We recently closed our first round of professional funding from some of the best investors in the Indian tech ecosystem. It is almost 18 months since we formally began operations in the summer of 2013. While this is a great moment of joy and validation for the entire team that had been working tirelessly and under severe resource constraints, it also felt like a good time to introspect the past few months and gather our thoughts on the way forward.
The title of this blog is called the ‘Journey To The Base Camp’ since it surely feels like it. We have reached an important milestone in our journey but our steepest climbs are yet ahead of us. The most exciting part of our adventure seems to be just starting.
So far we were managing operations from our own funds and with some very timely help from our family and friends – we can’t thank them enough. Needless to say, like most startups our operations are quite frugal but not small. We don’t have a lavish office or a large team but have invested in some very senior and talented team members and a work environment that is apt for a “cool” startup but not a garage by any means.
The 18+ months journey so far has already witnessed a few twist and turns. Our business models have changed, product roadmaps evolved and go to market strategies needed course corrections a couple of times. Thankfully, most of the pivots have proved in the right direction or atleast in a direction that is better than its predecessor. We have also had our share of fights and arguments but probably what helped us the most was that after most heated debates we would have a drink together and move ahead from there.
Our decision to not compromise when selecting team members was sometimes frustrating from a time perspective but is already paying rich dividends. As I look back I have to admit that we had investment offers from a varied set of individuals/groups and on more than one occasion we decided to let the offers pass primarily due to difference in culture or lack of chemistry with potential investors. These were tough decisions especially given the fact that there were times when we weren’t sure how we will fund the next month but still gathered courage to pass those offers.
Now with professional investors comes in additional responsibility and we have laid a few guiding principles that we aim to ingest into the culture of the organization.
- Sole focus is growth: Our sole aim is to utilize the funds to enable growth – growth of products and growth of customer base. Everything else is secondary.
- Resist spurt spending: We will not go out on a spending spree just because we are funded.
- Won’t hire for delegation: We won’t hire so that the same quantum of work can be done in an easy manner, but hire to be able to do more or better. I have seen this trap destroy many plans in the past.
- Start lifestyle changes: Investors don’t invest at this stage so that the team members can make dramatic changes to the quality of life at work or home, but so that we can build something better and faster. We might be able to now afford a few more team celebrations. Let’s see how far it goes.
While these philosophies are easier said than done, I have to admit that my co-founders and the entire team is fully aligned to these and hopefully will help us build a solid foundation for the future.
The journey ahead is looking more exciting than ever before and I can’t wait to experience the adrenalin rush.
To base camp and beyond…