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AMA: Alejandra de Brunner, founder of the ETHOS Network

AMA: Alejandra de Brunner, founder of the ETHOS Network

Alejandra de Brunner is the founder of ETHOS, a network that encourages open and honest conversations.

As an inspiring female entrepreneur, we sat down to talk to Alejandra about the difficulties in setting up such a forward-thinking and inspiring startup, and why it was so important for her to establish a business that people would care so deeply about. 

Hi Alejandra! Could you share the story behind ETHOS, including the problem you set out to solve and what inspired you?

I developed the idea of ETHOS whilst at university. At the time, there was a lot going on globally and it became clear people couldn’t talk about topics that they care about on social media - the algorithms just aren’t set up for discourse.

Yet, we spend so much time on these apps, and 56% of Gen Zers have taken mental health breaks from them. So, I started questioning if we could create a space where they can discuss meaningful things, would people feel better about social media?

Did you hit any roadblocks along the way?

Lots! Creating a startup is hard; building a social network is very difficult, as is fundraising and building a team. Tons and tons of (sometimes super experienced) people will not be that supportive, but the key is to back yourself and stay on track.

In time, I found that I started hearing from even more people, but this time they were in support!

Can you discuss your approach to assembling and motivating your team and the role they play in your company’s growth?

Yes, creating a team is underestimated when generally talking about startups.

My best advice is to hire people you can trust and who are truly committed to the mission of the company.

The ability to remain focused on the end goal even when the wins may feel further apart is what keeps a startup driving forward.

Have there been any significant changes or evolutions in your business strategy, and what motivated those decisions?

Not to our business model to date. At very early stages - which is where we are - you need to keep testing things, learning and iterating until you find the product market fit; this means constant evolution and learning. Change is important in getting it right.

How have mentors or advisors contributed to your startup’s development, and what advice would you offer to others seeking mentorship?

Industry advisors are invaluable.

I would definitely encourage founders to reach out to advisors and make sure they are looking for people who see the world in the same way they do, but who have reached the milestone they’re trying to reach. People take lots of different routes to get to the same place, so ideally, find someone you resonate with.

I would say one of my biggest learnings was:

You can take all advice on board but don’t feel obliged to follow it if it doesn’t feel right for your journey.

This point is important, and not so obvious, at the same time. Mentorship is being able to get a learning opportunity out of as many things as you can, from someone who has walked a similar path.

How do you currently manage your cap table?

Vestd definitely helps!

Do you have a share scheme in place? 

Yes, we do! We have an EMI scheme in place for the team; it allows us to build a culture of being all-in.

In a competitive market, differentiation is key. What sets your startup apart?

At ETHOS, content is always about topics you share with other people; it’s not about showing off, it’s about having real talk. Our tools are designed to encourage positive engagement online.

We build for Gen Z; We listen to them and we understand their needs as the first digital native generation.

What’s the most unexpected or quirky thing you’ve learned or experienced as a founder?

It’s so fun to see how the trends amongst the teens seven to ten years younger are different to the ones we (Gen Z) had, and which trends stick around! This definitely helps not only build for now, but for the future, too.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what skills of yours do you think would be most helpful?

Definitely not my sense of orientation!

We can't be great at everything! Thanks Alejandra, we wish you all the best with the future of ETHOS.

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