Entrepreneur in Residence: Diego De Jodar Montesinos

This guy is the true passionate hustler with wide hands-on knowledge in both 500 Startups programs and business development. As founder of Easy Rental he was part of the Oslo pre accelerator in January. Diego is based in Stockholm and are coming to share his knowledge with the companies at Distro Dojo. This is his story.

500 Nordics Demo Day. Image ©Dan Taylor/MediaPunk.io.
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Name: Diego De Jodar Montesinos
Age: 35
Country: Spain

About the pre-accelerator, what your main challenges and take aways?
Our main challenge when we started the 500 Nordics pre-accelerator program in Oslo was to build a scalable and sustainable business model.
Users were really happy with Easy Rental and our numbers in terms of new users and usage of the service were really strong, but we were struggling with monetization.
About the take aways of the program, let me be totally honest here and talk about my personal experience:
For me the program meant the opportunity to work on the business model with great mentors, also being part of the portfolio of one of the best accelerator companies in the world has clear benefits in terms of reputation and access to further investment and, last but not least, the chance to meet and work with other amazing entrepreneurs in the batch. Having the opportunity to see how other startups were dealing with the challenges that we were facing made the whole package extremely interesting.
So I had high hopes about the program, but I was also a little skeptical: Will they live up to our expectations? Will we learn as much as we expected? Will they bring the big guns from US and deliver a top notch mentorship experience? In one word: YES.
The level of the mentors was absolutely mind-blowing, I am not talking about good mentors, I am talking about the smartest and more knowledgeable set of mentors that I saw, ever.
“Seeing Andrea (500 Startups Pitch Coach) listening to your 1 minute pitch, giving you feedback on the fly,  and then you pitch again and it’s 100x better was an example of pure beauty.”
Tristan giving you 100% honest, direct (and painful but extremely useful) feedback until we had a proper “100% bullshit free” pitch,
Rob teaching you in 1 hour more than I ever knew about how to properly approach investors, Matt opening your eyes about how narrow was your focus and how to do marketing that really scales, Yiying telling you what was right or wrong about your logo, company name and colours after minutes of analysis when you spent days working on that, and never realized of the “so obvious” issues.
On top of that, the great insights delivered on a daily basis by the program managers Sean and Stina made the whole experience unforgettable.
Now that you are joining the Dojo as Entrepreneur in Residence, whats the deal with Easy Rental?
Our main challenge was “how can we make more money?” at least to the point to pay some salaries as we were working without paying us anything for more than a year.
During the program our business model collapsed and I honestly  have to say that if it wasn’t because of the program we would have stopped at that very same moment, but seeing all our batchmates hustling and beating their own challenges motivated us to stand up again and give it another try.
Sean helped us a lot in rebuilding the business model (usually called a “pivot” among startups) and we released the new version in less than 7 days.
When the program finished and we came back to Stockholm we did a reality check, and it was clear that we were onto something but also, that there were still tons of work to do to build a sustainable and profitable company. After working so hard for the previous 15 months and seeing in front of us at least another 15, it was  too big of a challenge for an already exhausted team.
After a lot of back and forth (you know what is the rational decision to make but your heart doesn’t let you give up) we decided to keep Easy Rental alive as a side project.
It’s all about helping people with a serious problem so, even if we wouldn’t add more features or expand it to other countries we could keep it as it is, helping tenants from Stockholm and Gothenburg to find a place to live as a side project, and then we find other “day jobs” for all of us.
Expectations for Distro Dojo
The companies that joined the Dojo are at an amazing point: They have a great product with strong early traction and they need to start growing like crazy to do a successful Series A. And this is exactly what I will help them do. From digging into their analytics to unveil growth opportunities to testing anything testable. We will work hard with them in a daily basis to skyrocket their growth.
So, it’s going to be lots of fun and, I am sure, and a really rewarding experience for both the companies and the 500 startup mentors.
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