With time a startup evolves, we have also over a period evolved and this is a 3 Part series on evolving as a young SaaS company in India, with the first thing you must always do is Work very very closely with your initial customers .
Everyone will mostly say these points always, but there is a connection b/w what I hope to expand upon over this week.
We in our initial days had some early adopters like InterviewStreet, Practo, Carwale, Linger, CA Club India, Engrave, Olacabs, Akosha, Myshaadi, Milaap, Elagaan (wanted to name as many I can remember), and many of them can say some of the features in the product are their asking. Why should you work closely with the early customers?
- Empathy & Support in Tough Times: Why we worked closely with them and did not try hyper selling initially to more companies, is because they would understand pain-points of a startup (since most of these were/are) and would be empathetic.
- Free Product Manager: We had no Product Manager, and in many cases, they would be the Product Managers for our product
- Referrals the way to go initially: We kept on building in the philosophy of what market wants, we will build, it led to lots of good faith, people trusted us and referred some of their close friends and companies too. They still do.
- Made Friends, support eco-system: Many of these people would vouch for us in our fundraising a lot, connect us to mentors, advisors, potential team-mates.
The point is to do this in the initial days (months) is very important, because sometimes we get engrossed in our OWN product, that we tend to miss out what the market needs initially and how we need to make a product for them and not ourselves.
But there needs to be a line drawn after some time, and that is what we will talk about in the next post, on how to differentiate and understand when you need to Stop being a service and become a Product company.