Her road to success hadn’t been easy at all, Natasia Malaihollo revealed in her ‘Secrets to a Successful Start-Up’ webinar. The third in our series of Bacarita dari Timur webinars, it was broadcast live on Saturday 30th August. At a different time than the previous two webinars, this one was early for those on the European continent, but we still saw a few familiar faces who had stayed up to listen to the achievements of this resilient entrepreneur. Natasia’s story was, in fact, the perfect example of the American Dream come true.
Another Anak Maluku, Natasia Malaihollo was born in Ambon and at the age of two, her family moved to Los Angeles, California. A graduate of Berkeley University she majored in Computer Science and Legal Studies and got a job as a patent specialist in Silicon Valley, the undisputed global centre of Technology, Innovation and Social Media.
For most people, working in Silicon Valley would have been the ultimate goal, but Natasha moved to the East Coast, where she went to Law School and continued to work as a patent specialist. Far away from her family and friends, she found it hard to find her way around the place. Anyone else in that situation would perhaps have joined a gym, or a club to meet other people. Natasia, however, decided to start a company and designed a social media app called Sooligan that was specially designed to help college students find their way in a new place.
When some investors
from Arkansas saw her potential, she took a leap of faith, dropped out of law
school, quit her job and moved to yet another state. Unfortunately, after two
years the company folded and Natasia realised with hindsight, that she should have
collected more feedback from her Sooligan app users, as no one signed up for the app anymore.
Most of us would see this as a failure, but like a phoenix, she rose again, learnt from her previous mistakes, and had the courage to start another company. Based on her Sooligan app experiences, she realised that there was a gap in the market, so she created Wyzerr. A server company that gamified surveys; a fun, fast, easy, and exciting way to get feedback from people. In the USA it’s common for a company to send out a survey after you have purchased something. Most of them are long and tedious, Wyzerr, however, was not.
But it was hard to get investors, and when she was about to give up, she got a phone call. A complete stranger told her to go to Detroit to introduce Wyzerr at a pitch competition. Natasia didn’t win the cash prize of US$25K, but did find an investor who offered her US$50K, with the proviso that she moved the company to Cincinnati.
People kept wanting to invest in Wyzerr and in no time, she had raised US$2 Million, enough to hire 17 people.
The company grew and Walmart (based in Arkansas), became its first customer. Other big names like Google, Facebook, PayPal, Disney and McDonald’s soon followed. Nowadays over 2200 companies in more than 53 countries (including Indonesia), use the app.
In June 2020, another dream came true for Natasia when Popcom announced the acquisition of Wyzerr. It meant that she could still run her company, but without the headaches of a business owner. It had finally paid off, because she never stopped believing in herself and had an unrelenting faith in God. She stayed focused, listened to experienced business mentors, and never gave up. As she said: “For every 99 Nos that you get, you finally get one Yes!”
If you have missed Natasia's webinar or want to watch it again, click on this link. Our next webinar will be with Pak Doni Monardo on Friday 11th September 2020 at 16:00hrs WIT.