Hugo Magalhães on the challenges for tech startup founders and narrowing down to scale up. 

written by iryna prysyazhnuk

Hugo Magalhães is a software developer, project manager founder and CEO of Helppier, a Portuguese-based startup.

Helppier is software that helps users to create automated tours and visually appealing in-app messages without coding. Its mission – to make the lives of e-commerce businesses easier. The software provides interactive chats, video-tours and onboarding guides, pop-ups, welcoming messages, and tutorials among the other features.

How did you decide to become a startup founder?

Magalhães wanted to an entrepreneur from his early twenties. One day while on vacation he spotted a magazine on business and entrepreneurship. He read it from the beginning to the very end. He realized, that he wanted to build a product that he will enjoy working on and that will impact people’s lives.

However, Magalhães didn’t start his own business until well into his thirties. He worked for large companies creating and testing software and various IT solutions. And while working for a German-based consumer tech giant Siemens, Hugo discovered his startup idea. 

How did you spot an idea for a startup? 

Magalhães was part of a team that developed software for the documentation area. One of his tasks was to create the user manuals. And he simply hated it. The idea of creating user manuals in a better way stuck with him for several years. After some time Magalhães launched his freelance business and his customers asked for the exact same thing – create user manuals. That’s how he discovered the second problem.

“A lot of efforts were put into user’s manuals that no one actually reads. I decided to improve that experience and created the first version of what is Helppier today,” said Magalhães.

He created a widget that anyone would use to easily guided tours for their users.

How did you validate your idea? 

Magalhães said he shared his idea with friends and colleagues and got some feedback. However, he admits that he didn’t try to solve the market problem back then, but rather tried to make a solution for himself.

How did you take your project to a next level? 

Magalhães explained that at first, they tried to solve too broad problems at Helppier, something a lot of early-stage startups actually do. When things didn’t work quite as expected, they started to focus on just the onboarding process.

“We did a small pivot and focused on a specific niche, specific use case, ” said Magalhães. 

That focus gave a clearer vision for the whole company and a better messaging for customers. 

If you’re having trouble answering many different types of questions, chances are your focus is not narrow enough.  

Hugo Magalhães on the importance of narrowing down a startup.

He adds, that the marker has too many different areas and angles that for a startup. It’s crucial to start focusing and narrowing down from the start. As the project grows, one can spiral down and expand to other niches.

The biggest challenge for a technical co-founder? 

Some may think that for technical co-founders it’s much easier to build a startup. However, the future founders-to-be have to be prepared for the challenges they will face even knowing how to build the product.

Challenge #1 – to find a team. Working for a startup takes a special kind of individual. 

“Managing and hiring people, it’s one of the hardest things to do. Having one or two interviews cannot give you even a small peek of how people behave, and if they are a right fit or not,” said Magalhães.

He added that understanding that a person is a right fit for a startup will take at least a couple of months. And that’s not only because of the technical skills.

“We need these people to have a lot of resilience because you’re not just hiring someone that it’s coming to a company that’s already developed. It’s something new so that we need to be resilient”, said Magalhães

A few months or maybe even a year will tell you if your employees have the persistence to keep pushing. Where to find those people?

Magalhães said that he found news team members among the young university graduates. Helppier team now consists of five individuals, including developers and marketers.

Challenge #2 – finding customers for your product. 

“You think that the product developed would be bought instantly. That’s not true. You need to understand where your users are”,  said Magalhães

Magalhães said that funding the customers and identifying the right niche for the company was a path of trial and error.

Hugo Magalhães of Helppier – resilience is a key in building a startup

In Helppier the team now is focusing on solving this problem through various partnerships and affiliate marketing programs.

Hellpier’s plans for the nearest future – open to the market by creating an affiliate partnership program.

To learn more about the product and company’s mission, vision and how it can help your business, please visit or connect with Hugo Magalhães

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