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My name is Marcela Kashiwagi, 24 years old, the co-founder of Cabe na Mala.

Two years ago, I was about to travel to Boston when some of my friends started requesting stuff from abroad like t-shirts, perfumes, make up kits, gadgets and similar things. That was not the first time this has happened. The problem is, they’re asking a favor. Fine, they are my friends. But then friends of friends began requesting items. Sometimes, I also requests from friends or family, who otherwise would take even longer to get the items I want. So, it’s really difficult to explain why you can’t make that favor for everybody.

In Boston, I went to Babson College to take the course “Building a high growth business.”  Beyond the networking, the amazing classes and all the new experiences, I learned the lesson: “Sell your product as soon as you can. Try to make money from the first day.” Back in Brazil, I launched my first company, a digital marketing agency named Slapp Solutions. But the idea of creating a service that could solve my original problem kept running in my mind and I started to think how we could get some kind of reward for requesting something without feeling guilty for asking friends or family for it.

So I started to work on the idea with Ana Paula Lessa, also a co-founder of Slapp Solutions. But the digital agency was growing, and with all those jobs coming we procrastinate for almost 2 years. Then we suddenly we heard about Startup Weekend Rio event at that moment and we decided to go.

From December 7-9, I had one of the best experiences of my life. As soon I arrived, I could feel the energy of everyone. They were not there to compete, they went there to learn, help each other, make new friends and, of course, get started with some amazing startups.

Ana Paula made the pitch on Friday night and our idea was one of the few who garnered the most votes during the selection of startup ideas. This one and her great outgoing personality brought 5 more talents to our team. Within 54 hours we already have settled which way to go; We got great advice from mentors about topics we hadn’t figured out before and developed our prototype. Then all of a sudden, the idea we dreamed for so long just came to life – a social network connecting travelers and locals with the purpose of trading items, offering and receiving rewards, and making arrangements for people to meet in person and share experiences. 

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After this great time we decided to go on with a big step forward. It took one month until we finally transformed that prototype into a beta version. Then on the 9th of January we launched it. 

Now, one month after the launch, we have more than 3,000 users and over 100 transactions completed. So, the idea of earning almost at the same time we launched says we are taking the right trail and that we found our market-fit.

I decided to move to Silicon Valley looking for new ideas, sharing experiences, meeting new people, bringing new talents to the team and getting our first investment to scale.

 Of course, I’m still in the process of learning a lot more about our business by developing, testing and getting feedback. 

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Claire Topalian Claire Topalian
(@clairetopalian) Blog, Professional Writing, Communications and PR Specialist. I craft compelling, mission-driven content for companies and individuals that amplifies brand awareness, fosters community, and drives engagement. My experience includes work with tech startups, major corporations, and international non-profits. @clairetopalian