I was reading this article in the Economic Times a few days ago about bootstrapped startups in India, including narratives of founders around bootstrapping and vowing to never take venture capital money in future.
I disagree with their opinion and I think they are wrong in taking a position against external venture capital.
I have irrepressible respect for both Paras and Pallav, founders of Wingify and Fusioncharts, respectively. They are good friends of mine and I have played brother to Pallav. They have built a solid business from scratch without any outside capital, and a business which counts some of the largest public and private companies as their customers.
They are selling themselves short. They are undermining their potential. Even Kapish has to be reminded about his valour and his ability to leap the ocean. This is an attempt to remind them.
Wingify and Fusioncharts have an annual topline of around $10 million as reported in the ET story. However, I think what they have built is just a foundation of a larger “play”, which could emerge out of their startup journey.
Take Fusioncharts for example. Charting is fundamental part of Business Intelligence and Analytics vertical. If Gartner’s number are any clue to the enormity of this market segment, it stands at $12 billion annually. This product vertical is lead by players who started with a knife in their respective categories, but now have a whole war chest to offer to their customers. The leading players have built their business inorganically starting with an early foundation. The perspective that Fusioncharts has only $10m of a $12 billion market segment kills the euphoria in an instant. Pallav could rapidly grow in adjacent markets which are no longer the sweet spot of vendors like Tableau, Microstrategy, IBM, etc. in the mid and large enterprise and inching into the higher margin products.
Dashboards are easy to assemble but throw-in desktop (still a key criteria in a lot of companies), SaaS, mobile and web platforms in the mix–it starts to get complicated. There are bigger opportunities in data-driven analytics, predictive modeling, actionable metrics, etc. There are tonnes of ideas to execute upon.
Wingify could easily grow from a mere “A/B Testing” tool to a large provider of marketing automation toolbox. Apologies, using mere in the larger context of the marketing automation segment, and not trying to denigrate the efforts set out by Paras and his team. In the day-to-day needs of a marketer, landing page optimization is not the end goal but to enable efficient lead capture and brand awareness using dozen different tools. Another $10 billion market. Wingify’s existing customer base of 3,000 would love to have newer products from the same company which gives them an amazing product, already.
I could recite non-stop, what both of these founders could build in terms of products, but pontificating on product strategy is not the point. Rather a larger business strategy of growing to a $100 million revenue, is what I am rooting for.
Yes, you have bootstrapped your startup to $10 million. Nobody could take that moniker away when a journalist writes your bio, but this is not about you anymore, It’s about the employees whom you have hired and their future bank balances, it’s about the hacker who has shunned his six-figure campus placement to do his own thing. It’s about this nascent ecosystem which is looking at you to build the next billion dollar global web business out of India.
[About the Author: Indus Khaitan is the co-founder of BitzerMobile, a company that simplifies enterprise mobility. He was the founding partner at The Morpheus, one of India’s first accelerators.]