Q&A with Co-Founder of Reframe
Reframe’s Co-Founder, Ziyi Gao, sits down with Nicolas Terwindt for a quick catch-up on the Reframe journey thus far.
A Sit-Down With Ziyi Gao
I recently sat down for a catch-up with Reframe’s Co-Founder, Ziyi Gao. Ziyi, a serial learner, wears a little of all hats at Reframe. She’s been highly involved in the product development, marketing, and touched just about everything else throughout Reframe’s incredible growth. Reframe is an app built to help people cut back from drinking alcohol. It aims to help Reframe one's mindset. Having started with alcohol, Co-Founders Ziyi Gao and Vedant Pradeep are looking to build a one stop shop for building healthier habits. What started as a narrow focus on alcohol, will soon shift to integrating into sleep, nutrition, fitness, and everything in between.
- What made you want to be an entrepreneur?
It all really started at Georgia Tech with the Create X program. Create X helps students launch startups, and my Co-Founder, Vedant Pradeep, had a classmate who spoke about the program. Vedant was inspired by his classmate who was starting his own startup and decided that he could do it too! Vedant came to me and said ‘let’s do this’, and with little convincing I was on board. We then quickly applied to the program and got in! To be honest, I never really thought I was ever going to be an entrepreneur. It was more that an incredible opportunity came into my lap, and it just happened to work out. Both Vedant and I never wanted to have a boring 9-5 job, but I really never thought I’d be an entrepreneur. You always feel like you’re not ready and not good enough until some opportunity hits you, and you just take it.
Now that I’ve taken the opportunity, I’m really loving it. Vedant was a great student and I was never a good student. I wasn’t enjoying the classes because to learn, I had to see things in real life and apply it. I learn things on the job and now, everything I do for Reframe, I learn on the job. I was never a coder, and actually hated all of my Computer Science classes, but at Reframe, in the beginning, I taught myself how to code. Another example is marketing. I have never been into marketing, but now I’m managing Reframe’s marketing. I’ve really enjoyed learning so many different things as needs for me have changed over time.
- What has been the most important reason as to why Reframe has grown so fast?
I think there’s two key things: Focus and Product. With regards to focus, we went to Y-Combinator for three months and were so focused. We only tracked one metric, Monthly Recurring Revenue. We wanted to hit our goals so we constantly were thinking about the ways to do so. We had this special period with constant thinking of this singular metric. Also, with regards to the product, we really wanted to build something that people really love. You want to constantly continue to provide your customers value. We listen to our customers and iterate quickly to improve our product.
- What was the Y-Combinator process like?
For us we failed so many times. It’s not like we applied and got in immediately, it actually took us two application sessions. It’s extremely competitive and hard to get in. You have to apply to get in and then, once accepted, the program is three months long where you’re working with incredible partners. We learned so much from these people. At YC, you’re surrounded by so many great entrepreneurs who are working on great companies. For us, we are super competitive and we don’t want to be a great company, we really want to be the best. That was the mindset we had there, and have continued to have throughout our Reframe journey.
The process was awesome and gave us a great time to focus and to do something that we didn’t think we could achieve. When we got into YC, we thought we’d grow and learn, but didn’t expect to grow to the extent that we actually did from the experience. We are super grateful that we are a part of the community.
With that in mind, it is really hard to get in though. Each time you apply to YC, the bar gets harder to get in as they get data on your company. They can see how you’re growing and see what you’ve changed and how you’ve improved since the last time you applied. You have to make progress and have great thinking after each time you apply.
- Describe your Reframe journey thus far in 10 words or less?
Fast growing, focused, making impact, and I’m extremely grateful.
Ziyi is the perfect example of an entrepreneur. Determined, eagerness to learn, and ability to change are some of the key reasons as to why Reframe has grown from $0 to over $10 million ARR in a year. If you want to learn more about Reframe’s journey, check out the highlights from How To Build and Scale a B2C Company in Atlanta.