The FusionCharts Journey

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The presentation that I have at TiE, Kolkata talking about the FusionCharts journey - right from conception to the current day, and the lessons I learnt along the way.

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The FusionCharts Journey

  1. 1. The FusionCharts Journey Pallav Nadhani Founder & CTO
  2. 2. This is me when I was 3… Thank you Google Image Search!
  3. 3. Know me better <ul><li>I thought dropping out of the college was the in-thing. </li></ul><ul><li>When I was 17, I was approached to write an international technology book. But, writing the book itself wasn’t the biggest challenge! </li></ul><ul><li>Beer is the second best thing God ever made. The best is unlimited beer . </li></ul><ul><li>When I’m hungry, I eat . When I’m lonely, I eat . When I’m confused, I eat . When there’s nothing more to eat, I go buy some more. </li></ul>
  4. 4. So why am I here today? <ul><li>Free food! </li></ul><ul><li>To share my entrepreneurial experience with you </li></ul>
  5. 5. What do I do? <ul><li>Run a small ISV – InfoSoft Global (P) Ltd. </li></ul><ul><li>2 offices in Kolkata </li></ul><ul><li>12 products </li></ul><ul><li>30 employees </li></ul><ul><li>110 countries where we sell </li></ul><ul><li>12,500 customers (satisfied, happy and ever-growing) </li></ul><ul><li>250,000 users </li></ul>
  6. 6. So what is it that we sell? ?
  7. 7. So what is it that we sell?
  8. 8. Our flagship product FusionCharts
  9. 9. So what exactly is FusionCharts? <ul><li>A Flash Charting Component for web and desktop applications </li></ul><ul><li>Adds the “wow” factor to your data centric applications </li></ul><ul><li>Works with all web platforms, scripts and databases </li></ul><ul><li>4 out of 5 Fortune 500 companies use it </li></ul><ul><li>Pioneered the concept of Flash charting way back in 2002 </li></ul>
  10. 10. How is it being used in popular sites? Weather.com
  11. 11. How is it being used in popular sites? Weather.com LinkedIn Polls
  12. 12. How is it being used in popular sites? Weather.com LinkedIn Polls Facebook polls
  13. 13. How is it being used in popular sites? Weather.com LinkedIn Polls Facebook Polls Google Docs
  14. 14. How is it being used in popular sites? Weather.com LinkedIn Polls Facebook Polls Google Docs Rediff.com
  15. 15. How is it being used in popular sites? Weather.com LinkedIn Polls Facebook Polls Google Docs Rediff.com MoneyControl
  16. 16. How is it being used in popular sites? Weather.com LinkedIn Polls Facebook Polls Google Docs Rediff.com MoneyControl Federal IT Dashboard
  17. 17. So how did it all start?
  18. 18. I needed money… <ul><li>I was all of six teen </li></ul><ul><li>At that age, you always have a fiscal deficit while managing your extra-curricular activities </li></ul><ul><li>Being nerdy had its own financial advantages back then in dot-com boom period. </li></ul><ul><li>Chanced upon a publisher who paid handsome money for writing innovative technical articles. That was my “Eureka” moment. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Frantic search for right mix of technologies began… <ul><li>After weeks of effort, I froze down on Flash and ASP as the right siblings for the content of my article </li></ul><ul><li>Flash meant cool & snazzy; ASP meant all business. Putting them together was an unchartered territory </li></ul><ul><li>And the article was published </li></ul><ul><li>Developers liked the concept of what could be done with Flash </li></ul><ul><li>And still better, I got paid for it… handsomely… </li></ul>
  20. 20. And the idea for product was born…
  21. 21. Always address a pain-point Entrepreneurship Lesson #1:
  22. 22. Brickbats or bouquets, take it all constructively Entrepreneurship Lesson #2:
  23. 23. And v1 of the product was developed Single-handedly…
  24. 24. Why the name FusionCharts? fu⋅sion    /fyuʒən/ [fyoo-zhuhn] –noun 1. the act or process of fusing; the state of being fused. 2. that which is fused; the result of fusing <ul><li>chart(s) –noun </li></ul><ul><li>a sheet exhibiting information in tabular form. </li></ul><ul><li>a graphic representation, as by curves, of a dependent variable, as temperature, price, etc.; graph. </li></ul>
  25. 25. We put the product up for sale… With little literature, a basic website and just search engine listings
  26. 26. Fingers crossed; Palms sweating; Mailbox checked every 5 minutes for sales 2 hours gone…. Nothing 6 hours gone…. Nothing 1 day gone… Nothing 3 days gone… Nothing 1 week gone… Nothing What could be wrong?
  27. 27. “ FusionCharts is not the best thing since sliced bread”
  28. 28. Your product means the world to you. To the world, it’s just another product! Entrepreneurship Lesson #3:
  29. 29. We needed to get the word out. But how? <ul><li>Ads? Pocket money was meant for high er things in life </li></ul><ul><li>VCs? Funding 17 year olds with plans for world domination? </li></ul>We had to be cheap <ul><li>Discovered free marketing techniques like articles, community forums and directory listings </li></ul><ul><li>We built ourselves a new logo and website, enhanced the documentation and got ourselves a good tagline </li></ul>
  30. 30. 7 days later… We finally sold a license
  31. 31. “ On the Internet, no one knows you’re small” Entrepreneurship Lesson #4:
  32. 32. Sales started picking up… <ul><li>It was post dot-com bust. The era of everything for free was gone </li></ul><ul><li>The web was evolving . People were experimenting with new technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Companies were looking at trimming costs and enhancing revenue models </li></ul><ul><li>We were priced very competitively ; in fact, under-priced for the first version with free support and upgrades </li></ul>
  33. 33. This was the most critical phase… We needed to cross the chasm
  34. 34. More ideas, more needs, more competition Time for v2…
  35. 35. Out came v2… again single handedly… With more chart types, features and enhanced product literature
  36. 36. Now we knew we could make money <ul><li>We were moving up the value chain from developers to product managers </li></ul><ul><li>Revised prices & innovated licensing models . Open source-licensing with no restrictions </li></ul><ul><li>Created sweet pricing spots which didn’t require purchase approvals </li></ul><ul><li>Experimented with various pricing strategies. Few worked; many didn’t </li></ul><ul><li>Projected Low Total Cost of Ownership over a long term in way of free upgrades and support </li></ul>
  37. 37. Do not price too low. People tend to believe you get what you pay for Entrepreneurship Lesson #5:
  38. 38. Marketing never stops <ul><li>We always strived to be in the heads of our customers – organically </li></ul><ul><li>Had more money at our disposal to be spent on marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Leveraged traditional and new age channels. Experimented with various mediums </li></ul><ul><li>Conveyed benefits to users – how it helped them save cost/time and make them look good? </li></ul><ul><li>Built an ecosystem around our products, which generated a lot of buzz </li></ul>
  39. 39. Market your success <ul><li>Shared customer success stories </li></ul><ul><li>Listened to customers. Gave them not only what they wanted, but the way they wanted it </li></ul><ul><li>People loved our product and raved about it . Almost a third of our sales is word-of-mouth. Happy customers are our best sales people </li></ul>
  40. 40. Sell benefits. Not features. Entrepreneurship Lesson #6:
  41. 41. Success finds many takers <ul><li>We were now a brand – a small one , but a brand nonetheless </li></ul><ul><li>Allowed us to initiate OEM partnerships with big companies </li></ul><ul><li>Added more products to our stable, enabling us to cross-sell and up-sell </li></ul><ul><li>Built bridge products based on core products. </li></ul><ul><li>Forged partnerships with other companies who also built bridge products on our core products </li></ul>
  42. 42. … and a few unwanted ones too. <ul><li>We were open-source . </li></ul><ul><li>A couple of companies ripped off our product , changed the source and started selling under their brand. So, what did we do? </li></ul><ul><li>We released the next version of our product, and released the previous version (which was ripped off) as free product to be used by one and all </li></ul><ul><li>Helped in multiplying our community and keeping such rip-offs at bay </li></ul>
  43. 43. It’s not the big that eat the small. It’s the fast that eat the slow. Entrepreneurship Lesson #7:
  44. 44. The Evolution <ul><li>Change of paradigm – From bottom-up to top-down </li></ul><ul><li>Kept innovating. Given good people enough freedom to enable so </li></ul><ul><li>Focused on keeping a small but effective team of people who are emotionally attached to our products </li></ul><ul><li>Released early, released often </li></ul>
  45. 45. Lessons learnt along the way <ul><li>Always address a pain-point </li></ul><ul><li>Brickbats or bouquets, take it all constructively </li></ul><ul><li>Your product means the world to you. To the world, it’s just another product! </li></ul><ul><li>“ On the Internet, no one knows you’re small” </li></ul><ul><li>Do not price too low. People tend to believe you get what you pay for </li></ul><ul><li>Sell benefits. Not features. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not the big that eat the small. It’s the fast that eat the slow. </li></ul>
  46. 46. Thank you for your time Questions?

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