Here’s the Wingify story!

My startup, Wingify, got covered in January 2012 edition of Inc. magazine. It tells about the journey from first version to final product (Visual Website Optimizer). Read the entire article below:

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Wingify nominated for Red Herring Asia 100 and NASSCOM Emerge 50

I am happy to announce that we got nominated for not one, but two prestigious awards. The first one is Red Herring Asia 100, where they choose 100 companies from all over Asia who have potential to make it big. The other nomination is for NASSCOM Emerge 50 which choses 50 emerging companies from India in the IT field.

Red Herring is a widely recognized brand famous for spotting Microsoft during their infancy. On the other hand, NASSCOM is India’s top association of IT industry and is highly regarded for building India’s brand for IT services. I feel lucky to be nominated for these awards. The whole Wingify team (see below, yes we’re 8 people now) deserves to be recognized: ...  Read the entire post โ†’

How to market your startup or new product without spending a penny

Many startups face problem of breaking the clutter. Nobody per se cares about your startup. They have their own busy lives and your startup is probably just another website they visited today. Making people notice and care about your product is perhaps the toughest challenge a startup faces. The challenge becomes even more difficult if you are a bootstrapped startup or are unwilling to spend thousands of dollars on press, paid advertising or sponsorships. So, what are the best ways to market your startup without spending any money? ...  Read the entire post โ†’

The kick of a startup

Yesterday, my startup hit a significant milestone: 10,000 total accounts (trial + paid). And last month marked one year anniversary of launching paid plans for Visual Website Optimizer. I think it is a good time to reflect what it means to me and the business.

Needless to say, I am very happy that we can boast of a small, smart team and big brand customers like Microsoft, Groupon and AMD. However, when I think about it — I was much more excited (and happier) about first 10 paying customers than 10 new paying customers now. Back then when I was launching it, there was an unknown territory to explore and I was a warrior ready to battle the unknown. ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Customer service is not cost of sales. It’s a marketing expense

We had a horrible experience with Airtel, our Internet provider, today. Our Internet line hasn’t been working since morning, I registered a complaint and was promised it would be fixed by 6:30 pm in the evening. The time passed and when I checked the complaint status, it was marked closed. Asked for an explanation, a customer service representative put me on hold for — drumroll, please — full 15 minutes before I gave up. Their IVRS system is impossible to navigate and you are actually asked to dial a gazzilion numbers before. Internet is full of complaints about Airtel and they recently ranked as worst customer service company in India. I’m surprised how the highly paid bosses don’t realize this or don’t do anything to do this. Baffled, surprised and makes me punch myself. ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Growth startup v/s lifestyle startup: why should there be a difference at all?

Again and again, people try to distinguish between two kinds of startups: growth and lifestyle. Broadly speaking, here’s how people categorize these startups:

Growth Startup

  • Raises VC or angel capital
  • Aggressive hockey-stick like growth
  • Laser focused on an “exit-event” (acquisition, IPO, etc.)
  • Focus on revenue (not profits) or other growth metrics

Lifestyle Startup

  • Bootstrapped of Self-funded
  • Slow growth or no growth at all
  • No exit strategy per se as the business is part of founders’ lifestyles
  • Focus on profits at all times (as they don’t have external capital)

With Visual Website Optimizer, many people have asked me to clarify whether it’s a growth business or a lifestyle business. I’m always baffled with this question because these two categories seem narrow and I don’t see my startup getting pigeon-holed into one of them. It is true that we haven’t yet raised any VC or angel funding. But does it really disqualify us from being a growth business? What if I tell you that our revenues (and profits) have been growing by 10-15% every month. We are actively hiring but we’re not in a rush to expand the team aggressively (sacrificing quality). We’re happy with the slow but quality growth in team and product features. Does it make us a lifestyle business? ...  Read the entire post โ†’

What’s wrong with Indian startup scene?

I was at an Indian startup event today and did not enjoy the experience. It felt typical of what Indian startup scene has come to be (it is my perspective, of course. Feel free to disagree). There are two specific things which are wrong about startup scene in India: a) it’s a huge “ego-chamber”; b) most of early stage entrepreneurs are not solving problems for global market.

About “Ego-chamber”

Indian startup community is a tightly knit one and ironically it is also one of the biggest disadvantages. In today’s event, I saw entrepreneurs discussing ideas amongst themselves. One would say: “your idea is cool“. The other would respond: “no man, your idea is cool“. You see — perfect ego boosting so that nobody feels bad about their efforts. The tiny startup community in India has absolutely no connection to outside world and the actual customers are least bothered about these startup events. The worst part, in fact, is that since entrepreneurs talk to other fellow entrepreneurs at such events and no body wants to be the bad guy, they end up getting false hopes about coolness of their startup. The only solution to this is getting away from ego-boosting talk at startup events and actually testing your product validity with customers and being ruthless at that. ...  Read the entire post โ†’

How to find startup ideas that make money

I am glad that my previous blog post Sorry, your โ€œcoolโ€ webapp is probably not going to make money received good response and generated a lot of debate. What I discussed in that blog post was that most of the so called startups or webapps which are based on “game-changing” or “cool” ideas never end up making any money. So, if your aim is to make money, pursuing such ideas can be risky. While idea-driven startups rarely make money, I professed market-driven approach for someone looking to find startup ideas that actually make money.  ...  Read the entire post โ†’

Startup: an emotional roller coaster ride

February was a great month for my startup (Visual Website Optimizer). All metrics that you can care about worked in our favo. Increase in number of customers, revenues, users (and yes, Twitter followers too). We also hired our first employee and are looking forward to hiring 2 more. (Please apply if you are in Delhi and someone you know is in Delhi and wants to work with us).

If everything seems great, why do I call this an emotional roller coaster? Well, that’s because just like a real roller coaster there is always a lingering fear that we may not be in existence 12 months down the line. When established companies such as MySpace with hundreds of employees face uncertainty, how can our small team afford to be complacent.  ...  Read the entire post โ†’