Brevado, a current Startup Factory (TSF) company, launches this morning. The three co-founders behind Brevado met in elementary school on Long Island, NY. The trio started a company together after reconnecting in the final stages of their collegiate careers.
Nick Zafiropoulos, CEO, was studying biology and secondary education major that was running an IT services company with 22 clients as a college sophomore.
“I realized that all of my clients were having the same problem,” said Zafiropoulos, “they didn’t have efficient tools to run their company, and that affected their ability to treat their customers right.”
Zafiropoulos reconnected with Steve Garofalo, COO and UI/UX designer and Mike Perna, CTO, and Zafiropoulos pitched the idea. The team formed quickly, and with a $20,000 investment from members of their families, worked on the project – unnamed at that point – for ten months.
“And then we failed,” said Zafiropolous, “because we didn’t know what being a startup was really about.”
Running the business on fumes, the team was at a crossroads, debating their next move. This was March 2013, and the team was about to experience a one-week turnaround, said Garofalo.
“We didn’t know what a startup really was,” said Steve Garofalo, COO and UI/UX designer, “it all started with a lot of bad advice – from people who gave it but probably shouldn’t have been giving it.”
And then luck turned.
An investor from Romania found the company on AngelList, and gave the team invaluable advice. The investor – known to the team as “Vlad,” provided an accountability timeline for the company, giving the founding team one week to completely remake the business. Vlad never invested in the company but his advice was valuable.
The company refocused on one key goal, said Zafiropolous, and that was helping companies “communicate progress to clients,” said Zafiropoulos.
“We were running out of money,” said Garofalo, “about two weeks away from taking real corporate jobs.”
Then, The Startup Factory followed the company on Twitter.
The Brevado team was interested. “We read all of the materials and it seemed like fate,” said Garofalo. The accelerator shared similar values, said Zafiropolous, and the founders started to call other TSF graduates.
Ultimately, the company pursued an application, submitting materials with one week of funding left.
The interview with The Startup Factory wasn’t quite what the team expected, said Zafiropolous. “We’d written out answers to all of the questions that we’d brainstormed,” said Zafiropolous,
“We wrote it all out, and we answered all of our questions for ourselves,” said Zafiropoulos, “and we got on the phone and they asked none of those questions.”
“Clearly something went well,” said Zafiropoulos. For the final interview, the team packed up their car, drove 10 hours from Long Island, NY, to Durham, pitched The Startup Factory, and drove the 10 hours home.
A week later, said Zafiropolous, the team got a call from Chris Heivly, who asked, “what are you guys doing between August and November?”
The team is a perfect fit for The Startup Factory, said Heivly, because “they lived the problem for years and worked hard to find a simple focus to get started. “
Involvement in The Startup Factory has been absolutely vital for the company’s early successes, said Zafiroplous.
The company, which provides a solution for businesses that work with external clients, seeks to streamline the communication between a client and their vendor.
“The funding is cool,” said Zafiropolous, “but the advice is excellent.” Through their work in The Startup Factory, the company has gained access to key advisors, implementing lessons learned from presentations, and working directly with Chris Heivly and Dave Neal, managing directors of The Startup Factory.
“These guys are working the TSF program perfectly,” said Heivly, “they work hard, consume every bit of info, ask lots of questions, and have committed 100 percent to their company.”
One of the most important gains, said Garafalo, was learning how to reach a specific and targeted market – how to craft a messaging strategy in line with the company’s identity.
“We make project timelines for professional service companies to share with their clients to improve their experience and keep everyone on the same page,” said Garofalo.
“We keep your clients in the loop,” added Garofalo, which has become the company’s unofficial tagline.
The company ran a six-week private beta, generating more than 800 signups for free accounts. The company has already started converting accounts to paid accounts, said Zafiropoulos.
The company does not plan to operate on a freemium model, said Zafiropoulos. Instead, the company is offering a more traditional Software-as-a-Service payment plan, with a monthly rate to gain access to the project management toolkit.
To prepare for the launch, the team has been working on revamping the design experience for potential customers. They’ve built tutorials that help new users navigate the site and utilize the valuable client relationship features.
“We’ve really polished everything up,” said Zafiropoulos, “and it’s working as best as it can in order to help solve that fundamental problem.”
Subscriptions are $24 / month, or $240 annually (that’s two months free, if you’re wondering). The company launches today at www.brevado.com.