Product Development March 29, 2020

Things learnt from my first startup experience

Deepan Subramani @deepan
  1. Don't search for ideas, search for problems, 'fire on the hair' problems. More the pain, you don't have to sell, customers come searching. Spotting such problems needs domain context and ability to connect the dots. Takes time and effort [Ideation]

  2. Spotting a problem is just not enough, validate if you can reach your users. We missed on this horribly. Validating the distribution channel at early stages is key [Ideation]

  3. From our mentor: Problems are either marketing heavy or engineering heavy, pick the problem based on your strengths and that you would enjoy executing [Ideation]

  4. The early days should be just about finding ways to solve your user's pain, don't start building solutions until you find a few users with whom you can work closely and iterate. Do things that don't scale [Execution]

  5. Speak about the problem you are solving to everyone. We learnt something new about our problem space from each one of those we spoke to. As we did this more, our knowledge space improved so did our sales meetings [Execution]

  6. If you want to bootstrap, start thinking abt sustainability from day one. Sustainability means the product earning a small sum of money so founders don't have to shell out from their pockets though they are capable of. We failed on this big time [Execution]

  7. Here is a good one, focus on one thing at a time, otherwise you will not build momentum and nothing will take off. We spent our limited resources to build mini products with the hope that they will make money to fund our main product, and we launched none of them [Execution]

  8. Learnt this from a smart founder. Speak up and ask, worst case, you don't get what you asked for, same the case if you had never asked [Execution]

  9. Learn finance. Learn Company structures, Bookkeeping, GST, Income Tax, Tax on exports, Company valuation, Equity, Raising capital, Cash flow, P&L statement, Balance sheet, Depreciation, Expense forecast, Investments, Filing returns [Execution]

  10. Don't start a sales call by explaining about the product. We found this hard to execute. A better way to think about this is to use the first call to learn and filter out who don't have the pain you are addressing, optimising your resources [Sales]

  11. Find a mentor. A mentor is one who has got good domain knowledge, who has walked through the path of building his/her own business and who can introduce you to potential customers. We were able to take quite a few shortcuts with the help of our mentor [Execution]

  12. Anxiety kills creativity. Do things that kills stress. Exercise, sleep, eat healthy food and whatever that works for you. A hack that I found was to stop thinking about the end state(scaling big, making tons money etc) and try to enjoy the journey [Execution]

  13. Perseverance is the key. My initial motive of startup was to become rich, but the experience was so humbling that my ego was brought to knees so many times, eventually the challenge of building a business from scratch overthrew the motive of money [Execution]

  14. Focus on fundamentals: Listen, Read, Write & Talk [Execution]

  15. It's a marathon, not a sprint. In my opinion, co-founders chemistry should be deeply rooted, even beyond the professional boundary. Standing up for each other during hard times strengthens the bond and ensures the ship keeps sailing [Team]

  16. Last but not least, advices never work 99.99% of the time as they lack context, handle them with care. This advice from our YC SUS mentor [Execution]

Hope some of the above resonates with others experience on building their startup and reinforces their learnings.

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  1. 1

    Love every word of this post!
    Cheers,
    Jonathan

    1. 1

      I am glad you liked the post. Cheers mate.