Sofia Pessanha is one of the LP founders and investors at Shilling.vc and has been working in tech for almost 2 decades. Since 2005, she co-founded a number of technology-enabled businesses, as well as a nonprofit organization that aims to promote entrepreneurship in Portugal.
The two latest companies she co-founded, Unbabel and CareRev, have been successful even in wildly different industries. Both have been part of the Y Combinator incubator, and Unbabel, an AI-powered translation platform for marketing and customer service, has gone on to grow to over 300 employees spread over six offices worldwide.
CareRev, Sofia’s latest project, is an healthcare app that helps Registered Nurses pick up per diem shifts at local hospitals and healthcare centers, allowing them to easily manage their cash flow and time. For the hospitals that use it, CareRev is a workforce management software, which means they face the challenge of having to cater to wildly different audiences. They had to figure out how to get buy-in from the nurses that use CareRev, like a B2C company, and also prove their value to large hospitals, a complex enterprise B2B sales process.
This tension between the value proposition for different audiences, and how to express what issues your company solves even, if you haven’t yet built the tech behind it, is at the core of this episode. Sofia is an expert at building early-stage start-ups, and so it makes sense that most of our conversation centered around the lessons she has learned by going through these growing pains over and over.
Her main advice before you consider starting your own company? “Don’t do it.” But if you do decide you’re the right person for the challenge, Sofia has the practical advice that comes from experiencing both success, and failure, as an early-stage co-founder. She goes into how to sell the dream to both clients and potential employees, getting your idea off the ground despite the naysayers, and how to keep yourself sane when building a company from scratch.
Listen to learn:
- How to evolve your value proposition over time
- Differences in value propositions for B2B and B2C audiences
- Distinguishing between naysayers and helpful user feedback
- How to manage a company’s “emotional debt” and avoid burning out
Listen to the full conversation below and subscribe to Shilling’s “Rise to the top” podcast on Apple Music, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.