Odera Ume-Ezeoke is the founder and CEO of Viewsy, a way for retailers in the physical world to manage their businesses the way we do online. I caught up with him to find out about his journey so far.
Hi Odera, Thanks for doing this. How are you doing today?
Can you give us some background information about yourself?
I’m founder of Viewsy, which is a leading location analytics platform for the physical world. I live in London, working with our team and customers.
When did you get the entrepreneurial bug?
Always had it - ever since I was a kid. I used to build computers for pocket money during my school days and sold them to local businesses. I graduated from that, but I’ll always remember the excitement of building a great product and then having a first customer pay for it. Great times!
How did the idea for Viewsy come about?
I used to work in another fast growing company, Groupon which sent large numbers of customers to local businesses. The unhappy businesses would complain that they had no way to measure loyal vs new customers, which inspired me to solve the problem in a better way.
Tell me about the early days, what was the hardest part of starting the business?
Where should I start - back then things are in equal parts highly exciting and highly challenging. The most difficult thing wasn’t actually raising money; instead it was finding and retaining the right people. When you have no money to pay decent salaries, it’s hard. Also, the uncertainty of what tomorrow holds always kept me on my toes.
What is Viewsy? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Viewsy is a way for retailers in the physical world to manage their businesses the way we do online. In the online world we know so much about our customers, but in the physical world where consumers spend 92% of their income, we do very little analysis and have so little insight. Our product consists of sensors together with a SAAS platform.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
We went through an accelerator called Startup Bootcamp, which positioned us for rapid growth in Europe. Those few weeks were some of the most exhilarating in my life.
It was a breakneck pace of acceleration, mentoring and game changing. It had without a doubt a huge impact on the business. Highly exciting times!
How did you initially get traction?
Our mentor network during the accelerator was key. That was the most exciting thing.
In the first couple of weeks our valuation doubled, then doubled again. I went from working alone to a team of 4 in a few short weeks.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow it?
Pivoting quickly and seeking market feedback at every turn. Also developing a lot personally. Growing a business successfully demands constant care much like being a parent.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The biggest thing has been finding out that we were solving a real problem for our customers, and having them validate our key assumptions. The recognition that we were creating a valuable completely new market has been amazing.
The recognition of our success and work by the international entrepreneurial community recently in L.A has also been great. It’s encouraging.
What should we be expecting from Viewsy in the coming months?
We have new products to launch, rollouts with great leading brands, international expansion and more amazing problem solving. Our metrics also continue to improve daily.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Take care not to get carried away with a ‘cool idea’ and remember that you’re supposed to be solving a real problem with a real revenue stream and business model behind it. Even if you build it they may not come.
Also, you’ve got to be completely and utterly focused on understanding your product/market fit and be prepared to change completely on the turn of a penny.
Find the best people you can - the team is critical, but don’t be stuck on the idea of a cofounder - find strong people and give them the freedom to be their best.