1825 days of a bootstrapped Startup: Mastering the science of learn, unlearn and relearn.

Vheeds just turned 5!  Yes, 1825 days. Time flies by, indeed. It has been a truly rewarding journey, I’d say. Like every other startup right out there, we have had our own share of struggles and difficulties to overcome during each phase. As a team, we are extremely proud to have traveled from nowhere to here.

How did it all happen? How far have we come since that winter night? Allow me to tell you our story.

Place: Cyber Towers, Hyderabad.

Date:  September 5, 2010

Season: Yet another winter night.

Time: I was running out of it.

A lot has happened since that chilly winter night. Whenever I look back, I tend to lose the sequence of events, but certain events have been rooted in me so deeply that needs to be told right now.

I’m a first generation engineer, and so is my co-founder [Surendar]. Like every other first generation engineer out there, right after my graduation, I was carefully handpicked by a corporate company — that’s where I met my co-founder. We used to work in the same project back then.

Three years of corporate life hadn’t only taught us technology, but a lot about life, too. Though we loved what did, as years moved on, somewhere in the corner of our hearts, we believed that our learning curve had become stagnant, and it was a bit too much to do the same thing every single day. We witnessed ourselves becoming less motivated and less passionate with each passing day, but we convinced ourselves to find horizons, and hoped that change was just around the corner. But oh boy, we couldn’t have been more wrong.

Everything has its limit — they say, right? It was one such evening where both of our limits were put to test by our ex project head. To be frank, we were at our wits end. Like I mentioned in the beginning, time was running out for both of us. We had to make up our minds before we went in to meet our project head. A part of me was already thinking about taking up a new job elsewhere. When I told Surendar about it, he warned me about the possibilities of the same scenario repeating once again elsewhere, and it got us both thinking. “But what’s the alternative?”, I asked, as we stepped into the elevator, and hit the 8th floor button.

Seconds before we reached the 8th floor, he broke his silence, and came up with the idea of starting a company, which left me in the vortex of endless thoughts. Thanks to the technologies we learned there, without which, we wouldn’t have thought about it at all. Before getting brainwashed by the false of security given by our corporate jobs, we had already emailed our resignation letters.

 After hitting the “send” button, it took us a few minutes to understand the enormity of the mighty decision we had taken. A decision that could never be reversed even if we wanted. In a way, it has also been one of the best things that has happened to us.

The reality check

It would be a lie if I told you that things got easier for us from where we left. Of course, we knew we had to struggle in order establish our own startup, and we were ready, but… but we didn’t know where to begin. I must add here, that, we have always believed in ourselves and the skill sets we possess, but honestly, beginning was the hardest.

 

 

It is manageable to tread on a road that’s already there. No matter how hard or challenging it gets. But what if there’s no road ahead of you?

YOU BUILD ONE.

That’s exactly what we did. After spending a great deal of time on SWOT analysis, we found out that our cons outweighed pros, but we made a pact to do everything that was necessary to be where we are right now. The humongous task ahead of us was to hone our technical skills, and we did it right away — survival of the fittest and the fastest, you see.

Neither do we come from the IITs or IIMs nor from a tier-1 city. Let alone have entrepreneurs in our social circle. But we didn’t let it drag us down. Instead, we thought of it as an opportunity to be the first ones to have stepped out of the comfort zone in pursuit of much bigger and meaningful things.

There came a point in our journey where most of the people we came across told us that 9 out of 10 startups failed. But from day one, we made it a point to focus on becoming a part of those highly coveted 1% successful startups. As first generation tech entrepreneurs, we knew we had to learn a lot. A LOT. Though we have had our highs and lows, not once did we get tired of learning. In fact, if not for our love of learning, we wouldn’t even be here.

You cannot cut corners

If there is one thing that I can be sure of, that is — there’s nothing called as overnight success. It is a process. It takes time. We knew it. That’s why we set our break-even period as 5 years. In fact, we built all our products while running our web designing company side by side. We still very much do the same.

Expect that we are profitable, and 10x confident of building a robust product for a global audience. Having seen a lot of startups come and go, I can easily say one thing for sure.

Do not be intimidated by the journey of others. You will never know everything about it, no matter how much you read or hear about it. So, just focus on yours and keep going.

Having said that, all entrepreneurs go through tough times. Tough moments do not last, but tough people do. People who are open to learning are here to stay, for sure.We are a happily bootstrapped startup with a bunch of 3 developers, a UI designer and a female marketer. I’m proud to have built a team like ours. In any startup, team DNA matters the most, we have heard. So, we fetched the right sort of people who shared a common dream.

From zero to one

We may not have had exponential growth, but it has been slow and steady for the past 5 years. Here are the milestones we have hit, and moments we have cherished so far.

  • In the past 5 years, we have built 3 global products (Honeytask, Nyabag, and Cupboard )  that are used by thousands of people from around the world.

  • Regional finale runner up of Microsoft Bizspark startup challenge – 2013.

  • Finalists of Best upcoming Entrepreneur of the year 2014 by ICT academy of Tamil Nadu.

  • Webchirpy, our design studio has helped more than 60+ businesses grow through branding, building products, and web designing. Also, we were completely taken aback when we were approached by PyCon India (Python’s premier conference held in India for Python developers) to do the same for them.

  • We have been maintaining positive balance sheet for the fourth consecutive year.

And, the most biggest thing we have done so far is convincing our family and friends to believe in us that we were onto something big. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have made so far.

From one to hundred

Though we love our hometown, we think it is time for us to move to a bigger city to do bigger things. We are working on our dream product Tasklime - a project management software designed focusing on teams’ happiness and productivity.

Yes, it has taken five years for us to reach the base of Mount Everest. It’s a long way to the top, and we are ready for it. So, we are packing our bags to move to Bengaluru!

You can check out our product development blog here.

They say that life is a sprint and not a marathon. So is running a startup. I would like to quote Christiano Ronaldo — “I’m living a dream I never want to wake up from.”  So are we!

A big shout-out to my chief marketer Santhanalakshmi who co-authored this post with me.

 You can send us your hearts and howlers to hello@tasklime.com or share your comments below;