I’ve interviewed two of the Co-founders of MeetBit — Kirsten Marini Sy and Juliana Sistine Ong to talk about their startup, MeetBit, its backstory, and its notable accomplishments. They also talked about how their Chinese roots and values helped them go through this difficult journey as student entrepreneurs and their advice to those who wish to go on a similar path as them.
Kirsten is also the Chief Product Officer of MeetBit. She leads the product team from ideation, design, development, and release. She is always on the lookout for ways to improve the scheduling experience for their users. Meanwhile, Juliana Sistine Ong is the Chief Growth Officer. She is in charge of strategizing initiatives that help MeetBit grow in terms of brand awareness and user acquisition. Both of these strong and independent women are from Ateneo de Manila University and took the course BS Information Technology Entrepreneurship.
So what is MeetBit?
MeetBit is a free online scheduling tool. It allows users to overlay multiple calendars together and allows others to book a time to meet based on the user’s availability.
MeetBit’s purpose is to alleviate the stress of scheduling and allow individuals to focus on what really matters. MeetBit aims to link individuals through a common web of schedules to facilitate communication, cooperation, and relationship-building.
How it began
Kirsten reminisced on her past organization experiences at the Ateneo de Manila University. She and her fellow Co-founder, Lance, were struggling to locate meeting dates for their organization, Building Young Tech Entrepreneurs (BYTE), and wanted to create an automatic and straightforward alternative.
Kirsten noted, “MeetBit started as a chatbot that users could add to a group chat to help find common times where people can meet.” Hence the name, “MeetBit”, as it was a play on the phrase “Meeting Chatbot.”
Notable accomplishments of MeetBit
Kirsten and Juliana also talked about some of the notable accomplishments of MeetBit. The online scheduling tool completed its pre-seed fundraising round in December with Buko Ventures and the Manila Angel Investors Network investing.
MeetBit’s youthful founders also have met fellow tech entrepreneurs who are assisting them with the startup process through Buko Ventures, which has invested in notable firms such as AcadArena and BackScoop.
Challenges that these student entrepreneurs had to face
We all know that starting a business is not easy and as student entrepreneurs, it was difficult for them to achieve their goals and make ends meet.
Kirsten and Juliana explained that MeetBit is a business-to-business company, which means that its users are other businesses. However, as student entrepreneurs, the majority of their friends have yet to begin their jobs.
They have noted that “their network is largely made up of individuals who run their businesses or make decisions for huge enterprises.” As a result, since there is no common connection to begin with, it is extremely difficult for them to reach out, gain trust, and collaborate or partner with other businesses.
The future of MeetBit
When asked about the future of MeetBit, Kirsten and Juliana wish that the online scheduling tool will be the focal point of people’s workdays in the next 10 years. They aim to create an application that allows individuals to easily access their tasks as well as all of the essential files, notes, and information for each of them.
MeetBit manages the intricate yet time-consuming aspects of people’s day-to-day jobs so users can focus on what matters.
How their Chinese roots influenced their journey as startup founders
Kirsten and Juliana also shared about how they got into the business in the first place. Kirsten said that growing up, she got the chance to observe and shadow her parents who started their own business, which consequently shaped an entrepreneurial mindset in her. Meanwhile, Juliana simply took the risk when she was given the opportunity to launch the startup with a good friend of hers. She acknowledges that it’s going to be difficult and risky, but she said that it’s all “part of the fun.”
Due to her upbringing, Juliana also shared that she learned to be “ma-diskarte” when it came to the resources she has as the growth lead of an early-stage firm. She is aware of what she is dealing with and so, she finds ways to make the most of what they currently have. She noted that before she implements a growth plan, she would validate it and conduct some preliminary testing to ensure that the money she will invest will not be wasted. She also tries to make the most of her current skill set and network. Meanwhile, Kirsten has noted that she believes having “an entrepreneurial attitude is extremely Chinoy!” She said that even if they connect it with technology, it is ultimately an entrepreneurial enterprise.
Both Kirsten and Juliana shared that even though their parents came from traditional Chinese backgrounds, they’ve been really open-minded and supportive of their journey. Unlike their peers, they are not required to work for the family business whatsoever and are given the opportunity to carve their own paths.
The values that helped them
Juliana and Kirsten said that their continuous drive to learn and be interested has led them to where we they are now.
Juliana shared that she and Kirsten have studied several skills, joined numerous organizations, and gained various experiences before landing on the professional path that they like the most.
A message to the future generation of Chinoys
Juliana and Kirsten both agreed that networking is extremely beneficial at any stage of a company’s development. The stronger the network, the easier it will be to garner support and find customers. They have noted that it is a fantastic prospective path that might lead to even more success for the company.
It’s also vital for them to “get your name out there,” since they feel that Chinoys tend to be quiet and humble unless acknowledged. However, they said that if one doesn’t promote and share the world about their new business, no one will know it exists.
Finally, they have stated that it is critical to maintaining a continual state of learning. They want to remind others that there is no limit to improvement and that everyone has something to work on gradually. They emphasized that one must “read to expand their knowledge, seek mentorship, and try new things!”
Advice to aspiring startup founders
Kirsten and Juliana shared that it’s important to always assess the risk-reward ratio and be creative. They said, “if it’s not something you can risk yet, then there are always other options or alternatives to achieve the same reward.”
They also noted that aspiring startup founders must also surround themselves with passionate and driven people as being in a goal-driven environment will propel their career forward and inspire them to do more.
Finally, they said that it’s vital to “rewire your brain to think that mistakes are not failures, but learning opportunities.” They have explained that it’s rare that people get things right on the first try. As such, make it an opportunity to learn and grow toward your goals.