I thought I would make millions through my startup, but I failed miserably. I read shiny stories of Flipkart and Zomato, but nobody told me that 90% startups fail within two years of starting up, I failed in the first year. Sometimes I feel being cheated but the fault was mine, I believed one side of the story.
Today, I am going to tell you the other side of the story, the secret of failure of first-time entrepreneurs.
It was April month of the year 2013 when I was getting uncomfortable in my office. It was a dull cubicle of an IT company in Gurgaon. I was pretending like fixing defects but actually wasting time on the internet. The thoughts of getting freedom from the boring job were taking over my mind. I was losing interest in my work. My co-workers and my manager were sensing that something is going wrong with me.
I was just returned from the US last month, and I told my manager, “Sir, I need a little break to set up my home and adjust again in India”. My baby was just 6-month-old at that time, and he was also having little trouble in adjusting to the Indian climate. I worked from home for some days to take care of my baby. But my real problem was the unhappiness from my job.
Like everyone else, I was also thinking about leaving the job and building a big company but I have to admit that I did not have the courage.
I was in discussions with my good friend Amit (who happened to be my brother-in-law as well) regarding the startup but we were unsure about the product. He also had the similar story with his job. He was heading a team in a recruitment firm, working in night shifts to work with the US clients, and making less money than his expectations.
We were very comfortable working with each other so we decided to start a company and build a product. I saved a good money by living frugally on my US trip. I decided to put all my savings in my startup rather than buying a home (unlike many other US returned friends).
The first step we took was incorporating a private limited company, invested 5L each and divided equity equally. It was going to take about two months to get incorporation certificate, so we planned ahead with ideating the product, hiring and setting up the office.
We found a basement office in Gurgaon with monthly rent of 13,000 rupees. We spent another 100,000 rupees on the renovation. We bought furniture, air conditioner, inverter, and refrigerator. We were having a good feeling of owning an office.
We wanted to solve the problem related to schools because education is a billion dollar industry. The second big expense on parents wallet is child’s education. We thought that we can build any product for schools and make big profits. After long discussions, we came up with the idea of ERP for schools. Online software for schools to manage everything from fees, inventory, communication with parents, … bla. bla.. tons of features..
Another important step was to hire a team. I was confident that we will hire people easily. We had everything for building a good team; an office, money in bank account, hiring policy and most importantly a co-founder with recruitment experience of more than ten years.
We hired one person who was almost a fresher, and he was open to learn new technologies for our cloud-based product. We needed one senior person to own the product and handle all development work because we were still into full-time jobs.
We started interviewing people. My co-founder analyzed a pile of resumes since he had access to all the major recruitment portals. We filtered out best out of best people and interviewed them in cafe’s or restaurants because our office was under renovation.
We interviewed many people for product development/design but no one was ready to join a startup like us.
We were shocked!!
My co-founder said, “I could have hired ten people for any other company by this time, I am not sure why people are not joining us.” I said in tension, “Maybe they will join after seeing our new office.”
Since we were from the corporate background, we spent few days on drafting new hiring policy. We introduced company incentives based on revenue and individual performance bonus along with basic salary.
Our office was ready in June. We moved to our new office and resumed our hiring process. Someone advised me to hire initial teams from the personal network, but none of my friends was having the matching profile. I asked all my friends to give me references of his friends who are working in PHP development or website frontend design.
I got contact of a person who was working in Chandigarh, and he was willing to work with a startup in Gurgaon. We were impressed with his technical capabilities but doubtful about his managerial & leadership skills. We thought of giving a try (anyways, no one else was ready to join us). He was a costly hire. We offered him 60,000 rupees per month plus company incentives if we made any revenue by the end of the year.
We were feeling lucky with two developers. We desperately needed one designer so that our work can be started. I architect the product and developers started coding without waiting for the frontend design.
It was an exciting time. Our product was taking a shape. The co-founders were spending hours on whiteboard discussing the features and developers were busy in coding. We managed to hire a designer on 25,000 rupees per month, but we compromised a lot with his skillset & attitude. We were feeling the heat of startup hiring.
We wanted to complete the product as soon as possible so that we can start selling.
Then we started facing unexpected problems. You know, startups are full of uncertainty and surprises.
Our junior developer was not performing up to our expectations so we had to ask him to leave. With a team of just four people, we completed the first version of our product.
We were confident that our product will sell like hot cakes once it will hit the market. We included all the features of top ERP products in the market to beat the competitors. However, we were not happy with the front end design and were continuously looking for a better designer.
Our first potential client (a known school principle) appreciated our idea & demo but put us on hold till she hear from higher management. We gladly sent her the sales material and thought we will deploy software in few months.
By this time (6 months) the cost of product development was:
Company Incorporation: 30,000
Office Renovation: 120,000
7 month Rent: 91,000
Salaries: 3,60,000 + 1,00,000 + 65,000
Travel, Food, Marketing Material and Others: 100,000
We had full confidence in our software but to get more sales we had to leave our jobs. We were ready to take the risk. We put our resignations. We decided to move our development office to Chandigarh where I will manage operations and my co-founder will handle sales by staying at Gurgaon.
We benefited with our step.
- Now our senior developer was spending more time into development than traveling from Gurgaon-Chandigarh-Gurgaon.
- We saved money on office rental.
- I saved money on my living expenses
Another surprise, our designer ran away with the laptop.
We tracked him and recovered the laptop, but we lost our only designer. I took the challenge and learned basics of web designing. We revamped the entire design in one month. The product came out nicely.
We started reaching out to schools and got the bitter taste of selling to schools. None of the co-founders were from the sales background.
- We struggled for getting the appointments.
- We got exhausted calling 10-12 schools without any results
- Crossing the gatekeeper was a big hurdle
- We found out that principals did not have decision power
- The decision makers were never available in the school
- Most of schools admins do not check/respond to emails
- Nothing happens for 2-3 months when selling to schools
We hired one person from Ahmedabad for sales training and spent about 30K. Along with training, he introduced us with a few startup guys in Gurgaon.
We were unable to sell our product even with more features and less cost as compared to competitors. We started crying by putting our heads on each other’s shoulders. (Biggest benefit of having a co-founder in a startup)
We found few customers by leveraging references, but revenue was far away. My co-founder knew customers better than me since he was doing the sales. He said that few big schools wanted to buy our product if we could implement few more features.
I had a different opinion. I argued that we have enough features for any school to get started and there is something missing in the sales process. I thought we should focus on small to medium schools even if we earn less money. Conflicts between co-founders started rising day by day.
We were running out of money so we invested more personal money into our startup.
We hired a sales person from a big competitor (Our big mistake).
We felt we found a silver bullet because he gave us access to competitors product and told us the secrets of doing sales to schools. We thought that “Ache din anne wale hain” (Good days are about to come)
He worked with us for a month but could not crack even a single sale. We wondered what the f*ck was happening!! Actually he was able to sell in his previous company because of the brand name. He never faced the heat of an unknown startup.
We needed more money to survive. My co-founder was busy in chasing big schools who can pay good money in advance. He also started establishing contacts with political and influential people to win the deals. I learned a lot about education industry but we failed to implement the right things.
We, the co-founders were on different paths.
I was reading a lot of startup blogs and books. I started believing in lean startup methodologies and doing more with less resources. Unfortunately, my co-founder was still building our startup like a big corporate (alliances with other companies & politicians, hiring sales team for doing the shitty work, maintaining hierarchy in the team).
I proposed to reduce our expenses.
- Bring our only developer from cash to equity (up to 20%).
- Stop chasing big schools and focus on small schools (to reduce sales conversion time).
- Target schools on city outskirts those are relatively easy to win.
- Fire the sales guy and spend all our time in sales (including the tech developer)
But our vision and thoughts were not aligned. I knew that our relationship will be spoiled if we continued working together. We had long (and bitter) discussions on keeping the ownership and equity but nothing was getting settled. At last, my co-founder took over the company and promised to return my cash if the company made any profits in the future.
Expenses till end (11 months)
Initial 6 months: 9,56,000
Sales Training: 30,000
Travel, Marketing and Others: 200,000
By now we had wasted more than 15,00,000 rupees on a product that nobody wanted to purchase.
After few more weeks of struggle, my co-founder had to join a job. THE END of the startup, SchoolGennie. Here are seven reasons of our failure.
I started wandering for an another chance in the startup world. It was a great learning experience and my introduction to the startup thing.
It was the failure of my startup but not me. I had some of the great lessons of my life. Let me share some of those with you.
1. Know your customer before building your product
The point should be clear by now. We built our product based on the assumptions and feature lists of our competitors. We should have talked to our customers before building our product.
We should have convinced two or three schools of different size to test our product. In exchange, we should have provided a life-time free product and support for early adopter schools. We could have offered unlimited free SMS or something similar to save instant money.
2. Know where to spend money and where to avoid
We spent most of the money on office infrastructure and employee salaries. We could have avoided 80% of expenses by working from home and hiring employees on survival salary + ESOPs.
We were avoiding expenses on the professional design of sales material, marketing tools, and paid consultancy. We should have spent money on the things that translate into more sales or leads.
Now it seems no brainer but still most of first-time entrepreneurs are repeating our mistakes. If the primary source of your customer acquisition is your website then you should spend money on content marketing, sales deck, and sales pages. If you acquire your customers offline then spend money on sales brochures and other printed material.
3. Get your hands dirty with the code, even if you are a non-techy
Non-technical co-founders remain clueless of technical know-hows. They should not behave like a foreign client who just assigns work and expect to be completed by the technical team.
That did not work in my startup and it will not work in your startup.
I advise you to start coding even if you are non-technical. There might be some exceptions (that we can discuss in later articles) but a non-tech co-founder can take better decisions if he knew how things get implemented.
If you do not have a tech co-founder and building a software product, then there is no exception. Joel, co-founder of Buffer share why non-tech co-founders must learn coding.
4. Do Sales, even if you are from non-sales background
I was afraid of doing sales because I thought my co-founder is better at communication and public speaking. We were unable to close sales despite his good communication and HR background. One main reason was that we were not talking about the pain points of the customer but just trying to sell our solution.
The sales process is not just about good public speaking but addressing the concerns of the customer.
When I moved to Chandigarh, I tried sales in the local schools. I visited about 50 schools in one month and closed three deals. I learned not only the sales process but also got acquainted with customer’s real issues. You can build a great product with a better understanding of customer’s pain areas.
Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that all co-founders should be doing all the things at all the time. NO. They should be owners of their areas but at the same time they should have first-hand experience of all kind of jobs in a startup.
5. Take decision and trust your intuition
We became bad at taking firm decisions. We started postponing tough decisions like spending budget of sales, hiring or firing an employee, offering equity to the employees, chasing big schools or small schools, offering a free solution or charge premium, and at last how to separate our ways.
Since the closure of my first venture, I started taking firm decisions based on the available information at that time. You can never have 100% data available for taking any decision. You should be smart enough to derive a conclusion with 60-70% information and fill the gap with your intuition.
Trust me, I always felt happiness after taking a decision and sticking with it until I find a solid evidence to change my decision. That is how things evolve. If you are confused with your decision then you will not be able to execute with 100% confidence.
6. Don’t stop learning
Alarm bell rings in my ears when someone starts behaving like an expert and refuse to learn new things. You are doomed to fail if you stop learning.
There are so many sources of my learning – I love to read books/blogs, I learn from my juniors/seniors, I learn from competitors/customers/vendors, and I don’t hesitate to learn from my three-year-old kid.
The biggest source of my learning is by experimenting with my startup and life.
7. Money is just a by-product of a startup
I learned it very late, but some of you might have realized by now. We entrepreneurs start a venture to solve a customer’s problem (or to explore our passion) and money is just fuel for our startup vehicle.
If you focus on money then you will become short sighted. You can make money in short-term but you will lose strength in the long term.
Focus on solving problems and keep your customers happy. The money will follow.
8. Be Generous
The most important lesson from my entrepreneurial journey – Be Generous, Be Polite, Be a Giver.
I always remember a beautiful line –
“Be nice with everyone when you go higher in your life because same people will meet you when you come down”
First give something to the world then expect something in return. It will be even better if you just give without any expectation. Help people who can not help you at this time, that is the real gesture of generosity.
This was a story of my first startup, but I feel most of first-time entrepreneurs are on a similar path. There is another story of how I joined as co-founder at my second startup PocketScience and why we stopped working even when investors were ready to put money.
I will share that story soon. For now, just ask your questions in the comments.
158 thoughts on “How We Lost Rs 15,00,000 in My First Startup”
Right guidance from right person
Thanks! Glad to help.
Nice to read your experience, about product validation, know your customer and there problems. We tend to skip the basics when we get exited about the bigger things in our life.
Thanks Pranay. I am glad you liked it.
Its like a loads of informaton for the people who have ideas of startups , but they dont have perfect vision .
Very helpful , I read the whole article in very much curiosity to know what happened after that …
But i would say that , u tried .
What i created is ” Life Itself Is A Great Risk , Why Not Start A Business ” 😀
Just wanted to know , what you did after shutting down that ? and what you do now ,
I will be happy to connect with you .
I joined another startup as co-founder.
Now I am a free soul, exploring myself and helping startups. I make sufficient money to run my house.
My contact information is at ‘about page’
hi pradeep i am starting a business… i need some advice….can u share mi ur contact details. i am reachable at 9028389108
Hey Rahul, my contact details are at About page.
NYC TO READ WILL HELP ME IN MY START UP
Glad to know that my article was helpful
A startup can fail, but not an entrepreneur- its always awesome to comeback with more energy & experience. I am in contact with you from past 3-4 months, may be you don’t remember and found you the right person to share with my journey. All the best for your journey, love to stay connected with you.
Thanks for following up and reading my articles. Love to have a discussion with you – wanna 30 minute call? https://calendly.com/pardeep
Awesome story Pardeep… I can very much correlate with myself…. Have just started a new business in same Education Sector… Still very confused to approach to high class schools or medium schools and also how to approach… Haven’t cracked a single deal with any school… Lot of things learned from these article…. Thanks
Education market is complex. You need to experiment with different schools with different strategies. I will write something on the same lines.
Thanks for your blog its really gave me a idea about another side of start-ups that most people will not speak about.
In fact it had saved my money!
I wish God will give all the happy to you!
I am glad it was helpful 🙂 Best wishes to you.
Will you ever be willing to lead another start-up as a co-founder ?
Dear Mr. Khurana,
I do not have any immediate plans to join any startup as a co-founder. Not sure about the future 🙂
Awesome story Pardeep. Your learning is the foundation for many aspiring people like me. I am sure you are much much stronger now helping yourselves and many like me. Thanks for the excellent share.
I am glad it was helpful 🙂
Interesting story. As comprehensive as it could be. Kudos.
BTW what happened to the product? Who owns it? Your BIL alone, or you own jointly? Have you tried to salvage it?
We stopped working on the product, everyone (including employees) in our team has a copy of code and everyone is free to start development & distribution anytime.
We can also give away the code at a very nominal price (in the range of 1L to 1.5L) to anyone who want to use the framework for the development of a similar product.
Thanks. Is code complete, or if incomplete how to what extent? Maybe you can write on the email address available with you.
The code is complete. Lets take this conversation over email.
Prardeep, Really inspirational, motivational and interesting story. Learn many things from your story.
Thanks Rajesh, glad to know that you liked my story.
Very helpful information, sorry for your start-up, sure in future you will get one chance to win…
Need small info:
Where did you hosted the website and which technologies you used.(PHP.. MySql ) ?
It was hosted on AWS and developed in PHP/MySql. Send me an email if you need any more details.
can you ping me to email@example.com
sent you email.
Can u mail me too
Great article,each and every words is informative, I am already following ur article on yourstory. Please keep us motivated and write some more articles on how i can get success in educational startups . As of now Indiarose.in and conceptfix.com is on plan 4 me. First one is free but later will have revenue model as well
Thanks Ashish. You must understand the needs of your customer to get success in any venture. Wish you best.
Thanks a ton for clearing my doubts! 🙂
Most of the comments seem to be mentioning this as a ‘story’s – whereas this is reality and it bites ! Thanks for sharing this Pardeep. At a very late stage in my life , we have just turned into entrepreneurs – maybe ( just maybe ) – maturity will guide us better. I also feel Tech-based start ups have an inherent disadvantage – it is not often that your customer may be able to appreciate your ‘solution’ as much as the founders will be able to do so. Good luck for your future .
Thanks Suresh for sharing your thoughts. Wish you best for your venture.
Good xperience. I feel your pain & sufferings. Hope u recovered from this now. How about your recovery strategy. You can share that also. I am a finance professional basically, but have done small startup in my early stage. I dont think small ventures no scope beyond some limits like same city,same district, same state etc. We need more specific solution with wide software features. Hope you will accept.
Definitely I will share more about my startup journey. You can go through some of my articles on YourStory.
Hello Pradeep, Can you suggest whether it is good to get funding based on our idea alone(I even have a prototype). I really need financial support right now to enter into the market. What can be the implications of getting funding at this early stage? And one more question, how to approach investors whom I can trust that they will not steal my idea?
You can try pitching to VCs for funding at idea level. There is no cost & risk in trying. That is the positive point for you.
Just a question, why VCs will put their money at risk if you are not willing to take the risk?
Can you suggest some good VC firms whom I can approach. There are too many websites claiming to provide funding. Currently I am considering to approach Kalaari Capital, Indian Angels Network, Accel Partners and T-HUB(by Telangana govt). Are there any other VC firms which I can pitch my idea and show the prototype?
Here is a link that can help you out – https://medium.com/@sandhya/who-s-the-best-seed-money-in-india-ad9a6c5cf314
What risk you are talking about? Sharing my idea or putting my own money?
And if possible please ping on my email, so that I can have a chat with you over the email.
idea is worth $0 until put under execution. You are seeking VC money without risking much from your side..
My contact info is on my about page if you want more discussions.
Multiple angel networks have mushroomed in India lately like India Angel Network, CIO Angel Network etc. – Go to their website for arranging funding – these networks are professional networks and do not steal ideas – they only will back you up. Try!!!
I agree there are many angel investors but Funding can not solve all the problems.
Very nicely written. Every point that you had mentioned is true and I hope this would be your great experience. I am sure you would be pretty successful in your next venture if you use your experience. There is no harm in failing as you always have many opportunities.
I had three start-up ventures in the past 4 years and one of them seems to be showing some light for me and have been going pretty ok for the past 1.5 years. Yes I have started seeing some sales but still a long way to go.
However it has given me enough confidence so that I can make it successful.
Thanks bro for sharing your experience.
Thanks for taking out time to share your experience. I am glad you liked my article.
Hi Pradeep – It is absolutely right what you said
I took same path about 5 years back – We can share much more about ideas and experience – keen to know what stage your School ERP product is now
Hi Manuj, we are not working on this ERP product now.
Have been following you for a while now. Read your article at yourstory as well.
We are trying to add value in education sector and your articles have deeply impacted us in a positive way only. We really appreciate the effort you have put in to write your experiences. You are doing a noble effort of spreading awareness for young entrepreneurs like us. Please never stop this habit of sharing your experiences, they really may mean a lot for some.
Would love to talk to you and share the ideas, knowledge and experience.
Thanks. Keep Writing !
Thanks Annanya for the kind words and following up my articles.
We can have a chat over phone/skype. Here is my calendar – https://calendly.com/startupkarma/pardeep
Great article brother.. I wish I could meet you sometime and learn more.
Thanks Avneet. Subscribe to newsletters and stay updated. I will share every step of my startup journey.
Thanks for sharing your experience. Very valubale inputs.
Thanks Satish. Glad you liked it
Something that all wouldn’t share.
Was a great read. It made me smile too.
Glad you liked it 🙂
Thanks for sharing your’s experience. I am working as Software Developer in a startup company&also, I am a fresher. I also trying to enter into marketing, so can I get the projects in my hand,it doesn’t means that our company don’t have projects,but still I like work&I love to learn. So,can I get some tips from you about marketing?
Akshaya, keep reading my articles for marketing advice. Also follow marketing gurus like Seth Godin
Thanks for sharing your valuable experience. Practical is always different from Imagination. It will help who is going to start new venture….. God bless you…..
Really a helpful article. This one and and the blog before leaving the job article as well. Please share any tips you have for my startup: http://www.virtualinit.net
Also it will be very helpful if you can send me the templates to reach mentors and investors. Thanking you!!!
Sent you the templates. Let me know what you want to discuss about your startup.
Nice article, atleast the good thing was that you failed in 11 months only and save a lot of time.
True.. early failure helped me finding the right path 🙂
You said, you do not have Courage…. I really doubt.
Curiously I read complete article and felt nice to read your experience.
Thanks Avinash for the nice words 🙂
Courage is the first thing that I earned from my startup experience
Thanks for sharing your story which is certainly helpful for me. I am also planning to enter in Consulting & Training business where I also have to approach school & colleges. I have 9 year US healthcare experience but I don’t like this job anymore so looking ahead to open my venture initially with job (Not leaving job as of now). I want to know what problem you faced approaching school & why they didn’t allow you to meet admin or principal. Please help me on this. Your response will be highly appreciate.
Hey Vonod, I shared almost everything regarding the experience with schools. May be you have not clicked all the links mentioned in the article.
The article was great. I just have a question. When you were short of money, why didn’t you go to an experienced VC for money?
Since you were confident that your solution was at par from other vendors, you could have easily got the funding.
Money does not solve your problem when your vision in not clear.. co-founder conflict was the main reason of our failure.
awesome post; my experience has been 98 percent similar… thanks
Good to know that 🙂
warm wishes from this side.loved your article.i am wondering if you could help me for some growth hacks and marketing stratergies for my startup.
please tell me how we can connect.
Hey Nirek, Glad you liked the article. My contact information is at my about page.
I planing to start my first startup,and you gave me correct path that what should i do and what shoud not. Thanks pradeep.
Glad it was helpful 🙂
Thanks for sharing your story with us. It is certainly helped me to change my perspective about start up companies. I really liked your ‘8’ points.
It’s so much helpful information to people who are ready to do experiment in their lives.
I felt so much inspired by your story. I will keep reading your articles as a source of wealth.
I am glad you liked the story Mahender.
People do talk about success but never about failure, which is the sole and real experience that drive them to the success.
Nice article, keep posting experiences like this.
Sure Ashish. I am glad you liked my article.
Hi Pradeep ,
Really good moral and eye opener for those who dream that they can be millionaires in a couple of months with little start up.
These words are excellent:
There are so many sources of my learning –
I love to read books/blogs,
I learn from my juniors/seniors,
I learn from competitors/customers/vendors,
and I don’t hesitate to learn from my three-year-old kid.
– Be Generous, Be Polite, Be a Giver.
“Be nice with everyone when you go higher in your life because same people will meet you when you come down”
First give something to the world then expect something in return.
It will be even better if you just give without any expectation.
Help people who can not help you at this time, that is the real gesture of generosity.
Finally to say All Is Well
“Failure is steeping stone to success”
“You are the Creator of Your Own destiny”
“Acting is better then Dreaming”
—Nice failure be ready for Nice success too.
Thanks Srikant for summarizing learnings and adding more…
First of all I am very sorry for your start up.but its a great efforts.I am also plan for this type of strart up.I want to know more about your product.plz give me your email id .
My contact details are on About page
I am reading experiences of startups and finding this one a great advice, Thanks to Share.
Glad you liked it Kapil
A wonderful article,indeed !Your experience will surely get others to think wisely before embarking on sth. I truly appreciate your suggestion.
However, it is seen that the “ERP solution for school” sector is saturated .A lot of companies are selling this kind of solution.Do you think that this could be a cause of getting your first startup failed?
No, real cause was co-founder conflicts.
Hello pardeep will you email me your website link
Sad story but nice exp
The website is down.
Pradeep i start my startup with my brother in law kabadiexpress.com in 5 month we make 100 Client and same problem diffrent tought we start earning but not much still growing because of diffrent tought and approch we not scaleup as we should do waiting for your inputs on the same how to go about that.
Difficult to say anything without knowing about your product and business goals. Check my contact details on About page and connect at suitable medium.
Literally, a good read after a long time. There are a lot of people who will talk about different ways to run your startup and you can blow away all the challenges you’ll faced in your way. Seriously, I hardly get anything out of their blah-blah but when someone becomes the courageous and tell us about his failure it gets turned out a true insightful about running a venture.
Thanks Pradeep. Wish you all the best for your future projects 🙂
Me and my friend wanted to start a digital media company with some content based website like http://www.bachelorlife.in. after reading this we will rethink about our business model. Thanks for your story.
Hi Chava, I am glad my story helped you.
Thanks for sharing your experience and it was a eye opener for most of the new entrepreneurs.
Its rightly said the ground reality is different from the board room strategies.
Well said, Sarat.
very interesting read. Lots of learning.
Glad you liked it Apurva
Thanks for sharing your experience, your story clarifies many of my confusions and now i got some idea where we need to work before starts any product development.
Glad to know it helped 🙂
Great insights. Thank you for such a wonderful blog. I started reading your posts in YourStory also.
Thanks Kapil. Let me know if you need any help from my side.
Excellent article and Excellent person you are. I am going to launch education startup in the same field (School ERP) and your suggestion on marketing experience will be very helpful for us.
Please let me know if you can give your expertise. I had send you an email on that as well.
Sure Amit. Please drop me an email at pardeep[at]startupkarma.co
I am interested in knowing more about your start up and explore if we can collaborate.
We are sales management firm having 150 man years of Sales experience offering Sales as a Service to start ups like yours. We take the headache of hiring, training, enabling and selling so you can focus on your core competency, Product Development.
Let me know if you are interested in connecting.
Its really impressive!! You certainly abide by your words, i am following you since a month and you have replied to each question 🙂
Thanks Upendra. It happens when people do what they love.. and I love to be around startups and help them in my capacity.
Thanks for sharing..
Thanks for sharing your experience. It will really help us.
Pradeep, I am in investing business and I really liked your story. It gives me more insight on how to read an inventors mind and where can they go wrong.
learning experience and thanks for sharing valuable tips,
Hi Pradeep, thanks for sharing your valuable experiences and insights, it will definitely help us in our startup. Are you settled in Chandigarh by any chance? I presently live here (Chandigarh) and would love to have a conversation with you in person!
Glad you liked the article, Saurabh. Yes, I live near Chandigarh, wud like to catch up someday.
Great article and thanks for sharing your experience.
We too have started a new venture and can correlate to what you are saying. Our Start up is actually trying to solve one big problem which you faced and every single start up faces. Sales.
We are sales management firm having 150 man years of Sales experience offering Sales as a Service to start ups like yours. We take the headache of hiring, training, enabling and selling so you can focus on your core competency, Product Development.
Would sure love to stay connected with you.
Nilesh, we are not working on school ERP product now. But I would like to stay connected with you.
How do I reach you? Great article. It’s not just the sales pipeline that failed this product.
We had a similar product in Mind. But it went as a dream. But we imagined how to market this product.
Let me know if you guys want to make this product a successful one.
You can send me email at pardeep [at] startupkarma.co
I was planning to venture into the very same field of education startup. I have sent you a mail regarding few queries. Kindly reply when possibke.
Thanks and regards,
Simply awesome. I too have gone through this. I am still paying my debts. But i learned many things and will start again.
Same here i m too gone through this.
I too believe that before building any product ,we must know our end-users using that product. Since working with start-ups from the beginning of the career, reading your article was just little scary, but this is how i feel most of the entrepreneurs are going through. I worked for a MNC as a web developer, got bored in just 6 months,decided to work with start-ups, helping them building their product well and maintaining.
I just feel taking risks teaches you a lot, and this kind experience is hard to get anywhere else.
I wish you good luck for all your upcoming ventures.
I am Ram from chennai. I am planning for a startup. if you are interested to have a insight of what i am gng to do? dropin a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Great article. I am facing a few of these issues as well..
I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this
website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz answer back as I’m looking to design my own blog
and would like to know where u got this from. appreciate it
It’s a free wordpress theme.
A true, cold and harsh account of a startup. It is very important we realize the risks involved in a startup and try to minimize them by learning from mistakes of others. We seldom hear failure stories. My company have been working with schools since 1998 and have experienced most of these sales and interaction related issues first hand and they still continue to pose a threat with more competition coming in.
Currently i am working on a new venture, however i will be going against your advice of not outsourcing it as i need to build fast, so i have done the wire frame (UX flow) myself and now going with a professional to build. I used to work in sales for a small web solution company and i know the problems web developer face infront of an uninformed and every demanding client. I am trying to minimize that.
That’s a great story and Congratulations !!! You have had the guts to share your Startup story!!!
Failures make us more matured… Have had a couple of them or rather i had no guts to leave my job and pursue my startup “Automobilebazaar.com”, which we had started monetizing by concept selling….no regrets..
Am watching this movie ‘Begin Again’, while i read your story…i just can relate your story with the movie, where the female re-creates a band, starts again and gets successful.
Am sure your experiences are helping you in your consultancy to guide the startups
Lets be in touch, & all the best.
Thanks Avi for cheering me up 🙂
Hi Pardeep, I sent the following (read below) email to you. But I just thought of publishing it here as well so that some might just read it:
This is Rishi from Chandigarh. I just read a blog post: http://therodinhoods.com/forum/topics/how-we-lost-rs-15-lacs-and-shut-down-before-our-first-anniversary. I also, run a lean startup like you and before this had a corporate job like yours. From your blog post:
1. I started lean, hired freelancers (it’s a pain really) but no full time developers. We hired a full time team once we had enough revenue streams to support them.
2. Always gave equity/commissions/profit-sharing to consultants and expected them to deliver results (I my self was a consultant, so I knew that we lot are good at talking a lot but real gems deliver)
3. Started out alone and still work alone. I did try to find co-founders but none I met shared my passion so rather than dream of moving like a rocket-fueled jet I decided to move slow but in an informed and independent manner.
4. Always took care of my expenses.
However, that being said there is a considerably big learning that you have left out.
Always work on open-source to save costs.
There are plenty of open-source solutions out there (we have deployed a few School ERP’s in Odoo) that have the basic feature sets of what the client wanted but they lacked customization, we customized Odoo and its modules and came up with a lot of different industry related products at a fraction of cost compared to what we would have paid if we worked from the scratch. And most open-source solutions out there are extremely stable.
Startups today don’t look at open-source as a viable option, I just don’t understand why? Most entrepreneur want the product to be completely their hallmark rather than have a solution based approach to the problem set. I believe that this thinking leads the entrepreneurs to lose their focus from solving the problem to building a brand. Building a brand comes at a later stage when you can afford to do so, because that is a very long and a very expensive task.
Since starting my startup, I have read more and more on open-source and have become an advocate for open-source solutions. They are:
4. Well researched
Since you are, by now experienced in this and have some following or readership on your blogs. I’d like to hear your thoughts on this.
D-ályma Tech. Solutions
Responded you via email 🙂
Greetings!!!I hope you are having a good day.!
I’m Siddharth from Ahmedabad. I have read the article and yours experience as well here. It’s good initial learning for me, I would say. Thanks for sharing..!
I hope you could guide me. I begun working as a sales executive (Freelancer) with a start-up almost a year ago. That company have had 5 to 6 developers at that time and now 25. It’s good. Since I was the 1st sales guy my duty was of almost 19 to 20 hours, including Saturday & Sunday. We were winning projects over Elance. And I think I
done it pretty well.
Gradually, in time after 7 to 8 months, COO (My Superior in Sales) begun doubting on me that I may be doing Freelance from home in order to earn extra bucks. And then CEO and CEO planned to keep me busy all the time assigning unnecessary tasks. They even blocked my exercise session at Gym. My performance was good. I was serving there as my own company, but this mishap utterly changed my mind and begun receiving criticism from them. And my frustration turned into the action and then I decided to leave the job. My plan was to not to do a job anymore. Let’s begin business.
I left the job in January. Started as a freelancer on Elance & Upwork. I had a very nice tab on Elance, but unfortunately it’s closed now. But I was ready for the Upwork. I have expert developer with me who was working with me at my job place. And so now we have 6 converted clients (Small and medium size projects).
I’m doing it from home for now. My partner is managing development. And I look after sales and delivery. But sometimes I scared that “Is it appropriate to start the business in a year of experience? Is there something that I left with learning in sales? How big companies do the sales, their techniques? Am I missing to learn them. However, I do try to learn a new sales exercises on regular basis.. But these are some of the doubts revolving around my fickle brain. I have brief knowledge of technologies, opensource frameworks, iOS, Android, etc.. Do you think I need to deep dive more and learn more in these programming languages, like programming a bit..??
I’m about to hire developers and set-up the office soon after a month from now. So, I think if you can guide me a bit then that would be better for me. I guess, your suggestions would help me a lot to improve and explore more. I am very optimistic, super-adaptive and believe in learning as much as I can. So, I’ll be your permanent student :)…
Have a good day. I look forward to hear you soon..!
Appreciate your decision of leaving job when that started sucking.
I think you don’t have to invest a lot in office and all expensive stuff. If you have time, learn some coding stuff. Otherwise, learn more about sales. Enroll some paid courses online that you feel will help you. Learn from experienced people. Just keep building your business by working from home.
Let’s stay connected over email. pardeep[at]startupkarma.co
I’ll be in touch with you over an email. Thanks.
Have a good day 🙂
This is the story I ever wanted to read. Your experience is really a nice one to share with that no entrepreneur would to. Hoping to contact u soon.
Glad you liked the story. You can reach me anytime via email.
Hello Pardeep, I really hate to read failure story, But my friend shared this story because i had a plan of developing a school software. I have different idea and view on school software, I am really interested to share and my idea and.. We can work together. Please say hi @ my mail id. Waiting for your reply.
Thanks for this article. Gives a glimpse of real scenarios of startups.
Impressive post. can imagine your difficulties, mistakes and even judge your suggestions. so what are you doing now?
Hope you are having a good day..!!
Firstly, thanks for making us experienced by sharing your experience, lot to learn. But honestly, quite suspense at every turn, like a movie named Drashyam.. What gonna get happened next??? But it’s really admirable as you are coming back, Wild-Card Entry :). Thanks.. Inspiring..
Let me share your success story first. You would be glad to know that one of my friend in Malaysia sent me this post of yours, amazing it is. In six months your article is now from India to Malaysia and can’t say who else from where reading your article. It’s a proud moment for you, and for me either as I got this opportunity. Here while writing this I could recall the great quote from an extreme elite gentleman. Let me write this for you. I hope you like it since the man behind that quote has faced many failures and then touched the sky.
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm”
And here is the another one from the book named Rich Dad Poor Dad, authored by Robert Kiyosaki:
“Learning is an active process which never ends. When it ends.. Person begin ending him/herself”
I wish you will win and kick all the odds in your way ahead.
Now quick comeback to the point. I’m 24 years old lad. I just left the job and get started with the IT business. I think I can learn from you. Your bit of a guidance can help me a lot. I have big dreams like others, but I think I know the path to achieve dreams that some of those others don’t know.
Since I started my business, when I read failure stories I get scared. I scared because I think that “Is there anything I am lacking in? Is a year of experience in Sales enough to start a business? How big companies’ sales people do the sales, I meant the techniques. And bla bla bla…
So, I think your guidance would help me a lot in a way ahead. If I can get in touch with you, then it would help me hit the odds hard and enjoy the continuous success. That’s it…
I look forward to hear you soon..!
Have a good day 🙂
And ya, your blog’s interface is really cool. I like the fonts as well.
Thanks & Regards,
Thanks Sid for expressing yourself. I feel happy when people get helped by reading my story, even if it’s a failure story.
I see that you have serious intentions of doing work in sales. Did you read the blogs of close.io, if not, please have a look. You will learn a lot about sales.
Thanks for your suggestion. I’ll keep in touch with you via e-mail…
Thanks for sharing…. you just hit the nail straight in middle.
I was searching something like this which give us a details information.
I am planning for a startup, fortunately I am a sales guy having working experience in several industry field associating with big names (Fortune 500 ) and another co-founder is from technical and another is finance (Because finance is a blood line for any organisation ) .
I concur with you that before making product we must need to do a market survey and also find out the pain where it is and than give them the exact medicine.
Lets come to the point :
1. whats your opinion if you required a coding team to hire based on company share ? How much shall we need to give them in terms of percentage ?
2. Being a startup like everyone mine also having big dream, some of the peoples already agree to become an angel investor , I read a lot about angel investor and i believe they are like crocodile whom you trust for your swimming class
Shall i go for them or shall we start our journey ourself only ?
3. being in a team with finance guy we are very serious about every cent …. do you think being a startup we should need to take a office in a posh area or should i opt our own garage for opening ?
Thanks for sharing the pain…. we all are running behind the shining objects but we must need to know the dark side also….
Great read.I enjoyed it. Keep posting
Hi Pradeep, I just loved your write up. Its like my thoughts are written here about start up. im working in a start up company as a developer come team lead.Thank you so much for sharing ur experience here. will be waiting for more write ups like this 🙂
Hi Pardeep you writing about your starting a product company was nice and it touched my heart.currently i am working as a IT Network support in a small start up company.I work hard here but no gain.I am interested to do my own business like IT Infrastructure solutions.But i don’t have enough money,for my dream i have to earn.Please help me to learn more and more from you to success in my life.
I can easily relate this story to myself. My startup was also failed drastically and I lost almost $15k. But eventually, things are falling on track and hopefully will recover every penny that we had lost. Nice story and very well written.
Got to learn so much, uh explained each and every thing in detail..enjoyed reading.
I have started blogging recently and you was the first place I visit when I’ve any queries. You’re an inspiration for many.
Very well written…enjoy post….thanks for sharing.