SaaS pricing

Here are some of the parameters I found to be essential when pricing a SaaS product. Scale When one of your customers’ doubles in size, does revenue from that customer also double? or at least 1.5x? If revenue is not proportional to the growth curve of your customers, the pricing is incorrect. Habit Is your product becoming a part of daily routine for your customers, at least to a certain section of people? This is important because once it becomes a habit, you don’t have to worry about churn much (the only exception being your product deteriorates in quality) because … Continue reading SaaS pricing

Hiring lessons Part 3 – Annoyance

I’ve hired a lot of people, let go some of them, a few of them went to Facebook & Google and a couple to start their own companies. In all these ups & downs, the one strong quality I’ve noticed with people whom I enjoy working (and who are really damn good) is… annoyance. In a positive outlook, it may be called obsession but the feeling expressed to show your obsession is usually annoyance at something wrong/missing. There are so many variables in a startup that it’s not possible to control everything. An easy solution can be to just give … Continue reading Hiring lessons Part 3 – Annoyance

Immigration

Enough has been said about the war for talent in the valley. It’s definitely hard to hire good engineers and it’s just ending up in a zero sum game where Google tries to poach from Facebook, Facebook from Twitter, Twitter from … and so on. And then there are a few engineers in these companies who’d like to work for a startup mostly because they’d want to do one in the near future. In fact, someone built a site for that. It’s getting increasingly easy for good hackers to start companies. Startups are becoming almost risk-free because even if you … Continue reading Immigration

Point

If you notice, there is one point in a startup journey after which the growth skyrockets and you start to define/influence the market in a big way. Many of the successful startups started very differently (sometimes radically different) than what they’re doing now.  Youtube started as a dating site, Instagram originally started as Burbn, an HTML-5 mobile check in app which didn’t go anywhere for about a year. Guess how many users Pinterest had in the first year?  Just 10k. One takeaway from the above examples and a lot of successful startups in general is, the founders were persistent enough to … Continue reading Point

Chase

Q. When do you know if you’re really passionate about what you’re building? When you can go to the extent of even working for free for a company that’s already doing it. Sure, you can start off on your own, but the excitement of starting up with people you know will supersede the idea itself, especially for first time entrepreneurs. Work hard, sleepless nights, highs & lows, blah..blah.. have all been there but there is something different this time around – a chase to get to that point which I can see so clearly even at such a large distance. … Continue reading Chase

Bootstrapping

Bootstrapping in early days has indirect advantages that are hard to spot during the time. Ironically the learnings help a lot after funding or during the growth phase. We started Interviewstreet with our own money in 2009 and for over two years ran it without any external funding (our first funding was from YC in mid 2011). We struggled a lot with three failed ideas and were on the verge of bankruptcy by the end of 2010. I remember how sometimes I used to curse the startup life because nothing really was working, but it taught us two great lessons. … Continue reading Bootstrapping

Six ideas

There are many unsolved problems in the web. Here are six ideas that I’d love to see in action for which I’ll definitely be a paying customer. Some of them might exist and would love to know if they do, but most of them seem frighteningly ambitious. [1] Smarter e-mail E-mail is hell and it sucks away a lot of productive time. As you grow higher up the ladder, it’s almost poisonous since you tend to be always on and not much of “real work” gets done. This e-mail system should be intelligent. For now it can just be a plugin but … Continue reading Six ideas

[Mistake] Everyone is right

The feeling of insecurity crops up quite a number of times when starting up, especially in the early days. It’s both exciting and scary, like how an 8-year old kid feels when left home alone the first time, for a couple of hours. This fear sometimes affects the self-confidence which makes everyone around you appear to be bigger in stature. Once this mindset is in, everything what the other person says sounds like gold. Naturally, when you meet 20 people in an event, you get a feeling as though you just got access to 20 pots of gold and you … Continue reading [Mistake] Everyone is right

Mistakes

I’ve made (still continue to) a lot of mistakes while building Interviewstreet – bad product decisions, terrible demos, wrong hires, screwed up relationships and many more. Morale of founders is probably the biggest determinant of how long a startup will sail. Every failure dents the morale a little bit and when it hits zero, the startup dies. Mentoring programs like YC, Morpheus, etc. are primarily built to guide founders so that they make fewer mistakes on the way thus keeping their morale level in place. Obviously, there can never be a program nor a mentor who can predict everymistake that a founder might … Continue reading Mistakes

What’s this valley about?

Everyone talks about this magical place called ‘valley’ to start a company, so what does this magical place contain? #1 Focus Startups are lonely, tough and very hard to build. It’s also highly unlikely that you might hit off with your very first product/idea. I’ve seen a lot of YC companies that have pivoted 2-3 times from start to demo day. In such a harsh state, the only way to maximize your chances of succeeding is to spend most (all) your waking hours focusing on the product to get to market fit. In other words, it means you shouldn’t worry … Continue reading What’s this valley about?