Just like most startup journeys, my startup journey too has been extremely exciting. Startups are not just about mankind tons of money. It’s about freedom. It’s about being able to do what you love. To a great extent, it’s also about choosing the right set of people you want to work with. It’s about learning. Unlearning. Relearning. Failing. Learning again. It’s about losing 100 small battles to win a big war. I am going to sum up my startup journey in four phases – leaving the comfort zone and challenging the status quo, getting past the idea phase, and taking off to never look back.
Leaving the comfort zone and challenging status quo
I was at the peak of my professional career – taking all the strategic technology decisions for one of India’s largest e-commerce companies. IndiaMart was doing great. By then, the company had over 50 million registered buyers and a few million suppliers. Managing the technology operations for business at a strategic level would certainly be a dream job for many. However, I had something else in my mind. I was thinking of doing something new. Something of my own.
Everyone likes a cushy job. But I wanted to do more. I was confident of creating something in my own unique way and adding immense value to my stakeholders. The time had come to bring my ideas to life. In one corner of mind, however, there was a fear. Not only was I about to leave a job that I loved, I was to forgo fat salary checks for good. And the next few months could have been really unpredictable as it is for many early stage startups. I had a family to take care of. A lot was at stake.
I knew that I understood technologies. I was great at project management. But I had no clue about sales and marketing. I didn’t know much about finance or HR either. But I was very hopeful. I knew that the journey of 1000 mile begins with the first step. On January 1, 2017, I took that first step. My fear vanished in thin air. What was left was immense optimism, joy and enthusiasm.
A new beginning – getting past the idea phase
After leaving the fear and dilemma far behind, I moved from the idea phase to assembling the building blocks.
For many first generation entrepreneurs, the idea phase is more like an emotional rollercoaster. One minute you may be convinced that you have the next million-dollar idea, and the next minute self doubts creep in. However, as soon as your business idea starts to gain traction, the entrepreneur moves on to the next stage: the “going for it” stage. At this stage, you focus on putting in the groundwork and assembling the building blocks that will ensure your future success.
First things first, I was to find a name for my business. Since the name was for the people to recognize my organization, we reached out to people to find out what they would like us to be called.
We ran an online contest on various platforms around the world asking individuals to suggest a name and that is how SYGITECH was born. Sygitech finds its origin from Synergy, Digital and Technology.
QlickTrack was my own thought. Quick and One click tracking. It’s a performance marketing platform for digital marketing agencies, ad networks and affiliate networks. It is in technology preview mode at the moment. Once the beta testing is over, we will launch the minimal viable product very soon.
Taking off – Bringing in the right set of people, getting the processes and signing the first contract
Attracting the first set of “right people”
Finding quality people has always been a challenge for organizations. It was not easy for me either. My idea was to build a small team of sales and marketing to set the ball rolling. I was a hard-core technie with no background in sales and marketing. I didn’t know how to identify the right marketing talent. I had no idea about sales and marketing metrics. I knew I had to wear multiple hats. Right from sourcing prospect data to building successful marketing campaigns and from lead generation to lead nurturing and closure; I learnt everything. I read extensively about sales and marketing best practices. Very soon, I was in a position to hire. Finally, I successfully hired two bright guys to help me support marketing, business development and sales.
Now I had to hire a few techies. What I had thought of as a sweet spot came out to be equally challenging. I realized very soon that hiring great techies was perhaps the harder nut to crack. The ones who were ready to join were not that great. And the ones that were great didn’t want to join me as my company was too new and they found it too risky. I learnt that cushy offices, big meeting rooms and large cafeterias also play some role in shaping people’s minds and judging a company. If I didn’t have any of these, I had to be funded by some known VC. But I wanted to completely bootstrap.
Setting the ball rolling – opportunity meeting the hard work
We set the ball rolling effectively from last week of June 17. And as they call it, we met with the beginner’s luck. I call it the “opportunity meeting the hard work”. Hard work is not an option for early stage startups. Hard work must be backed by a great vision and successful implementation of a strategic plan. Beyond our expectation, we got our first project in early July. And then, there has been no looking back. Challenges kept cropping up. But every problem has a solution. Finding the right set of people remains a challenge. But we didn’t let these challenges become a bottleneck for us. My small team with a “right attitude” worked really hard. I work many hats – from HR and admin to sales and marketing, coding. Today things are streamlined. We have people taking care of respective business units. While we were gathering the building blocks of Sygitech, building a team and serving our first set of clients, QlickTrack was taking shape. It was being tried by potential customers. We offered a 3-month free trial to a large number of users who could benefit from our new platform. Hundreds of user feedback was constantly being analyzed and worked upon. We have been making fixes and improving the product every day. QlickTrack is now ready to be launched.
Today, we have 10+ happy customers. We are working on multiple projects – on software development, infrastructure management, cloud, technical consultancy, and more.