Peter Drucker is famously attributed to have said culture eats strategy for breakfast. Every time I have a discussion with my entrepreneur friends, the discussion quickly gravitates towards what we think is fundamentally important for business success. The factors usually include technical skills, marketing capabilities, culture, hiring quality, and funding. I used to think that it was the team and culture that was most important (and certainly at Wingify, we give a lot of emphasis on building the right culture). But is culture enough?
Culture is a necessary, but not sufficient
The way I see it (and many others agree), culture isn’t just free beer and gourmet lunch. (in fact, I think too many “free” things might attract the wrong sorts of folks to your team). Culture is having motivated employees who believe that by showing up at work every day, they are making the world a better place. Culture is being devoid of distracting office politics, culture is believing that morality trumps profits, culture is like a flywheel that like minded people make it self-reinforcing.… Read the rest
When I started Visual Website Optimizer, my sole focus was on selling to small to medium businesses (SMB). However, since last two years, we started getting interest from a lot of enterprise prospects. Of course, if a Fortune 500 company contacts your fledgling startup showing interest to purchase your product, you will be very excited about this mini-validation of your product. However, dealing with large enterprises is a different beast altogether. They don’t work like your rest of your customers and selling them is very different ballgame. So, before opening the champagne bottle to celebrate, you should keep some key points in mind.
How big boys make a purchasing decision
The single most important point is that most enterprises take ages to make a purchasing decision. They will contact you today, you will happily reply asking if they want a demo/meeting and then they will become radio silent. After days or weeks, they will reply and probably schedule for a call to discuss your product.… Read the rest
Chief Executive Officer (or CEO in short) is that fantastically sounding job role that feels like a dream role to many. I used to fancy being a CEO one day and now when I am one (of Wingify), frankly it feels exciting and overwhelming. In fact, it is a big responsibility. A responsibility to make sure company grows, payroll is met every month in years to come, customers are happy, a brand is built, culture is well built and tens of other tasks. A CEO (especially in a small company / startup) can quickly get overwhelmed with all the different kinds of work he has on his plate. After all, in a way, everything associated with the company is in someway his responsibility.
So, what must a CEO do?
In the last 2 years of being a CEO of a nascent and growing company, I have come to realize that if a CEO focuses only on two key tasks and does them really well, all the work he thought he had to do by himself will take care of itself in a very efficient manner.… Read the rest
I was recently thinking about what would a minimal, initial team for a software startup comprise of. Imagine you have a brilliant idea for a startup and you have some funds to hire an initial team. But like most smart entrepreneurs, you want to hire a minimal team first and only expand later, if and as needed. So, what would be the essential, minimum team for your startup? Of course, technically, the answer is one. Minimum number of people you need for your startup is you (and possibly a cofounder). But, I am more interested in exploring what functional roles need to be performed in an early startup that is just getting off the ground. You could be doing all roles yourself, or you could be having different people for these different roles, but in my opinion, following roles define an essential startup team:
- Content expert
- Analytics and marketing expert
Update/note/disclaimer: As pointed out in comments, at extremely early stages, product/market fit is what you should be aiming at and for that matter “product manager” (which is founder in most cases) is the person who will test and refine the startup until that fit is achieved.… Read the rest
Last week, I stumbled across a personal post from a founder on his thoughts after first month of his startup. He writes in the post that he hasn’t been satisfied with the traction received so far and wonders whether existing product is the right path to continue on. I had exact same questions when I was starting up Wingify and now that we have seen some traction, I thought I should expand on a comment I made on how to know if your startup idea is the right one.
When doing a startup, it is perfectly okay to wonder whether you are on the right track. It is not a sign of weakness. In fact, being too attached to one’s idea is a sure shot path to failure. Honest introspection into your startup should be done regularly to have a clearer perspective. After all, startup is a lot of effort and hard work.… Read the rest
I was fortunate to have been interviewed by Andrew on his awesome website Mixergy.com. The interview was about how we bootstrapped Visual Website Optimizer to over 1000 paying customers. The video is long (75+ minutes) but I hope if you watch it, you enjoy it! (If you rather prefer reading transcript, it is also available on Mixergy).… Read the rest
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:
… Read the rest
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:
Please wish us luck for these awards. We have our fingers crossed!… Read the rest
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?
Build a following by producing irresistible content
There, I said it! That’s the secret of marketing Visual Website Optimizer. We don’t have a marketing budget but yet we recently crossed 10,000+ signups milestone. How did we do it?
My primary marketing technique has been producing great content and then simply trying to spread that content. I write extensively about A/B testing and post it at a lot of places and that is what drives a lot of signups for our product.… Read the rest
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.
Questions and Euphoria
Whether it would work? Or, whether I would need to get a job? I still distinctly remember getting the first paid order and delirium it had caused. Even though I had read almost all essays of Paul Graham and absorbed myself into startup world (perhaps) bit too much, the realization that someone was ready to pay for my hacks was an incredible feeling.… Read the rest