From business to our personal lives, to motherhood, most women business owners have a lot on their plate. The necessity to juggle our business goals, personal dreams and family time can either propel us forward or hold us back from achieving the life we desire. Olena Mytruk, the founder of Breverie, came to a turning point in her life where she knew she needed a change if she was going to achieve the life she desired. We had the chance to chat with Olena about her inspiration for launching a personal growth app and how she plans to leave a lovemark in the tech industry, unlike typical tech startups.
Tell us about Breverie. What is it and how did you get started?
Breverie is a personal growth and goal setting mobile app for women. But it’s also so much more than just an app. It’s your personal guide on your life journey, it’s your roadmap to your truest self, it’s your path toward realizing your highest potential and living a life full of meaning and impact.
When people ask me about how it all started, I like to say that I have two stories–a short one and a long one.
Short story is that the idea of Breverie came to me while I was getting my last tattoo done–I am not kidding! I was just laying on the table while the tattoo artist was working on my wrist, I was listening to the sound of the tattoo machine, and I was thinking… Thinking about what I would want to achieve in my life. And suddenly I realized that I want to create this app for all women that will help them achieve their goals and their dreams.
And a long story is that Breverie is the result of my very own personal growth journey. I thought I had all of my life planned, but then something happened that turned everything upside down. I didn’t know anymore who I was, what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live. It’s been 7 full years of me trying to figure it all out, and while I am definitely still working on it, I have managed to create a life that I would never have dreamt of 10 years ago. And at some point I felt the calling to give back to the world–I felt like I needed to share all that experience that I’d gained with other women who are going through the same transformation, who are looking for the same answers. I wanted to create something that would make it easier for them. I just didn’t know what it would be. And then I went to my tattoo appointment…
What makes Breverie unique from other start-ups?
From the very first day, I knew that I wasn’t building a typical startup. I want to create a lovemark in tech. For those not familiar with the term “lovemark,” it’s a marketing concept that represents the highest level of love and loyalty that a brand can receive from its customers.
I knew I wanted to create not just a mobile app, but a virtual guide, cheerleader, accountability partner. And Breverie is not just the name of the app, it is a magical fairy mascot that guides users on their personal growth journey. I know how lonely it might feel at times, how one might feel lost or discouraged – and Breverie is there for them for every step of the way.
I also feel like we all can use some more magic and excitement in our lives. As kids, we don’t need any particular reason to laugh and to feel happy, but when we grow up we somehow lose this ability. We forget to celebrate our victories and start to focus much more on where we failed rather than where we succeeded. So a big part of Breverie is about celebrating your progress, about acknowledging every win, no matter big or small.
As a proudly female founded business, Breverie sets a great example for female entrepreneurs in tech to look to — Before Breverie did you ever expect to be an entrepreneur?
Haha, never 🙂 My parents were engineers and always worked in the corporate world, so this was the only example I had. I got a degree in computer science, joined a big company and built a very successful career from a junior software engineer up to an executive managing $20M+ business portfolio. And never in my life would I have thought that I would be starting my own business. Which proves the point “never say never”!
What is something about launching a new app that you have learned on your journey of creating Breverie that might shock people?
I think what surprises many people is how long it really takes to launch an app. It took me 12 full months from an idea being born to the app being available in the App Store. You have to create your product vision, conduct market research, define your scope for MVP (minimal viable product), create user journeys, design the future app, and then of course the longest stage–having it actually developed. At any stage, it is essential that you partner with the right professionals.
And here is another thing that I personally wasn’t aware of when I was just starting (and thank God I wasn’t, otherwise I don’t know if I would’ve started this business in the first place haha!). The benchmark conversion rate with the apps based on recurring subscriptions is 2-3%. That means that out of every 100 people who download your app, only 2 or 3 will become paying users. So you basically have two options here: try to put your app in as many people’s hands as possible, or go above and beyond with your user onboarding and retention strategy to try and get a better conversion rate.
I focus a lot on what experience users get with Breverie. I really put a lot of effort in making it as personalized and tailored to their needs as possible. I am proud to have a conversion rate of 5-6% now, but I am definitely aiming for 10%+.
Feeling empowered as a woman in business can be challenging. What steps have you taken to feel empowered on a day to day basis?
I am blessed to have a wonderful support network–my husband. He has believed in me from day one, he continues to believe in me when I stop believing in myself, he keeps reminding me how brave I am and how proud he is of me. It helps A LOT during the moments of doubt, moments when you feel like a failure (and those moments definitely happen more often than I would want).
At the same time, whenever I feel down, I remind myself why I started this in the first place. I remind myself of my mission, of how many women from all over the world would benefit from it. But it’s also not about helping millions. Even if 10, 100, 1000 women will be able to build better lives because of Breverie–it’s already 100% worth it!
Always go back to your purpose, to your “why”–it is something that will keep you going on the toughest days.
Why is it so important for women to be empowered/empower themselves?
Each one of us has power–power to improve the world. We might not realize this, but everything is connected in this world, every action we take (or don’t take) creates a change. And together, we are able to create a ripple effect of the positive change that will result in us all living in a better world. I truly believe in that!
But that requires a lot of self work. You need to really know who you are, you need to build up the strength so you can continue walking YOUR path. To me, this is what personal growth is all about–it’s about building a life when you are able to do what you love and when you put it to use for a bigger cause.
What advice would you give for other women in tech or anyone hoping to launch a new tech product?
Be ready for the unexpected. Things will go sideways–it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. While you cannot plan for all possible scenarios, you can make sure your processes are flexible enough so that you can adapt and pivot quickly. Check back with your plan and your roadmap frequently to see if you are on track or if something needs to be adjusted.
And related to this–whatever your estimates are, double them. Whether it’s time or budget, things will take longer and will cost more than what you planned for. It might not be 2x, but it’s better if you are prepared for that and have that buffer available to you, rather than if you suddenly run out of money in the middle of the project, or miss your deadline because you were too aggressive with planning in the first place.
How do you figure out the logistics for launching a new app? Did you have experience before launching Breverie?
My tech background and my 16 years of experience in the global tech company have definitely helped me significantly. I knew what it takes to build a mobile app, what would need to happen and in which order.
What I didn’t know though is how to market the app once it’s launched. In my corporate job, I have had a very limited exposure to what happens to a digital product once it’s live. So this is something I needed learn along the way
What has been the most challenging part of launching a new app for women?
Providing most value in the first few days and helping users see results fast so they keep coming back to the app. It’s like trying to establish a new habit (because it really is!)–at first, you feel motivated, you tell yourself “okay now I am going to change my life”, you download the app, set your first goal and then… never open the app again. How many of us have been here? How many of us decided that we would start working on a new goal, or a new habit, but would not stick to it. The tricky part is–personal growth doesn’t happen fast, it’s a marathon not a sprint, and it’s naturally hard for us to change our lives. So my main focus lately has been to find that recipe that will really help women get out of the “new year’s resolution” approach and instead to make their personal growth a part of their lifestyle. Because this is how you can really succeed–by making it sustainable, by learning to enjoy the whole process rather than a destination.
What has been the most fulfilling part of launching?
Hearing back from my users and hearing how it has helped them–that’s the biggest one 100%! Whenever I receive such a message, it makes my day! It makes me want to go ahead and keep creating, keep building something new and even more exciting!
What is your philosophy on work/life balance? How do you make time for yourself?
I would lie if I said that I have it all figured out. I worked from home from time to time even before COVID, and now I work from home permanently, so boundaries between work and personal life don’t seem to exist anymore. What makes it even harder is the fact that I work two jobs at the same time–my corporate job and Breverie. It resulted in me often working during the weekends, until I made that stop. I made a decision not so long ago that I am not working on the weekends anymore. This is my time to solely spend with the family, to do something fun, to relax and recharge. It’s important to remember that in the end it will pay off because once you have enough rest you will have more energy to put into work. This realization didn’t come easily to me–I always have a ton of ideas and I get upset when I feel like I fall behind, when I set deadlines for myself and then don’t hit them. So recently I’ve been trying a different approach. I have buckets of big tasks: one for my corporate job, one for Breverie and one for my personal life. And every week I aim to complete at least one of each. If I can complete more than one–great! But I won’t punish myself anymore for not completing 10 tasks–I am trying to be easier on myself and accept the fact that I only have that much time, so the best thing I can do is to focus on what matters most during that time.
As a Ukrainian woman, you also hired team members from Ukraine. How do you work together being based in the US? How has this impacted your business?
I am blessed to have the most talented and professional team! I couldn’t do anything without them. They are very independent and self-sufficient, they know what they are doing and they definitely don’t require a lot of supervision from my side. We have an established channel of communication on Slack, and of course sometimes we need to hop on calls when it’s their evening and my morning, but that’s totally fine.
When the war in Ukraine started, I know that many companies exited operations in Ukraine because they were worried about continuity of the business. To me, it wasn’t even a question–I knew I wanted to continue working with my team, more than before. And they have been so amazing. They have been working even harder in the last six months, continuing to do their jobs in between the air raid alarms. The amount of respect I have for my team, and for all people in Ukraine, cannot be described.
What’s your favorite thing to do with your family when you’re not working?
We love going rock climbing together–in fact, Dasha (our daughter) introduced us to this activity. Neither me nor my husband did it before, and Dasha went on a field trip with her summer camp and then she got back home begging us to go to the rock climbing place the following weekend. When we arrived, I was terrified–I am afraid of heights. But seeing her being so fearless, climbing to the top of the wall, forced me to do it too. And I felt really proud of myself! It’s also a very good full body workout too!
We also enjoy painting pottery together–another summer camp field trip idea from Dasha! Most recently, we went to the pottery painting place and prepared ourselves for Halloween–I painted a big pumpkin, my husband did a skull and Dasha did a dwarf. Christmas ornaments are next! 🙂
What’s your dream vacation?
I have two, and they are surprisingly different from each other 🙂
The first one is a 3-week road trip in a camper in Alaska in the summer, with visiting all main National Parks. I’ve never been to Alaska before, I love nature, and so I know this is the perfect place for me!
And the second one is going to Bora Bora and spending at least a week in one of the overwater bungalows. It was in fact supposed to be our honeymoon in July of 2020, but because of COVID we postponed it to the summer of 2021, but then we had to cancel it again because the borders were still not open. So it’s still on my bucket list!
How do you reward yourself or celebrate the small (and big!) wins?
I try to do a combination of physical and mental things. Sometimes I will reward myself with a new pair of running shoes, or a tiramisu dessert (which is my favorite dessert by the way!). Sometimes I will book a massage or buy a new book. Sometimes my reward is finishing work early and spending more time watching a movie or going out with my family.
And I always try to journal. I have a daily task in the Breverie app (yes I use it myself!) that’s called “My today’s wins”. And in the evening, I try to write down at least one win that happened that day, whether big or small. I actually have been less consistent with it recently than I’d want to, so thank you for this reminder–I need to get back into doing it every single day!
What do you do to re-motivate yourself if you ever get into a funk or don’t feel like working at a time when you know you need to keep moving forward?
I once heard a phrase that I thought was so true. “Motivation is like the sky. The sky is always blue, whether it’s covered with clouds or not. Even on the days you don’t see it because of the clouds, the sky is still there. Same with motivation–it’s always there, sometimes you just need to see it.”
So whenever I feel unmotivated, I kinda push myself a little bit and do something quick and easy that I know will make me feel excited or accomplished, even if I don’t feel like doing it at the beginning. But once it’s done, I always feel that my energy is back and that I am now ready for more again.
How has goal setting impacted your life?
It’s interesting that you ask, because the nature of my business and what I do has definitely impacted the way I look at goals personally. These days, I see goals more as a journey rather than a destination. It’s about the process and everything that’s to be uncovered and gained along the way, rather than some magic point in the future when I will be able to check off the box. It’s North Star that I aim for, while remembering that the journey itself is why I do it. I am trying to fully embrace a lifestyle of continuous growth and development, rather than living from the 1st of January to the 1st of January.
What do you hope to accomplish with Breverie in the future?
I want Breverie to become a driver of the global movement of positive change and empowerment that will result in all of us living better lives in a better world.
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Find Breverie in our previous story on 6 Productivity Apps to Help You Hit Your Stride!