Q&A with Marius Sevaldsen
Founder & CEO @ Cake it easy
How did you start?
I am a sixth generation baker´s son and my family has a bakery in Kristiansund. Despite my heritage I never wanted to become a baker, so I became an architect instead. After finishing my education I realized that I did not want to become an architect either, so I became an entrepreneur. I did some startups in real estate and nutrition, but the bakery business was still close to my heart. While talking to my father one day about new technologies, smartphones and apps, he made a joke that we should sell cakes on an app. At that exact moment and without hesitation, I remember thinking: “Yes of course, that is exactly what we are going to do!”. And that it how ‘Cake it easy’ was born.
I started the company with a friend whose parents are also in the bakery business. He never wanted to be a baker either, but through ‘Cake it easy’ we were able to return to and engage with our family businesses in a new way.
After that, it was important to get other bakeries onboard. We spent a few months travelling around the country, gathering bakeries on the platform and it was great to hear that they all thought it was a great idea, and a way to help an otherwise traditional business become more innovative.
Unfortunately, my co-founder had to leave the company because he was establishing a different type of "startup" - becoming a father and starting a family. So he could no longer live the entrepreneur-lifestyle, and had to get a haircut and get a real job.
How would you describe your role as a CEO?
The last few years, I have basically done everything, while trying to retain a focus on "simplicity". My background in architecture actually helped me run and structure the business. I build systems and simplify things on every level much like what I learnt. I like to "boil things down" and get to the essence of things before I start my design. For instance, in most cases, you do not need 100 cool features and complex solutions. A few simple, but elegant, features would do the job just as well or often even better. I also apply this principle more generally to my life.
How much was invested in the project?
It took 1 year to develop the platform. We got a 400 000 NOK loan from DNB, and each one of us put 150 000 NOK. We did not get any other funding. The total investment thus was 700 000 NOK to first build an app and a website. We put most resources into the app, but later we realized we had more traffic on the website than the app and decided to remove the native app, building a mobile friendly website instead.
When did you start making a profit?
From 2012 to 2015: all the profits went back into developing the company. For 4 years, I was living off my savings from earlier startups. However, I was never worried about the money, since I was confident about the business case and knew the money would come. Last year itself, we made a profit and we are currently growing very rapidly. I have started to hire new team members to scale the business even faster. Exciting times ahead!
What did you wish you knew before starting this business?
In the beginning I remember wishing I knew more about technical development, but I have come to realize that it is primarily the concept and business development that is core in a business like this. And concept development is purer and more effective if you are not focused on the limitations of current technology. We figure out the technical stuff with our talented developers later.
What I wish I knew more about is digital marketing. We have not spent so much money on marketing yet, but looking back, I wish I would not have spent money on banner campaigns and professional media agencies. Those money would be more effectively spent on development. So far it is the technology that is growing our sales, not our marketing. But I am still learning, and that it what drives me - to always be the student.