Olympia · Victoria Loskutova & Obie Fernandez

From idea to 5-figure ARR: Inside Olympia's journey to revolutionize businesses with AI-powered teams

March 12, 2024
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  • Victoria Loskutova & Obie Fernandez
  • Mexico City, Mexico
  • Started in 2023
  • 5 figures revenue
  • 100+ customers
  • 1500+ newsletter subscribers
  • 4500 monthly visitors
  • Bootstrapped
  • Olympia.chat

What's your backstory?

Hello, I'm Victoria. My journey began in the heart of Ukraine, in the town of Kremenchuk. From a young age, I was a curious child with a thirst for knowledge and a desire to explore beyond the familiar. My schooling years were marked by a love for the English language, which opened my eyes to the vast world beyond our borders.

As a teenager, my dreams were filled with visions of bustling cities and distant lands, each whispering tales of diverse cultures and ways of life. This yearning for exploration was so strong that, despite initially following my peers into a local economics institute, I quickly realized my heart lay elsewhere. I organized events and contributed to the student newspaper, where an editor saw in me a potential that I had yet to recognize. Her suggestion that I was meant for journalism struck a chord, setting me on a path of discovery.

Determined to chase my dreams, I left to study journalism in Kharkiv, Eastern Ukraine. My family unexpectedly supported my decision to move there. My time in Kharkiv was a transformative experience, not just academically but also in shaping my future. Before I even had the chance to graduate, an opportunity arose that I couldn't ignore—an invitation to join one of Ukraine's most beloved radio stations in Kyiv. So as soon as I received my diploma, I left for the capital, Kyiv, to kickstart my career.

Embracing the belief that the world is full of endless possibilities, in about five years, circa 2015, I took a bold step beyond my homeland's borders to live out my youth's dreams. My adventures led me to the serene landscapes of Sri Lanka, where I managed hostels, immersing myself in the local culture and hospitality. The journey continued to China, where I had the rewarding experience of teaching English to children, opening their eyes to a world beyond their immediate surroundings. Seeking spiritual growth, I ventured to Nepal to delve into the practices of Buddhism and yoga, enriching my soul and broadening my perspective on life. Europe was next on my path, where I eventually made my home in Portugal. Here, I became engrossed in the vibrant startup and digital nomad scene, a testament to my ever-evolving journey of discovery and learning. Now, my life oscillates between the lively streets of Lisbon and the dynamic energy of Mexico City, where I am deeply involved in the tech world and continue to explore the startup ecosystem with a keen eye and an open heart.

What does your company do and how did you come up with the idea?

Olympia is revolutionizing how small businesses operate by providing them with AI-powered virtual teams, eliminating the need for extensive hiring. It was born out of personal frustration. I encountered a significant challenge with a human copywriter, and Obie proposed to develop an AI-powered one. This initial concept quickly evolved, and within weeks, I had an entire AI editorial team. The efficiency and effectiveness of this team were astonishing, enabling me to complete tasks much faster. We quickly recognized the potential of the whole AI startup team.

Olympia exists to address a fundamental need among small business owners: the need to optimize their operations while minimizing costs. Our services are designed to save our customers both time and money, allowing them to focus on growth and innovation. By leveraging AI, we offer a solution that accelerates work processes and significantly reduces the financial burden of hiring additional staff. In essence, Olympia makes the lives of business owners easier, empowering them to achieve more with less. 

Right now, we're excited about our new project featuring Human Augmented AI (HAAI). It allows coaches, consultants, and online influencers to create AI versions of themselves. These so-called AI clones can work with their customers, helping them handle more people at once. AI clones are like innovative marketing tools that will help our customers make more money. We're also setting up a way to share the profits from this so our clients will also get an additional revenue stream. More creative B2B deployments are coming, but I won’t reveal them yet!

How did you get your first 10 customers/subscribers?

We got our first customers within our networks of friends and family and by adding our tool to free AI directories.

What steps did you take to understand and confirm that your product or service was a good match for the needs and wants of your target customers?

From the outset, Olympia garnered significant interest, prompting us to build a robust mailing list during our closed beta phase. This early enthusiasm was a clear indicator of the potential impact our AI-powered virtual teams could have on small businesses. However, understanding and confirming that our product was a perfect fit for our target customers required more than just initial excitement. It demanded a deep, ongoing dialogue with those who would use our service the most.

We adopted a philosophy of treating our customers like family, a principle that has guided every step of our journey. This approach meant not just soliciting feedback but actively engaging in meaningful conversations with our users. We implemented changes to Olympia based on their input, ensuring that our product evolution was a direct reflection of their needs and wants. Regular calls with customers became a cornerstone of our development process, allowing us to gather invaluable suggestions and insights.

This customer-led product development strategy was not without its challenges. Rapidly implementing changes based on feedback required agility and a willingness to pivot at a moment's notice. However, these challenges were also our triumphs. Each adjustment brought us closer to a product that truly met the needs of our target customers.

The direct involvement of our customers in shaping the product has been a testament to its necessity and value in the market. Their feedback has led to a better product and affirmed that the world indeed needs Olympia. We continue communicating closely with our customers and are transparent about our plans and roadmap.

How did you reach and acquire your first 100 customers? Which platforms or methods did you use to connect with them and promote your product or service?

Getting our first 100 customers was quite the adventure! We really leaned into the power of word-of-mouth and some savvy social media moves. We focused on creating super helpful content that our early users would love to share. Plus, we made sure our service was something they'd talk about. It was about building something people genuinely wanted to use and talk about. You can dive into the whole story here to get the full picture.

What distribution channels did you try that didn’t work?

We tried a few things to get more people to know about Olympia, and not everything worked out how we hoped. One thing that didn't go as planned was advertising in newsletters. We heard a lot of good things about different newsletters and thought they'd be great for us too, but they ended up being pretty expensive and didn't bring in as many customers as we thought they would. We’ve got traffic but not many signups.

Until now, we've mostly grown by word of mouth, without spending much on marketing. So, this was a good lesson for us to start exploring more options and not just rely on what worked for others.

What specific tools, software, or resources have been most helpful in growing your business?

The number one tool that's helped us grow Olympia is, well, Olympia itself! We use our software daily to write content, plan our strategies, and make everything run smoother. It's been a game-changer for getting more done and keeping everything organized. Besides our tool, we've found some other resources handy. For sending out newsletters and sharing our stories, we use Substack. It's straightforward and does exactly what we need. And for keeping an eye on how our website's doing and where the conversions come from without Google Analytics, we've switched to Plausible. It gives us all the insights we need without making things too complicated. I love Notion and Slack, too.

Who are some recommended experts or entrepreneurs to follow for learning how to grow a business?

Following Jen Abel has been a blast, her tweets about sales are cool. I really like listening to Lenny's Podcast. It's full of great advice from experts on building and growing products. I always end up taking lots of notes because the tips are super useful, and I can use them momentarily. Two other experts I learn from are Michael Houck and Jonathan Martinez, they have newsletters. I like things that are straight to the point or really interesting deep dives into topics, kind of like the articles on Every.

I also have a mentor, Anuj Adhiya, who's known as "The Growth Guy" and wrote a book called "Growth Hacking for Dummies." He's been a big help in guiding me on how to grow my startup and product. He shares a lot of practical tips that I can apply directly to my work.

How did you make the transition from a side hustle to full-time entrepreneurship?

There was no transition. As soon as we had our MVP ready (in two months!), I quit my job and immediately started working in Olympia full-time. Before that, I was just using and testing our software while employed.

What drives you to do what you do?

The driving force behind my work is the belief that AI represents a revolutionary leap forward for humanity. I'm deeply passionate about being at the forefront of this phenomenal technology, not just for the sake of innovation but to use it to enhance human lives. My vision is to harness AI's potential to help people lead better, more fulfilled lives, making everyday tasks easier and unlocking new possibilities for personal and professional growth. This belief in the transformative power of AI fuels my dedication to contributing to its development and application for the greater good.

Any quotes you live by?

"Stay hungry, stay foolish" by Steve Jobs.

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