From its humble beginnings seven years ago, Kadonation has evolved in leaps and bounds since stepping into the first cohort of the Birdhouse program with 14 other startups. Through the ebbs and flows, one thing has remained steadfast: their commitment to revolutionizing gift-giving. Curious about the magic behind Kadonation's growth and their time at Birdhouse? We dived into a conversation with Fabrice Guillermin to get the full story.
Harnessing the network effect for long-term relationships
When Kadonation first joined Birdhouse's kickoff wave, they had just developed an MVP: a simple platform aiming to streamline group gifting. "At that point, there wasn’t really much value for potential customers," Fabrice notes. "From day one, thanks to the mentors at Birdhouse, we realized the need for strategic partnerships."
Embracing the network effect became second nature to Kadonation. "While the workshops and the constant guidance from mentors were great, we gained immensely from peer-to-peer relationships with other startups," Fabrice adds. "For instance, Stampix, another startup from our group, was out looking for retailers too. If they stumbled upon a lead, they'd share it with us, and we'd do the same for them."
While expanding their network initially targeted quick results, Kadonation continues to benefit from the relationships they built during their time at Birdhouse. “Several mentors and entrepreneurs from that time are still on our board of directors,” Fabrice says.
"Screw It, Let’s Do It"
Leveraging the expansive network provided by the accelerator, the founders journeyed into the depths of entrepreneurship and all its complexities. "Birdhouse pushed me into a ‘screw it, let’s do it’ mindset, and I’m all the better for it," shares Fabrice. "In the early days, a founder is called to be a jack-of-all-trades. Thanks to hands-on workshops and enlightening lunchtime discussions on topics from business development to marketing, Birdhouse really fueled our momentum.”
Fabrice's journey was marked by embracing challenges and stepping out of his comfort zone. “I can still feel the nerves from my initial pitches for Kadonation. By nature, I'm more of a quiet tech enthusiast. But I understood that a startup's triumph is intrinsically linked to the story it tells. That first pitch to Luc Van Mol (ZEB) had me on edge. Yet, when it hit the mark and opened doors to collaborate with ZEB, it supercharged my confidence, spurring me to keep sharpening my pitching skills."
The "screw it, let's do it" ethos wasn't just about bravado—it required diligence and the ability to pivot quickly and adapt to changing market conditions. "Having a guiding hand, someone who can envision the bigger picture, is essential. Our weekly catch-ups with Birdhouse mentors made sure we were always making progress. We constantly felt driven to up our game,” Fabrice reflects.