MobileAppDaily recently had the opportunity to interview Hugo A. Valdivia, the visionary founder behind Silentus, a cutting-edge app that aims to combat procrastination.
In this interview, we will walk you through Hugo’s professional journey and the inspiration behind launching Silentus in such a massively competitive landscape.
As a tech leader, Hugo has also shared amazing insights and tips that can help other industry leaders and budding entrepreneurs. So, without further ado, let’s look at the full conversation we had with Hugo A. Valdivia.
1) You launched your app in the middle of the pandemic, so that must have been really intense. Could you walk me through the process as to how challenging that has been?
Yeah, absolutely. Actually, it's a very good point because Silentus also started during the pandemic and primarily as a personal need. So when we all moved to work from home setup in March-April 2020, I was working as a freelancer in the finance industry. And at that moment, I had a personal need to prioritize my notifications and also set up clear boundaries between work time and personal time.
And I didn't find anything that really solved my needs. So, I did a bit of customer and market research, and it was one year later, in 2021, I decided to work full-time on Silentus.
2) What's been your revenue strategy? How has that translated into numbers, and what do you think the projections would look like for the coming year?
As we have been in the market for only four months, we are validating our solution. At the moment, it's all about making sure that we reach product market fit as soon as possible. We are targeting specific communities of high-scale freelancers and people to bring them on board and learn from their needs and pain points to ensure we are collecting the right feedback.
So, currently, we have more than 200 monthly active users who are really using our solution and their core functionalities. That actually makes us happy because we are prioritizing quality over quantity at the moment to get this relevant feedback. We have seen a conversion rate of between five to ten percent of these active users, and indeed it needs to improve.
Once we validate our solution, we can scale and go for the volume of potential users that will come when we have the right set of functionalities.
3) What should be the marketing strategy for apps in a crowded sector like productivity?
Yeah, I think the type of collaboration we've had with you has also helped us a lot to boost the number of users and our traction in the early days. I recommend being featured and reviewed by somebody with authority in the market, like MobileAppDaily. I think that's one channel that gives you the boost you need and greatly helps you.
This is the case for us with SEO as well, you know, to be easily found by people looking for new solutions, and given that you provide a score that gives credibility to the app or the product you are putting in the market.
Then the other one is to leverage your existing user base through reviews and feedback they leave on the different app marketplaces. Because that brings not only the number but also the quality of users. Now, if you have a five-star review, it gives you credibility and brings better users.
4) Could you tell us the impact MobileAppDaily had on your app, especially in the early phases? Could you give us a picture of that in terms of numbers?
Yeah, we have reached more than 1500 downloads in these first three months. And I have to say that at least 30 percent of them came through the feature article on MobileAppDaily. Also, I'm very happy about sharing this experience because this collaboration has been very smooth, and I must say it was very nice and professional. I would say one-third of the downloads and pretty much also between one-fourth and one-third of our active users are still people who came from MobileAppDaily.
5) As a founder, what has been one or some of the key challenges that you've had to sort of navigate?
Because my background was in finance, I was very comfortable working with spreadsheets and presenting numbers. But preparing a roadmap, doing customer interviews, or learning about platforms and codes was a bit challenging. Setting up a team was also another challenge for me. When I had to recruit my co-founder for the CTO role, it was a nice experience because I had to talk to different people to learn.
But I think learning to set up a team and what it takes to launch a tech product is probably one of the two biggest challenges that I have faced.
6) Were there any certain sources, materials, or places that you sort of went to learn about launching a Tech product?
You can pretty much find every piece of information on the internet. But what was very helpful for me was when I joined a startup boot camp from the Founder Institute. It was a 3 to 4 months online program.
That boot camp is when I got most of my guidance on how to structure my thought process to ensure that I was tackling or taking the right steps at the right moment. Leveraging my network and joining a boot camp provided a lot of guidance and mentorship from seasoned founders. These are probably the two biggest sources of knowledge and insights.
7) If someone was entering Tech as a founder or creating a digital product, what would you recommend them to sort of start off with?
Talk to as many people as possible; use your network. If you believe that your network is not very broad or large, start working on building a network. I always tell people that you will be surprised to know how many people would be willing to help you, even if they are third-degree contacts on LinkedIn.
If you ask politely and are also very direct in your request, you will be surprised to see that people are very open to giving a few minutes to share valuable advice. Then the other thing is just go for it if you feel like entrepreneurship is an arena or a path you want to follow. You will make mistakes, but even the most experienced people still make mistakes, so just go for it and give it a try.
8) So, if you were to go back and launch Silentus again, would there be anything that you would now do differently?
As I said before, now we have more clarity on our go-to-market strategy, but at the beginning, that was not very clear. We were testing here and there, and perhaps sometimes, when you have the budget for marketing, you think, I can go for the obvious - pay for an Instagram ad or create some noise through reels or try TikTok, etc. But if your niche is not there, it's pointless.
I would say one mistake we made was not having that clarity since the very beginning, and perhaps now I would spend more time thinking about the go-to-market strategy that best fits our needs.
9) What made you pick procrastination as a key problem your product aims to solve?
We have identified that people are equipped with the solutions and want to start with their focus mode. However, the biggest challenge that we received as a piece of feedback is what happens during the focus time, what happens with my accountability, what happens with my motivation and engagement, or with being time consistent. The most famous example of time inconsistency is procrastination. So what about fighting and beating procrastination? That's the biggest piece of feedback that we have received.
That's why we want to talk about and go for a smart solution for that problem and provide our users with a tool that clarifies what they need to achieve and by when. It's not only providing them with a to-do list or just a goal-setting tool. Anybody can set goals - you can say - I want to work 10000 steps, but if there is no clarity or you don't know what you really need to achieve that goal, you end up procrastinating.
So we want to focus on that, and that's where we want to be different. We are not talking about just one more to-do list or goal-tracking tool. We are very specific on ‘let's fight and beat procrastination’.
10) So, when you say freelancers, who are we talking about in terms of your target audience?
We majorly target high-skilled freelancers like copywriters, graphic designers, translators, project managers, or even accountants. People who work for multiple clients with strict deadlines are our user archetype.
But we also understand that these problems that we want to solve are also applicable to employees. So as part of our future plans, first, we want to validate our solution in the B2C market with these high-skilled freelancers. We also see the potential to scale our solution for organizations that are serious about their employees' well-being.
11) I think two weeks back, you presented your app pitch in front of a jury, so what tips do you have for founders on presenting a product pitch in front of investors?
One tip that I can share is to be clear on what problem you want to solve and how your product works. That's one thing that I have learned. The problem is usually easier to explain and understand, but how you will do that and how your product works is usually a bit more challenging.
Not because you are creating something fancy or difficult to explain, but sometimes we get so much in love with the product that we know how it works, but that doesn't mean that people will also understand how it works. So that's the challenge to clearly explain what problem you are solving and how your product works to solve that problem.
If you nail those two areas, then the money will automatically flow. That's also feedback that I received from the jury that day, but it was a nice experience overall.
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