Learnings from 4 months after Starting Up [You will be amazed by what you can do]

[Guest article contributed by MySmartPrice team, a price comparison service (read our review). The team shares their experience of running a 4 month old startup and most importantly, going back to the technology roots after few years in corporate life.]

It has been more than 4 months since we said good bye to our jobs and started working on MySmartPrice.com. Since we have benefitted a lot by posts of other entrepreneurs about their failure, struggle and success , it is only fair that we share our experiences with the community as well. May be someone will manage to find some small motivation from it. We will particularly concentrate on some of the fear/doubts that we had while getting started on this journey and how they have played out in these 4 months days.

Living on 25K is difficult but possible: We were very clear from the first day that we will not monetize the site or think of raising any funding till we get the user experience right and build a good traction with users. That meant we have to survive on earnings from side projects for about a year. In order to be able to give maximum possible time to our startup we have to make do with the least amount of money that is absolutely necessary to survive. That has meant that we had to move from taxi to shared auto, using bike instead of car, living in the outskirts of the city or having daughter’s birthday at home instead of in some restaurant. We will be fooling ourselves if we say that it is easy. It is not. But given the alternative of not working on something that we so strongly and passionately believe in, we will choose this difficult life any day.

Side projects are a torture because they need us to stop working on something that we were 150% involved in last night and start working on something else. There are many things, like responding to customer feedback or code failure due to some stupid issue etc, that do not stop simply because we have to work on a client project. May be there is a better way to handle the project and we are trying to learn it but the only thing we will suggest is that do not go for this route as your first option.

People will notice when you do something good I could have never expected the CTO of MakeMyTrip or a product manager at Google to stop by to appreciate what we have done. Obviously these people get to see much more awesome things but still they have been kind enough to cheer us along this tough journey. A lot of bloggers have gone out of their way to introduce us to their readers. There is no way we can thank them enough. Bottom line is always strive to make a product that is simple, usable and does not confuse the user and never ever compromise on quality. It you stick to it, people will start taking notice.

People will notice even more when you are sloppy While we were busy developing the mobile pricelists, the books section was unattended and some of the functionalities were broken. We had assumed that since traffic levels are low, no one will notice during the few days it will take us to complete the new feature. Five emails within two days made us realize people do notice sloppiness. I hope we have learnt our lessons and will not let that happen ever in future. If something is broken and you know about it, it’s a crime not to fix it. Just fix it.

You will be amazed by what you can do: Sita was coming back to technology after 2 years at IIM Bangalore and 3 years in banking. I was a manager and into pre-sales and consulting for the last four years. So if anyone had asked us if we can develop a complete crawler in PHP, work with MySQL internal APIs to get the autosuggest to work properly, obtain millisecond response time with JavaScript and simultaneously market the site to get it to 1000 users a day mark within 100 days, our answer would have been have you lost your mind? But the fact is that not only we have done all that, but a number of other initiatives, like an Ajax based Mobile Finder, are already in the pipeline.

interesting life of entrepreneurs

Thanks to Rodinhood and unpluggd for telling us about the interesting life to expect. But it has been totally worth it till now and hope it continues to be so.

(image from Rodinhood)

[If you are an entrepreneur and have an interesting story/insight to share, please get in touch with us (ashish@Pluggd.in).]

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