Meet our Premium Member: Ivan Stefania, Co-Founder & CEO of SAM Entertainment AG
What does SAM do?
Sam’s ambition is to connect and entertain all people at events. We want to make selective and smart use of technology to bring people closer together offline. Our app gives participants one-click access to a private digital space to interact and share content. This is a space that creates the required conditions to be authentic and more outgoing, without the pressure from social media. Sam was officially founded in 2020 in Switzerland after many months of pre-work. Today, our team consists of 7 people spread across Switzerland, Belgium, and Spain. With our brand positioning “Busy having fun” – we want to redefine the notion of being busy and remind people what matters. Ultimately, we are here to enjoy life and we tend to forget it while we’re busy being busy.
What are your plans for 2022/2023? What is your long-term vision?
Covid has made things very challenging for us as all events stopped taking place overnight. We are currently strengthening our core European markets and discussing our delayed expansion plans for 2023. Our next goal is 1 million users. At the moment, we’re almost there, with 600’000 users to date. Our vision is to use digital tools in a meaningful and fun way, and to avoid jumping on each new trend. In this way, we can have the right balance between offline and online time rather than creating toxic environments, social pressure, or applying addictive patterns to capture users on screen for as long as possible. Digital tools are fantastic and full of opportunities if applied and used thoughtfully.
What has been the biggest success that you have achieved in your startup?
I think we have to ask our stakeholders to get the raw truth but generally speaking, when you start your own business, every month of your survival is a success. We’ve had a few of those. If I had to mention what makes me proud, it would be happy customers sharing their stories with us and how we have improved their lives. We have received some good feedback and are very happy we could help capture real life with our new interpretation of being busy.
If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? What are your biggest learnings?
What wouldn’t I? Jokes aside, to me building a business feels like the best class you can take for your personal growth. I never felt I had learned more, not at school, not in my previous jobs at big corporations. When COVID hit us, we started to question everything. We were able to improve the team constellation, market priorities, our internal processes, and pricing model to increase efficiency – which we should have done before already. I remember when we started our business, I had a strong desire to grow globally, exponentially, and all at once. I’ve never seen this kind of growth beyond pitch decks of first-time founders including me. Today, I would probably choose a more sustainable strategy, stick to the process and approach it with more patience. There is no overnight success to my current knowledge. Only patience, focus, and perseverance will bring the results.
What motivates you to continue your business every day?
I don’t believe it’s possible to build a successful company alone. Having said that, the most important and motivational thing is to be surrounded by extraordinary people and mentors because otherwise, it’s going to be a very long and intense journey.
One piece of advice for someone who is just starting out with their startup?
Just one? I love this quote: “Be impatient with your actions, and patient with your results.” Having said that, I think endurance is one of the most important things required to survive the startup roller coaster. It is important to learn to accept failures without losing motivation and keep going until the next success arrives. Not every action has immediate results, but most of them still contribute to getting there over time.
What does it mean to you to be a member of the Swiss Startup Association?
I think it’s very important to interact with communities of people going through similar challenges, to learn from and support each other. This is why I believe you’re building a fantastic community with lots of opportunities to interact and help startups to succeed together and celebrate victories. I’m always keen to share the good and the bad, so I’m interested in meeting more founders through the SSA. I’ve participated in two events and both of them were great. There is a format for everybody and inspiring speakers to interact with. I like the boutique approach with a cozy atmosphere like Afterwork at Spoom events much more than big distant stages, and Startup Leaders Lunches. I also appreciate the efforts of the SSA, their kind staff, and the community they’re building.
A big thank you to Ivan Stefania and the SAM team for sharing your story with us! If you want to know more about SAM, visit SAM
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