Interview by Allison Grinberg-Funes
Your app Croissant was recently featured on Product Hunt. Can you tell us more about the app and how it came to be?
The initial idea for Croissant actually came to my team and me when we were all working on a completely different startup idea. We could never find a good place to do work together in the city. We were frustrated with coffee shops (crowded, uncomfortable, and overall just not ideal for productivity) but at the same time did not want to spend hundreds of dollars per person at a co-working space that we just wanted to use 1–2 times a week. So when we randomly went to TechCrunch Disrupt hackathon (we went for fun since we love hackathons!), we looked to our current frustrations for inspiration on what to build. And of course, we thought of the coffee shop struggle. We ended up prototyping an app to rent a seat per hour at any coffee shop. So that was our Croissant MVP. When we presented our project on stage, TechCrunch thought it was so interesting that they wrote an article on it, which got a lot of positive attention. So much so that we started to realize that this was a frustration that others had as well, and there might actually be a business here. We pivoted a few weeks later to co-working spaces, and the rest is history!
You only learned to code 2 years ago. What sparked your decision to learn how to code and what was that process like?
I was working as a marketer at an agency for a couple years after graduating college. It wasn’t what I loved doing, but I was decent at it. I had reached a point in my life where I started to feel too comfortable. Yes, I had friends to meet and go eat with. And yes, I had good work/life balance. But I felt like I could be doing so much more with my life. I didn’t feel like I was reaching my potential. So I started learning how to code! At that point, I just thought it would be a useful tool for my line of work. I was a little familiar with HTML and CSS already, and tried to teach myself web development. That was mostly through online tutorials and forums. Luckily, a few of my close friends in New York were also skilled developers, so they helped me focus and come up with personal projects in order to “learn by doing.”
As I continued learning, something inside me clicked. All of a sudden, I started coming up with all these random app ideas. The beautiful part was the realization that I could actual make these ideas into a reality. I didn’t need permission — I just needed to figure out how to code it. Suddenly, I felt so much creative empowerment that I honestly had never felt before.
Today, I mostly work on design and marketing for Croissant, but I will always credit coding with unleashing in me the desire to create.
What have you learned from becoming a founder that you can share with others?
So many learnings! A recent, and very big learning for me is realizing that being a founder is a marathon and I need to truly treat it like one. For a while, I was pushing through everything and trying to work as hard as I could all the time. I was not eating healthy and not getting enough sleep and exercise. This led to me feeling overwhelmed and stressed out constantly. I finally stopped to examine what I was doing with my life and realized something needed to change or I would burn out soon. So, I started to put more structure in my life in order to manage my energy better. I downloaded Headspace. I stopped checking my phone first thing in the morning. I made time to journal at the end of the day. I reflected on what would make me happy, regardless of what other people think.
I think it’s key to make time for yourself. Because I need to be happy and healthy in order for my company to be happy and healthy.