Name of product (Startup): Drops
Founder’s relevant nationality / HeadQuarter location: Hungary, Tallinn, London, San Francisco
Interviewee: Daniel Farkas CEO, Founder
Financing method: Bootstrapped
Current ARR approx.: N/A
Can you please very briefly summarise your solution?
Effortless, visual language learning. Word by word, Drops helps you learn new vocabulary through fun, fast-paced games with simple mnemonic images.
What phase are you in currently with your product?
When did you found your company?
We launched Drops in 2015. The parent company – PlanB Labs OÜ – was established in 2012.
How long did it take you to make it to the current state?
We immediately started to implement when the idea of Drops was born. Drops hasn’t received any investment, but we reached MVP in 3 months.
It’s been 4 years now since the idea of Drops came.
- Persistence and blind faith are essential. – If there’s a good sign of product-market fit.
- Retention is king. Build the core functionality around stickiness and not the other way around.
- You need a powerful skillset to build a sustainable business. It takes time, you can’t hack this part.
- An extremely good product is necessary but not enough. You need to be able to find a sustainable distribution channel.
- Pick co-founders very-very carefully.
- The Silicon Valley playbook is not the only exclusively working one. You can write your own playbook with common sense.
- Bootstrapping your way to profitability is gold. It’s harder but worth the extra.
How many times did you change direction (“pivoted”) / how similar is your product currently to the original idea?
Once. We started with LearnInvisible which was beautiful, effective but retention was crap. We started from scratch and built Drops from the ground up, building the product around retention then adding effectiveness. People are emotional beings, they need a positive feeling while using your product.
Can you mention
There are a lot, I can’t pick one. Language learning changes
What information would have been good to know about your market or product before starting your company?
What people actually need – not what they say they need.
How many ideas, entrepreneurial attempts did you have before your actual project?
I had six projects in total. Four of them failed completely.
What was your (inner) motivation behind launching your first StartUp?
To teach people how to learn.
How many co-founders are on the team and when did each of you join the company?
We started as a team of four. Two of those four remained.
Has your team changed since the beginning?
Yup. You try to hire the best people that fit your budget. Now we are hiring only world-class players.
How do you govern your startup, what is your approach to decision making?
We are a flat org, pretty democratic and work with extremely sharp people and happy to hear their opinion on all kinds of topics. But of course, we have a vision and control the ship.
Did you have any particularly difficult decisions (as a team) – and of course, what and why?
Hiring and firing are always difficult. These are mini marriages. We have this approach to stay small. – Lean and mean – but that also mean that we can’t tolerate mediocrity. We set a cap to the team size and everyone in our collective have to grow with the company.
Do you expect anything (generally) unexpected in the startup world in the next 3 years?
People will realize more and more that bootstrapping is a legit way to build a company, even a rapidly growing startup and the “you need to raise funds” mantra is a lie.
What do you find especially challenging as a Hungarian startup?
Being in Hungary in this environment and not act like a Hungarian startup but as a global startup.
Do you see any benefits of being a Hungarian startup?
Not really. Perhaps the feeling of being the underdogs and not being in the SV echo chamber.
Do you have a book-, website or any other information source recommendation for other startuppers?
A healthy mix of PG’s essays (Startup Meta and SV Playbook) and Basecamp’s books (anti-SV establishment, common sense business building).
Is there a book, website or information that is not widely known, but had a memorable big impact on you?
PG’s “How to Create Wealth” essay. it’s pretty well-known essay tho but summarizes how an epic rate of wealth creation can be compressed in a small