This week Product of Society has the great opportunity of introducing a scrupulous entrepreneur Fede Torre. Fede, who graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is CEO & founder of the increasingly popular mobile app Elepago. Via ‘Q & A’ , Product of Society explores the making of Elepago and some of the trials one may face when making a new startup company.
Starting a business at a young age is pretty impressive, when did you decide you wanted to start your own business?
“My senior year at Princeton, I pretty much decided I wanted to go back to Mexico to start a business. I finalized this decision when I rejected a generous job offer. I saw Mexico as a place of great opportunity, where I could have a greater impact. After graduating from Princeton University in May 2012, I moved down to Monterrey, Mexico.”
So how did you transition from being in America and taking your business to Mexico?
“I began studying the market, getting to know Mexico and the legal system. Pretty much just opened my eyes down here. Many things came up: from manufacturing inefficiencies, traditional business ideas, e-commerce, shipping price comparison, online payments, etc. Passionate about technology and startups, I naturally leaned towards an online, scalable business. After fruitlessly attempting to buy a flight on a Mexican companies website for over 45 minutes, I decided on [creating] something like PayPal. After getting to know the topic, I found there were tons of online middlemen operating in Mexico, including Paypal Mexico, DineroMail, MercadoPago, amongst many more. Looking to put my twist on it, I decided I would create my own company to leverage the cell phone. When I started talking to potential clients, I realized there was much greater value in paying by phone in person. Likewise, my company and I started looking in the retail market and eventually ended up finding the greatest value in restaurants.”
That’s pretty awesome, in Layman’s term could you describe your mobile app?
“Elepago is an app that allows you to follow your bill and divide the check from the comfort of your own phone. Tailored specifically for Mexico and Latin America, we ensure the greatest security to our users. As a free service, Elepago saves the user time and money.”
So if your mobile app is free, how is it lucrative?
“Where do we make money? We charge the merchants for the valuable services we offer them. Namely, processed information about their clients and interesting ways of leveraging it and interacting with their clients.”
Interesting, I know your company is fairly new, when did your begin and how has it grown since?
“We launched just over 4 months ago (October 2013) and have grown to 15 operating locations and over 2750 users (Feb 2014). “
Wow, that’s definitely very impressive! Viewing those statistics one would assume your journey thus far has been a pretty easy one; wouldn’t you say?
“The road has definitely not been an easy one. In the early days, you’re on an emotional roller coaster. One day you think you made it big — you are the great success you’ve always dreamed about. The next day you’ve never been more depressed in your life — why are you here? what is the end game? should you quit and get a job? As an entrepreneur you have to have the faith and determination to get through these tough times. (They aren’t easy — my girlfriend swore I became bipolar!) As you progress, you begin to iron out those oscillations and enjoy your progress.
As an entrepreneur, its important to see yourself as a scientist. Be smart. Know everything about your market, and THEN make a hypothesis. Share your idea and get feedback. There’s no reason not to learn from mistakes others have made!! Once you know everything about your field, make and begin to test your hypothesis. As is natural, you will not always be right! Once you launch, constantly look for feedback from your clients and users. Acknowledge what you did right and learn from what you did wrong. Its important to put your pride behind you; you need to put it all on the line. People may laugh at you, better yet they will! You will be embarrassed. But that is how you grow. If you dont get out of your comfort zone, you cannot grow.”
Great insight! You mentioned that as an entrepreneur one will become embarrassed at times; do you have an examples of such? Moreover, how did it affect your present day notions?
“I have one excellent personal example. When we first launched, we had 4 locations. We had installed 3 and were ready for the 4th. It was a younger crowd, bar-type place. I invited all my friends to go on that Friday. I was wearing an Elepago t-shirt and going table to table offering Elepago. I was showing them how it worked and we had about 10 tables using it! It was great. UNTIL, it stopped working. The server had crashed (we didnt know until an hour later). It was the worst feeling. All my friends came up to me telling me it wasnt updating, one guy paid and the payment confirmation didnt go through, etc. All the worst things you can imagine — and me facing them with my Elepago t-shirt. ——- I can assure you, the server will never crash again. That lesson is now learned.”
Excellent example! Do you have any last words for future entrepreneurs?
” The last words of advice are 4 quick phrases to help you start.
1. Visualize your goal
2. Know everything about your industry
3. Do whatever it takes.
4. Start today.”
Product of Society would like to wish Fede Torre, and his company Elepago, the best of luck in their future endeavors. We hope one will be able to learn from the provided information. Moreover, we hope you download and spread the word of this innovative mobile app. Apps such as Elepago are helping to revolutionize the way one can pay for their respective purchases in many spanish speaking countries; especially in Mexico and Latin America.