MVP Academy Class of 2015: Squady

Have you ever searched for interesting stuff happening around you or activities that you might want to join? Then Squady might be exactly what you’re looking for: an app that helps you discover things to do near your location or in a city you are travelling to, based on your friends’ activities or the activities of people nearby.

The Co-Founders of Squady came up with the idea of the product when they wanted to gather some of their friends for a movie night, but couldn’t reach them. It’s then when they realized that an app or platform where people could just find other people to hang out with would solve this problem. With the huge growth of apps like Tinder, they immediately saw the market potential and proceeded to building the product. Later on, Squady was accepted in the second batch of MVP Academy, pre-acceleration program for early stage tech startups, and, after lots of struggles, understood the steps they have to take for building a product that has at its core the needs of its users.

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Meet the team behind the product

Cristi_SquadyCristian Carp, Co-Founder & CEO

Cristi is a student at the Polytechnical University of Bucharest. He built his first company when he was 18 and he Co-founded several other startups to date. He loves to build products that solve real problems for the people. As the CEO of Squady, he is in charge with business and product development.

 

David_SquadyDavid Zaberca, Co-Founder & CPO

David is a student at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies. He Co-Founded several startups to date, where he was in charge with the creative and aesthetical part, and he is passionate about design and personal development. He is in charge with the creative, UX/UI and product at Squady.

 

Alin_SquadyMihai Alin Diaconu, Co-Founder & CTO

Passionate about technology, Mihai studies automatics and computers at the Polytechnical University of Bucharest. He has a great history of collaboration with the current team, having built together other products before, and he is now in charge with the technical aspects of Squady, as CTO.

 

Cristi, David and Mihai have built together several products over the past 5 years: one of the largest Wi-Fi networks in Romania, one of the first social media affiliate marketing networks in Romania (Nextads.ro), and a social health app (Simbio), among many others. They funded the development of these products with the revenues generated by Wild Media, an interactive agency that they’ve Co-Founded 3 years ago.

Target Market

Their latest product, Squady, targets a market with a huge growth potential: the young people aged between 16 and 25 that usually go out at least 2-3 times per week. They thus solve a problem for over 200 million users in the US alone, according to the data gathered from Facebook.

Current stage of product development

They entered MVP Academy with an idea and a working prototype, but soon understood they have to pivot in order to build something their users love and desire. Said and done: they abandoned the initial version of the product and launched a new one in mid May. Since then, they managed to strengthen their user base by attracting more than 400 people on the platform.

Squady now has a 60% engagement rate (users that joined / skipped / sent a message / invited a friend in the app), a total of 3827 actions performed in less than 2 weeks, and more than 1500 SMS invites sent through the app. They’re proud to see that their users have sent more than 400 messages and viewed the activities over 1000 times. Right now, they do have their product launched in Beta and they’re gathering feedback to validate their hypotheses. They will iterate according to the feedback they receive, and they’re ready to pivot once again if necessary, after they gather enough data from the existing users. Meanwhile, they’re working on improving the current version of the product and they plan to launch a better one next month.

Competitors

Several other entrepreneurs identified this problem and developed solutions to tackle it, such as WiGo or CitySocializer, their main competitors in the US. Facebook also provides a solution to this problem through the events that can be created on the platform, but its event discovery solution is complicated to use. Squady differentiates by making it easier and faster for users to discover interesting activities, in comparison with the already established solutions.

Business Model 

They’re currently exploring several monetization possibilities in order to choose the right business model. So far, they’re considering the opportunity to show people recommended activities that take place in certain places and allowing event organizers to post and promote their own events in Squady’s feed. They also consider advertising based on recommendations as a potential source of revenue.

The Money 

They’ve self-funded the development of the product to date, by investing the revenues generated by Wild Media, their interactive agency. With the funds they now have available, they can support themselves by the end of the year, time span in which their main objective will be to reach product-market fit.

Biggest challenge

Their biggest challenge right now is to understand what their users really want by conducting trials.

“People always want everything and nothing at all in the end, and we, as product people, should filter their needs until we understand what’s their most pressing problem and how can we best solve it. In a few words, we’re doing exhaustive product development”, Cristi explains.

How was the MVP Academy experience?

“MVP Academy helped us focus more on the product rather than on coding. We entered the program with a working prototype, but no validation whatsoever and then we rebuilt it from scratch and started discovering what our users really want. As a team working together for more than 5 years, MVP Academy gave us a fresh start and helped us gain the focus needed after so many products we’ve built together”, Cristi explained.

Top 3 things learnt

  1. To build a great product, you have to be fully committed
  2. Leave the coding aside, and think product
  3. You can be a serial entrepreneur, but not a parallel one

What would they do different now?

They’ve learnt lots of things over the past months, and if they were to start again from scratch they would focus less on software development and more on product. Or, at least, set the right balance between the two, as Cristi explains. 

What are their plans after Demo Day?

It wasn’t easy to get here, and the road ahead is still paved with lots of challenges, but the team behind Squady is not discouraged. They understood that their initial prototype was not functioning, so they pivoted quickly and built a whole new MVP from scratch.

With a functional Beta version launched on the market and good traction, the three founders are committed to understand the needs of their users and how can they solve them best. An improved version of Squady will be ready for launch next month and, after reaching product-market fit, they plan to raise seed funding and/or get into an accelerator in order to be able to scale and take their product to the next level. And, taking into account their adaptability, their commitment to build a user-centric product and their capacity to learn fast and iterate quickly, we’re confident that we’ll hear good news from them soon and we wish them the best of luck in their entrepreneurial quest.

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