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Make Working Remote More Human

By Irma Mesa

I am a Product Manager and love solving customer problems. I wanted to bring my experience in remote work to a product that could bring remote workers closer together through conversation.

I love coffee, especially Cafecito, and being from Miami, FL (where Cuban culture is strong) coffee always brought me together with amazing mentors, friends, and clients. I am hoping Cafecito does the same for you.

How did you come up with the idea for Cafecito?

In 2017, I was living in Miami, FL working as a Product Manager, and I was itching to move to a new city. So, I pitched my company to let me work remotely from another city and that brought me to Indianapolis, IN. I found myself in a new city, not knowing anyone but my partner and her friends, and 1,000+ miles away from the rest of my co-workers. I looked around during my second month of working from home and started to realize that this was how it was going to be - it was going to be quite lonely and wondered why there wasn’t a solution to help solve isolation and support remote workers make that transition and long-term living as a remote worker a healthy one.

Did you start the venture alone?

Yes. From the beginning, I was on it alone trying to solve and conduct research around customer problems. Now, I have a small but mighty team helping us carry out our impact and work to solve social isolation and overall improve remote work.

How did you manage uncertainty in early stages of business? Were you ready to pivot if needed? Did you keep it a very lean MVP?

I took it day by day as much as I could. You can plan out your roadmap for a year, but unfortunately, you may learn something new tomorrow, and it can completely change. In February when I launched the beta for Cafecito, I did so as a local way to meet remote workers in my city, Indianapolis. Due to COVID, a few weeks later we completely pivoted. I was not ready for that! But I changed the copy on my site from local to virtual, and that was it! I was then able to open up the floodgates to signups from all over the world and that brought us to where we are today. We're able to impact so many more people. In terms of my MVP, it was quite lean - we had Airtable for signups and matching and Zapier for a few automations and that was it!

What advice would you give to other founders just starting to build a company?

Don't rush it and take your time. It may seem like the world and your competitors are moving faster and they probably are but if you rush you may fail. You'll miss details or you'll forget to talk to customers. So, I'd say to take it day by day, have a bigger vision of where you'd like to go which is your North Star, and find 1 or 2 other folks who can help during your research and development process.

Have you ever failed at anything? If so, how did you handle it and what did you learn?

Yes, I fail all the time! It's all part of the learning experience. I've failed at releasing features that users actually want at times, and I've also failed during some of my pitches. It sucks but it's helped me get better as a founder and as a team member. Each failure prepares for what comes next in business, product, discovery, finance, and more.

Is it possible to build a successful company without burning out or damaging other parts of your life(family, health, etc.)?

It's hard to give all these areas 100% at the same. So it's a matter of balance and intention. If you intentionally create boundaries and create time for family, health, relationships, business, etc. then it's going to be a tiny bit easier. Also, remember to make time for YOU in that equation.

How has COVID-19 challenged you as an entrepreneur and how are you overcoming those challenges?

Ooo great question! COVID-19 has been a huge challenge and at the same time a blessing. COVID-19 is not something to take lightly, in my opinion, and the amount of people that have suffered is out of this world and unfortunate. I'm happy that Cafecito was able to help some of these folks whether through conversation and a small break from reality, with a new job, or with sales for their products. In terms of what’s been challenging for me, it's been balancing how much noise to make knowing people are busy and overwhelmed. So, it's allowed me to learn how to analyze, think, and plan a bit better rather than being rash and sending an email campaign without being thoughtful of the people on the other end who are receiving it. Another big thing is mentally, COVID-19 has challenged me a ton. Trying to overcome stress and anxiety through meditation as of recently which has helped but even more than that remember there are other people in the world and connecting with them on my own platform has been a huge win for me to get out of my head and help others.

Has your business made you happier and more fulfilled in life, compared to how you felt before starting it?

100%! I can foresee many opportunities that I can reach in the future and that excites me! Working on a product and business that makes me happy and it being something that I'm passionate about getting out into the world is amazing.

What impact do you want to have? Is your startup objective "getting rich" or "changing the world"? Is control or success more important?

I want to make a more connected and less isolated world. And when I say connected, I mean connected at the human level instead of 500 LinkedIn connections. We live in a time where everything is transactional, and so, that experience of starting off with a human connection, knowledge sharing, which then leads to a hire, a referral or a new friend is gone. And we want to fix that long-term not only for remote workers but for many, many people.

We encourage you to give Cafecito a try! It may be able to make the isolated feeling from working remotely a bit more bearable during these trying times.

Cafecito’s Twitter

Irma’s LinkedIn

Irma’s Twitter

If you are interested in beginning or continuing your journey as an entrepreneur, visit Uncrowd.io and create a profile. By creating a profile, you can join the community and begin to use other founders and resources as you continue your founder journey. When the time is right for you and your company, you can use Uncrowd.io as a resource to find funding for your company! If you are interested in telling your founder story, email us at adam@uncrowd.io.