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Raising a Seed round and reflecting on Beazy’s first year as a startup
Fundraising in a global crisis, our learnings as first time founders and how we’re planning for growth
The Beazy Team (From left to right: Daniel, Julia, Elvira & Jonas)
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Beazy
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Beazy is one-year-old
A couple of weeks ago, Beazy officially turned one year old. We were too beazy (lol) dealing with the current pandemic to celebrate this first birthday, but “better late than never” right? While social distancing in the past few weeks, we’ve had more than enough time to stare at the walls (they’re not as clean as they should be), question our life choices, but also reflect on our first year as a startup. We’ve been through way more expected. Ups and downs, failure and success, doubt and confidence, victories and struggles, but most of all: learnings. Everything we’ve gone through has been a true learning experience from the start and we never grew more as 20-year-olds than we did with our newborn company.
The beginning
We (Jonas and Julia) met back in Lausanne (Switzerland) thanks to our mutual love for photography. We quickly noticed that this passion wasn’t the only thing we had in common, we were both broke students who definitely couldn’t afford the equipment we wanted. If you’re into photography or filmmaking, you’ll know that a single lens can quite easily cost you over €1000. This was just not an option for our empty wallets. What happened next? You guessed it! We started coming up with a few ideas that could fix our problem. But one thing leads to another and we found ourselves writing a business plan, building an MVP and pitching investors for what we called the “Amazon of the sharing economy” (we got a little bit excited there, but dreaming big is still our specialty). With this project, we won the Y-Grants from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, and the Social Impact Award Switzerland. However, reality slapped us in the face one morning and we realised we needed to start smaller, with a field we had expertise in and therefore narrow our focus to what we knew best: photography. That’s the lightbulb moment which defined the birth of Beazy as it is known today: the rental marketplace for audiovisual equipment and spaces.
Berlin, the snowstorm, and the sun
Everything came together once we decided to focus on photographers and filmmakers. The first thing we did was move to Berlin, the creative hub of Europe (it was a strategic decision, we swear) in order to launch Beazy there. We booked a one-way ticket, jumped on the plane, took the U-Bahn, grabbed a kebab and there we were, ready to conquer the world with Beazy! There we were, with a brand new product, a budget running on empty, and absolutely no friends nor contacts. In this time of despair, we came up with one idea: why not host an outdoor meetup with photographers and filmmakers? The BeazyMeet concept came to life. The magic potion? Pretty easy: pick up two to three outdoor locations, market to photographers and filmmakers, invite models and other creatives, all that’s left to do is go out and have fun! Of course nothing ever happens as you expect it, and 10 minutes after over 80 creatives showed up to our event and started shooting, we got kicked out of the location by the cops. Once we finally found a second location, we all got stuck in the middle of a snowstorm. Nevertheless, after the rain comes the sun, and attendees were found to be overly excited by this unique event format and we all kept shooting together until nightfall. That’s when we realised we were on the right track to find our ideal marketing strategy. The events allowed us to reach out to hundreds of potential users, generate a ton of content and word of mouth while being completely free to host. We even met our teammates Elvira and Daniel thanks to these events: our team is now 100% constituted of photographers, with very diverse backgrounds: engineering, software development, business administration, sales, philosophy, and more. In less than a year, we hosted over 60 events, partnered up with huge industry players, and built a community of over 3’000 creatives in Berlin. Although they are incredibly fun to organise, we now host only around 1 out of 5 events ourselves. Talents and members of our community often host talks, workshops, photowalks and webinars. Nailed it! We are now part of the Startup Incubator Berlin since January 2020, supported by the European Social Fund.
The platform
We managed to convert around 30% of our community members into users of our marketplace. Our first struggle was to figure out how we could make sure new users could trust each other in order to share their gear (which often has more importance to a photographer than its own baby). We struggled for almost a year to find an insurance partner. Key takeaway: most insurance companies are extremely slow, rigid, musty. Nothing you didn’t know before. But we eventually found the perfect insurance partner and soulmate, which now covers all gear rentals up to 30’000€. Yay! We now count around 1’000 users, 2’500+ listings and over 90 studios/locations on the platform. However, and as most marketplaces do, we faced the chicken and egg problem. How could attract any demand if we don’t have any supply? We needed to focus all of our efforts on getting more providers. We knew that the more providers we had, the more transactions and customers we got. Easy Beazy lemon Squeezy! We now count around 1’000 users, 2’500+ listings and over 90 studios/locations on the platform.
Growth & COVID-19.
We realised that our community is the main reason people get to know us, love us but also trust us, and then trusting other users on the platform. We aim for Beazy and the BeazyMeets to become a global movement, and we want Beazy to become the best friend any creative could ever dream of. We are now working on finding local leaders to support us in creating a community in each different market, across Germany and then the rest of Europe. An active (even if small) community in any given city makes it easier to launch the platform and quickly build the supply side of the marketplace. We’re also working with lots bots, automations and social media to rapidly target grow the supply in new markets at almost no cost. Unfortunately the complications brought by the current crisis have been heavy on our shoulders. The safety and health of our users being our priority, growth has been held back, all upcoming events across Germany have been cancelled and transactions have nearly halted. Chaos also creates opportunity, and we believe that Beazy will come out of this even stronger! — Also, we recently read this article, you should too. Our marketplace solves a problem that will only get worst in a financial crisis, allowing people to generate an extra income from what they own as well as renting at considerably lower rates than elsewhere. This complicated period has also given us the opportunity to try new things (some worked better than others) and the time to focus on building a new product — get ready, something BIG is on the way!
Fundraising
We have finally reached some very important milestones and feel that we’re ready to start growing at full speed. We’re currently raising a €175k Seed round to support our European expansion as well as making some key improvements to the platform. We learned a lot and grew a lot during the past year, individually, as a team and as a company as well, all while achievement some important goals. However, we feel like we still have so much to learn, especially in regards to scaling and growing Beazy successfully. And that’s why we’re looking to onboard experience investors and advisors who could help us in this journey! Click HERE to learn more about Beazy and download our pitch deck. Feel free to reach out to us via email if you’d like to learn more: [email protected]
Wrapping Up
It has been quite a journey, but we’re just getting started! Let’s get Beazy together 🚀
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