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8 lessons in funding your own dreams

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8 lessons in funding your own dreams

  1. 1. 8 lessons in funding your own dreams Gaurav Bhatnagar Tekriti Software
  2. 2. The beginning <ul><li>On New Year’s eve of 2004, three friends holidaying in Las Vegas promised to do business together on day. </li></ul><ul><li>But It all really began with an innocuous comment on a blog post </li></ul>
  3. 4. The First Challenge “ Put up something – anything – that works and does something” Original slide removed for sake of privacy . Relevant text from email mentioned above
  4. 5. The First Challenge <ul><li>Here we were, two ex-MSFTies with no experience in web development or open source technologies. </li></ul><ul><li>But 15 days is a long time. </li></ul>
  5. 6. We were in business! Original slide removed for sake of privacy. Relevant text from email mentioned above “ Wow! Coolio dude. Ready to start?”
  6. 7. Lesson #1: Its not about the big idea <ul><li>Entrepreneurship is not about a big idea. It is about grabbing on to the smallest opportunity and building on top of it. It is not about thinking, planning or funding. It is ALL about DOING! </li></ul>
  7. 8. The First Office <ul><li>At 400 sqft and seating capacity of 7, the first office seemed big enough to last us a couple of years. </li></ul><ul><li>(We out grew it in 60 days) </li></ul><ul><li>917 Galleria has since housed 3 other successful startups (talk about good Vastu) </li></ul>
  8. 9. The second, third and fourth office <ul><li>In the first six months of business, we grew in to three tiny offices. </li></ul><ul><li>Then we took our first real risk. </li></ul>
  9. 10. The first real risk We rented space for 36. But we were only 12 at that time. Not sure why we did that. But it worked.
  10. 11. Lesson #2: start small, but think big <ul><li>It is prudent to start small when you are bootstrapping. But plan to grow big. </li></ul><ul><li>Luck usually does favor the brave. </li></ul>
  11. 12. The First Hires <ul><li>When we first started hiring, we had no office, no website, not even a name for our company. </li></ul><ul><li>Needless to say, the first hires were braver than us to join this no-name company. </li></ul>
  12. 13. Working with freshers <ul><li>Our first 5 hires were all fresh out of college. </li></ul><ul><li>We had no money to hire experienced people. </li></ul><ul><li>Working with freshers has been the most enriching experience of my startup life so far. </li></ul>
  13. 14. Lesson#3: inexpensive != cheap <ul><li>Identifying and nurturing raw talent lies at the very heart of building a bootstrapped company. </li></ul><ul><li>What they lack in knowledge, they make up for it with energy and passion. </li></ul>
  14. 15. Attracting talent <ul><li>More than half of the first 10 offers we made got rejected. </li></ul><ul><li>In India, startups, especially bootstrapped startups, aren’t that sexy. </li></ul>
  15. 16. Tekriti campus placement ’06-’07 Why work for a startup? Working in a Big company is like flying in a Boeing Safe, comfortable, predictable. Comes with seat belts and cute air hostesses! Working in a Startup is like inventing the airplane Unpredictable, risky, adventurous, pioneering Seat belts? Heck, there are no seats even!
  16. 17. Tekriti campus placement ’06-’07 Why work for Tekriti? Create. Innovate. Invent.
  17. 18. Tekriti campus placement ’06-’07 Why work for Tekriti? Wealth of experience. Wealth of knowledge. Wealth of $$$
  18. 19. Lesson#4: Sex appeal is important <ul><li>It attracts talent. </li></ul><ul><li>It attracts clients. </li></ul><ul><li>It attracts attention. </li></ul><ul><li>It makes you feel good (even when you are broke) </li></ul>
  19. 20. Building the culture <ul><li>The DNA of the company gets established in the first year of existence. </li></ul><ul><li>Our motto was simple </li></ul><ul><li>Work hard. Play harder. Make history. </li></ul><ul><li>Flexi timings. No dress code. Party for no reason. Being proud of night outs. Free lunches. </li></ul>
  20. 21. Tekriti campus placement ’06-’07 Work hard. Play harder. Make history.
  21. 22. Lesson#5: A company without culture is like a body without soul <ul><li>It will not happen by itself. Building the culture requires hard work (but fortunately little money) </li></ul><ul><li>Every startup needs to build a culture that glamorizes hard work, encourages having fun and emphasizes on cost consciousness. </li></ul>
  22. 23. Becoming a “real” company <ul><li>Company badges and swipe cards </li></ul><ul><li>HR policies </li></ul><ul><li>Leave tracking </li></ul><ul><li>Status reports </li></ul><ul><li>Performance reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Sounds like bureaucracy but it isn’t. </li></ul>
  23. 24. Lesson#6: Don’t take the “startup” thing too far <ul><li>To scale a company, rules and policies are a must. They create a feeling of belonging. </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of policies creates fear and uncertainty in the mind of employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Beyond the first 5 employees, its not enough to say “as long as work is getting done…” </li></ul>
  24. 25. Selling <ul><li>We used our blogs very effectively. We were honest and passionate. And it showed. </li></ul><ul><li>We worked with other startups </li></ul><ul><li>We organized India’s first barcamp. </li></ul><ul><li>We contributed to open source projects. </li></ul><ul><li>We kept our first clients happy who made referrals for us. </li></ul>
  25. 26. Lesson#7: If you can’t sell, you might as well go home <ul><li>A bootstrapped startup starts selling on day one and it never stops. You sell before you produce. You sell before you hire. </li></ul><ul><li>As long as you can sell, you are in business. </li></ul><ul><li>SELL! SELL! SELL! </li></ul>
  26. 27. Doing services and products together <ul><li>Conventional wisdom says its not possible. </li></ul><ul><li>We did it anyway. Twice. </li></ul>
  27. 28. TBO is today’s one of India’s largest online travel consolidator with a strength of 150 in 15 cities.
  28. 29. USourceIT is now VC funded with presence in both India and the US
  29. 30. Lesson#8: Funding product dreams with services money is hard but possible <ul><li>First and foremost, DON’ T KILL THE CASH COW! </li></ul><ul><li>You services business is your first born – don’t treat it like a step child. </li></ul><ul><li>Fix budgets and make hard decisions. The product business either stands on its own feet or it folds up. </li></ul>
  30. 31. In conclusion <ul><li>Hindsight is 20:20. </li></ul><ul><li>We made big mistakes and often came dangerously close to the edge. </li></ul><ul><li>All we can take credit for is having actually had the courage to startup without a big idea and any funding. </li></ul><ul><li>So in the end, there is only one lesson </li></ul>
  31. 32. The only lesson <ul><li>SLOG! SLOG! SLOG! </li></ul><ul><li>No body died of hard work. But several entrepreneurs came close! </li></ul><ul><li>THANK YOU! </li></ul>

Editor's Notes