#FoundersFridays: Meet Karolina Fedorowicz
Meet Karolina Fedorowicz - founder of Bazaar. Learn who was her role model and taught her never to be guided by fear, as well as the massive issue that she set out to tackle by starting her venture.
#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 founding a startup as well.
This month we spoke with Karolina Fedorowicz, founder of Bazaar - a new kid on the block peer-to-peer rental real estate marketplace. Founded in June 2023 and with a recent MVP release, Bazaar aims to benefit three customer groups: rental seekers have access to verified listings and don’t get scammed, tenants monetize expiring leases, and landlords avoid large fees of rental agencies and spend less time on new tenant acquisition.
Karolina, what drove you to become an entrepreneur and founder?
I have watched my mom enthusiastically pursue multiple passionate projects of her own. Whenever she contemplated starting something new or learning a skill, she never hesitated or overthought it — she simply took action. Growing up with a role model who chose not to be guided by fear but instead viewed life as a canvas for expression and creativity, I followed suit.
Upon moving to the Netherlands to embark on my studies, I began working in a restaurant during the Covid-19 pandemic. It didn’t take long for me to notice that there were no tea alternatives to coffee cafes in Groningen, so I proposed the idea to my boss at the time. I would consider it to be my very first real venture. Building it literally from the ground up, negotiating deals with suppliers and crafting a marketing strategy became my day-to-day.
As a child, I associated creativity and creation solely with arts and crafts. Entrepreneurship made me realise that creation is not limited to just that. Ultimately, the energy of creation, building something from scratch, the influence of my mom and the pleasure derived from seeking solutions were the factors that drove me to become an entrepreneur.
How did Bazaar come to be? What problem are you trying to solve?
It’s funny because it started with my team and I building in the space of digital real estate and I never thought we would work in the physical one. I was in the midst of relocating from Groningen to Amsterdam when I came face-to-face with the housing crisis in the Netherlands, witnessing an extremely imbalanced ratio between supply and demand, coupled with a prevalence of scams. My co-founder Adam and I started researching and found that $350M has been stolen from rental seekers since 2021 in the US alone.
We started brainstorming on how we could solve some of the issues I personally encountered while looking for an apartment in Amsterdam. We realised that although we couldn’t build more properties, we could increase their turnover and aim to eliminate the scammers. Our main focus became forging stronger connections between landlords, tenants and rental seekers.
We started surveying rental seekers and tenants, as well as landlords to understand the biggest pain points for all parties involved. Wouldn't it be better to have someone with previous experience in the apartment and familiarity with the landlord conduct viewings and select a pool of trustworthy candidates? This method keeps all parties accountable, saves landlords time and money while having the most “personally” suitable new tenant, allows the existing tenant to earn money and ensures the most trusted testimonials and AI-backed verification model for the rental search.
Why did you choose Amsterdam to start your business? How is the local ecosystem facilitating your entrepreneurial journey?
Amsterdam faces a massive supply and demand issue when it comes to housing. This issue makes it nearly impossible to find an apartment in a timely manner. To make matters worse, most housing marketplaces are plagued by scammers. While we can’t solve the supply issue, we can address fraud by leveraging emerging technologies like AI to combat scams, keep our marketplaces pure and incentivise rotation of apartments by in-advance listings. I also believe that if you want to make a change, it is good to start with “your own backyard”. This is why we founded Bazaar in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is also a city full of people with different mindsets and a very welcoming community. Once we launched and posted about our venture in some Facebook groups, we received an extremely welcoming response: people showed initiative to give us a hand, for example with development or marketing. I try to attend as many networking events as possible - to mingle with like-minded people, builders and founders. Additionally, as a cosmopolitan hub and a pivotal junction within Europe's mainland, Amsterdam offers a lot of events in the space of real estate, innovation and technology. This is very helpful, as it not only offers great learning opportunities but also a possibility to connect with key people face-to-face.
What is Bazaar’s biggest ask for the upcoming 6 months?
Bazaar has seen some great traction and tremendous support from various people. That said, there's still much to be done in terms of development and promotion. Currently, we are in a pre-seed fundraising round and aim to find investors who have experience in marketplaces. Expanding our network of landlords and property developers on the website is crucial to test our early-stage platform, innovate and grow with our customers. Simultaneously, we’re striving to spread awareness about our venture as extensively as possible.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given that helps you in your entrepreneurial journey - and that you would want to pass on to others?
There are three types of people under pressure. People like an egg: when put in boiling water - they harden. People like a carrot: when put in boiling water - they soften. Lastly, there are people like coffee beans: when put in boiling water - they change their surroundings and adapt.
Change should be welcomed, not feared. Being taken out of your zone of comfort is a blessing, not a curse. As long as you can adapt to your surroundings, instead of hardening or softening, you can always figure things out and treat them as a challenge, not a problem.
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 email@example.com.