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Learning At Other Startups Then Redefining Customer Support For Communities

Iris ten Teije


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Learning At Other Startups Then Redefining Customer Support For Communities

Iris ten Teije



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Iris ten Teije
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About Iris ten Teije

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Episode 118: Amardeep Parmar (https://www.linkedin.com/in/amardeepsparmar) from The BAE HQ (https://www.linkedin.com/company/the-bae-hq) welcomes Iris ten Teije, Co-Founder of Mava.

In this podcast episode, Iris ten Teije, CEO and co-founder of Mava, shares her journey from aspiring journalist to startup entrepreneur, highlighting the transition from working in startups to learn valuable lessons to founding Mava, a platform aimed at scaling community-driven customer support and success. Her story emphasises the importance of validating business ideas through real-world problems and the strategic pivot from a FinTech app focused on alternative asset investments to addressing the gap in community customer support.

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From the first time founders to the funds that back them, innovation needs different. HSBC Innovation Banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses, creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Discover more at https://www.hsbcinnovationbanking.com/


Show Notes:

0:00 - Intro 

00:40 Iris' journey from journalism aspirations to startup entrepreneurship.

01:37 The transition from international relations to the entrepreneurial route.

02:50 Iris' first job and the influence of her internships.

05:35 The unconventional path and going against the grain.

06:42 The role of growth hacking and managing large marketing budgets.

10:47 Finding the right co-founders through unconventional means.

15:20 The pivot from a FinTech app to Mava and the validation process.

25:44 The strategic pivot and the development of Mava’s new direction.

29:29 Future ambitions and scaling Mava into new verticals.

31:17 Celebrating Mava’s growth and the sticky nature of the product.

32:02 Lessons learned from previous startup experiences.

34:19 What keeps Ios motivated and the importance of taking action.

Iris Ten Teije:




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Show Notes

Headline partner message

From the first time founders to the funds that back them, innovation needs different. HSBC Innovation Banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses, creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors alike. Discover more at https://www.hsbcinnovationbanking.com/

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Iris ten Teije Full Transcript

Iris ten Teije: 0:00
Just someone saying that they have a problem is not really enough. You really have to validate what they did. They tried to do something already to solve that problem. Being surrounded by these entrepreneurs, I realized, oh, there's a different way. You can actually do something that you really want to see in the world. So standard private support tickets Everyone knows tools like Zendesk or Intercom. However, there is not really any tools to skill support when it comes to public support, community support and also group chats. What we're focused on is we're building this platform to help community driven companies to scale their customer support and customer success.

Amardeep Parmar: 0:40

Today on the podcast we have Ios Tentaya, who's the CEO and co-founder of Mava. They do customer support for communities. Ios has got a really interesting journey where she grew up once to be a journalist Before realizing she can make more of an impact and have a greater dynamic, which fitted in with her personality, by working in startups. What she decided to do is work for different startups to learn the lessons first, so when it came time to put her own, which is doing today she could hit the ground running and really knew what she was doing. And one of the great stories amongst that journey was being the first employee at a company which then scaled into 70 employees. So Ios is really honest about her journey and all the lessons from it. So I hope you enjoy this episode. We're the BHQ and I'm Amma, and this podcast supports you with HPC Innovation Banking. So, ios, you've done so many things in your career already, but when you're growing up, what was your ambition? What was your dream?

Iris ten Teije: 1:37

So when I was a kid I mean, obviously, as a kid, you change your mind every year or so but for the longest time I wanted to be a journalist because I liked investigating, I liked telling stories and even though obviously now, as an entrepreneur, it's quite far from journalism, but at the same time I would say telling stories is going to be important in whatever you do. And when I was in uni, I studied international relations. So at that time I was also very much thinking about potentially taking up a job in government or NGOs, because I really wanted to make an impact. However, I realized that, while I still want to make an impact in the world, doing that through a government or NGO just doesn't necessarily suit my personality, because I'm pretty impatient, I'm very action-oriented, I like having an idea and executing on it, which, of course, is very difficult if you're part of a very large organization. So that's why I decided ultimately to go more for the entrepreneurial route.

Amardeep Parmar: 2:40

So when you had that transition think about journalism, and because you did quite a lot of that at university right and working in different areas there what was your first job out of university and why did you pick that role?

Iris ten Teije: 2:50

Yeah, so my first job out of university, I joined a very small startup out of Amsterdam, so I grew up in the Netherlands and what we were doing was we were a SaaS company. In short, it was a Google Analytics for physical retail stores. And how did I end up there? I would say it was mostly because of the internships I did before, and one of the internships that really shaped my entire career path after, I would say, is I joined an organization in Amsterdam called Think, the Amsterdam School of Creative Leadership, and what that was about it was an educational program for senior leaders in both corporates as well as more entrepreneurial and social entrepreneurship. Yeah, this program was teaching them all around leadership. So for one summer, I was surrounded by these people that were all really inspiring. A lot of them were running their own companies. They were super passionate about what they were doing, and that really shaped me because I felt, wow, these people are so excited about what they're working on every day. That's what I want. Whereas, you know, when you're growing up, you're surrounded by adults and most people they're complaining about their job, or a job is very much. You know, you just do it because you need to make money and being surrounded by these entrepreneurs, I realized, oh, there's a different way. You can actually do something that you're enjoying and that you're passionate about and that you really want to see in the world. So, yeah, being there, doing my internship there, that really sort of put me on the entrepreneurial startup path. Did some other internships and other startups after that and realized that is the environment that I really liked. Like, one of the other startups I was with was a company called Optimizly, silicon Valley based SaaS company. So from the first, or from the outside, look, you might think, okay, it's not the most exciting product because it's B2B, b2b, saas. However, again, just being in that company, I realized, okay, what I liked is that people were excited about their job, they wanted to, they wanted to do a good job, everyone was motivated. Versus again growing up being surrounded by adults, having hearing them complain about how all their colleagues are putting in minimal effort, like I would not want to be in that kind of environment and I realized, okay, in startups it's very different, which is what really appealed to me and what attracted me into the startup field.

Amardeep Parmar: 5:35

You mentioned a couple of times about the adults around you when you're growing up being quite negative about their jobs and what they're doing. Did you still feel maybe that pressure, could you say, about working for governments and things like that, to get into that safe kind of role? Or were you encouraged to maybe think outside the box and explore the startups that you did? Or was that you going against the grain a bit?

Iris ten Teije: 5:52

Definitely very much going against the grain, because I grew up in a village and most people where I'm from, most people stay in the village their entire life and it's just not something that they wouldn't consider like moving abroad. It's just not something that comes to mind, it's just not an obvious choice at all. At the same time, it wasn't that I was forbidden or discouraged from doing it, it was more just something that wouldn't cross most people's minds.

Amardeep Parmar: 6:21

You took a couple of roles in growth hacking right and I feel like you grew very quickly from leaving university to taking on some quite senior roles and that stage of growth hacking it seems like a really interesting role to take on. What were you doing in those kind of roles? And you're obviously managing quite large marketing budgets at that time. Could you explain a bit to us like, what was that period like and how did you grow so fast?

Iris ten Teije: 6:42

Yeah, so I've had different roles in the past. At the start of my career, very much focused on marketing digital marketing. What really helped me, I think, were a couple of things. One was that I was lucky to do one internship that taught me very specific and kind of deep skills when it came to analytics, and because of that internship I gained quite specialized skills, which is always useful, I think it's. When it comes to marketing. We sometimes talk about T-shaped marketer. It's very good to have very specialized knowledge about maybe one or two areas, but also have a little bit of knowledge about everything else, especially if you're interested in joining an early-age company where you might have to do everything. So, yeah, I gained some specialized skills, but then, obviously also being in early-age companies, I learned a bit about everything and how I was able to progress. Again, it's a bit about taking risk and joining early-age companies. It doesn't always work out. The first full-time job that I had after university, that company didn't really grow. We had a lot of issues also in terms of culture. It wasn't the easiest or most fun place to be at. But no regrets, it was an interesting learning when I joined the company. Obviously, I joined it because I saw potential and you never know. Then one of the companies I joined which is when I moved to Hong Kong was a fintech startup called Needs. We built a digital bank. I was the first employee there, again taking a bit of risk and doing that because I believed in the founders and I believed that that idea could work in the market that we were in. That paid off. We grew to about 70 people when I left. That was obviously a really good experience for me seeing that grow from just myself and the co-founders to being a skill up with a sizable team. Obviously, because of that, I got a lot of opportunities to start building my own teams, managing people, try a couple of different roles. Some of it was not necessarily planned because in that company we also made a small pivot. We pivoted from a B2C product to a B2B product, which meant that when I got hired, I was hired because of doing the marketing digital marketing which is very important when we were thinking about doing this B2C proposition. Then we pivoted to an SME proposition, which meant that partnerships were much more important. Sales became more important, which was great for me because it gave me exposure to new areas and also helping me figure out what I like to do and what I'm good at. Actually, now, I would say that I enjoy doing the partnerships piece, more necessarily, the digital marketing. If you join an early stage startup, you get a lot of opportunity, but it's definitely not for everyone, because there's a lot of uncertainty, I would say. One of the other things that can be very challenging about an early stage startup is that you are working really hard on something and you might realize after a couple of months that it's not working, and you have to be very decisive and just be okay with. Okay, this is just a song cost, we have to move on. We're going to try something else. It sounds logical, but when you're in it, it's really difficult, because you've spent so much time on trying to make a specific thing work and you might feel like let's just try a couple more weeks, let's push this a few more weeks, let's try a couple of other things. We're almost there, but you just have to be really honest to yourself okay, no, this is probably not working. We have to change course, which I again did with my current company, where we made a much larger pivot, but I can go into that later.

Amardeep Parmar: 10:47

It's really interesting that you joined the company in another country as a first employee, like you said, and you've done multiple early stage companies. How are you picking the founders? What were you looking for to say this is somewhere I can grow. What traits are you looking for in them?

Iris ten Teije: 11:02

For a couple of things I would say. First of all, especially if it's so early on, it's definitely a bit of connection and you have to have a good gut feel about the person because you're going to be spending a lot of time with them. So I would trust your intuition. But then also, obviously, people's backgrounds matters. Of course. We hear about stories people dropping out of school and building really big companies, but those are typically the exceptions, not necessarily the rule. And also, even though those companies can hyper grow, I mean it's not necessarily the easiest place to learn if you want to learn from someone that has done it before, that is really experienced. So in the company that I joined as the first employee, the CEO is very experienced He'd been and he actually came over my corporate background, but obviously very experienced in building and managing teams, for example, which is something that I that I've definitely learned from and just dealing with people Because, again, if you're building a startup, managing dealing with people is like one of the most important things. So, yeah, background, intuition and obviously also believing in the market and the idea and believing that that makes sense and, as you said, quite a big jump. Another country, first employee, but it's a bit of background. When I originally moved to Hong Kong, I took up another job first, which was a digital marketing job in an e-commerce company. But I was only there for a couple of months because I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't exciting enough for me because it was not a big, it was not a corporate or anything. It was still it wasn't established startup, let's say. But I realized that that company we were already about 40 or so when I was there and my job was very specialized. I was running their digital ads in social channels and I felt, okay, I'm doing the same thing almost every day, which wasn't satisfying for me personally.

Amardeep Parmar: 13:01

And am I right in thinking it was part of the company from Hong Kong where you then moved to London? Right, that's right?

Iris ten Teije: 13:06

So yeah, how I ended up here is the digital bank. They sent me to London because they wanted to open an office in London. We had quite a lot of clients in Europe that were doing business with Asia, so we wanted to establish a local presence here. Yeah, moved here, set up the office, quit a little bit sooner than originally planned. I would say a couple of reasons for that. One of the big ones was probably COVID, and COVID didn't necessarily affect that business, but it was more affecting me personally, being in a new country, and COVID started pretty soon after I moved to London, which is really obviously very bad timing because I didn't really know anyone here yet. I felt pretty lonely and I just wasn't feeling that well, like personally. But I think those things do drive you to make big changes, and so, no, yeah, ultimately I think everything worked out well, but it didn't go as planned necessarily.

Amardeep Parmar: 14:06

But even that, decision to move to London to set up the office. It's not the big decision. It's looking like that right and what was behind it. Obviously it's part of the company strategy, but it didn't have to be you, I guess. If you said I don't move to London, I want to stay in Hong Kong and do some girls in the business, they might have allowed you to do that.

Iris ten Teije: 14:23

Yeah, so for me, it was always my plan and so therefore, it was actually this worked out quite well, because what I was always thinking is that I want to take, for example, a European or an American startup that is growing. I want to start up their Asia office, because I was already in Asia at the time. So that was what I had in my mind originally, because I felt that would be a very good learning ground for then doing my own startup after. The opportunity that came up was kind of was the other way around, but still very, very similar in a sense, and I think these opportunities are very, very good experiences If you want to do a startup, like joining an early state startup or perhaps, you know, taking a foreign startup to the local market. I think those are the excellent training grounds for then starting your own company after.

Amardeep Parmar: 15:13

So once you quit this job, did you only have the idea of what you wanted to do next, or is a case of a bit of soul searching?

Iris ten Teije: 15:20

So when I quit the previous job I already had an offer from Endler. So some of the listeners might be familiar with Endler. So what they do is they are sort of an incubator, but a bit different than traditional incubator. So you go there by yourself If you have an idea, that's fine. You can also go there without an idea. They select people mostly based on background and relevant entrepreneurial experience. The idea is to find co-founders, pitch a business, work on it and if they like it, they invest in the businesses that come out of the program. So, yeah, joined Endler. Didn't find a co-founder in Endler, unfortunately, but did meet some of our earliest annual investors through Endler. So in that sense, still very much worth going through it and even in general, I would say the quality of the people in my program was pretty good. Cop definitely did some people there that I could work with in terms of personality and it was more that actually, going back to did I have an idea of what I want to do. It was more around we. I didn't necessarily find anyone that had the same interests as me in terms of business ideas to work on and we when I originally joined Endler. So some of the ideas that I was thinking about were, given that I have a FinTech background, some of the ideas were related to FinTech. One of the things, for example, that I was thinking about when I was in the program was how to get more women to invest, which is something that a topic that I think is still very interesting. I didn't decide to pursue that because, after doing more research, I figured the problem is very much education and the solution is probably more in education and necessarily late tech platform, whereas I wanted to build more like a scalable tech business. But I think something is a very interesting topic. So, yeah, I joined Endler, didn't find co-founders when the program was over because I already set my mind on building a startup. I ultimately ended up planning my two co-founders via job boards. So when I tell people, they sometimes a bit surprised or telling me that that's a pretty big risk working with people that you meet on an online job board. So of course it is, but at the same time, I also don't. I don't think it's a crazy risk, because what you typically do is I posted an ad. I originally I first met my first co-founder, richard, where actually I got quite a lot of replies to the ad. And then Richard was the one that I felt, okay, he has a very interesting background and we get along. We have the same vision of how we want to run a startup. So we were like, okay, let's just try working together for a couple of weeks, see how it goes After that one. Well, we formalized it. But again, I would say, the risks are limited. In a sense, of course, you've got an opportunity to cause your time, but in terms of business risk because typically what you do is when you use work with co-founders, you've got like a best thing schedule, so you know if one of the two or one of the three decides to quit within a month or two, you haven't really lost anything in that sense. But yeah, luckily it worked out for us. So after Richard and I got together and we decided what we wanted to do, we decided we started looking for a co-founder, found Ben again via sort of online search, and, yeah, been working together ever since. So that's been almost three years now and yeah, we've gone through quite a lot. We've gone through a major pivot, which is not always an easy thing to navigate through. So I would say that you really have to trust your own instincts when it comes to finding co-founders, because there are also plenty of people that work with people that have been friends for 10 years or 20 years and it still doesn't work out. So you can't necessarily judge based on how long you know someone or we hope you're enjoying the episode so far.

Amardeep Parmar: 19:10

We just want to give a quick shout out to our headline partners, hpc Innovation Banking. One of the biggest challenges for so many startups is finding the right bank to support them, because you might start off and try to use a traditional bank, but they don't understand what you're doing. You're just talking to an AI assistant or talking to somebody who doesn't really understand what it is you've been trying to do. Hpc have got the team they built out over years to make sure they understand what you're doing. They've got the deep sector expertise and they can help connect you with the right people to make your dreams come true. So if you want to learn more, check out HPCInnovationBankingcom. So we want to introduce the things that when you've got a new person, you're a bit more objective, whereas when it's a person you've been friends with for 10 years, you've got all of the other history wrapped up in the relationship, which I mean by meeting Richard and Ben Nune did. You could ask the quite straightforward questions.

Iris ten Teije: 20:01

Yeah, I mean, let's pros and cons right. Of course, if you've ideally, I think having worked with someone, that is ideal friends you don't really know how they work. It can be quite different like working together versus being friends. Yeah, I would say, going in with a clean slate, being objective, asking each other the right questions, that is a very good thing about working with new people. There's, of course, also some advantages of working with friends, I would say. One of the things, for example, is that if you're working with close friends, probably you're just going to tell them the honest truth if you don't like something, whereas with new people, like now, we know each other well, so we would tell each other if we don't like something. But if you're just started working together, you don't know each other that well. You may be still in the beginning. You're maybe going to be a bit more polite, whereas to be efficient, you have to be a bit ruthless in the startup and tell each other if something isn't working or if it's a bad idea, which can be easier, I think, if you know someone for a long time.

Amardeep Parmar: 21:02

And obviously you went through this major pivot with them as well, which has been really interesting, because you all have to agree to pivot in some ways. Could you tell us what was the original idea and then what was the pivot and why did you pivot?

Iris ten Teije: 21:14

So originally, because all of us have FinTech or finance backgrounds, we were working on an app to let people invest in alternative assets, and we focus on collectibles, so things like watch, swiss, key, art, and the idea was that users could buy a fraction of these assets. And a lot of these assets have gone up in value over the past decades, and so it was an investment proposition. We built the product, launched it, raised some money for it, but ultimately had a lot of challenges, which is why we decided to pivot. So a couple of things was very difficult from a regulatory perspective Cost of acquisition, marketing spend fairly high in general when you're launching new FinTech consumer apps, but even more so because the timing wasn't ideal. When we went into market that was just when all of the markets were going down. Not many new retail investors looking for new opportunities, so also the VC market going down. So we figured, okay, we can spend all the money that we have left. We can make a projection about how many users we can get Probably is not going to be enough to raise our new round, especially in this kind of environment. So I would say, deciding to pivot and agreeing to pivot that wasn't really the difficult part because we all sort of agreed at the same time that it was the right thing to do. The more difficult thing, I think, was around when we then wanted to pivot not only agreeing up on what to do but also how. You have to strike a balance between taking action, because you don't have unlimited time. Every month you're spending, you're spending money and you have a limited time. So, being action oriented but at the same time, not being reckless and making sure that it makes sense and you've done enough research to have conviction into the next thing, because how we approach it is. We looked at our own pain points, building the first product. In that product there was also Web3Element, because we were linking NFTs to physical assets. So we got very deep into the space. We saw because it's a new space we saw a lot of things that we saw a lot of inefficiencies, things that weren't working well. So we had plenty of ideas and we just went back to first principles and doing the basic customer research, talking to a lot of people, validating that they experienced specific pain points. And what actually made us do MAVA, which what we're doing now is what we're building, is a customer support platform for community-driven companies, and what we notice is, when we were talking to prospects about MAVA and customer support area, a lot of them not only did they say to the head that they experienced a pain point, they actually tried to do something about it. When we asked them what other solutions they tried, they were able to tell us perhaps they tried something like Zendesk, but it didn't work, and they would explain to us why it didn't work. Or they told us that they tried some specific bolts for, maybe, discord or Slack. Again, they would explain to us why it wasn't really sufficient, whereas some of the other ideas that we were exploring people said, yeah, that's very annoying or that's really a problem for me in my work. But then when we dig deeper and asked and I would ask them, ok, what are you trying to do to solve this problem? Or what solutions did you look at? They didn't really have anything to say, which is also just a recommendation or a tip for people that have an idea. Just someone saying that they have a problem is not really enough. You really have to validate what they did. They tried to do something already to solve that problem. Ideally, they already paid money to try and solve that problem, but the current solutions don't work, which is luckily. We stumbled up an opportunity where that was the case. But you have to start building before you have full conviction, because you can only talk to a limited amount of people in a limited time. So that, I think, was the main challenge, where, as founders, of course, everyone has a different personality. So we did have some differences of opinion in terms of guys, let's just go and build this Versus we only talk to five people. That's not enough. Yeah, you can build a business if five people say they want this product. So that was a bit of a balance to strike.

Amardeep Parmar: 25:44

So I really like that advice she gave there as well about, because a lot of people have the idea and ask people oh yeah, we'd love this, but, like I said, they haven't actually been trying to fix it and haven't paid any money to it. So by validating it in that way, obviously it's such a big advantage in what you're doing today. And once you made that pivot, what were the first steps you then took? Because obviously you had to explain that pivot. You had to. Almost you burnt some of the other marketing because you now have a different product. What were the steps you took to hit the ground running with a new product?

Iris ten Teije: 26:14

Yeah, a few things that we had to do Just from a practical point of view. Obviously we had to inform R because we did have users in the previous product that actually invested money, so we had to make sure that we'd handled that well. We refunded everyone and also we said to be transparent in our communication about what happens. So when I'm saving investors, those are the retail investors. Then, of course, we also had our VC investors that we had to explain to that we no longer have conviction in this business that you invested in and we had to get their blessing and their permission to make the pivots. And that was another thing that was challenging because on the one hand, you want to get as much of their advice and help as possible, but on the other hand, you don't necessarily want to go to your investors the first day that you decide with your co-founders that you're going to pivot and you have no idea yet what the new direction is. So again, we had to strike a bit of a balance there. We didn't want to wait until we had a perfect plan, because we also did want to get their advice and their input, but we did want to have a little bit of an idea of. These are the potential directions that we're thinking about, and there's a reason and why we think that these things could work. And, yeah, then we started building. Our CTO is amazing. He's very fast, which is what we need in the startup. So we got our first beta product out very quickly. Yeah, got some people to use it Again. I think that's really important. What we did is we ran the product for about a year without charging for it, because the product in the beginning was very basic and it wasn't that good, but we rather wanted to have people use it than waiting to launch it. So what we did is we just launched it very basic but people could use it for free and once we felt OK, now it's a bit more mature, we've got the features that people need. Then we started charging for it, which was a couple of months ago, and how we got our first customers just very much personal network to start with, but also just doing a lot of cold outreach.

Amardeep Parmar: 28:17

That moment there where you switched on the payment side and the premium features. Was there any worry there? Because I know a lot of people maybe they initially have a free product and they kind of keep delaying starting to charge for it because they're worried about it. How was that process for you? When was it like? This is now the right time?

Iris ten Teije: 28:31

When we started on boarding customers, even the free ones, we told them from the beginning we were very clear that this is going to be a paid product at some point. Also, talk to them to do research in terms of what would be a fair price, what would be an expensive price, which is all ask, all the typical set of pricing pricing questions. We weren't that worried about churn because at the time that we turned on monetization, we already had several integration. So for customers to switch, it's their switching cost, because you have to change all of your products. We integrate with your Discord, with your website, with your Telegram. But a point of product was already fairly sticky.

Amardeep Parmar: 29:20

So how long has it been going now, since you've got the last two months, and have you been happy with the results? What's the ambition now? Where are you heading towards? What's the dream for Marvel?

Iris ten Teije: 29:29

A lot of things that we're working on, of course, like any startup, but, as I mentioned, what we're focused on is rebuilding this platform to help community driven companies to scale their customer support and customer success. A lot of our early customers have been in the web three space and we started out with Discord integration, telegram integrations. Next thing is we want to tap into new verticals. So, for example, devtools, aitools, saas companies we're seeing a lot of them are moving towards or already have customer communities on forums or on Slack or on Discord as well, so we're seeing a very big opportunity there as well. So what we're really seeing is that there are plenty of tools to scale your standard private support tickets. Everyone knows tools like ZenDesk or IntraCom. However, there is not really any tools to scale support when it comes to public support, community support and also group chats again another area that we think is potentially a very big opportunity. Now we're seeing a lot of B2B SaaS companies. What they do is they open Slack Connect channels with all of their customers, which is great because it's very engaging and you build this with close relationship with your customer. But once you get to 50 channels, or definitely once you get to 100 channels, it is very difficult to keep an eye on what is happening. What are our open issues? Am I breaching any SLAs? So, yeah, it's very hard to scale those types of group chats, group channels, community channels. So that is what we're focused on and building out.

Amardeep Parmar: 31:12

What would you say? Your biggest win so far, what you're most proud about from the Marvis journey?

Iris ten Teije: 31:17

I would say that I'm proud of the fact that we have been able to grow very quickly in the web three space over this past year on board of a lot of big projects, companies like one inch sushi swap, cosmos, nonsense so we've got various customers that raised over like $100 million in VC funding. And yeah, again also going back to what I just said before, the product is very sticky, so very little churn. So those are the things that I'm happy about.

Amardeep Parmar: 31:46

Awesome. And then you always had this great journey and it seems like it was very intentional about going to different startups to learn your lessons first, before going and doing your own thing. What are some of the things that you think that really stuck out, that you're really glad you learned them at somebody else's company?

Iris ten Teije: 32:02

Yeah, it was definitely intentional because when I was in uni and doing these internships, I had in my mind I wanted to do my own startup, but I didn't feel ready. I didn't feel confident that I could do it. Looking back, you know you learned so much on a job I could have maybe done. I could have potentially done it. However, I'm still really happy that I did go through those other startups and those other experiences. What did I learn? I would say a couple of things. One managing people, managing teams. It becomes easier over time and you learn how to deal with different types of people, different types of personalities. So that was a good learning. Secondly, it's not really a learning, but building your network. It's just really, really important. It's just so much easier to reach out to investors when you can get a warm introduction, but building a network takes a bit of time. In a city like London you can definitely fast track it because there's so many events and so many communities, but still it takes some time to build a network. And lastly, I think this is more like mental or like emotional thing, which is that sometimes people ask me if it's difficult to do a startup and be an entrepreneur, and to me it is. Of course it can be challenging, but it's actually because I was the first employee in that previous company and we went through so many like very difficult moments. I've been as stressed in that company that wasn't my own company as I am in my current company because I think typically founders as a founder, we have the type of personality anyway that we feel responsible and take ownership. So in a previous company I also felt a lot of responsibility and we went through very, very bad issues and because the nature of the product being in banking or something goes wrong, obviously the customer is going to be very angry. So that just prepared me mentally to not take everything personally or not let it ruin my entire week. If something bad happens, just breathe, get over it, move on. So I think that also was a big help in doing my own thing now.

Amardeep Parmar: 34:10

You mentioned there about the stress, and it's part of being a founder. It's so stressful. I have my own stress and what keeps you going? What do you love about what you do?

Iris ten Teije: 34:19

I would say, even though it can be difficult or it can be stressful, what I like about being a founder is that you can take matters in your own hands more than you could when you're working for someone, because if I'm working for someone I could still be very stressed. Or but it would be even worse if I'm stressed and I cannot take the path that I think is going to be the best solution to get the results that we want. Let's say the company is, for example, I'm working for someone, something isn't working or company isn't doing well. I would be extremely frustrated if I have some ideas or some strategies that I think could improve things, but I can't do it. That would be more stressful for me than at least being able to try to solve it, to do what I think is best.

Amardeep Parmar: 35:02

I think a lot of people can relate to that. I'm currently working at a company where they get frustrated at their management of the people above them, and it's great to see that you've now been able to transition from that build-run thing, go through a major pivot and everything is looking on the up as well. So we're now going to transition to the questions. First question is who are free registrations that you think are doing incredible work? They'd love to shout out that the audience should be paying attention to.

Iris ten Teije: 35:25

I will start with my friend, amber, who is running a company called Somal and what she is working on is helping or she's digitizing the visa process, so helping people get visa settled in the UK. It's a lot of bureaucracy, a lot of paperwork, so I think she's doing amazing work. Second, shout out to another friend, Nina Mohanty, who is running a company called Bloom and what she's focused on is helping immigrants and minorities save money and build wealth in ways that work for them. So I think very important and very interesting company. And last, I'll give a shout out to one of the portfolio companies of one of my fellow seedcamp portfolio companies, which is Yonder, founded by Tim, who is building a credit card to give us all much better rewards than we can get with the likes of A-Max.

Amardeep Parmar: 36:36

So Tim and Nina have been on the podcast before, so they're amazing, love them. And Amber I'm pretty sure I'm talking to at the moment in my LinkedIn DM somewhere, so it's great to hear that from you. And the next question is how can people find out more about you and more about what Marv is up to?

Iris ten Teije: 36:50

So if you want to find more about me so my name is Iris Santaya, or you search Iris Marva You'll definitely be able to find me on, like on LinkedIn, twitter or Instagram. Our website is marvaapp, so do check it out if you're interested in learning more.

Amardeep Parmar: 37:06

And is there anything that the audience could help you today, that maybe somebody listening could reach out to you and help you with what you're doing? Or Marva?

Iris ten Teije: 37:12

Two things. One is we are currently raising, so yeah, if you want to learn more about that, reach out. Seconds, very much exploring, as I mentioned, going into new verticals, doing research in B2B SaaS. So if you are running a community, ideally in the software space or even any community, I would love to chat.

Amardeep Parmar: 37:34

So thanks so much for coming on today. Have you got any final words to audience?

Iris ten Teije: 37:37

Thank you so much for having me and looking forward to seeing this live.

Amardeep Parmar: 37:45

Thank you for watching. Don't forget to subscribe. See you next time.

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