Company name: Parkdale Brass
Revenue: 10K/ Month
We’re Christine and Nefeli, two founders from Athens, Greece. We both have morning jobs- Christine is a global leader in ecomm in a big CPG company and Nefeli is leading UX/UI for big projects in Greece.
We started knoddo a bit less than a year ago. Knoddo [< knot + nōdō, latin (I knot, make knotted, tie in a knot)] is a social media app with fully customizable portfolio-based profiles, where creators can connect and build networks, find opportunities to apply to but also participate in our communities, where they can find inspiration and education.
There are four user types in knoddo – individual creators who can also form creative companies, individual supporters, and supportive organizations.
We are in the process of building the knoddo app and working on raising pre-seed to put together a strong development team. In the meantime we are connecting with people from the creative community, and getting constant feedback, to make sure that what we are building is providing value.
We are also looking forward to some first events in the creative space organized by knoddo in the next months, to actively support the community!
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
We are both parts of the creative community. Christine is originally an Architect who later turned to business – while also a painter, dancer & musician. Nefeli on the other hand is a designer, 3D artist, and musician.
During the pandemic, there was a lot of uncertainty everywhere but I (Christine) always felt quite secure, as, if needed, I could always activate my network on linked in, and send some CVs and I knew that worst-case scenario, I could find a job.
But it wasn’t the same for the friends and family who are part of the creative community. When networking for actors still happens in theater lobbies or for artists in galleries, they suddenly were completely disconnected. I just decided that I wanted to make their lives better and give them the same opportunities that I had.
A leader plays with their strengths but also identifies the opportunities for improvement and actively tries to close any gap that might stand in the way of success.
A few months later I connected with Nefeli and we started actively working together on the idea of knoddo. We sent out a survey to over 100 creators of different fields in 16 countries. We knew we were on the right track:
- over 50% of creators use social media for Networking, Inspiration, and Job Opportunities.
- over 90% of them feel networking is important in their field and the current social media solutions do not fully cover their needs.
- 30%-80% of them use conventional social media to promote their work (Facebook and Instagram first)
- over 60% of creators are professionals and somehow currently employed in their field.
We are creating something for the wider creative family – There is no limitation on the medium or field of creation: opera singers, graffiti artists, pastry chefs, wood craftsmen, ballet dancers, game developers, jewelry artists, and influencers; they all belong in knoddo.
But there is also a flipside to this. I remember all those times in corporate events when we were looking to create tailor-made cakes with our brand logos on them. Or to find music entertainment for our end-of-year party.
It would be just an endless process of people throwing suggestions of someone they know of something they’ve heard of or googling with the hopes that the right creator for you also excels at SEO. Now with knoddo you will be able to post the gig and/or browse through profiles based on the criteria you’re interested in.
The same goes for agencies looking for a web designer or a sound engineer, or galleries looking for artists. Or a band looking for their new guitarist or a film director for their new videoclip.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Once we knew what we were trying to do, we started working on two parallel workstreams: the brand and the product.
Starting with the user at the heart of every process, we build different personas through which we evolved the brand character, palette, and KBAs. At the same time, we were working on the app architecture, researching flows from different competitors, and understanding what features needed to be included in an MVP, and what would be included later.
With Nefeli’s expertise in UX/UI we were able to bring this all together in an interface that is easy-to-use, familiar as a structure so that navigating can be almost intuitive while differentiating itself in the key points of our value proposition, so as to solve problems for our users in the most effective way.
Remember that you are building for your customers, not for you, not for your investors. So adopt a design thinking mindset and keep asking the only question that matters: how can I bring more value to my customers?
We used Figma for our prototype. I have to say that designing was a fairly fast process, once the research was complete. The idea is to focus on key screens of the flow and not the secondary ones. The role of the prototype should be to convey the idea in an interactive way and to start gathering feedback, not to have every possible functionality included.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We created our website fairly quickly – the perks of having an expert on the team!
We had some connections in AWS in our network, so he guided us quickly to apply for the first $1000 in credits, which we got and used from that budget to host our website, email domain, etc.
The network has been a great help to fill any gaps we might have from our own experience. For example, a close friend of mine is HR Director in a big FMCG company and she provided guidance on calculating the right salaries, understanding the cost of payroll, and different benefits that we wanted to include for our future employees in overheads in our financial plan.
A developer friend who runs his own company and works with complex models, helped us map out the different needs we will have in terms of development roles (Back/Front-end, Mobile vs Web, API, Content Delivery and analytics, etc) together with a timeline to bring them on and deliver the product. We did all the financial planning for the next five years in a lot of detail, together with pricing analysis which we then run by finance experts in our network to validate.
With all that help, had our full 100-page business plan ready and we started submitting for funding – as we need to bring the development team together and after careful consideration, we decided that we don’t want to outsource.
In parallel, we incorporated Greece – we stand by that decision as we want to support the Greek startup community and help shape the future here. But I have to admit it’s been far from easy. There have been some great steps towards simplification and digitization, but a lot of bureaucracy still exists, and a lot of hidden costs as well.
So you need to have a strong accounting and/or legal team by your side.
Of course, we’ve been bootstrapping all the way. My morning job is paying for my evening startup journey and will inevitably continue to be this way until we manage to land our first investment when i will put my career at a halt to put technology in the service of the creative community.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When you enter the startup world you find out that it is a world full of opinions. Everyone is an expert and is very keen to point out how you are supposed to be doing things. The difficult part is that you need to weigh those opinions and understand which advice you want to follow. Many of them will be contradicting each other.
You need to have an open mind, be ready to pivot when needed and make tough decisions. It doesn’t mean that this is what you have to be doing every few weeks though because you met someone who has now offered a different opinion.
As a leader you need to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Trust yourself where you know it’s your strongest point. Find mentors and experts whom you can trust for everything else. Don’t disregard any opinion that comes your way, but don’t just jump on it right away. Discuss, consider, have a plan.
The other big lesson in startups is that the timelines you might have in mind will most likely just not happen. Things are mostly moving too slow compared to what you initially expect so you need to be patient.
Things won’t happen on their own of course, so you need to keep moving, keep pushing. But you need to grow to learn to thrive in uncertainty, be agile and adapt quickly to new situations. And this all extends to you having to be self-motivated, and just show up. Be consistent. Do the work. Progress will start showing eventually.
Finally, networking is key. As an introvert, finding myself going to all these events and just walking up to people to introduce myself, was really energy-consuming. But being able to socialize and create meaningful connections is essential as in every other organization and working environment.
So put yourself out there, have people talking about you and your company. If you find it hard to do it yourself, make sure you have someone in your team who can. But remember a leader plays with their strengths but also identifies the opportunities for improvement and actively tries to close any gap that might stand in the way of success.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We’ve chosen AWS as our partner because of the support they provide to startups but also the many ready-made solutions and use cases to study.
Finally, undoubtedly Figma is our all-time favorite when it comes to designing the product but also presentations and KBAs.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
When it comes to influence and inspiration, there are two ways of looking at it. Firstly, the materials that helped shape the way of doing business per se – in which case I guess it’s no surprise that I will mention “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.
Having studied Art and Architecture, I have to recognize the influence of E.H. Gombrich’s “The Story Of Art”: There really is no such thing as Art. There are only artists in the initial concept of knoddo as a space to foster creativity through the community.
On a personal level, there have been quite a few books that have certainly influenced me and helped shape my way of thinking and my leadership style.
What I think of the top of mind though is Indra Nooyi’s “My Life in Full” – great lessons from an amazing and impactful leader that touched me as a professional and as a woman- and then Samantha Power’s “Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World”, an outstanding book getting us through the life of UN’s Sergio Vieira de Mello, providing great insight in political and strategic thinking and the art of influence.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Remember that you are building for your customers, not for you, not for your investors. So adopt a design thinking mindset and keep asking the only questions that matter: how can I bring more value to my customers?
If you don’t have all the skills needed, get a team of people who do, and listen to them.
Invest in your network. Show up every day.
And things will be eventually set in motion.