Simon Vielma is the co-founder and CEO of Bidwise, which helps e-commerce sites increase sales through its commerce advertising platform that delivers ads based on users’ shopping intent.
Tell us about the early days of Bidwise.
The founding team was very talented. I met my co-founder and CTO online while he was living in another country and he eventually ended up moving to Miami which is where I lived. We already had experienced modest success doing affiliate marketing, so we had some degree of confidence that we could build a company and a technology that could help online retailers sell more online. That’s how the idea was born and I think that’s how most successful companies get started. You identify a problem that you can fix for yourself and then figure that you can help others solve the same problem (think Amazon Web Services).
Gaining traction is not easy, but if you have a capable team, you’ll continue to adjust and pivot until you get something going. The hard part is to do it with so few resources. When you are bootstrapped, there is only so much pain you can handle as far as not getting a salary and going into debt in order to fund operations. Fortunately, we were able to raise around $120,000 from friends and family. These were all people who couldn’t afford to lose their investment so I had to personally guarantee it, and also structure the deal in a way that it won’t take forever for them to get their capital back, so it was basically a high interest loan. We have since then paid all of our investors back.
We have generated over $100 million in GMV for our partners since our founding. We made the Inc. 500 list in 2019 of America’s fastest-growing private companies, and we’ve accomplished all of this with a super small and nimble team.