From Personal Struggle to Future Startup
How it all started?
For years we, Misha and Alex, have been involved in various sustainability projects. We were in contact with this world for long enough to sense that what was needed is a platform to connect environmental actors with the outer world.
Why? A community for environmentalists and green-tech companies was lacking in Moldova and one could always see the same old faces amongst the active volunteers. Both clusters needed more visibility and interaction with each other.
ENVERACE was brought into the world to remedy this. NGOs, organizations, companies would publish their sustainability-related activities and events on the platform, where volunteers and participants would engage with them in a systematized and user-friendly manner. Additionally, elements of gamification, such as missions, achievement badges, and rankings, would add excitement, engagement, and motivation in completing the tasks.
Having big ambitions and many ideas, we decided to go through a couple of pre-accelerator programmes for startups to test our idea and explore its potential. We can say that this is where the real journey started from.
We tested our idea for about 3 months at the programme Rockstart Launchtrack Moldova. The most obvious thing that happened was … pivoting, changes of direction, many changes of direction, but we also stayed grounded in what we learned.
We decided to complement our platform with a pre-selector for environmental jobs. An AI algorithm would analyze users’ profile and, on basis of their practical experiences and scores accumulated through the platform, would do the matching with potential employees. We envisioned this as an extra layer of engagement for our users, but most importantly, we wanted to give them a tangible reward for the effort they put in serious “game play”. On the side of employees, this would be a service for automatizing the hiring process for environmental jobs.
We went through 5 different presentations, and we also gave 4 pitches to the public and investors. The feedback we received wasn’t always positive, but luckily this gave us the chance to think over and shift our idea until we mastered it.
To tell you that it was hard… it’s pointless. On the way to our final proposition we went from ambition and excitement to total discourage. Yes, this is what a startup is about and this is why investors devote more attention at first to team dynamics than to traction or the quality of the idea itself. The key to success of a project depends on how the team is playing this game, how is it facing the challenges, if it is flexible enough to learn from failures and switch anything that didn’t work into a source of growth.
So, we reached the graduation from this startup pre-acceleration programme, and we felt like on the shore of a deserted island. What should we actually do next? OK, we have a tested idea, but is it good enough for running investment rounds? Of course not. Investors look at numbers, not just promises. We needed traction!
Road to MVP
Another pre-accelerator programme was the Founder Institute, which took us also about 3 months of full-time work. There we achieved a new milestone: we developed our first MVP. The first tangible success! It was the pre-selector tool. Simple, easy to use, it was meant to automate the onboarding process for a new project or a job offer. And it was real.
Having this in our pocket, we went for one more round of pitching at the Seedstars World Competition which took place in Moldova. The event gathered best startups from all over the country, and we were on the list. We went out of it with 2 contacts of potential investors, and that was a step forward.
But to be frank, a MVP is still not enough to run investment rounds. It’s like a mirage in the desert. And this is where the strength of your team comes into play. You need a lot of commitment and support within the team. You need strategic meetings, where all your team members actively give feedback, share ideas and visions.
So you think you can “start-up”?
What we soon realized is that we developed an MVP, great, but nobody is particularly interested in using it. Pretty harsh! The reason? Because this tool is a solution for problems that are 2-5 years away.
Had we not have been experienced with pivoting ideas and changing strategies with flexibility, probably we would have given up from the early beginning. This is why every startup should have a rule codex. First rule: try to do it! If it’s not working out, see the first rule.
Yes, grittiness and persistence should be the main fuel when you are working on something incredibly hard and innovative, aka a startup. Because people, including your friends and parents will not understand you, and even you sometimes will not get what and why you are doing all this. But you should not give up, because life really enjoys testing people, and if you can pass the test, then the reward comes, not the other way around.
Work in progress
What are we busy with these days? Currently, our team works on implementing new features designed to develop the community, because it is the new power of today. Redesigning the old platform and making it user-friendly is our main priority now, so that we can attract an increasing number of users. More users should also bring more companies posting engagement opportunities and job posts.
Also, we are working on creating an algorithm for processing complex psychological profiles of candidates and an interactive chatbot to replace the static application form we are sending out to job candidates these days.
What we have right now is a gamified tool for running and managing environmental projects. We intend to make it public and open-source for every organization to start creating or posting their events there and start their collaboration with the community. Felicia, the new valuable addition to our team, greatly helps our startup to achieve this. For all the other features work is in progress, and we need you here as well!
Jump on board!
If we got you excited about what we do, and you feel like becoming part of something big and still growing, we invite you to join us. We are currently searching for a designer, a developer, and a social media manager.
If you are interested in investing / supporting in our solution, we will be happy to have you as our “angel investor” and/or a mentor. We would also appreciate if you could spread the word about what we do and help us connect with environmental organizations and Green Tech companies, innovation-based initiatives, and grow the community.
Check out our website www.enverace.com to explore our vision of the solution to recruitment for environmental positions and stimulation of positive engagement into nature conservation with game-based platform. Reach us by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what you think. Any feedback is much appreciated!
Take care and good luck!