Product10x interviewed Nishitha Kambhaladinne, the founder of Quickonnect – a SaaS based CRM application for “super” small businesses using a simple QR code technology. She ran the company for 2 years with a lot of learnings and currently works as a Data Scientist at a major pharma company.
The idea of creating Quickonnect came to Nishitha when spending a lot of time in European cities like in Italy and France, where there is a unique sense of community between businesses. So, you get your groceries at a local grocery store, and when you leave, it's like that person knows who you are. Eventually, though, you see bigger retailers come in and the small mom and pops just can’t compete, primarily because they lack cutting edge technologies. Nishitha focused on what technologies could help these small businesses with Quickonnect.
Challenges quickly arose because these small businesses didn’t have technologists nor developers; their expertise was making coffee or cooking. So they got validation of the idea, but not the product, and not the technology validation or the idea of validation in a way that is needed for a startup. Looking back, Nishitha wished she had started by presenting an idea and asking if a customer could pay for it.
Like most things, succeeding in a startup requires many sacrifices. You probably have read about many success stories, but there are so many failures that you aren’t hearing about. And getting a college degree is important for many people, but there is nothing like running a startup or working in business to give you real world experience to be successful. And your pitch is of course important—not just the ideas and being persuasive, but also the skills of presenting well. This is an instance when a mentor and having the right team can help. And pivoting to reach the right customers with the right product is crucial.
Nishitha built a lot of self-service technology features into her platform, but even with something as simple as having a platform for loyalty, a retail store and a coffee shop handle that differently. So, she decided to focus in on one industry, allowing her to go deeper with product, but still applying that to a larger amount of customers. So, she created a product for ten restaurants in one area, and seven of them could use it, providing her with a good use case and paying customers. And a dynamic product allowed her to keep changing, keeping her customers happy, and not losing out to the competition.
As things progress with your startup you will most likely need to decide on if you will take fundraising or not. For Nishitha’s company, looking back now, she doesn’t feel that fundraising would have been a major factor for her. There was initial planning and then execution. Perhaps because it was her first business, she didn’t spend the months of planning that may have made things easier. And, since this was a company focused on technology, she didn’t have the technical abilities at the onset. She has more recently achieved those skills, but early on, looking back it could have helped to bring in someone more technical. It would have been a healthy debate for someone to challenge her ideas.
A lot of people think the more money you put on the problem, the better the results are. But fundamentally, having a vision, a set of problems to solve, identifying the right users and use cases, and making sure that there is a big enough problem for those users to be solved, will help you achieve your goals. And do your best to rid yourself of the fear of failure. Like people say, failure is a stepping stone to success.
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