So here we are, 3 episodes deep into Series 1 of Accelerate Your Startup. Yet again, we are here with another innovational startup that’s solving a big problem, especially for world travelers. Everybody, meet CEO & Founder of Ment – Ms Rebecca Lima.
Ment is a mobile platform that gives travelers instant access to their security queue before arriving at the airport. The mobile application crowdsources and predicts security wait times, terminal information (ie. shops, food, etc.) all while creating a connected experience for travelers. For the hyperconnected traveler looking for a unique airport experience, Ment is a one-stop solution that optimizes and saves on airport time while creating a connected culture in a once isolated and disconnected environment.
As you read this, we are under 24 hours into the launch of Ment’s beta test with JFK airport! Click here to download the app.
Here’s a bit about Rebecca and her life (pre-Ment).
Rebecca comes from an aviation background and following in her Father’s footsteps as a Pilot, she has also took up that role in her previous career. But taking it way back into the younger days, Rebecca graduated school with a mechanical engineering degree. However, having had a shift in her mindset she chose to work in the oil and gas industry instead of taking the traditional route. It’s what she thought was the right path for her.
Rebecca was working on off-shore rigs for 3 years for a large oil and gas company, which resulted in her traveling all over the world to some of the most energetic cities/countries such as London, Amsterdam, Singapore, Japan and a whole lot more. It was soon after that, when she experienced a problem in the airports through frequent travelling which spurred an idea. Little did she know, that the idea would soon become what is in our hands today – Ment.
There is only a certain amount of time you can put up with working 80-100 hours per week until you get physically and emotionally drained, and you start to question life and resent your job. Rebecca was doing well financially – by the age of 25, she was earning a six-figure income. She in fact cleared six figures within her first year at the age of 22, but she never got to enjoy the money because her work took up too much of her life. She soon became mentally depressed to the point where she wouldn’t leave her bed. One day, Rebecca decided enough was enough and came to the conclusion that it was time to leave her job and pursue this idea of hers.
So she did exactly that. She gave up her six-figure salary, moved back home and went all in on building her passion project, Ment using her savings to bootstrap the business. I suppose the job came in handy for one thing and that was to fund her startup all by herself!
Now let’s get in to the show.
Time-stamped show notes (part 1)
[02:02] Rebecca shares her background with us – life before starting Ment.
[05:01] We talk about how Ment was born. Rebecca takes us back to day 1 and how the idea was brewing in her head for some time, but didn’t think it was a sustainable idea. She talks about how she moved back home and went to work with her Dad in his business selling private jets. Following which she went travelling with friends to figure herself out which was when the idea sparked again. She was coming back from one trip, driving in her car and suddenly started weeping at the steering wheel. Why? She had an epiphany. It wasn’t then long until she had quit her Dad’s job and went full force with building Ment.
[06:50] Rebecca talks about how she didn’t know anything about developing an app or design work. The first thing she did was google YC Startup School and spent the first 2 weeks watching all videos and taking notes. Rebecca then talks about how she went on to buy a udemy course for $20 on iOS development. She learned how to code herself, took a design course too and started documenting her journey through Instagram and Facebook. YC advised to get your idea out there and validate it – so that’s exactly what she did.
$20 courses on learning to code. Thank god for Udemy.
[08:30] We get deeper into a discussion about how she taught herself to code and why she chose to do so instead of hiring a dev shop. However after completing version 1.0 of the prototype, which in her head seemed better than the end result – she took the broken code to Instagram, as she couldn’t find the answers she needed on stack overflow. Funnily enough, she seemed to have disrupted Instagram’s app by tagging all dev sites in to her posts using hashtags, following which the developers would repost all of her problems to other sites. This lead to Rebecca getting flooded with DM’s from developers wanting to help. Fortunately, that is how she found her first & second developer.
[11:11] Rebecca talks about how she flew out to the middle of a farm town in California to meet with the developer for 2 hours at a local Starbucks. Instantly, the developer was onboard. By that point she had gone through around 5 iterations of what the app should be, so was happy to land a developer to take over that role so she could focus on the business side of Ment.
[12:06] We talk about how long it took to consume the course and learn to code. The course was 180 hours. She skipped a lot of it. With the use of having a mechanical engineer background, she learned different code languages plus C++, however never touched Swift code (apple 2nd version of language). It took quite a long time but with taking on a developer, it meant that she could focus on telling the story and vision of Ment and selling that vision to the consumers.
Ment will own the worst part of the airport experience.
[13:50] Rebecca talks about how so many other people were experiencing the same issues that she had with the stress and anxiety of going to the airport. She talks about the problem that Ment is solving and how she wants Ment to own the worst part of the airport experience so the users can enjoy their time at the airport.
[14:55] She goes on to explain what exactly the app does for it’s users and goes into further detail about plans for the app upon full launch. Rebecca talks about how she wants to build a community of travelers that help each other out.
[16:42] Rebecca breaks down how the airport was designed as a utility, and not for humans. She wants Ment to focus on the traveler and their experience, i.e. the human aspect of an airport. She wants Ment to enhance the experience for the customer by taking away all of the stress.
[19:10] Whilst elaborating on exactly how stressful the airport can be, Rebecca explains how the Airport experience in other countries are a lot better than U.S. This is in part due to their being multiple airports per city and so it becomes difficult to manage all of them and capture the real human experience. Ment can quickly move and change and adapt to what travelers want. It can put a new light into the way airlines and airports think of their customers’ travel experience.
Let’s talk monetisation.
[21:45] Now it’s time, to talk about the monetisation process and strategy of the app. Rebecca breaks down how she will be partnering with vendors and concessions. She references how Groupon did with the same with their platform. The plan would include rewards and coupons for travelers to use whilst in the airport. Ment can track where it’s users are walking in the airport so can capture the users’ attention and drive them to nearby or passing restaurants, shops etc by tempting them with a notification offering a coupon or discount code. Ment is simply facilitating vendors and concessions with traffic and advertisement to bring more users into their stores and restaurants. Rebecca talks about how they can go deeper with the data for the app for long play, but for short play they will focus on the partnerships for monetisation.
How did she validate Ment?
[26:00] We talk about the validation process of the app. Rebecca tells us how she straight hustled by attending airports purely just to speak with hundreds and hundreds of travelers to ask questions about their experience and what problems they were facing with their travel. She even recorded those conversations. Rebecca goes on to refer to a hashtag on Instagram (#FUTSA) where you will find a long list of complaints about TSA. She used that data for validation that her app can solve a true problem in the airports. She elaborates more on what the customer feedback was.
Time to talk money and raising capital.
[30:20] Then it gets more interesting as we talk funding and raising capital. Rebecca bootstrapped her entire business. She breaks down how she plans to raise a “friends and family” round of investment and doing a 3 month test with JFK Airport as she wants to get the data and results of the traction to get more leverage for bigger funds when approaching VC’s and Angel investors. Rebecca goes on to explain how it’s not easy to raise money and provides some helpful startup tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs looking to take the same route. She also elaborates on how people don’t start things because they think they need more capital and it becomes an excuse.
[33:00] We take a break before getting into the second part of the show where we cover why Rebecca chose to go through a startup accelerator platform and what made her choose Fownders.
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Time-stamped show notes (part 2)
[34:18] Rebecca talks about why she decided to take her idea through a startup accelerator platform overall.
[35:45] We go into a discussion about why she chose Fownders and how she came across them. Fun Fact: After Rebecca got accepted into Fownders, she commuted every single day for 3.5 hours, round trip as she lived in Queens, NY and needed to get to Newark, NJ where Fownders were based. Rebecca says it was so worth it because of what the gained from them and how it changed her life.
[39:40] Rebecca talks about the Fownders Team and their specialities. She references how the culture was one of their biggest assets and how she found it more like a family as opposed to just an accelerator platform. She then goes into talking about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. And how Fownders helped her get through the hard times of feeling alone as a solo founder.
Culture: The Fownders USP.
[42:30] Brad and Greg discuss how Gerard Adams used to focus on the culture within Elite Daily when running that company, and how it helped his staff so much that he brought that key element with him to Fownders.
[43:27] Rebecca talks about how different members of the Fownders team helped her with finances, coaching, mentoring and many other areas to growing her business that she needed help with. she also talks about the Startups that went through the Seed2Scale platform with her and how they were like a family unit. Collaborating, doing joint ventures, sharing contacts and how that helped her as an entrepreneur.
[46:08] Rebecca finishes off with elaborating why Fownders are completely different to other accelerators. She emphasises on the key things any startup founder should look for when opting to go through a startup accelerator.
[48:20] Lastly, we wrap up the show with asking Rebecca where she would pictures Ment being in 12 months from now. She sets some goals on the spot for us. We’re going to review them when we get her back on the show in a year or so!
Where you can find out more about Ment and get in touch with Rebecca direct
[49:38] Before we love and leave you all, Rebecca tells us all where she can be found and the best ways for people to get in touch with her. And most importantly, where we can support the moveMENT.
If you are interested in any Startup jobs or for other general questions, email Rebecca at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Media Handles:
Other Accelerators referenced throughout the show
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