before the product was probably the only thing I feel we could have thought about first. In the end, we managed to do it, however, it would have saved a lot of time pre-launch.

Being flexible is a huge advantage. When we launched Contapp, COVID hit the UK a couple of weeks after (unbeknown to us). However, we managed to turn a crisis into an opportunity. For the first year and a half, Contapp wasn’t being used in its right environment because of lockdown, no one could meet face to face. Since pivoting and applying features to work for virtual meet-ups, we’ve seen a big spike of new users. We identified the problems and tackled them as soon as possible, without disrupting our roadmap.

One of the best decisions we’ve made is to partner with like-minded businesses/communities, who share the same vision for sustainable, streamlined business card management in today’s digital world.

For example, our networking partners wanted a solution to sustainable networking, alongside Contapp. No printed business cards are required, all people will need is the Contapp app which works as their business card for the event, contactless sharing as they please. This means zero-waste at the event and people can go back to the office with a library full of contacts on their Contapp account, which can be exported as a CSV file. It was a huge success for everyone involved.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

One of the main tools we use is LinkedIn, although we do use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as well. LinkedIn is such a great tool for business and to network with like-minded business professionals. Almost every person on LinkedIn would fall under Contapp’s target market, which is why we invest so much time in being active, engaging, and sharing valuable content on there. Follow our LinkedIn page to stay in the loop with what we’re doing.

As we do all of Contapp’s marketing and content creation, Photoshop is another program that we use a lot. Everything you see from a graphical content and branding point of view is created by myself. It allows us to be flexible and as creative as we possibly can, something that resonates well with the type of brand we’re building at Contapp. Bold, approachable, and a brand that can easily connect with our target audience.

The Google Suite is also a big platform that we use often. We use the entire Google Suite for content creation, collaboration, keeping notes, and also to store all of our files on Google Drive. As a startup, this is a very cost-effective alternative to the Microsoft Suite but works well for us.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Although I've been on many podcasts, I haven't listened to many. However, I’ve read a few books in the past which have inspired me in my entrepreneurial journey so far. The two that stick out for me are The Lean Startup written by Eric Ries and also Shoe Dog, written by Phil Knight.

The Lean Startup is a great book that outlines the fundamentals of building a startup with a measured approach. Shoe Dog on the other hand is an amazing read, one of my favorite books. It’s a memoir of the Founder of Nike, one of my favorite sports brands.

I tend to get my inspiration from entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, a pure genius. I watch a lot of Youtube videos and documentaries that help me understand his way of thinking. I also get a lot of inspiration from reading blogs, top tips on different strategies to build a startup and self-development. I always like learning things to better myself.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

One of the best tips I have for people just starting is to have a great network. If you’re not already on LinkedIn, get on there and connect with the right people, have conversations and engage with their content. It’s amazing how personal branding and networking with the right people will have such a big impact on your business. Build a community and then build the product, you’ll find a lot of value in doing that in terms of feedback and saving valuable time/money.

Invest in yourself. Not only learning new things and taking part in workshops to develop your skills, but I mean mentally. One of the biggest lessons I've learned since running my own business is that it can take a hold of you mentally and physically. Burnout is real and that’s something that every entrepreneur needs to steer clear of because it's a slippery slope. Take breaks, don’t overdo it, and enjoy your life outside of the office as well. Funnily enough, you’ll be more productive with work in doing so.

Become an H2H business. Contapp is very much a user-centric startup, which means that when it comes to customer support or communicating with our users, we want it to feel like they’re engaging with a human and not a robot. We’re not a faceless business and everything we do is completely transparent to our users. From the very start, we’ve always encouraged our community of users to engage, share feedback, and join us on this exciting journey to develop a platform for the users.

The last thing I'd like to mention is to incorporate sustainability in the business. Even if you can contribute to sustainability in a small way, it’s better than nothing. Having sustainability as part of your business plan is also a lot easier to implement at the start of building a business, compared to shoehorning it in at a later stage when you’re a fully functioning business.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We’re not actively looking to hire anyone right now, however, we always welcome professionals that believe they can help Contapp grow with their expertise. Whether that means becoming a Co-founder or implementing your skills within our startup, we appreciate all approaches - drop us an email at [email protected].

However, we are always looking to grow our partnerships and increase marketing collaboration opportunities. We have many networking and sustainability partners already, as well as integration partners being implemented as we speak - we want to grow together! If this sounds like something you’d like to get involved with, please drop the team an email at [email protected].

Where can we go to learn more?

If you’d like to experience smarter, streamlined business card management, you can find out more about our digital solution here.

Better yet, try Contapp for yourself by downloading the app for free on iOS & Android today.

It’s everything you wished your business card could do.

Join our exciting startup journey, we’d love to have you part of our community!

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