Two men who met on Facebook – and in person for the first time just days before lockdown – have built a multimillion-dollar business in one year.
A chance Facebook post and a well-timed meeting has seen two men turn a simple idea into a business that’s just been valued at $4.6 million.
Alex Millar had just sold his own start-up and was looking for work when Santiago Bravo, 37, made a post online, looking for a co-founder for his new business, Hudled – which monitors a businesses subscriptions to news, tech services and other programs to find ways to save costs.
Figuring he had nothing to lose, the 30-year-old responded, asking to meet up. The pair met for coffee and days later, the state went into a hard lockdown – meaning they wouldn’t sit down together again until July.
“We solely relied on video meetings each day,” Mr Millar told NCA NewsWire. “Initially it was hard … it was just very different from the way you’re told you’re meant to start a company.
“People say you need to go to university together, you need to have that existing 10-year relationship – a lot of investors raised that with us as a concern, that we’d just met once for coffee and had only really spoken online or over video calls.”
In a bid to fast-forward their relationship, Mr Millar and Mr Bravo completed a 50-question survey about their values, goals and work habits.
“You pour your soul into this document and it kind of shows if you’re aligned,” Mr Millar explained. “It ended up we were quite complimentary.”
Mr Bravo had already booked in a pitch meeting with Antler, a global venture capitalist for start-up companies, for five weeks from the date he made his “hail Mary” Facebook post. They built a prototype, got four customers and landed a $155,000 investment.
A year later, the pair are finally able to work in person together, and the business has just been valued at $4.6 million dollars. Mr Bravo and Mr Millar plan to now expand into the US in a bid to aggressively grow the platform.
Mr Millar said digital companies such as marketplaces and online retail sites could use more than 100 applications to manage growth, which was usually a major pain point in daily financial management.
“It was pretty clear that the spreadsheet was the norm and that (businesses) were not very happy with it,” Mr Bravo said.
Having worked as an accountant himself in the past, he said he knew the struggle all too well, which was a major motivator when things got hard.
“If you’re looking at starting your own company, you need to be really passionate about what you’re doing – there’s going to be really hard times and you need to be able to fall back to being in love with the problem you’re looking to solve – that’s what keeps you motivated, keeps you going.”
He said anyone looking to start their own company should look at establishing a support base in online groups, like the Sydney Startups Facebook group where he met Mr Bravo.
“There are so many opportunities where you can ask questions of people who have done it before,” he said.
The group Santi and I met in, the Sydney Startups Facebook group – we both used it for years, asking questions and giving advice where we could. Being in that group is the only reason I would have met Santi.”
Mr Millar said while he never would have thought it before, he’d now advise anyone looking for a business partner to try their luck in online business groups.
“Before, I wouldn’t have dreamt of starting a business relationship with someone I’d barely met in person – there’s so much trust and goodwill that has to be put up in advance … you put so much trust in that process. You don‘t see how they’re operating, you only see what they produce.
“Now, seeing it can work, I’d suggest people become open to the idea you can start a business with someone you don’t know.”