Making the scary switch from IT services to Product and scaling from Ahmedabad

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There are dreamers, there are doers and then there are dreamers who are doers. Jimit Bagadiya of Social Pilot falls into the third category. Jimit had built a fairly successful IT services business. It involved developing and maintaining programs, platforms, products and tools for Clients. Yet, he was hankering for more. Listen to Jimit of Social Pilot on scaling huge.

Sooner or later, the treadmill nature of the IT services business gets to one running it. Many dream of building a product that would relieve them from the tyranny of the revolving door nature of revenues from IT services. However, making the switch from being a services company to that of a product is fraught with failure and uncertainty. It is like being a salaried individual where you have a steady stream of income to the uncertainty of being an entrepreneur. Yet, once the chasm is crossed, the going gets better.

The IT services business is the direct opposite of a product business.

How did Jimit make switch from services to products successfully? What were the challenges he faced? How was the journey? Can Indian SaaS companies compete with the rest of the world? Is he out of the woods yet? In spite of having scaled, no. This and more was what he faced and that is what we cover in this episode. Give his story a listen!
Title image for episode 18 with Jimit Bagadiya of Social Pilot


Jimit of Social Pilot On Scaling Huge

India’s IT Services has given birth to several storied companies such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro etc. As the saying goes, a rising tide raises all ships and so, with it, the IT boom heralded a new wave of entrepreneurs who setup their own IT development services companies.

IT Services was Jimit’s first entrepreneurial outing and from Ahmedabad – A prominent but Tier 2 City from India’s bustling state of Gujarat. Building a business out of Ahmedabad gave Jimit several advantages, the prominent amongst them being a low cost base compared to the likes of Bangalore.

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As anyone that operates in the IT services understands, scaling a services business is tough and an enormously people intensive task. By the time the likes of Jimit had established their businesses. The IT Services business was no longer a place for upstarts to look to scale it big due to the maturity and the already enormous scale that had been achieved by existing players.

The trend of Companies establishing their own captive centers further added to the lack of consistent opportunities and adding to this set of woes was the birth and rise of freelancers.

While most entrepreneurs would opt to build a “Lifestyle” business in this scenario, Jimit was hankering for more: a business that would give him control over revenues and make them repeatable. That’s when he dreamt up the idea for a SaaS Product.

Having scaled it to 100K+ subscribers, he is facing new challenges! What are those challenges? What worked and what did not? That’s the stuff this episode is made of. Below are a few excerpts and the Word Cloud. Give it a listen and share with your network!

The story behind how Jimit moved from IT Services to SaaS

My firm has its own realities, we were serving low tickets and customer. So every week I have to run for a new project. Mainly, our customers have a one time requirement, like setting up a ecommerce store or setting up a blog or setting up both or delivering some small mobile applications for them.

So, every time we were thinking about how we can make recurring revenue. Me and my co founder, both were searching for something that we want to do. Something to make sure that we’re on some recurring revenue. And second challenge that we were having was the margin.

Also, Freelancers started off occupying the market from 2011-12. And that was becoming, gradually becoming a challenge for us.

How the need for SaaS was identified

So you know IT company, we have worked with many ecommerce customers and they are lacking in social media marketing, they are spending lots of money in advertisement as required in all things but during this time 2013-2014 are the time where ecommerce player are making lots of money just from the Facebook itself.

And it is from the organic things but majorly customer are not able to make revenue from sourcing and marketing because they have some challenges like they have a long list of inventory that they want to promote also promoting product on one social network was not enough they have to promote same product on Facebook then repeat this activity for Twitter, Linkedin and other social networks.

SaaS Capitals Right

So as an engineer like we were promoting SAAS, and we are and we are based in Ahmedabad, so we don’t have a very much connection with the community, the global community we have like communities established in Pune, Bangalore and such capitals of like SAAS capitals right. So we have very limited access to all these resources.

We are in a crowded market there are so many such players come down the line and the only difference between all our competitor is easy to use product and pricing and the customer, three other major parameters people choose the product specifically if someone’s searching for social media marketing tool, they are looking for three things, better UI UX, better pricing and customer support

Show Notes

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Here is the Word Cloud from the Episode

Image depicting wordcloud for episode 18 with Jimit Bagadiya of Social Pilot

Word Cloud for The Episode

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Episode Transcript

(Automated Transcript - errors may exist)

Krishna Jonnakadla  0:01 

This is Maharajas of scale. A podcast where we go behind the scenes and talk to founders who are demolishing the myths around building and scaling a big business in India. These are the stories that have shattered the assumptions around Indian consumers and are changing the game completely. I am Krishna Jonnakadla, serial entrepreneur, co founder of FLIT, Fashion Locater In Town and start up mentor bringing you these stories. Hey, everyone, good afternoon. This is Krishna from Maharajas of scale. Today we have Jimit of Social pilot from the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat. Jimit's Social Pilot platform today has hundreds and thousands of users. And Jimit has scaled this to a meaningful venture that is generating hundreds and thousands of dollars in revenue. Jimit, welcome to the show.

Jimit  0:50 

Hi, Krishna.

Krishna Jonnakadla  0:51 

So Jimit, tell us a little bit about yourself and tell us what you're working on right now.

Jimit  0:55 

So first of all, thanks for the opportunity. I am Jimit from Social Pilot. I'm based in Ahmedabad Gujarat, and I have done my bachelor in Computer Application in 2003. I have started my career as a software developer in 2003. I have started my career as a junior developer and started gradually promoted and be a project manager till 2007. In 2007, I left my job and started my entrepreneur journey with my partner, I was serving customer and we were developing mobile applications and web applications open to customization type of services to the US and European customers. So from 2007 to 2014, we have served the IT customers and from 2014, I started developing and working with the social pilot, and that's how the journey with the Social Pilot start.

Krishna Jonnakadla  1:44 

Very interesting. So one of the things that I definitely have to call out here is not everyone makes a successful transition from a services background or a services business to a product business. I personally worked for several services organizations in my life, and in fact, the DNA of those organizations is such that they do not even understand products, and especially software products, and to a great degree they shun them. That's, that's what happens. And I've very rarely seen anybody make that transition successfully. And your seems to definitely be an exception. Would you agree and how did you make the transition?

Jimit  2:25 

Definitely its not an exception, many companies done this. But yeah, we might lucky in the mechanism successful mechanism. So Mehta was in the IT company, I have my own challenges. My firm has its own realities, we were serving low tickets and customer. So every week I have to run for a new project, mainly our customer have one time requirement, like setting up a ecommerce store or setting up a blog or setting up both or developing some small mobile applications for them. So every time we were thinking about it, how we can make a recurring revenue how we can make it. We are not case crunch down the line. So it  was the thought process every time we have, me and my co founder, both we were searching something that we want to do something to make sure that we're on some recurring revenue. And second challenge that we were having was the margin. So Freelancer started off occupying the market from 2011-12. And that was becoming, gradually becoming a challenge for us. So profit margin was ranking. So we have two challenges. As I mentioned, we were serving low ticket size, which doesn't have a Predictable Revenue, and the second one is the profit margin. So because of these two challenge, we were constantly looking for something which help us generating recurring revenue, this inspires us to develop a product and the next big question pop up what will be it. So I admit here that we do not know what is SAS or what is some terminology people are using during this time. We just only want that we want some recurring revenue. That's what we know. So you know IT company, we have worked with many ecommerce customers and they are lacking in social media marketing, they are spending lots of money in advertisement as required in all things but during this time 2013-2014 are the time where ecommerce player are making lots of money just from the Facebook itself and it is from the organic things but majorly customer are not able to make revenue from sourcing and marketing because they have some challenges like they have a long list of inventory that they want to promote also promoting product on one social network was not enough they have to promote same product on Facebook then repeat this activity for Twitter LinkedIn and other social networks. So we were knowing this generate okay this is a very tedious job and this can be automated and that’s how we come up to the conclusion that okay, let's build something for ecommerce customer making sure that they do not have to do to this repeated activity, they can easily promote their all ecommerce product with very few clicks in all Social media networks. So thats how we come up with the social pilot, but gradually, people, the bloggers have started recognizing us as lots of alternative and Buffer alternative because they find us very useful compared to and use to compared to our competitors like Hootsuite and Buffer. So we try to become an ecommerce facilitating marketing tool. But later on we end up being such a new marketing tool for marketing agencies and bloggers. So that's how we, the channel started and the positioning changed.

Krishna Jonnakadla  5:27 

Very interesting. So how many global users do you have on your platform today?

Jimit  5:33 

Yeah, so number of users that signed up on our platform is more than 100 K

Krishna Jonnakadla  5:37 

Very interesting. And are they all global?

Jimit  5:39 

Yeah. So majority 90 to 95 customer are from US itself. And we also support few networks like Vk.com. So that is very famous in Grazia, insta Facebook for instance. So we have people from Russia and European country too, Chimatate is almost 5 to 10% and we have very few customers from India.

Krishna Jonnakadla  6:00 

Very interesting. So when you were faced with this stock choice that you did not have repeatable revenues and recurring revenue was a problem. The ticket size was a problem. And you also had a situation where the freelancers were turning out to be a big source of competition for yourself, you decided you have to build something. And because you had worked with a lot of these e commerce companies or e commerce products, you knew them well and understood their pain points. And that's when you decided to build social media automation tool for them. Is that correct?

Jimit  6:35 

Yeah. Yeah, that's correct.

Krishna Jonnakadla  6:37 

So let's dive into that context a little more. And you mentioned about you guys being healthy competition, or maybe some bloggers eventually recognizing that you were better than Hootsuite and buffer, Hootsuite and buffer have thousands and thousands or maybe millions of customers. What exactly was going on in your mind at that point in time that said, Hey, you know what we can do this better than Hootsuite or we can do this better than buffer, walk us through that thought process for a bit.

Jimit  7:04 

Sure. So as an engineer like we were promoting SAAS, and we are and we are based in Ahmedabad, so we don't have a very much connection with the community, the global community we have like communities established in Pune, Bangalore and such capitals of like SAAS capitals right. So we have very limited access to all this resource. But what we know is that if we have to compete with the global player like Hootsuite, or buffer, we have to keep our prices low and we have to play in a volume. That was the first assumption that we have in 2014 and that’s how we have started selling our product at $5-10-15 per plan where our competitors, Buffer and Hootsuite are selling it, at the normal amount whatever the offer that we have, the features that we are offering in 5$, syntel selling similar feature at hundred dollars. So we have 95% discounted product and down the line we are related, it is the biggest mistake that we are doing. So, India the two advantage and specially Gujarat and Ahmedabad we were tradable phrases like the cost of resources come low compared to the Bangalore and bigger cities. So cheap resources available in Ahmedabad and second thing is the pricing. So if we offer something that is affordable to the end customer, not so much discounted, but at least people value this product, respect the product and if we provide a better support, customer support, if we do these two things successfully from India, we believe that we can compete any competitors at least we can get a sustainable margin from our competitor. And it was happening from 2014 to the 2019. Gradually we moved from our pricing from $5 or $10 to now we are selling the similar same things at $30 - $50 and $100. And honestly nothing changed. By raising the price only the MR increased, and we get out of this bad customer and we started getting the good customer. So that is a good point. And the winning part was to success, customer support and customer success. That's what we believe. And we are focusing more on. So yeah, that's how we competing with our competitors.

Krishna Jonnakadla  9:15 

So you initially began mimicking what Hootsuite and buffer were doing, but your positioning was more of you being much, much cheaper than what the others were, that was the beginning. Okay. And today, are you in addition to providing the features offered by those companies on an affordable scale? Not in a very, very cheaper scale? Is there a difference between you and those guys in terms of functionality and some of the other things that you offer.

Jimit  9:44 

We are in a crowded market there are so many such players come down the line and the only difference between all our competitor is easy to use product and pricing and the customer, three other major parameters people choose the product specifically if someone's searching for social media marketing tool, they are looking for three things, better UI UX, better pricing and customer support. So if your competitors with a Hootsuite or buffer we were very similar product, similar features that they have and maybe more customized and more user friendly product, in terms of accessibility, so that gives us an edge. And then comes the pricing and the customer support. That is our, when we provide a support to the end customer within three hours or four hours. It makes a lot of difference. So that’s our winning thing.

Krishna Jonnakadla  10:37 

Very interesting. This is actually over the last few weeks. The ease of use, and the convenience that is driven by better UI is something that I have encountered. We all used to use WebEx and then goto meeting and we had Google Hangouts which was free and if you were scheduling a meeting Using Google Calendar, which Google Calendar I don't know, the world loves it, but I sort of feel it sucks. It's just my personal opinion. And hangouts was by default there, you didn't have to sign up for any account. And it would show yet, zoom, actually, you know, came in from nowhere. And it's today, a multi billion dollar enterprise. So you're echoing some of the same things. Ease of use or convenience, I suppose convenience anyway, any day, Trump's efficiency, and then affordable pricing as well as terrific customer support. Those are the three things that have worked for you.

Jimit  11:35 

Yes. Its true.

Krishna Jonnakadla  11:36 

Very interesting. Very interesting. So let's dive in a little more deeper into that starting point. When you made that shift, especially from a services business to a product business, talk a little more about you had to invest a some amount of time and effort into a product obviously, you had to take a chance on it. That must have meant lots of decisions. How was that thinking.

Jimit  12:00 

So, we don't do much planning. Initially when we in terms of resource planning right. So, as I mentioned, we were running a services company. So, we are using half of the resources maybe the half time of the resources in product development. So, it takes almost four months or five months through mils product the basic version of our social pilot in 2014 and it will release in 2014. So, resource was set between the service based company versus the product based company, it is a social pilot now it was a decision and the allocating my time and my co founders time, we are we are not looking at the clock but we look at the customer feedback people started coming they started providing some feedbacks and we started implementing immediately. So, no much planning just look at the customer what they are asking. If the request is coming from multiple customers then without looking at what we just develop the tender, releasing it to the end customer. So actually, it has helped us a lot initially. And that becomes a hard core value. Listening the customer and look, if that customer is repeating similar thing by multiple customers, then it becomes our product roadmap. So we just follow those customer centric feedback to design our protocol and then just move on. In terms of marketing, like marketing is, again, the same thing, what our customer is looking for, what they are searching, what they what they will pain point we just started writing the content on those area, and we start getting organic ranking and organic traffic. So it's all about keeping customer in center and taking the decision.

Krishna Jonnakadla  13:40 

Amazing. Let's talk about the first 50 users when you wanted to recruit the first 50 users obviously, before you started listening to customers, you had to find real users that were using the product and actually shaping the product with you on an active basis. How long was it before you found your first set of users or rather, tell us how long did it take for the first user to sign up?

Jimit  14:03 

Yeah, so we released it in June 2014. And I got my first paying customer in December 2014. So it takes almost six months to get a $10 per month customer after six months of time.

Krishna Jonnakadla  14:15 

What about a free user? How long did it take for a free user to sign up?

Jimit  14:18 

So people started signing up from the July August. And so one of the Collaboratory during this time was group posting and Facebook profile posting. Those are the key services that Facebook was allowing and people are searching for. Very, very few tools are supporting Facebook group posting and easy to use. So all bloggers because they are very active on Facebook groups and they want to promote their content on social media on the Facebook group professional profiles so we becomes the ideal tool for them. So this feature started bringing the customer bloggers to our platform. So that's how we got started getting the free customer free bloggers on our platform from June to December, and then the bloggers who help us to grow, so they help us to market our product. They started writing the review for us, they started using our product and started setting the feedback on social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, and that’s how we started getting the customer organically. So not much thing is done initially. Yeah, just few right features and delivering the right features to the right person. And it was a lot.

Krishna Jonnakadla  15:29 

Interesting, tell us some interesting things that you've noticed amongst this user base of 115,000 or so what sort of behaviors have you seen, in addition to obviously getting feedback about features social media usage itself has changed way back in 2014. Between 2012 to 2015, was in some sense, the golden era for small and medium businesses on social channels, especially Facebook. Instagram eventually became popular and now, social media itself has become more or less a platform for larger brands. In some sense, an affordable channel has again been eclipsed by larger brands. Has that changed the behavior? Have you seen a change in your user base? What are some of the things that you are noticing?

Jimit  16:20 

So initially, as I mentioned, people would do a lot of posting on their Facebook page and tell us to get more engagement more likes more followers, and that helps us tend to promote a product in service easily, but gradually, these people too crowdy, and Facebook algorithms, Twitter algorithms started, taking the same. So nowadays, we have seen it already posting has limited reach versus the paid advertisement. So Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, all are now moving towards the edge spot. They are encouraging customer marketing industry to promote their customer with the paid media paid marketing. So, yes shifting is there, people, the core marketing team, marketing agencies are now moving from or they have 50-50 or 80-20 or 70-30 type of ratio for organic posting versus the paid posting. So, they now have dedicated budget for paid marketing tool and that is necessary and that is how you get the more visibility on social media nowadays. In last year I went to US to meet a few marketing agency just to make sure that okay, where the marketing is moving. We want to validate organic posting is still there or we just have to change our product roadmap towards the paid marketing. Because again, it was as humans, right, the industry was changing, after meeting more than 15 agencies around the US from starting from California to New Jersey and New York, Florida and a few other cities like Tampa and like few cities, one thing, the common thing that comes out that organic posting has not died. People are still doing this and they have to do this because it becomes a necessity. Every website, every company should have a website. That’s how every company should have a Facebook page, this mental is now becoming there. So every business needs a Facebook page. And now when they have a Facebook page, they make some posting regularly to make sure that they are live people. Whenever someone come on the Facebook page they fill it, the page is live, the person is live and the business is alive. So now it's more on becoming branding activity compared to the Legion activity.

Krishna Jonnakadla  18:38 

Interesting. So, organic post exists for a different reason. Instead of reaching out to new users or building audience which to a certain extent may be very, very miniscule extent still works. But the whole idea is Hey, is this is active, this business is alive and kicking and maybe a select set of posts are boosted through advertisement. So that's sort of the model that you're seeing right now.

Jimit  19:02 

Yeah. So organic posting, is for branding and visibility power, making sure that you are alive. And if you want to generate the leads from social media networks, paid model is the model that is working for now.

Krishna Jonnakadla  19:16 

Very interesting. And let's change topics a bit and talk about your founding team, your co founder and how many people in this right now.

Jimit  19:26 

So we are two co founder of one of our co founders is in US, he was working with a Cognizant as a client consultant. And gradually we were working, studying to the same college so after a few couple of years of experience with Cognizant, he moved back to India, again moved back to the US and from now USA he is working with me on a social pilot from last 2.5 years. And in terms of the core team, the team size that we are currently right now. We have over 30 people stream right now and expanding. So team is divided in four areas. That is our marketing team. We have an engineering team, we have a customer support team and the rest of the people that is admin and HR things.

Krishna Jonnakadla  20:08 

Interesting. So when you started this product, you were alone, you were a sole entrepreneur, you didn't have a co founder back then.

Jimit  20:15 

Some sort of. I have a partner from the service based company. So he was helping me in terms of few development, but later on he was a part of this properly.

Krishna Jonnakadla  20:26 

I see. It isn't normal that you find a co founder, much later in the journey. What was the driving force behind finding another co founder? And what was what was that journey like having somebody on board?

Jimit  20:41 

So as, I mentioned, my co founder Tejas, Tejas is a friend from college, right. So he was not officially partner, co founder on social pilot, but he was helping me with this Social Pilot from 2014 itself. So I didn't seed it. Okay. I didn't have a co founder and I was not an entrepreneur. And I advise everyone did you need a co-founder otherwise say a single entrepreneur is becoming very tough to save the your ideas to validate your idea or two techniques is you need a person whom you can share and who can advise or who can you can validate something with them. So as the equation like, I do not feel that I'm a solo entrepreneur, Tejas was with me from the beginning. And officially, he is joined as a co founder from off 2.5 years.

Krishna Jonnakadla  21:21 

So he was working on a part time basis when he had a career and then he joined me full time later.

Jimit  21:26 

Yeah, he was helping me without any compensation, or just a friendly help. Whenever I need, I just call him in I get an advice or support or anything that I need. I get it, but that is all free.

Krishna Jonnakadla  21:39 

Great. So right now, now that you've achieved a certain degree of scale, and you had some amount of scale, the tactics and the growth measures that you adopted for your first phase of scaling. Your early adopters were bloggers, you were helping them with their own social media, you know, profile plans, and eventually they became prominence of social pilot on social media and blogging channels. Those were your early set of users. When did it hit the hundred thousand mark that’s a sizable number? Well, we all assume that if you give out something valuable for free, you will have a big user base. I'm sure there is more to that story than what we otherwise feel. What other sorts of things happened where the user base crossed 100,000?

Jimit  22:26 

I don't know the exact number when we have hit the hundred thousand customers but we were only looking at the revenue part. So we just get our first five thousand dollar of revenue in 2015. And in 2017, after two years we reached to 45000 monthly recurring monthly recurring revenue. Okay.

Krishna Jonnakadla  22:45 

So you do not essentially track the free users, per se.

Jimit  22:49 

Yeah, we were not tracking the free users and definitely we were not tracking.

Krishna Jonnakadla  22:53 

Okay. What are the differences in your approach when you began and now that you are scaled up? Are you changing strategies are you changing tactics?

Jimit  23:01 

Yes, the journey from zero to 100 K is different, journey from 100 K to 1 million is different and now journey from 1 million to 10 million is again different. Initially fast execution and delivering the right product the right customer is helping us to reach hundred K, but 100K to 1 million it requires a team and now it's requires proper organizational structure to move from 1 million to 10 million. So initially, we don't have any tire in terms of hierarchy, employee’s hierarchy in our company, but now we have gradually have a senior person on board and now we have a hierarchy so now as a CEO and that was the biggest shift happens from last few years. I'm now doing or taking care of the opposite things and now moving myself from operations and strategy part. So that type of shifting had happened and it was required. So those type of guidance and those type of support mentoring is done by one of accelerator from Bangalore that is Upekkha. We are part of this accelerator. So they help us on this all since transition analysis ridering and mentoring.

Krishna Jonnakadla  24:08 

Okay, great. So let's talk about the monetization journey a little bit when you launched in June 2014. By December 2014, you had your first paying customer, one of the most key decisions in any SAAS platform or any paid software platform is this whole decision to monetize it sounds for an outsider, it feels like okay, you throw something out there. And then a few hundred thousand people start using it and all of a sudden you put up a pay wall in front of it and say, okay, it was great. We told you someday it was going to be paid. Here it is now start paying. We've seen a lot of companies do it that way. But what was your monetization journey like.

Jimit  24:53 

So probably from the beginning we required recurring revenue. So from the first launch when we released our first release we have a integration with stripe and PayPal with recurring subscriptions. And we have three plan from the beginning. And that is monthly and the yearly model. So, and we are still following the same method, we have a monthly and a yearly subscription plan. So that somehow we are following as of now.

Krishna Jonnakadla  25:18 

So you you always had a free plan and people would use the free plan and then possibly fall off and then use it and fall off. And sometimes in December somebody converted.

Jimit  25:28 

Yeah, so thats the change that we have done. So initially, we were allowing free for life time plan in which user can connect us with three social profiles and use our tool for lifetime. But gradually, in two years of time, we had closed the free plan for everyone and we are offering them affordable free trail and that help us a lot in terms of the revenue generation.

Krishna Jonnakadla  25:53 

Great, what were some failures or mistakes in your journey so far, and what have your learnings been from that.

Jimit  26:01 

So initially the spanning strategy was wrong, that we learn that okay it doesn't mean that if you are from India you have to sell your product at low price. Yeah, you can sell your product at some low compared to your competitors but it doesn't mean that you to give 95% discount to your product. So that’s the learning rate and that is the advice to any SAAS founded product. If you are from India, it doesn't matter to you to sell your product at so much discounted. So that's the one learning that I have that pricing matters a lot. Proper planning pricing strategy is required. Second is like the India dependent that is slower to  provide better support to end customer and provides a better UX. That is mandatory for any online product that you are building. If you are building any SAAS product or any online tool, these two parameters are mandatory. Third, as you keep growing more growing in terms of revenue, start hiring people expand your team fast. Start passing the CEO job on day to day activity to the middle person and prepare proper organizing structure. So that's what's our learning till now.

Krishna Jonnakadla  27:11 

Okay. When you began, you obviously had a set of skills. That's exactly why you were able to launch a product. How do you see yourself transformed? What were the skills that you had outside of the global learnings that you just spoke about? Have you ever felt challenged? Have you felt overwhelmed? Have you felt some occasionally frustrated? Oh, gosh, and I don't know if I'm able to, I'm going to be able to do this. Have you ever faced moments like that? What has been that learning journey like?

Jimit  27:42 

you asking about myself, right?

Krishna Jonnakadla  27:44 

That's right.

Jimit  27:44 

So my background, I'm a technical person. And by my entrepreneur journey from 2007 to 2014, I learned lots of skill about marketing and customer support and all such activity. So I'm too much operational person. I can't keep myself sit idle, and think something about strategies and all things. So I'm too much operative person, too busy in the operations. So that is to say, is now is happening now, gradually from last month in five years, I'm moving myself from operations and putting my signature things. So this  transition sometimes gives me a frustrating thing that okay, previously I was like, do something quick and get the result or see the result quickly. But now it takes time. So I would start developing a patience and that's and then become frustration for me, but I need to develop. That's the end learning.

Krishna Jonnakadla  28:42 

That's very, very candid. That's great. Let's talk about some decisions. We all like to think that there are people that can make great decisions, especially when you study selective decisions and only get part of the context right, but in reality, decisions turn out to be right or wrong. Only in retrospect, some turned out to be right. Some turned out to be wrong. And what are some of your decisions that have turned out to be right? And what are some decisions that have turned out to be wrong?

Jimit  29:10 

So yeah, the decision to join the accelerator program into Upekkha that is in run by the person now from Bangalore is turned out to be a super true and super valid and super successful for us. If it was not there, then maybe we are not set at where we have reached this stage at this speed or not. So that turned out great joining the accelerator program is that I think, we feel that that is the biggest thing that happens. What are now wrong is we fail to hire senior people a few years back now, and we're to start hiring senior people a couple of years ago, and that's the success that we are starting now. So we failed in such this decision okay. Having a properly organized structure is mandatory and it should be at once when we are in a journey from 100 K to the 1 million, and we have to take this decision during this time, but we were lenient  we were felt during this time we haven't hired a senior person during this time. So now we are doing this activity now we are hiring a senior person each in each area, nowadays. So, yeah, so let's run the we made a mistake not hiring the people and now we are solving this or correcting this mistake now.

Krishna Jonnakadla  30:23 

Interesting. While this podcast or this episode is not about a Upekkha, we all hear about accelerators, incubators, there are tons of them out there. They all seem to promise the same set of things what what's different about Upekkha or this accelerator program? How did it change things for you?

Jimit  30:40 

So Upekkha just like the other accelerator program, it's not a two month three months or four months of program. It's a two year program and into his program, Prasanna, the founder of the Upekkha works with us, not only to help us to grow up our firm or help us in our product, his only focus is to change the founder mindset. So he trained the founders rather than figuring out what's wrong in the product or how to gather the right cause, figuring out the GTM or whatever else is there related to the product. He is less involved on this area, but rather he involves more on a founder mindset and changing the founder mindset. He gave us the direction and that help us a lot to make a further decision. So we became the independent decision maker every time. So that was not I see anywhere in accelerator program thats the biggest difference.

Krishna Jonnakadla  31:30 

Okay, that's an amazing piece of insight. You work on the person and not the startup per se.

Jimit  31:36 

Yeah, that's true.

Krishna Jonnakadla  31:37 

Great, great. What is sort of the dream scenario for social pilot Jimit?

Jimit  31:42 

So I have not make in a mega dream but long dream long term in terms of the realism. But yeah, in two years of time, we want to hit to 5 million annual recurring revenue. That's the golden view and we want to try to achieve that part.

Krishna Jonnakadla  31:58 

Okay. And while you were scaling, you hit a few thousand users now, more than 100,000, you've taken a certain journey, what was what is you obviously have a different vantage point now, then what you started with you see, you perhaps see the world differently. Maybe you're not at the peak yet not at the summit yet. But you're along the way where you look back and say, gee, you know, I think there was this other path that we could have taken to get here. Now that you're at a different vantage point outside of what you've already talked about in terms of the pricing decision. Did you ever feel that there were some other things that you could have done differently or what are some additional perspectives?

Jimit  32:41 

Nothing came up in my mind, rather than myself, my co founders, have different thoughts, maybe for the next growth or maybe next product, so we will be, his will is to focus on one or higher ticket sales product maybe a targeting interval customer. It helps us grow faster. I don't know whether he is right. Or maybe I'm wrong. So I don't have any specific answer to this.

Krishna Jonnakadla  33:07 

I see that's a interesting observation where you still have a SaaS product but focus it on enterprises. So your ticket size is bigger, and therefore that brings in more stable recurring revenue. Yeah, but it definitely comes with its own challenges, right? Enterprises have lot more demands than end customers do.

Jimit  33:25 

So that again depends on the scale set right. So during my 15 years of career, what I did is I tackle with the marketing I haven’t tackle any sales thing, my founder do not have a sales experience. So trying enterprise sales, selling our sales team and moving the business and for the enterprise customer the requirement as you mentioned, the demand is endless, and so many compliances and so many other things. So as we don't have experience in this area, I am not sure that how it should be or what are the things that we will face so we all tries that part.

Krishna Jonnakadla  34:02 

Okay, so your mentor and support system is Upekkha I think looks like you're learning a lot from it and looks like you're benefiting immensely too. That's great outside of the accelerator ecosystem did you build a support system where you could possibly go to them get their thoughts maybe use them as a sounding board.

Jimit  34:22 

Now Ahmedabad has few other startup who are doing very good. So we co founders try to meet us sometimes a month do a lunch and share our numbers our strategies and share our learnings. So that's now happening in Ahmedabad, just started and yeah, so the difference between Ahmedabad as community the previously and the Bangalore is people are shy to share their numbers but nowadays, it's not happening people are easily share their numbers, easily talk about what went wrong and what went good. So this experience helps us to make a better decision.

Krishna Jonnakadla  35:00 

Okay. So on that count what really went great for you what went good for you.

Jimit  35:04 

In terms of product or in person?

Krishna Jonnakadla  35:06 

Every which way.

Jimit  35:07 

What went great, I already answered like we were technical environment which vary greatly that is we are from Ahmedabad title city and having the access of great resources at affordable rate.

Krishna Jonnakadla  35:21 

The model, the resource model you have. Yeah perhaps terrific example of how you could leverage low cost geography and still come up with a you know, fairly world class product.

Jimit  35:32 

Yeah. And that is a great thing and it is now the biggest failure for us now, that is the biggest big bad thing now.

Krishna Jonnakadla  35:41 

Why do you say that?

Jimit  35:42 

We are so now we are looking for the senior persons and the person who has experience moving from product from 1 million to 10 million they require different type of skill set different type of experience working with the product based company or working with a SAAS based company experience required. So those are type of company are not there in Gujarat. So now hiring such people is now becoming a challenge for us. And Ahmedabad started becoming constraint for us.

Krishna Jonnakadla  36:05 

I see. So the best is yet to come there.

Jimit  36:09 

Yeah.

Krishna Jonnakadla  36:09 

Great. So what would your advice be to the listeners of Maharajas of Scale. Startup founder or entrepreneurs who are starting up? Or contemplating building something?

Jimit  36:21 

I'm not that much big to provide any advice to another founder, but from my learning, I just say, and I just repeat again, take the India advantage, focus on your pricing for consumer product, do not focus anything else. If your product is great. Don't worry about your marketing. Marketing will happen automatically.

Krishna Jonnakadla  36:41 

That's actually that advice, the Don't worry about marketing advice is somewhat contrary, it feels like a normal engineer speaking build a great product and people will come. In your case did you ever feel that you sort of stumbled upon the bloggers because the bloggers themselves have online presence as a result of which the marketing was taken care of. And maybe not everyone is so lucky.

Jimit  37:04 

Maybe initially I might be lucky because of it. But gradually now we have shifted our target audience. We are not targeting individuals and pro bloggers. The target audiences, are marketing agency and still we are seeing that marketing agency brings more customer for us that is a referral marketing, referral is working for us and why referral is working because we have a better product. They like the product they use the product and that's how they recommend our product to others. So if you're not spending money on paid marketing and any other things the referral is working better for us.

Krishna Jonnakadla  37:36 

Got it. What are some founders or entrepreneurs that you appreciate or admire and why?

Jimit  37:44 

So I met few SAAS founders in Upekkha itself. So we were four startup in first core of Upekkha so that is Interview Mocha and iZooto. Interview Mocha from Pune and iZooto from Delhi. So I invited both the company's co founder i.e. Amit and Sujit from Interview Mocha, Vivek and Sachin from iZooto. So they have done expensively very good things in terms of transition from his product and prerogatives and the product itself. And they're very good in terms of storytelling and delivering the right thing, at the right people in the right price and very open in terms of discussion in terms of setting the numbers. We didn't find very hard to talk to these people. So I admire those persons a lot.

Krishna Jonnakadla  38:33 

Awesome. Are you a reader Jimit? Do you read books?

Jimit  38:37 

Very less. Very less. I am not a good reader.

Krishna Jonnakadla  38:43 

What do you do for fun?

Jimit  38:44 

Well, spent time with the family, some outing, traveling and yeah, you know, a long time I keep watching movies and CDs on Amazon prime.

Krishna Jonnakadla  38:54 

Great. Well, Jimit, it has been great talking to you. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. We have several key takeaways. Don't ever be afraid of your origins. Just because you're launching a product from India doesn't mean you need to short charge or charge any less, be proud of what you create. And as long as you create something awesome, you will still succeed. And I love the humility and the frankness and the candour with which you shared your journey with us. This has been an awesome conversation. Before we wrap up anything else you would like to say.

Jimit  39:29 

Thanks Krishna for the opportunity. And if anything, I can help you to any co founder. I'm more than happy to do that. So feel free to reach out to me or I'm asking any co founder if you need any help, feel free to reach out to me.

Krishna Jonnakadla  39:41 

Wonderful. Thank you, Jimit. I know great things are in store. Upekkha, is a terrific program. I've met Prasanna, a few times his own approach and vision is vastly superior. I'm so happy for you guys and what you guys are doing. We know you will continue to make awesome things happen. Trust me, the senior resource thing is possibly a temporary blip as they see the vision from your ability to jump to a million users, you possibly have a different multi million dollar company happening right there in Ahmedabad, you may be you yourself will change the landscape of Ahmedabad. So we wish you the very best. And as I say to every founder, we speak to on Maharajas of Scale. We will be there to cheer you and talk to you again at that new vantage point when you hit that big goal, so we will talk to you again and all the very best.

Jimit  40:35 

Thank you. Thank you Krishna for all the time, all the cheers, and appreciations. Thanks.

Nida  40:41 

We hope you enjoyed the story. If this story made a difference to you tell us by leaving a comment on the website or our social media channels. Help us spread the love by subscribing, liking and sharing our show. We welcome speaker suggestions and collaborations. Write to me at heythere@maharajasofscale.com