Yesterday, we covered the news of an Indian startup, Pinpuff being acquired by US based Science Inc. Pinpuff founder, Gaurav Sharma candidly shares the challenges he faced in building a global product from India (important points have been highlighted by Pluggd.in team) and the cultural difference between US and Indian ecosystem (disclaimer being that these are based Gaurav’s experience/observations and should be taken in that context).
1. How did the concept come along?
Idea came from a Google group where people were continuously asking for a service to track Pinterest performance – most of them were ecommerce site owners. I conducted numerous tests and collected huge data from Pinterest and thought of solving this problem. I never wanted to make money but the underlying motive was to make something useful to solve problem which matters a lot to real businesses.
2, Please share a few challenges you faced in building/launching/marketing the product from India.
Biggest challenge is lack of early adopters and constructive feedback. People deliver an upfront judgment on an idea instead of discussing its pros & cons. Hence, an entrepreneur either gets bogged down or over-confident very early and sadly, this happens in most of the cases.
Validation cycle is long. I am working on Zuvvu (twtbuck) for last two years – I know this model works but somehow I am not able to get any satisfactory response from Indian market – this feeds a doubt in mind – am I doing the right business? is my business not worth doing? I visited Singapore and now, US and within 2 months found that yes, my business has huge potential – I can invest money and time into it. This long validation cycle problem causes double harm when you are working on a wrong idea from day 1.
Lack of seed capital at attractive valuation for disruptive ideas. By attractive I don’t mean insane valuations but valuations at which co-founders can focus 100% of their minds on product with complete peace of mind from monetary independence prospective.
3. How did you market the product?
I didn’t market the product at all. My strategy was to keep all the communications on the site so engaging that it will provoke people to share stuff on Twitter and Facebook. Further, I made sure that language of tweets and facebook shares should be provoking enough to attract people to click on links.
Also, I made sure to launch small yet new features on regular basis. We had dedicated people to do customer support from day 1 - quick replies to tweets, mails etc made people to love us and spread the love for Pinpuff among their friends. And, then we started getting coverage on big blogs like Mashable, TheNextWeb etc.
4. Tech culture difference between India and US? What are your observations?
I haven’t explored much of start up scene yet but have attended some start up meet ups here in LA, so this is what I found :
1. Scale : People here think big without any doubt. No fear at all, they just build the company with an aggressive attitude (in positive way).
2. UX is bigger than anything : User experience rules everything here. Be it color shade of the button or number of words in the welcome mail – everything gets its fair share of time.
3. Social Media is not just Facebook like and Tweet button on site, each and every social media integration and published item has lots and lots of thinking behind it.
But overall, the observation is that Indian entrepreneurs should be more aggressive and confident towards thinking big and playing on global level – talent is the same everywhere, but only one who wants to win will win.