Shoot for the moon in everything and don’t just settle — We have one of the original advisors from Nest Thermostat on our team because we wanted the best of the best helping us, even from the beginning.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bruno Lima and Richie Stapler.
Bruno Lima is co-founder and CEO of Pura, the smart home fragrance diffuser. Bruno is originally from Brazil, and moved to Utah at the age of 9, where he learned from a young age to appreciate good scents. Graduating with a BA in Manufacturing Engineering Technology from Brigham Young University, he has always been passionate about creating and understanding how things work, and how to improve the consumer experience. Bruno was formerly the CEO of ASLV and also worked with engineering at Klune and Schlumberger. His innovative mentality and constant desire to improve keeps Pura ahead of its competitors and customer satisfaction at the top of the industry. Bruno’s leadership skills are the backbone of Pura’s success, and they have landed him in the 98th percentile of leadership effectiveness across the entire country, adding to Pura’s young and impressive regime.
Richie Stapler is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Pura, the smart fragrance version of Keurig’s partner brand marketplace, controlled through smart diffusers and the mobile app. Richie grew up in Centerville, Utah, and always had a passion for good smells. In 2014 after learning about the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart home systems, he then talked with some of the women in his life to discover that many people are passionate about home fragrance. Richie was able to combine these passions and create the original smart home fragrance diffuser with his Co-Founder Bruno. With an incredible team, great partnerships, and countless hours of work, Pura has now become one of the fastest-growing businesses in the country. Previous to Pura, Richie received his education from Utah Valley University studying Technology Management and visual communication, with a minor in entrepreneurship. He was also the founder and CEO of Vinteo, an app that brings professional filters and video capabilities to smartphone and tablet users. Richie’s background in photo, video and design helped create the vision that has lifted Pura to incredible heights at a fast pace. His enthusiasm, work ethic, and attention to detail have won him prestigious recognition, putting him at the top of his field and keeping Pura at the head of the market.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Both of us have always been interested in fragrances, innovation, and entrepreneurship, which made this specific venture seem like the perfect fit for us.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
We had a lot going against us at first. Neither of us has a coding background, which seems pretty essential when you’re starting a tech company. Neither of us had an extremely decorated background, which made it nearly impossible to convince investors to give us money. Not to mention it’s very hard to convince investors to fund hardware companies. We also didn’t have money to bootstrap, so we had to risk everything to fund it. We took out loans, maxed out credit cards, and sold our cars just to have money to operate.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
We have extremely supportive spouses who were there for us when we felt like we were lost and out of options. Having that support was critical in the process.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Today Pura’s growth is absolutely unprecedented, we’ve grown over 9,000% over the past year, and continue to grow at such a fast pace. Having a strong drive and belief early on allowed us to bring in the best team who believed not only in the vision, but in the idea that anything is possible. This has allowed us to set up the company and structure for the success that we’re experiencing today.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake we made wasn’t very funny when we made it, but we allowed feature creep to happen, when we assumed customers would be upset to lose an outlet, so we added a USB onto the device. Turns out that it was never used, and it added a substantial amount of cost to our devices. It also brought up so many questions with customers thinking you needed to plug something in just to use the device. We now have an entire product team that does tremendous amounts of market research before anything new is launched.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We hear the phrase, “there’s an app for everything”. In our case, there wasn’t. Before Pura, the category of “Scent Tech” never existed. We have since continued to develop smart diffusers and build out our fragrance marketplace with the best brand partners to lead the industry.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Starting a company, you need to wear many hats. Find and hire teammates who share your same vision and can help lighten the load.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Regardless of whether you believe in God, the Universe, or just Karma, we believe that a higher power has been helping us along this ride. We’ve found that the more we try to do good, and rely on that higher being to help us, the more success we’ve seen.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
The sense of smell is part of the human beings’ core. It’s tied to memories and can impact your mood. We love hearing how happy our customers are when they walk into the room and smell their Pura, and they actually feel how it improves their well-being. It also feels extra nice to do it with clean fragrances, knowing we’re not putting anyone’s health at risk.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Shoot for the moon in everything and don’t just settle — We have one of the original advisors from Nest Thermostat on our team because we wanted the best of the best helping us, even from the beginning.
- Don’t be afraid to share your ideas — You’ll find people might be as passionate about your idea as you are, and people are willing to open doors that you would not normally have access to.
- Don’t do crowdfunding campaigns — Things are not the same as they were at the beginning of crowdfunding. Companies that are already venture-backed and have manufacturing ready to go will use crowdfunding for the last push. It has tainted the minds of customers and makes unrealistic timelines for those who are truly using crowdfunding to get everything set up.
- Take Calculated Risks — In the early days, everything felt like a big risk since we didn’t have much money. If you just do enough research to help you believe in what you’re doing, you have to be okay with taking a chance when the time comes.
- Ask for what you want — We’ve improved a lot of deals just because we weren’t afraid to ask for a better term or a sweeter offering.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Honestly it would be as simple as encouraging people to smile and start conversations with others out there. There are so many people who need emotional help, and just a smile and a polite conversation can have a lasting impact. It’s something that costs nothing yet makes a huge difference.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!