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Julian Azofra

The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.



4 years ago while I was studying Computer Science in Uk, at Lancaster University, I had a problem. I wanted to hang a mirror on my room, but I didn’t have a drill.



Julian Azofra is up.



Julian Azofra (Sharpei)


Who are you and what do you do?


I'm Julian Azofra, a 23 year old Spaniard, cofounder of 2 startups. Since I was a kid I was always thinking about crazy ideas I wanted to build, maybe that is why I didn't pay attention to my teachers in school, I was always daydreaming during the lecture. 


4 years ago while I was studying Computer Science in Uk, at Lancaster University, I had a problem. I wanted to hang a mirror on my room, but I didn’t have a drill. I was living on a budget as any student, so I asked for one but no one could lent me one. That’s when I decided to go on the internet and look for one, I found out at that moment that the avg cost of a drill is around 150$, 150$ for a hole in a wall? For 3 seconds of use? In that moment I realized we had a huge problem, there is no alternative to buying the things we want to use. 


That’s when I decided to launch my first company. We created the biggest b2b rental marketplace of Spain. But there was a problem, our providers were struggling to make their service profitable, they were experiencing to many risk and fraud, they were having problems with reverse logistics and basically, they didn’t have any experience doing this, because they had been selling products for years, but they haven’t rented them before. 


That’s why a year ago we decided to move to San Francisco and start working on Sharpei, Sharpei is the first solution that allows any retailer, shop or brand of the world to launch rentals, subscriptions and second hand-reselling of their own products and from their own website in just minutes. We are about to close now our 1.5 million pre-seed and we already have clients in the US and Europe. It’s been a long journey, but I know that myself from 4 years ago would be proud, because we’ve managed to create a real alternative to buying, so you can own less, but live more.



What did it take/how did you get started?


We launched our first startup Yakk during covid. I was living in Lancaster, studying my second year of Computer Science when suddenly the pandemic hit. I got good marks at that time in every subject so they basically told me to go home and come back in 6 months to course my third year without doing the final exams. Suddenly I found myself with 6 months where I had nothing to do, so I decided to start learning about business and launched with Maria and Lucia an MVP of Yakk. 


6 months past and I got back to Lancaster because I was still studying and Maria and Lucia my cofounders had their own jobs and a company together, we didn't have a lot of time to work on it. One day we got a call from Lanzadera, the biggest Spanish startup accelerator where they told us to apply to their program. So we decided to do a bet, if we got selected we would go all in with our project and move to Valencia.


When we got into the program, Maria and Lucia quit their jobs and I managed to get a permission to finish my degree online from Valencia. So I left my house in Lancaster, my friends and girlfriend and moved to Valencia where I didn't know anyone. It was a tough decision but I felt like it was a good opportunity that I couldn't miss.

What does the future look like for you and your business?I think that in the coming decade, we anticipate remarkable strides in sustainable consumption models, marked by the growing prominence of subscription, rental, and pay-per-use services. These trends signify a profound shift in consumer behavior, steering away from conventional ownership towards more eco-friendly and adaptable alternatives. The subscription economy is gaining traction, providing consumers with access to a diverse range of products and services without the encumbrance of ownership. 


This not only resonates with the increasing preference for experiences over possessions but also actively contributes to minimizing waste and lessening environmental impact. Simultaneously, the ascent of rental services is reshaping how consumers engage with goods. Rather than possessing items outright, individuals pay solely for the actual usage of a product or service.


Furthermore, this liberates one from the need to store products, a boon considering the diminishing size of modern living spaces and the newfound flexibility afforded by remote work. In essence, the next decade promises a transformative shift towards sustainable consumption choices, spearheaded by the adoption of subscription, rental, and pay-per-use services. This transition not only aligns with evolving consumer preferences but also reflects a collective commitment to a more sustainable and unburdened lifestyle.



What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?


Our team, including Maria, Lucia, and I, are deeply committed to transforming how people consume nowadays. We aim to shift from the traditional buy-use-discard cycle to a more sustainable rent-use-reuse model. Our vision is for everyone to engage with their preferred brands in smarter, more sustainable ways, hopefully through Sharpei. 


We're driven by the desire to leave a better world for future generations and to democratize access to the amazing experiences we have to live in our world that might be out of reach for some due to financial constraints.



What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?


To embrace curiosity and never stop learning. The path ahead is filled with challenges and opportunities that will require innovative solutions and adaptability. Focus on building a strong foundation in both your expertise and soft skills, such as communication and empathy, as they will be just as crucial as technical knowledge.


Seek diverse experiences and perspectives to broaden your understanding of the world and the impact you wish to make. Stay true to your vision for a sustainable future, but remain open to change and new ideas while exploring. And most importantly, believe in your ability to make a difference, even when the task seems daunting.



What has been the hardest part of your business journey?


Maintaining a healthy work-life balance while nurturing my startups from the ground up was difficult and it is a common struggle for many entrepreneurs. Moreover, the emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows has been difficult to cope with. Now after 5 years I've learned to managed my feelings better, being less emotional and a bit more rational.



How have you managed burnout thus far?


To keep burnout at bay, I've really leaned into a few key practices. First off, staying active is a game-changer for me. Whether it's hitting the gym, going for a run, or just playing Padel, it's like hitting the reset button on my brain and body. Then there's drawing a line in the sand between work and everything else. It's easy to get caught up and say 'yes' to everything, but I've had to teach myself to take a step back, prioritize, and understand that it's okay to push some things to tomorrow or say no altogether.


This way, I'm not always on the clock, and it makes a world of difference. And, of course, nothing beats hanging out with friends and family. Whether we're just chilling, catching a movie, or sharing some good Spanish food, it's those moments that recharge my batteries. It's about those laughs, those conversations, and just stepping away from the work grind. All this together? It's my recipe for staying sharp, avoiding burnout, and just enjoying the ride. It's all about finding that sweet spot where I can hustle hard but also live my life.



What are a few resources that you'd recommend?


Podcasts: I love Worldcast, The Diary of a CEO (Doac)and Itnig for entrepreneurs. Books: Shoe Dog, How to make friends & influence People and Gap Selling.




The STATS




List the founders


Julian Azofra, Maria Azofra and Lucia Clifford



How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?


65



# of Employees?


20



When did you start?


2023



How much did it cost to launch?


$100,000



What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?


We've raised $1.5M so far from American and European VCs



Annual revenue?


$1M



Projected revenue?


$2M



What's the number one thing you need right now?


Clients and a good sales team



Social:


Instagram: Juli.azofra 

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