Arcus Co-Founder & (CRO)
University of Pennsylvania Bachelor of Arts (BA), Economics
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How did you get to where you are today? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path? What inspired you to work on your startup?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
I'm originally from Mexico and I got a scholarship to come to the U S. the University of Pennsylvania. When I was there after my first year, the reason why I came to the U. S and went to the University of Pennsylvania was that I eventually wanted to start a technology company. While I was doing some work-study as part of my scholarship, I saw the opportunity to join a startup that was started by my co-founder. The idea was to start up payments company around remittances. So me being an immigrant and being from Mexico, which receives a lot of remittances, I thought it was a really kind of interesting idea and the reality is that I wanted to just get experience, to see how it was to do like a technology company. The opportunity came in and just decided to try it. So I started as an intern and then eventually started to get more involved and recently I am the part of the founding team of the company.

Can you walk us through your first few weeks when you started working on this project? How did things change over the next few months?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
As I mentioned before us an intern, so my co-founder had the idea of starting the company and wants to send gift cards as a value remittance. When I joined first, I was helping with presentations and just applying for different programs that were being grants or these types of things, that was hard to get a little more involved, I have some connections back home from some of the partners that we wanted to talk to, so I started to talk with my co-founder and said that I wanted to get more involved. I started getting more involved in the project, I started reaching out to different friends or people that I knew, set up some meetings, and I started to show that I could provide more value, I can get more and more involved and it's been eight years now, so it's been a fun ride.

What were the challenges in building the initial team and how did you overcome them? How much time and resources did founding team members commit?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
One of the hardest things for us was that we took a long time. There were some people that joined the company at the beginning, and then when things started to get off, they decided that they didn't want to kind of double down. So basically we had a founding team and we were raising a round from investors and then that round from investors didn't happen so people that wanted to do the jump in a safe manner if you wish, decided that they were pushing the people that wanted to do this and commit double down and I'll say that for Arcus, it was the first time we were doing this it was much harder because we didn't know what we're looking for and who will do what? Who was good at what? So we have changed roles, I started doing finance work then eventually now I do business development, I think now after it for some time, I know better what I'm good at and my partners know better what they are good at? These things take time to see what is it that you need to find in your partner?

How did the venture get its first professional funding? What were the challenges and how were they overcome? How'd your fundraising efforts change in subsequent rounds?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
I think that there's a lot of money if you know where to find it. For us, we started to apply to a lot of different programs for scholarships. Universities in the U. S. but across the globe, there's a lot of programs for startups. First, we got into a program called Startup Chile. We went to Chile and we got, like, a $40,000 USA grant. There they were not taking any getting equity then we joined a VIP program and we got another 10k, then we applied in Echoing green where we got 100k. So we started to become almost professional in finding these grants, and obviously they help us with the initial money required to do some of the development so you could get MVP. Eventually, we've got one of the first professional funding from an angel investor who gave us 100k. At that point, we were going to close our series A and some investors decided that they didn't want to invest in the company. I will say that one of the challenges eventually to close round you need to get the money. So we got that 100K that allows us to kind of build an MVP. Then we applied to YCombinator and obviously YCombinator was a game-changing experience for us. They're professionals, they help us understand better what we needed to do and we raised around after we were YC of three million and to grow you need to become more professional in the way you do the fundraising. But at the beginning, I'll say through grants and with the help of our family and friends is the way we started.

How did you set the scope for your minimal viable product? How did you get to product-market fit? How did your product evolve over time?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
One of the things that we learned from YC was to really test the product-market fit. A lot of the time, or at least for us it took us one year, we were investing a lot of time in thinking of the name of the company, kind of doing all these PowerPoint presentations, these marketing strategies and I think what we learned from YC is that you just need to go out there and test it. A lot of times you kind of create excuses for why you can't do it like, Oh, I need to do more on the technology side or the product is not complete and when we got into the program, they push us to, like basically by next week, you need to have 10 customers. I don't care what you do like you need to give it away it doesn't matter, just need people to test it. So what we started to do that, we were doing like international bill pay. So basically paid bills from the U. S. to India and Mexico, Dominican Republic so we have a person that basically, every time someone did a payment, they will receive an email with the information, and they will go on paid out at the bank or the corner store in Mexico. So it was a kind of all manual process, and we probably process the 1st 1000 payments that way. It was just a way to test will people pay for this if we build it and now we can do that everything that we build before we start to do a line of code, we try to confirm that there's a demand for what we want to build, it saves a lot of time and we started to get more customers and we're partners, we were able to find their needs in the market, obviously learned just about the industry. We were new to it, so just takes a lot of time to understand payments and complex market and understand that what is the piece that you can offer that is unique?.

Who were your early users? What marketing channels, approaches, and marketing tools did you use to contact users? What worked and what didn't?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
We started as a B2C company and we were doing just the traditional, like Facebook and kind of some Google ads and some of these things then we quickly realized that nobody in the team was an expert around customer acquisition. So when you do a B2C company, one of the most important things that you need to have is like someone that is really good at, like hacking growth or getting in front of the customers and finding these kinds of marketing channels or interesting approaches to get customers. So we didn't have that so one of the first things that we were forced to do is to realize that we were not going to succeed at B2C so we needed to start to do B2B. People in the industry saw that we were taking this interesting approach and they were like, Oh, that's cool, why you don't sell it to us, and in the beginning we wanted to do it ourselves then we were like, Ok, it's not working, let's try to do B2B and sell it to them and then they can sell it to their existing customers. So we did that and obviously it changed our approach from B2C to B2B as it's a completely different game. We started to see that this way we could acquire customers faster so we started to attend different conferences from the industry, we started to kind of try to set up meetings with people to ask for advice and we started to get some traction. B2B is different from B2C, for B2B it's like once you have a customer, it's easier to tell competitor or someone else, everyone always asks you, who's working with you? The reason why YC helps a lot is that the YC community is willing to test new products, only when someone gives you that chance you learn a lot. So after you had a successful or happy customer, then you can slowly grow from there.

What changes would you attempt in customer targeting, acquisition process, and marketing tools in the later growth phase? Why?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
In the beginning, we were trying to understand our product-market fit like talking a lot to customers to understand what was the real value that we were providing and in the early days or the years a lot of the customers came just from references or from people that were in one company and moved to another company and they wanted to implement that same project there. We're now testing different tools that will allow us to grow much faster. Part of it is going a lot to industry events. For B2B enterprise, they're great because people start to see you as a player in the industry and they start to kind of feel more comfortable to work with you. We started to do a lot more marketing and outreach and different tools that we are starting to test now.

How do you hire, incentivize, and track the progress of your marketing team including agencies and part-time workers to scale user base?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
Surprisingly for a long time, we didn't even have a marketing team so the research development team used to get in front of customers, do a lot of calls, emails, LinkedIn like outreach. We just started messaging and making sure that people understand what we do and we're starting to see a lot of progress there. In the beginning, we didn't have enough money, we didn't even understand the rules, we haven't done much there yet.

Who were your competitors when you started and how did the competition evolve? How did you create a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Thu Mar 05 2020
we wouldn't have a lot of products. But instead of offering like a dot liquor, why they will solution? We're offering an A p I so companies could trade it into their own. Uh, we started to groan and ugly. When you start to grow, you start to get into the standard books off bigger players and more players. So we went from the incredible Rebuild them in. The message will pay Mexico and domestic in the U. S. Now in other countries. On now we're gonna be rolling out Frankie service. You're growing started competing many more players and many more offerings. Uh, because you were the one that I'll say you were getting the clients that big companies don't care because they're not big enough. But if you get in the end when you kind of used them to build a defrauding, innovation, constructing and compete for some of the biggest at the beginning. Part of it was a service like we were offering a similar product, but we were just offering better service and good care more. I mean it surprising basing it because they know that you care. And you weren't about that extra mile that works in the early days duration as the company goes to get out to steal that culture in the whole company and hopefully kind of deal, too. Bill, enough differentiator that you can start to trust a premium. And people want both because of your service. And you have a better technology or better so far up her heart, right? Depending on the day he was really happy. And then next day you want to quit, right? Uh, I think one of the things is in. For starters, he's the best guy for trouble. Him says that.

What were the major exciting and memorable moments? Were there also any moments that almost got you to quit? How did you get past them?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
Startups are hard, depending on the day, one day you are really happy and the next day you want to quit. To be successful, the best thing in startups is not to die. Eventually, you will be able to find an opportunity. So we found an good opportunity and now there are really exciting times for us. Some of the exciting moments have been it's like we have been doing this for eight years. So I started when I was in college. I moved to LA for six months, moved to Mexico, lived on friend's couches when we're getting started, I feel like I've been through all the different places. It is good to look back as there are a lot of exciting times. How did I get past them? One is just the challenge, not to give up and at the same time the spirit to learn. I think it is really important to like the more we are trying and experimenting and getting no's, gives us an opportunity to understand and to learn more about the space, the industry so I think that is the spirit of learning and becoming better as a person, becoming better at your craft, if your craft is business development or whatever is your craft eventually just becoming really good at it is a good drive to keep.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What major challenges did you face in your job?

Based on experience at: Managing Director, Rumayor Genetics
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
It depends on the phase. Right at the beginning when you're just getting started, you build the product or sell the product, those are the only two things that matter. As you scale, the challenges are completely different like recruiting becomes important, the culture of the company, putting people in the right place, defining a strategy. Again when there is a small team it's always different than a larger team and hopefully, we can keep growing to see different stages but I will say that every stage has a different challenge. Part of a challenging thing is that you need to keep reinventing yourself as you grow because the things you know are not going to necessarily work when you begin. So it is a constant process of learning.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Economics, University of Pennsylvania
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
I think the University of Pennsylvania had a lot of really cool events. They have these events which you can attend so that's what I did. I went to startups, different entrepreneurship events and programs and going with the co-founder that gave me a lot of exposure. I realized that universities have all these different things that you can take advantage of. Sometimes as an undergrad, you feel like you don't belong or it's not working but once you get over that you realize there are a lot of resources. I was very close with the faculty and my advisor was really helpful to put me in touch with all the faculty members, other resources or other alumni that help us a lot through the process. I think that it has an amazing network and for us, we definitely took advantage of it when we were getting started. 

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
I'll say that if you will ask people for help, you'll be surprised that a lot of people want to help. So if I want to talk to people I tell them if I can buy them a coffee, a lot of people are going to say no, but eventually, a lot of people just want to help and you're going to get it. I think on my resume, I came to the U.S without knowing that it is a big challenge and eventually it's been one kind of experience.

Do you have any parting advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? What 3 dos and 3 don'ts would you suggest?

Based on experience at: Co-Founder & (CRO), Arcus
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Thu Mar 05 2020
The do is to just do it. Either you can get involved as an intern in a technology company or start-up, or you can work for one or try to start one and something that I did like, in the beginning, I wanted to start a business and I created, like, these websites in Facebook, and I'll post things to the people to the partnerships. I think just trying to do it and start it was the hardest thing. I'll say that the path to start a company is joining a small company as it is also an amazing learning experience because you're forced to do a lot of different things and maybe you can minimize your risk if you are not ready to do that big jump. Don'ts, I will say that people give up too easily, people want to do it and when they have the first setback, they just quit and for us, it hasn't been so easy, it's been eight years and obviously, we had a lot of setbacks but we were able to survive and push through and that has also helped me as a person to work better with adversity and learn how to manage it.