#FoundersFridays: Meet Aly Buydoon
Meet Aly Buydoon, co-founder of Amsterdam-based Catalosite. Learn how his life journey led him to found his startup, which parties helped him on the way and where Catalosite is in their fundraising efforts.
#FoundersFridays is a StartupAmsterdam interview series: for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. Each hero answers questions on their entrepreneurial journey, their learnings, milestones and bottlenecks, as well as on Amsterdam and the Dutch startup scene. It’s a platform for entrepreneurs to speak their minds freely and pass on their learnings to anyone who’s thinking about starting a company as well.
This month, we're catching up with Aly Buydoon, co-founder of Catalosite - a startup that’s revolutionising website building as we know it by helping businesses, entrepreneurs, and creators create websites with posts that look like a social media feed.
What is the true “why” behind Catalosite, and how did your career journey lead you to found it?
Since childhood, I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to build something unique and global. As Steve Jobs once said: “We're here to put a dent in the universe.” I believe that each of us has something great to offer. To be inspired is great, but to inspire the world is something else! This is exactly the “Why” behind Catalosite.
After working in the marketing and sales industry for an extended period of time, I established a marketing consultancy company in 2018. During that period, we used website-building tools to develop websites for our clients, and I noticed that most of the available solutions in the market prioritised building websites for desktops before optimising the design for mobile. Moreover, creating these websites required a significant amount of brainstorming in terms of design templates and content. The worst part was that the engagement and conversion rate of those websites were not always the best.
In 2020, I called my partner Rabih and together we contacted Hassan, Tatyana and the other founding team. We decided to develop software that would simplify the process of building a website and would focus on creating a mobile-first optimised experience that could enhance visitor engagement and conversion rates. Catalosite now assists over 150 businesses in creating websites with posts that resemble a social media feed. This has been demonstrated to be over three times more effective in terms of time spent on page since it is attractive to visitors who can scroll without becoming bored or distracted. Furthermore, websites created on Catalosite are more straightforward to create, edit, and maintain than traditional websites.
What makes Amsterdam a great city and a great ecosystem for a startup founder?
Amsterdam is a city that beautifully blends both calmness and vibrancy, making it a truly unique and captivating destination. The vibrant startup scene here has made it a breeding ground for international entrepreneurs. This beautiful city boasts a highly skilled and diverse workforce, excellent infrastructure, and a supportive ecosystem that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. As a result, many entrepreneurs from around the world, including me, have chosen Amsterdam as their base to establish their startups.
It is also worth mentioning that the move from paperwork to digital in many government-related tasks has allowed entrepreneurs to focus on developing their business plans, rather than spending time dealing with administrative tasks.
From our experience, the local startup ecosystem was very supportive from the start. We have been incubated by prominent organisations like ACE Incubator – the university business incubator in Amsterdam. Catalosite was also accelerated by Forward-inc., an Amsterdam-based, internationally operating organisation devoted to helping newcomers become entrepreneurs. We were also part of the newcomers’ mentorship programme led by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to support international entrepreneurs in Amsterdam.
Congrats on raising a pre-seed run! Could you elaborate on this recent win and share the good, the bad and the ugly? How did you find the fundraising process?
The investment by Wing invest is part of a 200k pre-seed round, aimed at supercharging Catalosite’s product development, growing our current customer base in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and expanding activities in the Netherlands. The three markets will be the gateways to both the MENA region and Europe. We are currently attracting more investors to complete this round and take the platform to new heights.
The fundraising process was challenging, especially since you have to establish a legal structure that is investor-friendly. Then, you start reaching out and pitching to investors. When you start to receive feedback and investors become interested, you should make a decision to choose the investor that shares the same vision as you. Meanwhile, you should be working on your business plan and making daily decisions. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle by itself. If you do it with passion, you enjoy every single moment of it.
Is there any popular entrepreneurial advice that you agree/ disagree with?
“You can't connect the dots looking forward,” Steve Jobs said. “You can only connect them looking backwards.” So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma - whatever. This approach has never let me down and made all the difference in my life. This is one of my favourite pieces of entrepreneurial advice because, as entrepreneurs, we should keep going, trust the process, and never give up. We create new things, which is why we face many uncertainties. While we rely on KPIs and business plans, creating something new still comes with unpredictable measures. We must fight to make it happen; otherwise, the game is lost.
If you were on stage right now, pitching, what would you ask the audience to help you with the coming time?
I'm thrilled to share that we're in the final stages of our pre-seed round, and I would love to request your help in connecting me with potential investors who could be a great fit for our vision. Your support in introducing us to potential investors would be incredibly valuable and could help us take our business to the next level! You can contact me by email email@example.com or visit my website www.alybuydoon.com and book a meeting to discuss this further.
And if you were on a different stage, in front of hundreds of young people who dream of starting a business, what advice would you give them?
I would like to use one of my favourite quotes from Napoleon Hill's book, "Think and Grow Rich". “The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.”
If you’re an Amsterdam-based founder working on an innovative solution that solves an urban or social challenge, and you’d like to share your story with our audience, email Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org.