Sascha Darius is the co-founder and CEO of Bunz. Bunz is a community where people meet everyday to trade things like clothing, furniture and art. The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center took a moment to catch up with Sascha on his journey thus far.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
SD: Entrepreneurship is accepting the possibility of failure while pursuing the possibility of success. It’s a process of using hard work, innovation, and dedication to build asymmetry in favor of a successful outcome. It’s being brave enough to start something you believe in, and being humble enough to change it along the way.
How did your company come to be?
SD: We like to think of Bunz as a ‘fork of Facebook’. Bunz started as an invite-only Facebook group and became an app about three years ago. What drove us to build our own application was the desire to have an underlying system that benefited everyone who used it—a platform that served the whole, not just the people who created it.
What is the biggest experience or lesson gained on your journey so far?
SD: There is a difference between being right and being successful. Being right is hard to quantify, succeeding is easy to quantify but you’re not always right in being successful. It’s a complex relationship between these two ideas but my experience is what helps me tell them apart and find the balance of being both right and successful.
How is your company changing the landscape?
SD: In the last 12 months, people using Bunz earned over $1.2 million dollars. BTZ – our in-app loyalty point is democratizing the value derived from data and paying it to people instead of centralizing it on a platform like Facebook. Today, approximately 20% of people in Toronto use Bunz, while BTZ transactions account for around 30% of our top merchant’s sales volumes.
People are the rightful owners of their data, and we are making it possible for them to realize that in a material way.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
SD: The last 4 years have been an incredible learning experience and I have grown immensely from all the lessons. If I had to pick one thing I knew before founding the Bunz app, it would be that sometimes the most unlikely ideas—like sleeping on someone’s air mattress, riding in a car with a stranger, or old school bartering—can become amazing businesses. Not everyone will understand, but if you’re right they will come to see what you understood before anyone else.
What advice/credo do you live by as you grow the business / what is your professional and personal mission statement?
SD: My personal mission statement is to democratize the value derived from data, attention and contribution to a network. Data is work and its rightful owners are people, not platforms.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
SD: I stand on the shoulders of my partners and team, without them none of what Bunz has achieved would be possible. Though more importantly is our Community—they are the foundation of everything we do. My advice is don’t build a leadership team, build a community of supporters.
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
SD: Imagination. I think it’s a very underrated trait. If you can imagine the world differently, then you can work backwards from that vision and break it down into operational steps. I find great inspiration in possibilities that exist when you’ve removed any constraints— then think about what would have to happen next to get there.
What does “success” look like for you? What do you think will help you achieve it?
SD: Success to me looks like change – we know that what we are doing environmentally, socially and economically is not sustainable. My definition of success is directly connected to the change we make in the lives of people who use Bunz.
What is your proudest and darkest moment so far?
SD: Our darkest moment was when we had a division in the team due to differences in strategy. Our proudest moments are hearing from people who’s lives have improved through Bunz.
What lesson did 2018 have for you? What do you look forward to in 2019?
SD: 2018 was a breakout year for Bunz and BTZ but I had little balance, I’m working on that part. 2019 is shaping up to be a breakout year for revenue and user growth. There’s still a lot of work to do but it’s a very exciting time for us!
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day?
SD: I’ve never tried to perfect my daily routine. My schedule changes depending on the needs of the company and Bunz community. A habit I’m known for is playing the same song on repeat in my headphones for days at a time. I find I stop hearing the music and starting hearing myself – it’s meditative for me.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as, as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
SD: I don’t want to be remembered as an entrepreneur, I want to be remembered as a valued member of my community. Someone who cared about people and the planet more than profit, but understood the importance of money and made it work for everyone rather than just himself or his company.