Interview With Timur Chernenko
Describe your product or service:
“Gurucan is a mobile-first workspace for creators to run knowledge businesses.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Mobile learning is a new default for the student learning experience. Online education should be available anytime, anywhere, for anybody.
Knowledge is one tap away on any smartphone around the globe!”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“FFF round — $250,000.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“We are distributed team of seven. Timur and Julia are life partners, covering the roles of CEO and CMO. We also have a full-time CTO and customers support agents. Recently our mentor from 500 startups, Timur Daudpota, joined the advisory board of Gurucan.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“We ourselves faced all of those problems launching a mobile cohort-based fitness challenge back in 2019. Trying to build a mobile platform with contracted developers, we spent $50,000 and eight months, tons of communication stress, and sleepless nights, but we didn't get the product we wanted. Timur, being an entrepreneur since graduation, continuously learns from any experience. There was no other way than to find a key to fix all the mess and help creators all around the world!
That's why we created Gurucan.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“At first we thought about naming as ‘Can Guru,’ referencing that everybody is a ‘Guru’ (can teach something) and everybody ‘Can’ (make their knowledge a source of income).
[Because] ‘Can Guru’ has a lot of references with ‘kangaroo,’ there were no available domains, and a lot of info on the web.
So we brainstormed and came up with ‘Gurucan.’”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“[I’ve been] an entrepreneur since graduation. I think my perfectionism and fear of routine drove me to the idea to become an entrepreneur.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“[There were] plenty of them. As a startup, you always work with uncertainty. There was a story when we acquired a few hundred customer in week, after COVID-19 started. We thought it was a success and started expanding the team, then we realised it was a panic decision for a lot of clients, and they didn’t want to change or hybrid their project in long term. We spent resources to onboard and educate customers, that actually weren’t our target audience.
After that, we figured out how to say no to some clients … and planned our budget and team expansion more carefully.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Our target market is creators, who monetise their knowledge in the form of course memberships with a ‘mobile-first’ focus.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“SEO and affiliate marketing are the basics of our strategy.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“We cold email them, write comparable articles with competitors, and do a few PPC campaigns.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“MRR, GMV of our creators, and retentions rate.”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“It is much more joyful than I expect.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I work with my wife, so it brings me a good balance.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“Meditation and sports.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Pareto rules (80/20) always trying to focus on big impact tasks and decisions. Don't wait too long; execute and test it.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“I was a flower shop salesman (night shift). It is important to sleep well to be efficient.”
More on Gurucan
Timur Chernenko, founder of SaaS startup Gurucan, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.