He spent 10 years trying to start a business, eventually becoming a millionaire

Mauri Badia, the founder of startup Hannun, speaks about the fear of entrepreneurship, the power of influencers, and what remains when the joy of money has gone

Hannun is a Spanish handmade furniture brand. The company’s revenue amounted to 3 Million Euros last year and, despite the pandemic, revenues are expected to reach 5 Million Euros this year. Mauri Badia the founder of Hannun after 5 tries and 10 years became a successful businessman and entrepreneur. Now he shares his experience and ideas with the participants of the startup incubator Demium.

— Maybe my story will help someone realize their dream of setting up their own business. I’d say that for me it was an adventure like in the movie "Slumdog Millionaire". Everything I’ve ever learned in my life has come in handy for launching Hannun.

It all started when I was 18 years old. My father said that he wanted to give me a gift since I had already become an adult. Now he won’t pay for my phone bills, and I have to pay it on my own. In the beginning, I was quite angry. Some of my friends received gifts like motorbikes or even cars, and I got this kind of present. It was only later that I realized the value of this gift. That present changed my vision of the world. I started to see that the world is about spending and earning money. Of course, friends and family are very important, but life has a lot to do with money.

I had no money and urgently needed to come up with some solution. At the time I studied engineering at the university, where I came up with the idea to give teenagers private lessons in physics and mathematics. Initially I had a few students, but then I organized something like a school in my parents' house. Everything was good and after three years I decided it was time to move forward and decided to rent a big space to create something like an academy for teenagers. However, the more I thought about it, the more I was afraid of it. I had no experience in such things, it is then where I gave up.

What have I learned working as a private teacher?

  1. How to communicate with people;
  2. How to organize activities;
  3. How to advertise services;
  4. Realized the importance of word of mouth;
  5. Realized that making money is cool!

I was about to graduate, so I started sending out my CV to different companies. While waiting for replies, I decided to try my hand again in entrepreneurship. I found an app that lets you create landing pages quickly and easily. After which I went to local shops, explained to them that I could make a landing page for their business, of course they were interested in the idea. Mainly because other people could learn about their shops on the Internet and for each landing page I was paid 16 Euros. Now it was necessary to reach a new level and create a company that would provide this kind of service. Again the fear came and I thought maybe that was more than I could handle, then once again I gave up.

What conclusions did I draw from that experience?

  1. The future is online.
  2. Selling can be very hard.
  3. Self-development is the best thing that will make you rich one day.

I got an answer from a company and went to work there as a commercial engineer and it gave me the opportunity to move to China. The first year there I worked at some factory with Chinese employees. In my second year, I was promoted to be the sales manager. I made more money than I could spend. At the age of 26, I ran a sales office in Shanghai, many would consider this a great career. However, I missed my family, my girlfriend, and I was tired of eating white rice. So I decided to return to Spain and quickly found another job with a biotech company as a business development manager for the Latin America. While I was working I made yet another attempt to become an entrepreneur. My mother sewed vests for dancers and I made a website that sold vests online and at some events. Everything was going well, until one day my mother said that she no longer wanted to sew. I lost my only supplier, after which the business fell through.

What did I learn from this?

  • If you managed to sell these strange vests, you can sell anything.

I kept working for the biotech company until one day they fired me. This company was a startup, and they failed to raise enough funds. So they decided to cut some of the employees, I wasn’t upset by the circumstances. The week before getting fired, I saw an ad of Demium on Facebook. I filled out the form for participation in the program and received an invitation to a hackathon.

Demium Startups is an international business incubator. It helps to match the best local talents with global business opportunities to create startups from scratch.

The team I worked with decided to create a service for selling cars online, similar to a company in the UK. We decided that we would make one in Spain and then sell it to the British. It seemed to be an easy, fast thing to do, of course this was not the case. I realized I was not really passionate about selling cars online. Therefore, when a pharmaceutical company contacted me and offered an employment contract for 50 thousand euros per year, I agreed. The fourth attempt to launch my own business failed.

What did I learn in Demium?

  1. When you create a company, you must be passionate about the idea. Otherwise, you will not invest 150% of your energy in it. And you wouldn’t succeed.
  2. I learned how to validate an idea, i.e. finding out before production whether there will be demand for that product/service.

Here I am, my first day at the new company, Monday at 9 am in a suit. The time goes very slowly, if before I was bored in the office now it has become unbearably boring. These guys at Demium changed me, I only think about how to start my own business. At the end of the working day, I went to the HR manager and said that I was not going to come back the next day.

There was no going back, everything I learned had to be put into my fifth attempt, which was called Hannun. The thing is when I was renovating my apartment I found some pictures of homemade furniture on Pinterest. I thought I’d try to sell such furniture, but first I had to validate the idea.

In Demium, I learned that you do not need to have something to sell it. You just need to know that you can produce it when someone agrees to buy it.

So I picked some pictures from Pinterest, posted them as well as commercial offers on a famous second-hand online platform. I waited for the market to answer if my idea was good. A week later I checked the website and found orders, next was to produce these pieces of furniture. The first furniture was far from perfect, but I could sell it anyway.

My sister told me that she had a friend who was an influencer on Instagram who could possibly help me out. She suggested giving him our product and in return, he would say something about it on Instagram to which I agreed. Then a miracle happened two days later, thousands of people have subscribed to our account. At that moment, I realized the power of influencers. We started looking for other influencers who could recommend our product, due to this we were able to earn 5,000 Euros in two months.

I got a call from Demium, they liked what I was doing and suggested growing the project in the incubator. I thought that if I keep working with these people, then it was possible to take the business to the next level. So, I came back a month later, Demium introduced me to investors from Barcelona, from there the first investment came into the project. Then we received more and more investments, we learned more new things. Our business was growing and expanding.

Of course, I have not invented anything new because people have sold furniture for thousands of years. The furniture itself doesn’t matter, this is just a piece of wood. We still don’t have a designer on our team. So why has Hannun furniture become so highly demanded?

First thing is that we set our brand apart from the sea of other brands.

Hannun furniture is:

  1. Handmade;
  2. Environmentally friendly;
  3. Local (Made in Spain).

Second, we understood the power of influencers, people want to have the same products their idols and role models have. If you work with opinion leaders, their subscribers will certainly come back to you. We’ve worked with over 300 influencers and didn’t have to spend a single Euro doing so. We gave them our products, then they talked about us on social media.

Now I understand that the most important thing in business is getting started. Four times I came close to starting a business, but fear stopped me. In Demium I met other entrepreneurs, and fear faded away. I finally believed in myself and that I would succeed.

I also realized that one shouldn’t create a business just to prove to other people that he/she can do it. You should do it because you like it and you have something to offer to other people. At Hannun we are now working to become CO2-neutral and seek to create a more comfortable environment for our employees. Do not create a project that has no values for people and the world.

The joy of money can disappear one day, but you’ll have the satisfaction that you have created something that is worth more than just money.

Subscribe to the project news

One message per week, no spam!