From Being a Jewelry Designer to Founding a SaaS For Gold Buyers: Selina of Sylbaa
In the first episode of Founders in Berlin, we are together with Selina. She has an interesting story starting with leaving university and becoming a goldsmith to founding a software startup called Sylbaa which is a SaaS for gold buyers. We talked about how she went to India, found her jewelry company, the importance of a co-founder and the multitude of opportunities for new founders to grab in Berlin.
What’s your backstory? 💭
I stopped to study after a few semesters. It was really a way to break free from this concept of you do your school and then you go and study. So I was a little bit of a rebel, and the goldsmith thing for me was the first time that I really found something where I was like, this is my place. Here I belong.
I worked for two years to get the job in India after Barcelona. People told me, “Hey, why don't you go to this place and really do it? And you're like, Yeah, yeah, sure. But you never do it. But I was like, in this period of my life, yes, I will do it.
Why did you switch from your own jewelry company to a SaaS? 💎
I came back to Berlin from India during Covid and I started my first company. I knew how to make jewelry. But I actually wanted to lead a growing company. So it was a process of understanding what it means to make a company that can be successful and can be different from other companies. And a jewelry company, a design label is not such.
The first idea was to make a gold app. But there were already plenty of gold apps. I was not happy with this jewelry company. Then, I started digging into the gold buying sector and really understanding the processes and analyzing what they are doing and how could it be better or is it even justified that I want to go in this area or not?
Can you explain your product Sylbaa to me? ⚙
Let's start with the problem. So if I, Selina have old gold because my grandmother died and I want to sell it, but I have zero understanding about precious metals, then the first thing that I do is I sit down and research where I could sell it and the problem is that I don't know. There are just too many questions for me to sell it online, which is why the biggest part of the market is still being handled offline. So it's a really traditional market still where you just take your stuff and you go to a shop but they offer such a low price. They give you such low money as there is not enough transparency in the market. And our solution is we transfer the offline experts to the online world so we can advise the people who want to sell their jewelry or jewelry or coins, bullion or whatever physical gold it is, and we can help them through the process.
What can a non-technical person do before finding a technical partner? 🔍
I think the first step when you start when you decide that you want to found a company, is finding a co-founder and nothing else. So just put a full-time job for one month into it and find yourself as many intro calls as you can and dig deep in the internet, over university networks or also incubator networks. It's super important. You cannot build a fast-growing company on your own. That's just never going to work. It's always about the team that's behind it. So if you do not have a co-founder, then yeah, what are you doing?
What is your goal for the company? 📍
I want to expand internationally. I'm interested in the Indian market because I have a network there and I understand the culture. Also, the U.S. is interesting for us as a company. I've already looked a little bit into the markets. The solutions there do not differ a lot from what we have here. So my goal in five years would be to go internationally and already before that being established in Europe.
There are a lot of people in Berlin who want to find their own startup. What sped up the creation of Sylbaa? 💡
To be honest, I wish I would have known about all the offerings that are here in Berlin when I was first starting. If I had the knowledge beforehand, I would first apply to incubation programs and see if I can get some grants.
It is super important to validate your ideas. Is there a need in the market? Because if there's no need, then you don't have a product, you don't have your business opportunity that you think you have. What I would suggest is to find your customers even before having a product to pitch. If it's a B2B solution, go pitch your product without even having a product.
If you don’t want to wait until next week to read the highlights of our second episode, tune in now!