Creating a successful startup can be a challenging process. Part of living and working in the startup world is learning from mistakes, both your own and others’. Thus, knowing the experience of people in the area can be a good way to know how to act and make decisions in the future, to avoid unnecessary mistakes and to gain business wisdom in general.
Last Friday (May 28th), BGI held the "Building Global Innovators" webinar, an event held in partnership with Made of Lisboa to explain in detail the BGI Accelerator program, its benefits and the support we provide to startup's growth. The event was also attended by Meight, a former participant in the BGI Accelerator, a program that is now accepting applications for its new batch.
We had the pleasure of talking with Luís Mendes, CEO and Co-Founder of Meight, who gave his testimony about what it is to start a company, what are the main challenges, mistakes and lessons learned and what was Meight's experience at the BGI Accelerator.
If you didn't have the opportunity to attend the event, don't worry! Here are the highlights of this interesting conversation:
Who is Luís Mendes?
Luís Mendes is Co-Founder and CEO at Meight. He studied in Catalonia, more precisely at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, where he graduated in Mechanical Engineering. After that, his academic journey continued in Portugal at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, where he obtained a Master in Mechanical Engineering and later at the Nova School of Business and Economics where he completed the Master Course in Creating and Managing Entrepreneurial Ventures. It was from here that he started his career in the startup world until he reached his current company, Meight (formerly FuelSave).
Can you tell us a little bit about Meight?
“At Meight we are building the efficiency layer of road freight. Road freight is super exciting for us. It’s a five trillion dollar industry and it’s the largest distribution channel in the world.
40 percent of the cost of road freight is fuel cost. So there’s a big opportunity here in fuel savings and also in CO2 savings. Meight is trying to tackle this point.
We are a technology company and we have developed these patent-pending digital prints of trucks that pretty much anticipate what will happen next on the road , and this allows us today to create 2 technologies: one is to enable true fuel savings for drivers. They have real-time feedback while they are driving their trucks and with that they manage to save fuel and to change their driving behaviour in order to be more performant. The other one is the contract bidding. The sector and the carriers of the transportation companies have to abide by some market pricing when they want to do some service and they don’t know exactly what the cost of the service will be for it. So we are helping the carriers' transportation companies in knowing the costs in advance and this is the holy grail for them.”
Throughout your entrepreneurial journey, what were the 3 biggest lessons you have learned?
“I’ll say first the team. At the beginning it is very important to hire people with high tolerance to CUA. CUA is like an acronym for “complexity”, “uncertainty”, and “ambiguity”. You need to create a team that can navigate in fog, because you know that there’s anxiety at the beginning. There’s a lot of complexity and anxiety that distracts people from the long term. So, it’s very important that everyone keeps focused.
Also, talking about the long term, never forget about your vision. Especially as a founder and CEO you should know how to communicate and to convince people how to always pursue the vision of the company. One cool test we do often is we ask our team any single day what they are doing and why they are doing. And it should be towards the vision. If not, they are not doing the right thing.”
Can you tell us a story about your work process to adapt your product to the market?
“The first thing we did wrong was trying to do a roadmap and say “Ok, we’ll reach product-market fit by this time.” That was the first mistake because we never know. It’s the market that knows. And when the market starts to pull our technology and starts - in our case - to have more vehicles connected to the system, more feedback, more meetings, more data points, more info… You start to feel when you reach your product-market fit.”
Did you have any moment of light during the acceleration process? A moment when you thought "Wow, I never thought about that"?
“I was completely naive on market research. I thought that market research was filling in some papers and doing some calls. But actually the thing is having these experts telling you how to approach your clients, how to talk to them, how to ask open-ended questions, how to listen actively, and how to create a conversation to get information… That was super important in our case.”
What was it like having to pitch for 3 minutes in the beginning?
“It was super difficult. But testing or pitching is like going to the gym: you have to practice, practice and practice, and collect a lot of feedback. And it’s not a “one-shot deal”. If you have a very important pitch on Wednesday, you should practice 2 days before and talk to everyone. Pitch to your friends 100 times a day until they cannot listen to you anymore.
(Pitching) is going to be all about the person behind. It’s not going to be about the business. It’s all about how the person understands the market and the passion he brings. I mean, you're pitching to start something that will probably be your next 10 years, so you better love it!”
This was a little bit of Meight's journey to create the foundation for a solid and successful startup. The insights in this conversation are a good reminder of the need to always be learning, and that one of the most important processes for creating a good enterprise is meeting a market need, talking to customers and making sure that the product makes sense for them.
Follow Meight on LinkedIn to keep up with all their achievements.
And if you need an extra helping hand to launch your business, BGI may be able to help you, just as we have helped 2088 entrepreneurs from 76 countries! Drop us a message at email@example.com and we will be happy to explain to you how we can take you further!