Entrepreneurship has been a roller coaster ride for me. I do not come from a business family but since school i had this thing in me that i wanted to something of my own, it was in my 10th that i got introduced to computers and i am taking about 386 Machines with 1.4inch floppy disks which were capable of holding 1MB data (Yes.. this was back in 1993). Once i finished 12th, not being a very bight student (mildly put) my parents suggested that i do some programming course, to which i replied “i don’t want to be one of those geeks to spend all their time in front of a computer” … Oh! how little did i know 🙂
So i did exactly the opposite, Did B.com and joined NIS (National Institute of Sales)… Since i had plenty of time and no social life, i decided to start a business. This is the time when websites had started to come up and people had just started putting up their business sites (1998) I learnt photoshop on my own and also a bit of HTML and used one of those WYSIWYG HTML editors. I was confident that i had the skills to make it a success. Since i had to put the word out, i got a lot of single page black / while pamphlets printed and started getting them distributed them with newspapers. I started getting calls and i landed a few clients and so i continued this strategy with various parts of Delhi. A year passed and i was doing decently well but my parents though that this had no future and so i was pushed to pursue higher studies in US.
I did my B.Sc in Finance from Chicago and came back to India thinking i would land a plush job in a bank.. to my surprise i could not even land a call centre job (i choose to call this fate) Since then i have been doing various thing, tried my hand at modelling, did that for a year and then started a ecommerce website selling handicrafts (year 2004). My focus was exporting and i did get a lot of traffic on my website but little orders. Not too many people bought handicrafts looking at pictures, back then they did want to touch and feel.
After that closed down, i started web hosting company (SpeedHost.in) with no prior knowledge on hosting… i just had a hunch that this was going to be a great service to sell. I knew that it would be challenge as hosting is a 24/7 business and i moreover i did not know what servers are and how i can sell. So i started reading up on hosting and found that once can start with a reseller account and a website. This was 2007 and SpeedHost.in was a brand new entrant into this domain which was already dominated by a few big companies (Probably you can make out buy now that i am not that big on research). Never the less, i was and still am a very customer centric person… I knew that there was lot or margin in hosting and the existing companies in India were selling at a much higher price as compared to US companies and that the Indian customer was still buying from India then US as business still paid in cheque deposit or cash deposit than online payment. I capitalised on this and since i hand knowledge of web designing, i designed a UI where there was no clutter, the user did not have to look all over the page to buy the hosting package and that my cell number was clearly visible on all pages (yes, i provided 24/7 customer support for over 3 years) Since i was competing with some big players then, i knew that the only way i can grow is by being on the top of Google search, so for the next 1 year i devoted a lot of time on learning SEO and getting various search terms ranked on the top… by 2009, SpeedHost.in was ranked either #1 or #2 on almost all search keywords and the traffic started poring in. I moved in to a small office and took my first couple employees. There was no looking back then, in the next couple years, SpeedHost.in grew from 30-40 paying clients to about 4000. I am proud of the fact that the customer service we provided was unparalleled to even the hostgators of the world. From a startup investment of Rs.2000, SpeedHost.in grew to close to a crore in turnover a year with multiple servers located in India for the fastest speed and in house and outsourced employees. Then the bug set in to do something else in life and so SpeedHost.in got acquired by Directi.
For the next few months i kept thinking on what i would do next.. eCommerce was on the boom and pretty much every ecom startup was getting funded. I thought of a niche product.. i.e Sleep wear, pyjamas etc. I thought of starting this with a friend who thinking on similar lines. Since we did not know anything about cloth, production, grading etc. We hired a NIFT consultant to handle the production for us and deliver the end product. We underestimated the time it would take and instead of launching in 3-4 months, it took us 8 months to launch.. We had invested enough money to keep us afloat for 6-7 months and to show traction, from there we would raise funding. Unfortunately by the time we launched and started to market our website, we ran out of fund.. with the funding dried up in the market as well, we had no choice but to wind up the business. One of the most important lessons which came out of this startup was that timing is the most important thing.. you can have the right product, the right team but if the timing is not correct… non of that would matter.
So not it was back to the drawing board.. what is the next thing which i should do? (a question which i have asked many times in my life… strangle enough, i still haven’t got tired of it.) Back in 2007 i had acquired a domain name called faayda.com and yes that domain was still available for purchase (this is definitely fate) And since the time i had this domain, i kept thinking on what i could start with it. Most entrepreneurs would have an idea first and then they start taking on a domain name. I had no such luxury, i had to think backwards and maybe this was a blessing in disguise. Since faayda stands for profit, finance, business etc.. i knew i had to start something related to it but what? After many ideas ranging from selling insurance, to loans to mutual funds… I thought why not start from the very basic, why not a personal financial management app to start with then slow work my forward to other services… Hence the birth of faayda.com in May 2015
If you have read this far, then i hope that you had something good to take away from it. I want to carry on this journey with my next article where i will share how i got into this app business and what to do and what not to do when getting an app developed without hiring a single full time employee.