Friday, May 22, 2015

Build and they will come

The title is the anti thesis of startup advice. In fact everyone would advise the opposite. So why is that the title of the blog post? Its because thats exactly our story. We built our product(s) and customers came.

There was no "growth hacking". No AB testing. No email campaigns. No social media strategy. Our initial versions of our websites sucked
(http://web.archive.org/web/20080607054803/http://www.ozonetel.com/http://web.archive.org/web/20100918232458/http://www.kookoo.in/http://web.archive.org/web/20101115160226/http://www.kookoo.in/). Ughh.... On second thought, I dont know whose web sites those are :)

So with the befit of hindsight let me try to see why we survived.

1. Timing: Startup boom in India was just starting. And since startups are early adapters, they actively searched the Internet and found us. This is where blogging worked I think as people found us when they searched.

2. Competition: When you just build your product and wait for people to come, whether you survive or not almost completely depends on the competition :)

3. Customer love: I cannot stress this enough. Because getting customers was so hard we put our all in making sure that they stayed. When we started all the Zipdials, Zomatos, Practos and Housings were also very young startups. We loved their enthusiasm and attitude and we did not want to let them down. And thankfully, they loved us back. As with any relationships, we have our fights :), but at the end the respect remains both ways.

4. Team: More than 90% of the team has stuck on even during difficult times,even at some personal cost. Obviously, when you build a product and wait,sometimes you have to wait for a long time. You must have the patience to see it through.

And last but not least:

5. Product: Your product should have the legs to fight out any competition. It should be flexible enough to fit many use cases and strong enough to withstand pressure from competition.

Obviously, these are just some guesses I have made. Ultimately it could have been just dumb luck that we survived. But I like to believe that luck favors the brave and teams who have their heart in the right place :)

Note: Once we survived and started making money, we are now putting money in to acquire customers. So we are no more in the "Build and they will come" stage. We are in the "Market the shit out of the product" stage :)

Note: An opposite view, https://medium.com/point-nine-news/how-the-best-products-lose-9aa3bd1b777f