Guest author, Marian Mangoubi of Sassy CEO wrote this week's guest author piece.
Ambar Frausto, founder of Posy, an event planning web-based solution, is someone who knows what she wants out of life and goes after it with gusto. Growing up in the suburbs outside Chicago, she dreamed of the day she could move to the city. When she turned 18, she did just that. Then, as she entered her senior year of college, she dropped to pursue her own business ventures along with her husband.
“I felt like life and opportunities were flying by and wanted to take as much advantage of them as possible”, she said.
Her most recent venture, Posy, epitomizes this.
So how did she come up with the idea for Posy? Ever have an idea come to you out of the blue? Something that once you think of it, you can’t forget it until you act on it? That’s exactly what happened to Frausto.
She was browsing the wedding planning section at Barnes and Nobles one day, hoping for ideas and inspiration on how she would plan her own wedding. You see, she is a self-proclaimed DIY-er who finds making things herself to be very gratifying. She was immediately awe-struck by “the complexity and variety of wedding planning books that seemed more like inventions than guides”. Then she saw it – a massive, 250 + page wedding planning book. She was taken by the size of it.
“I remember laughing in disbelief at how complicated it was”, she explains, “like how in the world are you supposed to lug this thing around”?
Frausto kept thinking that there had to be a better way to help brides. As she headed home, inspiration struck. She found herself thinking, “I could make something better, something that didn’t require a crane”. And so she set to work on developing Posy, an event planning web-based solution.
For some people the idea of building out such a product may be overwhelming, but not Frausto. She has always loved challenges. As a child, her curiosity often got the better of her. She would take things like calculators apart just to see how they looked and worked inside. She now uses that curiosity and love of learning new things to her advantage by coming up with new business ideas that she and her husband build out under their holding company, Frosty Mashmallow.
Posy though is her first venture under Frosty Marshmallow that she started and is currently running on her own. She decided to fly solo because she wanted to find out “what it was like to handle it all, to challenge myself, to learn and grow”. Frausto is getting her wish, as she’s finding the experience to be everything she hoped for and more.
In December 2010, Frausto launched a private beta version of the app. She personally reached out to and invited 100 event planners, public relations companies and wedding planners to participate.
“It’s amazing the kind of response you get, when you’re honest and to the point”, she said.
After about two and a half months, the web-based solution is now moving out of private beta. The process of building the app though has not always been smooth. She encountered some obstacles along the way including one that many of us struggle with – learning to get out of our own way. She is a perfectionist who loves endless possibilities. These traits got the best of her during the ideation and design process. When this happened though, she turned to the entrepreneurial community for help.
As Frausto shared her ideas and got feedback from other entrepreneurs, she realized that she was impeding her business’ growth. She was getting caught up in the details while working on the mockups. This then held up the process for building out the live app. She decided to break herself of these traits. Not an easy fete. But she knew she needed to do it.
Once Frausto took a step back, worked with her developer to simplify and clean up the code, and started listening to her potential users’ needs, things started to run smoother. Her beta users shared with her how the app would be more valuable if she expanded its use to include all events rather than solely focusing on weddings. She listened, and worked closely with her developer to make these changes.
“I realized that there's a more direct line to success when the solutions and updates come directly from feedback, [as] the releases are [then] more valuable for everyone”, she shared.
Now that the app is built, she faces a new set of challenges – how to spread the word. Finding and converting those first few customers is crucial for any startup. A good customer experience can make or break you. She is tapping into her network and hopes to use word-of-mouth to build a momentum.
“Success is founded on great customer experiences”, she believes, “and that will naturally lead to other great products, expansion and eventually new ventures”.
Frausto is now putting her time and energy into ensuring that her customers are happy, and enjoying each new challenge that arises. This experience has been invaluable for her. She has come to understand herself better and where her strengths and weaknesses lie. As such, we are eager to watch Posy grow.