Alicja Borucinska is a serial entrepreneur. She began her career in affiliate marketing 12 years ago totally by chance and without the slightest idea what cost per action means. At the age of 26, she invested the little savings she had into her first venture – an affiliate network. Alicja is currently working on her third start-up, where she is the only founder and CEO. The business was bootstrapped in 2020 and it reached 7-digit revenue in the first year without external financing.
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Thank you for joining us, please introduce yourself to our readers.
Alicja Borucinska: I’m Alicja Borucinska, the founder and CEO of Users Digital. I have been my own boss for 8 years now. My current focus is the growth and development of the savings platform moincoins.com. Besides running a successful business I also run in real life. I love doing sports like triathlon, surfing and yoga.
Can you tell our readers in what ways you are disrupting your industry?
Alicja Borucinska: Moincoins.com is unlike other coupon and cashback sites. We want to help people shop not only cheaper, but also more eco-friendly. When most saving websites want you to buy more, Moincoins wants you to be more conscious about your purchases. We created an eco-rating system that gives users information about sustainability practices of different stores quickly. I truly believe that sustainability as a trend is still highly neglected in the US e-commerce market, but it will gain importance in the coming years.
Did you become a disruptor by choice or by necessity? Tell us more about the journey.
Alicja Borucinska: t was definitely a choice, a desire to build something with a positive impact. Moincoins’ values represent my own lifestyle. I try to live as eco-friendly as I can – I follow a vegan diet, use a bike or public transport to commute and try to avoid plastic packaging. But my life hasn’t always been like that. I used to be a victim of ultra fast-fashion brands and bought loads of clothes that later hung unworn in my closet.
I bet most women can relate. The climate crisis started raising my awareness about consumerism, so I decided to press pause on this behavior. I analyzed how I can contribute to the eco movement and inspire people to shop more sustainably. I used my affiliate marketing expertise to build a website that helps users discover eco-friendly brands and educate themselves about a green lifestyle.
Now for the main focus of this interview: Many readers may wonder what are the biggest challenges women entrepreneurs must overcome to be successful?
Alicja Borucinska: I believe women are usually more insecure about their own abilities than their male counterparts. I for sure was when I founded my first company. We stand in our own way to reach higher and think bigger, mostly because of the traditional upbringing we experienced.
As boys engage in dangerous escapades with their peers, girls are way more thoughtful about pushing their own limits. Starting a business requires you to take a big step outside your comfort zone. Any founder has two challenges ahead. First, you need to gather confidence to launch – this is the point where most women struggle. The second part is to endure and stay motivated. That’s where women thrive! The only thing women need to succeed in business is to believe in themselves.
How did you overcome these obstacles? Who helped you during these difficult times and how did they?
Alicja Borucinska: When I established my first start-up I had two co-founders, who were the confidence booster the business needed. Their energy totally outweighed my self-doubt. They were coming from entrepreneur families, so they also had the kind of role models that I lacked. After several years of running the company, having great financial success and loyal clients, I gained the boldness to split ways with my co-founders.
I was like a teenager who had learned enough from her parents and decided to explore the world on her own now. The new factor of success was the team I hired. As the company grew from one to five, from five to ten, the dedication of every new member was crucial. I was lucky to find people who want to build and self-improve.
How did these lessons shaped the way you conduct business today?
Alicja Borucinska: The important lesson that I learned on self-confidence enables me to take more risks today. I dive into opportunities where the stakes are high and I don’t have sleepless nights about it. When I decided to bootstrap moincoins.com, I had almost no experience in web development or content creation. I have been offering B2B advertising services for most of my career, so this was uncharted territory for me. But I wanted to explore these deep seas and challenge myself.
What advice you wished you had received when you started, that you’d like to share now with aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Alicja Borucinska: You hear that a lot nowadays and it’s “trust the process”. When you start your first business, you just improvise. But with every day you get better at what you do. When I was at the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur, the motto of young founders was more like “fake it ‘till you make it”. There was no room for vulnerabilities, either you’re successful or you don’t belong to the club. It’s so refreshing to see people now who share their stories and it’s not all roses.
They struggle, they lack motivation, they run into obstacles. Nowadays there are communities of founders that offer support. Don’t be afraid to seek their help when you face difficulties. One encouraging comment can change your mindset and give you the needed power to act!
Out of all of your proudest moments as an entrepreneur, is there a particular one that stands out the most?
Alicja Borucinska: I wish I could say it was the launch of the Moincoins website, but the MVP was so buggy and delayed that it was rather the biggest disaster of my career! I felt the proudest when last year my team, absolutely out of the blue and without any occasion, gave me a gift simply for being a good boss. As a CEO you usually hear people complaining and hardly ever receive any words of appreciation. Knowing that my employees were happy and grateful made me cry out of joy.
What do you plan on tackling during the 2022 year? Share your goals and battles you expect to face.
Alicja Borucinska: I really want to focus on the organic growth of Moincoins through social media content. So many organizations go viral overnight thanks to an amazing TikTok video. But it’s never the first video that gets millions of views. It might be the hundredth, because your content gets better as you publish more and progress.
Our social media team has to stay consistent and motivated even when the results are not satisfying at the beginning. We want to reach people who are not yet convinced of a more sustainable lifestyle and help them find the right eco-friendly solutions for everyday life situations. Not everyone can get rid of their car, but everyone can decrease their meat consumption or choose organic cotton the next time they shop for a T-shirt.
I’m sure our readers will be very thankful for the insights you have shared. What is the best book you’ve gone through lately and please share some take away lessons from it.
Alicja Borucinska: My latest business read was “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. I loved Ben’s insights on leadership. He advises CEOs to be transparent with all levels of employees and tell them the truth, especially when things go wrong in the organization. In his experience (and mine as well) people are really willing to contribute and help. Allow more bottom-up initiative and you will be surprised how much more people-friendly your company can become.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, I do have one more question for you. When was the last time you did something for the first time and what was it?
Alicja Borucinska: One of my biggest personal passions is cooking – I experiment a lot in the kitchen. I spent this winter on the Canary Islands and I got a chance to try so many exotic fruits and vegetables that I’ve never eaten before. Some of my favorites were the African horned cucumber and chayote. Happiness is in the little things.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Alicja Borucinska for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Alicja Borucinska or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin
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