“Bida” Startup Interview with Priscilla Lavoie
In my Startup Founder series I feature interviews with entrepreneurs with kickass profiles from all over the world. I hope they will inspire you as much as they inspire me! Today, we meet the Founder of Bida, Priscilla Lavoie.
Hi “Priscilla”, nice to meet you! To start, who are you and what do you do?
Hola! My name is Priscilla Lavoie. I’m from Canada/the US/Sri Lanka/Spain (long story short!), and I’m the Founder & CEO of Bida. With Bida you can meet new or old friends and together discover Barcelona’s best rated bars while being treated to free drinks everywhere you go! We work with awesome hotspots you know and love like Collage Bar, Pax49, Mirablau, Macera, and more.
How did you start? What motivated you?
I started to have entrepreneurial tendencies when I was as young as 10 years old — in the 5th grade I discovered I could buy blowpops (lollipops) for really cheap at a local Wal-Mart and resell them at school for $1 a pop. I was making a killing.
A bit later in life, after graduating university, I began to dabble in the startup world. When one of the startups I ended up working for got acquired for $34 million, it really opened up my eyes to how enriching and rewarding startup life is. You really feel you’re part of something exciting, and are making a huge impact every single day. For me, this is extremely stimulating and very motivating.
How did you come up with the idea of Bida?
Bida was inspired by an app in the US that I originally saw on TechCrunch back in late October of 2016. When I discovered the model, I thought it was so fascinating and stayed up till 3 or 4am reading about it, until I woke my husband and told him I needed to go to Barcelona (we were living in Montreal at the time). Startled and sleepy, he got kind of worried – we had just gotten married the month before, was everything okay? Was I not happy…?
Of course, I explained to him I had this great idea to start Bida in Spain, and that I needed to be on the grounds talking to as many people as possible before deciding to seriously pursue anything.
I was on a plane to Barcelona 2 days later with a one-way ticket in hand. I ended up staying for 2 months before my husband and I packed up our lives in Canada and moved permanently to Barcelona in January 2017.
And have you encountered any obstacles in your entrepreneurship experience?
We’re in Spain, aren’t we? ;-P
Yes, it has been tough. Especially dealing with the bureaucracy and inefficiencies here. Legal and administrative things take way longer than I’m used to, often with seemingly unnecessary and avoidable issues. I’ve learned to be more patient and tolerant, but sometimes it still gets to me.
The market has also been quite different from what I expected. As a result, we’ve had to adapt Bida quite a bit to meet the culture, norms, and attitudes of the people here. We’re still evolving our offering to this day the more we learn.
Do you encourage anyone with to go with entrepreneurship?
I don’t think everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship. You need thick skin. You need to able able to handle the (extreme) highs and (extreme) lows, and you need to be able to pick yourself back up when those really low lows occur.
On top of that, you have to be okay with sacrificing lots of personal time. Most weeks I work 60 hours or more, and there have been many Friday nights or sunny Sundays where instead of hanging out with friends, I had to make the choice to work.
Of course, there are also the other obvious risks and opportunity costs that come along with entrepreneurship: for example. bootstrapping with your own funds or accepting funds from family or friends and then feeling that pressure, or making very little to no salary while your friends are “living it up” with the salaries from their big corporate jobs.
Being an entrepreneur is tougher than most of the jobs out there. But if you want it so badly that you’re willing to put up with all the cons, and you think you have the heart and stamina for it, then by all means, take the leap! Sometimes the only way you’ll know is by trying it out!
Any advice for people who want to create their own business?
Just start somewhere.
Don’t let fear hold you back. What’s the worst that can happen?
Say yes often.
Saying “yes” often leads to opportunities.
Your network is so important.
Make use of it as much as you can!
Make time for exercising your body, and also for relaxing your mind.
It’s a marathon, not a race.
Outsource the mundane.
Does preparing, cooking, and cleaning up after dinner every night waste hours of your life each day? What about cleaning your home? Could this time be used more efficiently? Think about if your time is worth more than what you’d pay to “outsource” a task.
What are your favorite tools in a daily basis?
- the basic notes app on my iphone to jot down things super quickly so i don’t forget
- Slack for team communication
- Trello for organizing tasks
- Hubspot for managing contacts/relationships
Let’s talk more now with one of my favorite subject 🙂
How do you grow your community around your brand/startup?
Instagram is really important for us – it’s where our customers are. We try to be quite active, and post engaging content that entertains, informs, or educates our audience (all about an enjoyable topic of course – drinks!). Voice and style are really important in everything we do, including Instagram. Our brand provokes fun, sexy, elite, cool — so that’s what we want our community to see and feel, and that’s also how we attract more like-minded people.
Join us at @tuxedosocialclub and travel back in time to Victorian England. Class, mystery and aristocracy will be waiting for you 🌍🍸🎩 • • • • • • #officialbarcelonaapp #cocktailsofinstagram #perfectserve #craftcocktail #explorebarcelona #discoverbarcelona #copas #barcelona_loves #cataloniaexperience #barcelonagram #barcelonanight #drinkswithfriends #drinkstagram #drinksinstagram #barcelona_cat #lovebcn #bcn #barceloninspa #nightlife #drinks #barcelonaeats #barcelonanights #barcelonabar #barcelonabars #cocktailporn #cocktailsbarcelona #cocktaillife #cocteleria #vintage
Another thing we’re big on is community events. Every 1-2 months, we host an event at a cool venue, usually with some sort of theme/focus. The last event we held was a speed dating event, and the one before that was a Gatsby-themed party. It’s really fun to have our members meet one another and talk about our app, and also for our team to meet our members and vice versa. And everyone gets a free drink, of course ;-P
We also have a weekly newsletter and – you might be surprised to hear – I still write it myself every single week! Truthfully, I just really enjoy doing it and I put my heart into it, but I think the fact that it comes from the Founder/CEO really helps to anchor our community around our brand, first hand.
What do you think about social media nowadays?
I think social media is more important than ever. People turn to friends or influencers they trust for many of their actions, including purchasing decisions. So social media is absolutely not something businesses can ignore.
I also believe that as channels such as Instagram become more and more saturated, it becomes increasingly important to have quality content that sets yourself apart from the rest. It is also essential to treat social media as a priority – because it is. Invest in tools, resources, and maybe a social media manager or agency if your brand can afford it.
I do have concerns with “inflated” accounts which seem to have a bigger following than reality. If you look deeper at some accounts you’ll see many fake followers and/or little to no engagement – that’s definitely a warning sign that something’s not right. This is obviously important if you are considering working with certain influencers.
To know you even better, could you tell me what is your best achievement so far?
I think my husband, Restb.ai’s Head of Product, is quite the catch, but I guess you mean professionally? 😛
For us, raising our first round from some pretty amazing angel investors, including Cabiedes & Partners, felt really great. It was a stamp of approval of sorts.
Another thing that always makes me personally so happy is all the amazing feedback we receive from our users – complete strangers! We often receive emails from people who just want to tell us they love our app. These messages really keep me going on the toughest of days.
What values do you stand for?
As the Founder of Bida I’m really aligned with our values: speed, quality, and engagement. We are a seed stage startup with high ambitions, so we need to move FAST. At the same time, our attention to detail and expectations are very high, so quality is extremely important to us. We want to make sure our clients and partners speak highly of their experience with Bida. Which brings us to the third value – engagement. Without the engagement of our community, we wouldn’t know their likes or dislikes, and wouldn’t be able to provide continued value to these customers. We not only keep our ear to the ground, we proactively seek feedback and look to build solid, collaborative relationships.
I also live these values personally on a day-to-day basis by constantly trying to optimize for time, putting my best work in at all times, and building and nurturing relationships.
What’s next for you and your company?
Well, we just made Bida completely FREE till October 1st – like no daily or monthly passes at all — just “free drinks for free” (a term I absolutely love coined by my buddy Scott Mackin over at Barcinno).
Making the app 100% free is a strategic move on our part, as we’re preparing for some new and exciting launches very soon. Curious what launches I’m talking about? You’ll just have to stay tuned!! Meanwhile get out there and enjoy the app as much as possible! 🙂
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