Successful moonshots are more common than you think

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re speaking with Francisco Navarro, co-founder and CEO of LunarByte, a software development consultancy. Francisco shares his secret to launching and landing big new ideas.

Francisco Navarro, CEO of LunarByte. Photo credit: LunarBytes

Why LunarByte?

It’s really hard for most companies to create delightful products on a shoestring budget. Our unique methodology and team of talented software developers facilitate the launch of big ideas so that early founders can succeed. We identify the most important features of a product or idea, create a viable plan for success, and then we execute on that plan. We’ve found that in Seattle, it’s hard for fresh startups to hire experienced developers without the high salaries other companies can provide. Founders can’t compete with the deep wallets of the big tech companies to hire talent to work for their company. We solved that problem by building a Software Engineering Consultancy so now, founders only have to pay on a project basis and they get the benefit of a team of the most competent engineers.

Before LunarByte, my co-founder, Ben Daschel, and I were both software engineers at large independent companies (Starbucks and Azuqua/Okta, respectively). While well-run, these companies aren’t always able to accommodate the pursuit of their engineers’ independent ideas. Both of our employers were becoming increasingly mired in bureaucracy. While we can appreciate the structure and that bureaucracy brings to organizations, as eager engineers, this heavy-handed process really hurt our productivity and general motivation. Sometimes projects (that we worked on for months on end) were suddenly cut for no reason; other times, we had to cater an army of people just to receive approval before moving forward. Like a vulcan mindmeld over beers, we thought, ‘Why not just build the change we want to see?’. We decided to build our own company with a firm commitment against bloated processes. At the time, we were holding bottles of Blue Moon in hand. Translating the word “moon” to spanish (luna), we decided to start our own company and named it LunarByte. We are thrilled to tackle inefficient software engineering head on so that founders can focus on succeeding in their respective businesses.

A Vulcan Mind Meld, “Star Trek” | Photo Credit: Viacom

How tough was it going from corporate to a startup?

Really tough. First and foremost, we have much smaller budgets. The other big difficulty is just making a name for yourself. It’s tough to establish yourself as a player in software consultancy, and that’s where coming from an established network helps a ton. We’ve started to receive referrals, and we hope that in a few years from now we’ll be a big player in this industry. We’re starting to get some larger projects now, and everyone on the team loves incubating new, fresh ideas and launching them; however, we’re all very technical so we don’t do much UX or marketing. Despite just starting out, our customers (including Dollar Flight Club, Pre-Flight Mitigator, The Counter Veil, and When I Leave) can speak to the high calibre of work we produce, and they all come back for more. 

What’s the secret on how to do more with less?

1. Build the right product: From the technical side, usually anything can get done. You probably have the resources to build all kinds of new infrastructure. Nothing is worse than building a product that doesn’t solve a problem. You can ask a client every day “Is this what you asked for?” but the truth is, sometimes the thing that they ask you for isn’t exactly what needs to be built. Instead, we like to focus on the ‘why’ the product needs to be built and what problem it intends to solve. This reasoned approach prevents the message from being lost in translation.

2. Stay in sync: It’s critical to have a tight relationship with clients because projects and their directions change course at the drop of a hat. We like using Slack because it allows for flat (as opposed to hierarchal) communication. This significantly reduces the odds of “playing broken telephone”. The biggest challenge is that we’re working with less – we have smaller budgets and less wiggle room. But this means we’ve learned how to be ultra-efficient. We also get to have closer relationships with our clients. We’re all on slack together so that we can be on the same page – We don’t work for 3 months and then ask, ‘Is this what you asked for?’

It’s also been so rewarding to help launch new ideas – every member of our team is excited about what we’re working on because we see why founders are asking what they’re asking for. When a client comes back to us and says, ‘Hey that stuff you built? I took it to a convention and now I have 500 users.” – that’s the stuff that keeps us motivated and you don’t really find that in a corporate environment.

What is something everyone should know about building a product?

The ‘Why’ matters. You might be working on a project and at the end you’re like, ‘Wait, why did we do this? Was it worth it?’ If you can’t answer the former, or, if the answer to the latter is “no”, you’re not providing value to your customers. This lack of reasoning can kill a company. The right software consultancy can solicit the right requirements.

How do you give back to the community? 

I’m a first-generation Mexican immigrant from parents who worked on farms. I was the first one in my family to attend college, so I have a deep desire to help others with humble beginnings. We’re proud to be working with Storytellers for Change. They do a lot of work to promote diversity and inclusion from high school through to university across the nation. We’re always looking for impactful clients to be working with and better ways to support equity when it comes to hiring.

When it’s all said and done, what do you hope LunarByte to have achieved?

Create a great space for innovation where companies can gather and launch big ideas.

LunarByte is a preferred partner on Beaze.

How military-grade data on bacteria helps you shed 100 lbs

3-minute read

“Confessions of CEOs” is a series on how business owners are changing the service landscape. Today, we’re chatting with Cesar Amaral, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MX360 Fitness, on getting health and business back on track.

Cesar Amaral of MX360Fitness, a health and wellness vendor based out of Bellevue, WA. | Beaze
Photo Credit: Beaze

So, why MX360 Fitness?

It all started 7 years ago when my mom passed away from diabetes. While she was alive, I had lost and regained huge amounts of weight nearly a hundred times through every fitness fad you can imagine. She saw me struggling and taught me how to sustainably and intentionally lose weight by watching my diet and exercise but more importantly, how to maintain a positive attitude towards life. Through her watchful lifestyle battling this terrible disease, I learned how important it is to choose healthy habits. 

Cesar Amaral of MX360Fitness, a health and wellness vendor based out of Bellevue, WA. | Beaze
Cesar Amaral (before and after). Photo Credit: MX360 Fitness

How did you break into the fitness industry?

I jump-started my own personal health journey by losing 100 lbs and keeping it off. Through her memory, I’m motivated to help others become the best possible versions of themselves. She helped me realize the importance of learning to love and accept yourself for who you are. This revelation has shaped my emotional and physical well being and allowed me to support my current audience of 9 million viewers on social media. 

What’s the best way to help people get started on a transformative journey?

Take on goals in 5 minutes increments.

Whether you’re reading to become more informed on a topic, or meditating for stress-relief, or working on your business side-hustle, revolutionary change requires a step, any sized step, in the right direction. If you do anything for 5 minutes a day, 365 days of the year, you’ll become an expert. This is true both in health and in business.

Transformation is painful. How do you battle complacency and exhaustion?

Ask a friend to join you. 

Whether it’s for a workout or a business brainstorm, the perfect person to do this with is someone who is more “fit” than you in these areas. Working out and masterminding with someone who is further along in their journey will help you break out of your complacency in a heartbeat! 

When I’m feeling burnt out, I find it extremely helpful to take a day off. This will do wonders for you, your creativity and your business. 

What advice would you give to small business owners who are getting started?

Be frugal 🙂 

One of the things I have learned to minimize expenses on things that aren’t important to my mission. For example, I downsized my living space, I don’t buy clothes/shoes/etc. Unless I absolutely have to, I won’t even buy a cup of coffee or pay for internet service anymore because my WeWork office space provides it. I’ve cut all unnecessary expenses out of my life so that I can invest everything back into my business.  

Tell us about how you give back and why that’s so important.

I’m a strong advocate of non-profits within the multiracial community, one, in particular, is El Centro de la Raza. Within this group, there are 42 different social justice programs that help low-income families with housing, childcare, small business, and community events. I was part of the steering committee that helped raise $45 million for one of their building projects, MCee multiple of El Centro’s events and continue to be involved regularly.

What does success look like to you?

A world in which everyone has an opportunity to succeed in life. My dad taught me how to love and how to work. His life showed me the importance of responsibilities and how to hone in on what’s most important. He set the example by never missing a day of work and yet always being there for our family no matter what.  He grew up without a father himself and that spoke volumes to him and us. I aspire to be like him in every way that I can. I want to make him proud of all the people I help daily on their journey towards self-acceptance and happiness.

Do you have any trade secrets? Please share!

Data, data, data. 

I’m a huge fan of Viome. It’s this service where they analyze your gut-bacteria to determine what foods are actually good for you. They also use data and artificial intelligence tech from the military that was originally developed to fight bio-attacks. I found out that foods like spinach, lentils, and bell peppers are inflammatory for me.  Clients are super stoked when they find out that there’s hope in getting scientific answers as to why they may be more successful at times in their health journey than others. It shows the power of technology and evolution.

When all is said and done, what do you hope for MX360 to achieve?

My dream is to positively impact the lives and health of millions for people through MX360 Fitness. I dream of one day, being the go-to place for holistic health for our members. From the moment our members wake up, they will check their MX360 Fitness App/Member site for the healthy breakfast recommendation for the day, they will receive their 10-minute meditation, their 15-minute workout video, their 10-minute reading excerpt for the day…

From the moment they wake up until they go to sleep, we will be there to guide them in making healthy choices. 

MX360 Fitness is a preferred partner on Beaze Beta.