Cătălin Meșter, CEO of Voxa, has a good relationship with failure. Difficult situations are the ones that help you grow, learn, discover new perspectives. The milestones were the ones that gave him the impetus on his path to entrepreneurship. Cătălin used failure as a springboard and blockages as an opportunity for change. He even created a movement called I Love Failure, which focuses on changing the relationship with failure in the world.
In fact, Cătălin is only involved in projects that resonate with his system of values, otherwise he would not have the determination to take them where they should be. That’s how he created it Voxaan application through which users have access to audiobooks & e-books: out of the desire to do something important and new on the Romanian book market.
“The challenges were many, we wanted to go on the market in a relatively short time, with a quality application to the Audible or Scribd standard. Another problem was the skepticism of the big Romanian publishing houses for audiobooks, audiobooks are still being produced “At a very slow pace. Since the official launch, on November 5, we have seen an explosion of people using the application and we have sincerely underestimated how great the need for such an application was in Romania”, says Cătălin.
He launched Voxa into a pandemic after a year of non-stop work. The market reaction showed that the Romanian public was ready for audiobooks.
With 18 years of experience in entrepreneurship & design, Cătălin has learned that the most important thing in any business is to be a good person and put your pride aside. In his opinion, a good entrepreneur is first and foremost a good person, who can inspire the community and help it to grow, to be stronger.
In the within the series Creative Powersupported by BT, Cătălin talks about the need to change the perception of Romanians towards failure, about power, the challenges of entrepreneurship and how important the team is in growing a business, in any field.
The most interesting chapters on entrepreneurship
Honestly, the moments when you’re downstairs, when you failed blatantly mattered a lot to get here, I used them as a springboard. Reading has helped a lot to change the internal dialogue when it comes to me or business and last but not least family, mentors and the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Hmm, one very, very important one was when I was in Timisoara and things were not going well at all, I was in a blockage from all points of view and I decided to go on the road and make a major change, even though I didn’t have money. I threw away all the things that didn’t fit in a bag (that’s how I became minimalist), I had a lot of things accumulated, but even today I don’t know what I threw away 🙂 I didn’t have a laptop then. I was 28 years old and I removed the motherboard from the case to fit in my bag and started everything with a screwdriver.
I did not have a destination and I chose Brașov, my direction being Vama Veche.
Another important moment was when I landed in Vama Veche at the age of 30 and was sitting in a tent. I got there on May 1st and stayed until September 15th and to my surprise it was one of the best and most interesting periods of my life, although I didn’t have any lions and I was technically homeless.
What mission did you start Voxa with?
First of all, lately I only get involved in projects that relate to my value system, otherwise I don’t think I would have the perseverance to take them where I need to go.
The story Voxa it’s an interesting one, I had just failed with an application that involved books, it was called Bookups where people created ad-hoc physical meetings to discuss books, in the press it was called “tinder with books”. Then came the pandemic and everything that involved events fell through. By chance I met Dan Vidrascu, CEO of Litera and ex-CEO of elefant.ro and he showed me this opportunity, as there is no serious application for audiobooks in Romanian in Romania. It was an opportunity to do something very important for the Romanian book market. With my entrepreneurial experience of tech & user products and his publishing experience, I set out and created Storis which was then rebranded Voxa.
Challenges from the beginning
The challenges were many, we wanted to go on the market in a relatively short time (a few months) with a quality application to the Audible or Scribd standard. Lack of money was a problem, but we managed to attract investors right from the first functional prototypes and that helped a lot. Another problem was the skepticism of the big Romanian publishing houses for audiobooks, audiobooks are still being produced at a very slow pace. Since the official launch, on November 5, we have seen an explosion of people using the application and we have sincerely underestimated how great the need for such an application was in Romania.
Goals for 2022
The plans and objectives are to grow as much as possible with an expansion in Moldova, a constantly improved experience of consuming digital books and attracting a catalog as large and diverse as possible.
The application is ready for regional expansion when necessary and we are ready with the content. In terms of content, I’ve noticed that book summaries have grown.
The first step is to improve the listening experience and the quality of the audiobooks.
Satisfaction. Hard times
The greatest satisfaction was the successful launch of the Voxa application after almost a year of non-stop work and its adoption in the market. There are hard times every day, I have a very good relationship with failure, I even created a movement called I Love Failure that focuses on changing the relationship with failure in the world.
On a normal day in a startup not many things come out and if you are lucky some come out, if you do not have a good relationship with failure you risk being in a negative mood all day and this is transmitted to the world around and in all the interactions you have.
What motivates you
The projects I choose must resonate with me, with my values, as well as the people I work with. I try to attract nice people with positive energy and little pride. Entrepreneurship in one form or another has been with me since I was a child, I saw what freedom it can offer, especially to someone like me, more rebellious like that.
Routine that works
Waking up during the week is at 6:00 to have time for me and to do deep work until the normal schedule with calls and problems starts. It is important for me to exercise, meditate and write my morning thoughts in a notebook. Another important routine is to close the day – not to let your problems take up your free time in the evening.
In the product creation stage, honestly, I worked nonstop. You have to juggle a thousand things, manage the team and you are only investing or own resources and this puts more pressure on you. I know that free time comes with the stabilization of processes and the more precise definition of positions, but you can also take time off, especially if the quality of decisions deteriorates.
It is important to respect the life-work balance of the team and not to stress the world outside the program or on your personal phone only in critical situations.
The challenges are many, especially scaling Voxa. I want to evolve more as a leader, I noticed that people are motivated by the product, but they go to a totally different level if they have ownership, if they are appreciated and respected, they have to feel that you are on their side.
The entrepreneurial environment in Romania
It is a major change, entrepreneurs are increasingly educated in business through all sorts of very nice acceleration programs, more and more diversified investors (angels, crowdfunding, vc).
There is always room for improvement, one thing that has been missing in the last year has been the physical social events where you connect with other entrepreneurs, mentors and investors.
“Be a good person” and try to empathize with those you work with to feel that you are on their side.
Learn to give feedback: it is important to mention what is going well 🙂
Be humble no matter what position you have, leave your ego at the door.
What does power mean to you?
When it comes to digital products (and not only), power is always in the hands of the consumer, of the ordinary person whose need you solve, do not forget this and you are OK. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
How can we empower Romania
Romanian entrepreneurs need to be educated and supported, especially when they fail. We need to change the mindset about failure in school. #ilovefailure
The power to create. The power to move on. The power to stand up, to find new resources, to push the boundaries. The power to innovate. Power is of many kinds, but it has one thing in common: the engine that transforms things, the energy that makes them possible. In the series Creative Powermade in partnership with BT, we talk to those people who, through the businesses created, their inspiration and determination, give strength to others, to the surrounding communities and, together, give strength to Romania.
The stories of those who give strength and confidence to Romania.
Source: IQads by www.iqads.ro.
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