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Full time into DoPartTime

Our short story of starting up a business

###Warm up

In the college days, We(me, Mohan, Ashok) used to get some freelance/outsourced projects(no agreement), develop them(no process), deliver them(no SLA) & get the money(no bill). We did not know much(anything) about business, start-up, sales, marketing or about getting money from strangers to do business(funding). We couldn’t start up then as we didn’t have much exposure into business. So we had decided to join hands after some time.

” Ok, Let’s get employed some where, learn about business, and do something after 2 years. “

After the great college days of learning to build the web, and somehow trapped in a access restricted system with firewalled internet; reading the startup stories in YourStory, NextBigWhat, ProductNation and seeing cool new products at Hacker News, Reddit Startup showed me a whole different kind of life, a startup life, and inspired me to do something different.

We felt it’s time to try the adventurous start-up journey. To build a product, do sales, do marketing, make new customers, make money, to do an actual business..

###The IDEA

From the college days, I have a habit of listing down every problem I face that I feel like “It would be better if we have a product/website/service/app for this!”.

” You can’t just sit up and think for ideas to start up a business. “

” You face a ‘PROBLEM’, and you solve for yourself, it’s a ‘SOLUTION’; you solve for others, it’s a ‘BUSINESS’ “

First, I was taking down such ideas in note paper, then SMS draft, then mobile notes, then evernote, finally google keep; Just the mode of saving changes, but not the habit of saving it. Still the first notes in my google keep titles ‘Ideas’ with over 50 items.( Most are silly ones, but still problem without solution )

Phone:” Tring Tring… Tring Tring… “

Me:” Hello. “

Mohan:” Hey, How about this idea? A website exclusive for part time jobs!! “

Me:” Hmmm… Looks great, Let’s try. “

Yes, we knew hiring/recruitment is not just a technology business, but needs a lots of ground work as well. Ok, why not try it. After some discussions, we had finalized ‘this is what we are going to do’. We had a plan of starting up in Bangalore, as it has a perfect ecosystem, and visibility for startups.

” It’s official, we are starting a business. “

” Company name? “

” Let’s keep it as Tinywall Technologies “

Tinywall: The small wall where friends hangout for chat, as in ‘கழுதை கெட்டா குட்டிச்சுவரு’ :)

Tinywall is the name of the social networking website which we had developed during our college days.

###Prototyping & Incubation

Then, we got to know about the TiECON PitchFest, a business idea event where the participants will be pitching their business to the investors and incubators for funding. Having just the idea without any product or even prototype, we called our friends and geared up for building a prototype in just 3 weeks for the event and some how made it ready.

Our friends Ashok, Isaac, Ramakrishnan, Kathir, Melwyn, Ram and many other’s great effort & help, made the prototype possible in a short span of time. We had named the product name as ‘Jobbied’ which was renamed later.

With the prototype and a business plan PPT, we went to the prelims in Coimbatore and presented it. After a week of the prelims, we got a mail that we had been selected for PitchFest finals. After developing the prototype further more, making a mobile app and improving the pitch desk PPT with a sleepless night the day before, we went for the finals to present to the investors.

We had talks with around 8 investors, and nobody wanted to see the pitch PPT or the prototype. They just wanted us to talk the idea, explain how we were going to execute it and answer their questions.

” Investors less care about the idea or the product, but the strength of the team to execute the business is very important for them. “

We got mixed feedbacks from the investors, some were positive, some were negative. But the common feedback from all is that the stage we were in was too early for an instutional investor funding and they can’t invest just with an idea & prototype without starting the business and seeing some traction.

One of the panel in the PitchFest, an incubation center was happy with our idea and called us for another round to pitch in their office. After some day, we went there and explained our business idea with them, and they liked it and selected us as one of the startups in their first batch of incubatee companies with them.

” Congrats! Your company is select for incubation with us. “

###Day 1, day 2, day 3…

We had submitted resignation from our respective employers and was serving notice period eagerly waiting to start our venture. The last working day came, and in fact, I directly went to the incubation center in the evening itself after farewell as both the offices are located back to back.

As we had planed, we knew, I’ll be taking care of technology and Mohan will take care of operations. But, what to develop? what to execute? how to make money? We just had the idea, ‘A website for part time job’ and a broken, non production ready prototype. Also ‘Jobbied’ will not be the product name as realizing that no one likes and knows the spelling for the word.

” OMG, we don’t even have a website and also can’t put this buggy prototype in live. “

” Let’s put a static website until we develop the product. “

” Shit! We don’t even have a product name. Ok. Let it be tinywall.com until we name the product. “

We saw some inspirations, designed a static one page website, published in our website and sent out the link for feedback.

” Hey All, How is our new company website? “

” Guys, I don’t want to say this, but your website looks crap. Not at all professional. “, that’s one feedback.

After some design changes, we did a simple clean design and put up the website in www.tinywall.com and to get registrations, we had used google forms for job seeker & employer registration.

Lession 1:

” v0.1 of any internet business can be started in just a day. “

” Static website with google forms hosted in github pages and marketing via free classifields listing. “

After setting up some tools like HRM, CRM, company email id, business listing in classifields; We started planing for our road map, and decided to leave the prototype and start the product development from scratch.

” Let’s begin. “

sudo apt-get install apache2 php5-mysql…

echo ‘hello world’;

Then we named our product DoPartTime, set up a great team of interns, developed the product, did marketing, did sales.. The learnings here is much much more higher than being a student or an employee. I’ll be writing some of the experiences and learnings in the upcoming posts.

The adventure continues…

posted on 07 Feb 2015
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