Table of contents
- Founder - Denis Fyrlov
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Started in 2021
- 3 employees
So Denis, what's your backstory?
Born and raised in Vladivostok, a port city in the east of conservative Russia, I never thought I could make a living from my love of digital design and technology.
I had always been passionate about creating digital content, from making funny videos with friends, even when YouTube wasn’t a thing, to designing posters and web pages for my school rock band where I played the drums.
After studying Social Anthropology at university, I realized that science wasn't the right path for me, so I took a leap of faith and moved to New York to explore new opportunities.
There, I found a job as a graphic designer at a small printing store. I was extremely happy about that because I was finally able to get paid for doing things that I loved. My tech-geek side also drove me to attend many tech expos and be an early adopter of new gadgets, even though some were controversial (remember Google Glass?).
I later became a freelancer, taking on a variety of projects including graphic design, motion graphics, and web development. My journey took me to New Zealand where I worked as a digital designer for a big tech company and learned about corporate culture while staying up-to-date with the latest technology trends.
Despite all my experiences, I still felt like something was missing. I couldn't find a role that combined my passions for digital design, tech, UX/UI, photography, video, and web development.
So, I took matters into my own hands and created my own role where I could finally use everything I'd learned to create something amazing.
What is Qwerty.cards?
Qwerty.Cards offer sustainable and customizable digital NFC business cards that simplify the process of exchanging contact information and promoting a brand.
The solution reduces waste and consolidates various forms of media, presenting a professional and up-to-date image for businesses.
The lead generation feature streamlines networking and helps businesses to grow their customer base.
Qwerty.Cards aims to make companies more efficient, modern, and attractive to new opportunities.
How did you come up with Qwerty.cards?
Working in the tech industry, I noticed the need for a more eco-friendly and efficient solution for businesses to exchange contact information and showcase their brand.
With the growing concern for the environment and technological advancements, I saw an opportunity to create a digital alternative to traditional paper business cards.
I also realized the challenges businesses face when it comes to presenting their information in a professional and organized manner, and I knew that technology could help solve this problem. And then with COVID and all the restrictions, the idea of digital business cards became even more appealing.
The original name for the business was going to be "Zero" because it embodied our mission of reducing waste (Zero Card - Zero Waste). However, I soon found myself in a trademark dispute with another New Zealand company who claimed that the name sounded similar to theirs (in their opinion lol), despite our industries being completely different and the spelling being different too.
Although the trademark lawyers I spoke with told me that I was in the right, I didn't want to deal with the legal hassle and expense of fighting a big company. So, I decided to rebrand and focus on a name that had a tech-savvy feel to it.
I held a competition on social media where I asked people to suggest a new name that fit that criterion. The winning name was "Qwerty" - a nod to the first six letters on a keyboard.
How did you go about building and launching the business?
The journey of Qwerty.Cards began as a side hustle. I wanted to create a digital business card that met my own needs as a freelancer. I handled all aspects of the project, including the user interface and the technical stuff like back-end development.
I also modified a regular printer from the Warehouse so it can print NFC cards. My friends were blown away by the prototype and convinced me to show it to more people.
So, I hit the streets with a friend and showed the card to strangers, filming their reactions as we went along. This video remains a valuable marketing asset on our website, showcasing people's genuine excitement and interest in the product.
I was convinced that this product was a real need, not just for me but for others too. So, I invested some money in a decent card printer, changed the design and user experience, and hired a talented software developer to make it all come to life.
How have you grown the business?
I've been at this for almost two years now, but I still feel like we're just getting started.
I've been running it on a tight budget with the support of my wife and one hired software developer. Initially, we lacked a marketing budget, so we relied on free posts on Facebook and LinkedIn groups to reach our first customers.
I was more focused on product improvement, putting all the profits back into development and adding more functionality instead of marketing. Looking back, it was probably not the most intelligent way to do things from the business owner's point of view, but it's essential for me as a nerd to build a solid product.
Despite this, we've attracted over 2000 customers, including some big corporations, simply through organic social media posts and word of mouth.
Any big failures and learnings?
So far, the most significant failure was the trademark issue I mentioned earlier. It forced me to start from scratch with a rebranding effort, throwing out all my marketing materials and packaging and telling customers why they now had a different product name.
There were also some technical difficulties I had to overcome. What I took away from this experience is the importance of being aware of the law and its consequences. Even if you have a solid case, big companies can still create challenges you must navigate.
What's next for you and your business?
Shortly, we are looking to expand our product offerings, including our Qwerty Lite Cards designed for retail stores.
I'm currently working on identifying the best strategies for getting these products into retail locations. Additionally, we plan to raise awareness of our fully digital product and its benefits for businesses.
To support the growth, I will seek investment to build a solid and dedicated team. I'm excited about these upcoming changes and looking forward to providing our customers with even more innovative solutions for their business needs.
Your go to digital tools?
I'm a big fan of Adobe products and use several of them for creative work, including After Effects and Premiere Pro for video production, Photoshop and Illustrator for image editing, and Adobe XD for prototyping and sharing design ideas with the software developer.
For messaging I prefer Telegram, and for video calls, I use Google Meet.
What do you love + hate about being a founder?
While there are certainly challenges to being a founder, one thing I sometimes find difficult is having to take on multiple roles in the business, such as being the marketer, copywriter, designer, videographer, and salesperson.
However, this has also given me an excellent opportunity to understand better how different aspects of the business work and how they are interconnected. This has been incredibly valuable in helping me make better decisions and achieve better outcomes.
Overall, I love the excitement and freedom of being a founder and the opportunity to create something meaningful and impactful for my customers.
The sense of ownership and responsibility is challenging and rewarding, and I enjoy the constant learning and growth of building and managing a business.
How do you look after your mental health as a founder?
As a founder, I prioritize my mental health by engaging in activities that help refresh and clear my mind.
Sports are an excellent way for me to relieve stress and build discipline, so I make sure to play tennis at least twice a week and go paragliding when the weather is suitable.
In addition, I play drums in a cover band, which provides a creative outlet and allows me to take a break from work. We rehearse once a week and do gigs from time to time.
By taking time for myself and engaging in activities I enjoy, I can maintain a healthy work-life balance and keep my mental health in check.
Sum up what it means to be a founder
It's a challenging yet interesting and rewarding experience.
Any advice for other founders?
Stop scrolling! Stay focused on your goals and prioritize your time effectively. You will save so much time if you stop killing it on social media and Netflix.
Any jobs you're looking to fill?
Since I started, with no success, I've been searching for a co-founder to help with operational tasks and allow me to focus on product improvements. If you share my passion for the product and believe you can help us achieve global success, please reach out to me on LinkedIn.
Any promotions you have right now?
15% discount with promo code: FOUNDEROO