Startups

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For most brands it is a special moment when your first advertisement gets aired. We too are over the moon with ours.  MySmartPrice finally has our first Advertisement after 4 years in the business. Here’s a look at it’s inception and thought process.

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It has been more than 4 months since we said good bye to our jobs and started working on MySmartPrice.com. Since we have benefitted a lot by posts of other entrepreneurs about their failure, struggle and success , it is only fair that we share our experiences with the community as well. May be someone will manage to find some small motivation from it. We will particularly concentrate on some of the fear/doubts that we had while getting started on this journey and how they have played out in these 4 months days.

Living on 25K is difficult but possible: We were very clear from the first day that we will not monetize the site or think of raising any funding till we get the user experience right and build a good traction with users. That meant we have to survive on earnings from side projects for about a year. In order to be able to give maximum possible time to our startup we have to make do with the least amount of money that is absolutely necessary to survive. That has meant that we had to move from taxi to shared auto, using bike instead of car, living in the outskirts of the city or having daughter’s birthday at home instead of in some restaurant. We will be fooling ourselves if we say that it is easy. It is not. But given the alternative of not working on something that we so strongly and passionately believe in, we will choose this difficult life any day.

Side projects are a torture because they need us to stop working on something that we were 150% involved in last night and start working on something else. There are many things, like responding to customer feedback or code failure due to some stupid issue etc, that do not stop simply because we have to work on a client project. May be there is a better way to handle the project and we are trying to learn it but the only thing we will suggest is that do not go for this route as your first option.

People will notice when you do something good I could have never expected the CTO of MakeMyTrip or a product manager at Google to stop by to appreciate what we have done. Obviously these people get to see much more awesome things but still they have been kind enough to cheer us along this tough journey. A lot of bloggers have gone out of their way to introduce us to their readers. There is no way we can thank them enough. Bottom line is always strive to make a product that is simple, usable and does not confuse the user and never ever compromise on quality. It you stick to it, people will start taking notice.

People will notice even more when you are sloppy While we were busy developing the mobile pricelists, the books section was unattended and some of the functionalities were broken. We had assumed that since traffic levels are low, no one will notice during the few days it will take us to complete the new feature. Five emails within two days made us realize people do notice sloppiness. I hope we have learnt our lessons and will not let that happen ever in future. If something is broken and you know about it, it’s a crime not to fix it. Just fix it.

You will be amazed by what you can do: Sita was coming back to technology after 2 years at IIM Bangalore and 3 years in banking. I was a manager and into pre-sales and consulting for the last four years. So if anyone had asked us if we can develop a complete crawler in PHP, work with MySQL internal APIs to get the autosuggest to work properly, obtain millisecond response time with JavaScript and simultaneously market the site to get it to 1000 users a day mark within 100 days, our answer would have been have you lost your mind? But the fact is that not only we have done all that, but a number of other initiatives, like an Ajax based Mobile Finder, are already in the pipeline.

interesting life of entrepreneurs

(image from Rodinhood)

Thanks to Rodinhood and unpluggd for telling us about the interesting life to expect. But it has been totally worth it till now and hope it continues to be so.

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Entrepreneurship is about living a few years of your life like most won’t, so you can live the rest of your life like most can’t.

I know for a fact that the first part is true. Does that mean the second part will be true as well. I hope so and will let you guys know as soon I find out. 🙂

BTW, We are in process of migrating mysmartprice to the cloud so that it can become lightening fast. 🙂

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Since I intend to record the journey of MySmartPrice on this blog, logically the first post has to be about how I hit upon this idea about starting a price search engine for books. There are four things that conspired to set me up with this side project of me that has grown up to be a really big one.

  • I have been buying books for ages now. Ever since I got a job, as a principle I have stopped buying pirated books. That does not mean I am happy about the excessive price charged by the book stores.
  • I was working on a separate website for recording the mobile phone prices in India. Keeping up with the ever changing project has rendered that process useless. I continue to maintain it for a SEO project which is a different story.
  • I  chanced upon a book price search engine by Swaroop through a post on Flipkart. I will always remain thankful for that since I have gained a lot of insight by going through his blog. If you intend to ever start your startup then do subscribe to his blog.
  • A lot of users of Swaroop’s project liked the product. However many of them were asking for a way to start with the title of the book instead of the isbn number. I guess Swaroop has not made the changes since it was not his idea to start with and he might be busy with his new job at Infibeam. Coincidentally I am on the exit mode from my job to get into the startup phase.

One of the biggest inspirations for working on this project has been my own desire to prove to myself that I continue to be a geek even 5 years after I stopped coding to go to IIM Bangalore. There are many improvements that are required even now and I will talk about them in future posts. However I am already proud of the product that I have.

I will close this post by wishing myself and MySmartPrice luck and by thanking Tapas for introducing me to the wonderful blog of Swaroop and Swaroop for providing me such a nice homework to bring out the coder in me 🙂