Startup Success as a Non-Technical Founder with Lizia Santos of Citycatt

Summary of Episode

#2: Startup founder Lizia Santos joins Annaka and Ethan to discuss how she created a community of travel influencers, or catts, to help tourists find authentic and local experiences while traveling. Lizia discusses validating business models, pivoting, and raising a family while building a business. Additionally, Lizia shares her insights on mentorship, startup incubators, and why now is the perfect time to start your own business.

Lizia Santos is the founder and CEO of Citycatt, a platform that helps travelers discover authentic experiences through the help of local guides (known as catts). Lizia previously worked as a journalist and used her research skills, along with her family’s experience in the hospitality industry, to create Citycatt and build a world-wide community of influencers that are ready to help travelers explore.

Full Episode Transcript

Podcast Episode Notes

Who is Lizia Santos, and why did she start her travel-focused company Citycatts? [1:00]

Finding authentic, unique, and family-friendly things to do while traveling is a problem [4:10]

What are catts? Building a community of local guides for travelers [7:27]

Validating a business model and learning to pivot in order to overcome early challenges  [11:37]

Focus on solving the problem, and be open to exploring various solutions [15:00]

Finding experts, and building a good team that can cover your bases [16:23]

Seeking help, discovering available resources for startups, and joining the WIN Lab (a startup accelerator at Babson College) [20:05]

Measuring success using KPIs that matter while avoiding vanity metrics [23:52]

How to scale a company and Citycatt’s future [27:30]

Pivoting and adjusting a business focused on travel during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic [32:50]

Building company culture and adding a personal touch while scaling [36:22]

What is it like working with family members?  [39:40]

Mentoring other early-stage founders and finding resources for startups. We all have strengths to contribute, and mindset is everything [42:01]

Find a mentor who had been down your path yet is still relevant to your experience [46:03]

The magic formula for creating work-life balance — well … it probably doesn’t exists [48:42]

The Key to creating a successful startup according to Lizia? Stop spending so much time planning, and start tackling problems. [52:59]

Building community for your team is both an important and elaborate task [56:00]

Lizia’s ‘first citycatt’ may have been a family member [1:02:45]

Just for fun — Lizia’s difficult travel story: Lost in an Ohio corn field, stuck in a New York snow storm, and a crash course on Midwestern geography  [1:04:10]

Lizia’s advice for other entrepreneurs: Focus on your pain point and build your team; do not get tunnel vision focusing on one solution. Be flexible and obsess over the problem you are trying to solve. [1:05:55]

How to help Citycatt — Plan a trip with Citycatt’s platform! Or, consider becoming a catt, hiring a catt, or refering a catt. [1:10:25]

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