In April, we saw ten amazing startups brave the stage during Basiq’s Fintech Pitch Night. Since a 90-second pitch is hardly enough, we wanted to get to know a bit more about the winning founders that have since joined the Basiq Launchpad program. First cab off the rank is Readily’s Founder, Jacob Kononiuk, sharing his story as a solo founder, Readily’s pivot experience and what lays ahead for the new startup on the block.
Where did the idea for Readily spark from?
Online returns are my pet peeve, so I naturally gravitated toward finding a solution to this problem. The line was crossed when I spent close to 3 hours processing a return. Realising that this is a problem for virtually everyone who shops online, my motivation to build the solution sparked.
How does Readily work?
Readily makes it easier than ever to return things online. Never stress about post office trips and confusing returns processes. Readily handles the hassle, leaving customers assured and joyful when shopping online.
What led you to becoming a founder?
Throughout my early life I moved around a lot. I grew up in Europe and moved to Australia in my teens. I think these experiences shaped my approach to career progression and independence.
I started my first e-commerce business at age 16, where I sold clothes and adventure accessories online. When I experienced a taste of independence, my world shifted. The traditional pathways available to me at the time became redundant. Throughout my teens and early twenties, I experimented with various career paths, but the drive and excitement to build something unique always prevailed.
What has your experience as a solo founder been like so far?
The journey as a sole founder is incredibly valuable. I have learned more about myself in six months than I would have over five years. Nonetheless, it’s an uphill battle. You’re constantly on, and some days it’s tough to switch off at all. You need to be genuinely passionate about the problem to persist.
Some days I wonder why the hell anyone would choose to do this, but my passion for the problem prevails. Stoicism has helped me stay grounded and find middle ground during peaks and troughs.
You mentioned that you recently pivoted the business – how did that play out?
Readily started with a B2B model that only offered instant refunds to customers. I was heavily focused on building a SaaS platform. I realised that I wasn’t creating something people truly wanted. Hundreds of face-to-face user interviews and countless surveys helped me discover that people hate the logistics of returns and are merely concerned with cashflow. Besides, retailers are not fond of paying for a service that increases returns.
At the time, what seemed like a giant, grey cloud turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Pivoting has been the best decision I’ve made so far. I went from flogging a dead horse and wasting time to getting initial customers who love and care for the product.
My learning from this experience has been to listen to your users rather than your own biased hypothesis.
What are you looking for in your first hires?
Alignment, passion, and culture-adds. I want the company to be driven by extraordinary people who understand the problem at first principles. No matter their position, every hire must be fundamentally aligned and passionate about our mission to change the shopping experience and impact the environment in a vast way.
My hiring process is aligned with that of Zappos. I firmly believe that if you bring the right people together, great things inevitably unfold.
Bootstrapping v Capital raising – whats your approach?
I’m bootstrapping. I consider myself fortunate not to be constricted by investment early on, so my strategy is to gain traction before I seek investment.
I’d recommend proving your hypothesis before asking for someone else’s money. Had I raised before my pivot, it wouldn’t have been as easy to change direction. Stay agile for as long as possible is my advice.
What are some exciting things on the horizon?
Readily’s environmental mission is bold. There are some partnerships brewing that will bring us one step closer to carbon-neutral returns – stay tuned!
What is some of the best advice you’ve received as an early stage founder?
Build your product and speak to customers, do things that don’t scale, and not much else! YC Startup Library is a godsend ?
Are you an early stage startup looking to scale? Join theBasiq Launchpadprogram and get started with free access to live data today.
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