PNCamp#3 — Product Teardown UrbanPiper

Before writing something down about our experience at the recently held Product Nation Camp (PNCamp) product teardown session, I think it would be better to give a short perspective on the overall event from the viewpoint of a fairly reclusive startup in the B2B Saas space.

UrbanPiper has been around for some time; however, for a pretty long period, we haven’t taken part in any SaaS focused events. Well we did, but all of them were in Bangalore. The ones that we attended too, were mostly about networking with hundreds of people milling about and ready to deliver an elevator pitch if you so much as said “hello” to them. Nothing inherently wrong about such a gathering, but if networking isn’t your one-all-be-all purpose, these events stop making sense once you’ve attended one or two of them.
The PNCamp was suggested to us by one of our advisors. Not sure what to expect, the only reason we agreed to go was because we hadn’t attended any event for a decent length of time.

The event turned out to be a delightful experience — spread across a full day (Saturday), it was a small (80-100 people) gathering of focused individuals from a curated list of startups, with an evolved sense of SaaS business and products reflecting a matured outlook towards problem-solving. There was a team (including the founder) from the matured startup – Zenoti, which anchored most of the sessions and did all that they could to share their learning with the rest of us fledgling startups. The day’s events were well regulated to avoid any feeling of drag creeping in, and at all times, it felt like everyone was invested with a great deal of interest and purpose to contribute to each other’s box of learning.

The product teardown was the first session scheduled after a short inaugural talk by the PN team and the guest of honour – Mr. Jay Pullur (Founder of Pramati Technologies).

As it usually is with all things unprepared for, UrbanPiper was invited as the first startup to step up for the teardown. Not having any previous experience of a product teardown, I had no idea what good or bad was in store, and that in a strange way helped me calm down and focus upon telling the audience a good narrative about the UrbanPiper story.

THE TEARDOWN PROCESS

The teardown allows the speaker, a representative of the startup core team, to speak about their startup for 5-10 minutes. As part of the initial presentation, some basic questions are asked by any member of the audience. These questions are usually of the nature to understand a bit better about the proposition of the startup.

Once the presentation is through and the first wave of questions answered, the team from Zenoti takes over. They systematically explored aspects of the technology platform – the finished product, product interfaces, on-boarding process – but it all starts with the “deconstruction” of the website.

For us, the UrbanPiper website (https://urbanpiper.com) had been an effort to put up a decent web presence. Where “decent” merely meant that it was better as a façade than what our competitors had, and it somewhat managed to convey the platform’s proposition.

The following is what we felt manages to tick most of the checkboxes when it came to a Saas-based startup’s website:

UrbanPiper

The next 15 minutes was a logical and well-executed act of unravelling the pointlessness of doing things half-baked and half-thought. While the focus was directed towards our website, but it didn’t take much effort to see signs of the same problems when it comes to setting a product vision, selling, pricing, negotiating, fund raising, marketing, etc.

The primary theme of the teardown can be summarized as:

  1. What have you built and how do you intend to sell it
  2. Does your website echo the thought-process expressed in #1
  3. The website teardown focuses on:
    1. The messaging around the primary proposition of your product/platform
    2. The explanation of how your target audience can use your platform
    3. The long-tail value of using your product/platform
    4. How has your platform made a difference for the merchants/clients who have been using it for quite some time

TAKEAWAYS

As ominous as a “teardown” sounds, the first thing to know is that it’s a very friendly event. Instead of feeling defensive about getting “exposed”, it is best to view the teardown as a get together of well-informed friends who point out the gaps in your plan to save you the blushes in the future. Think of the last time when a friend of yours pointed out that your fly is open – that probably best sums up the purpose of the teardown.

Another important aspect is the quality of feedback–you have some of the best minds, who have most certainly been-there-done-that, offering you their undivided attention so as to offer you advice which is best suited for you.

For us, the key takeaways boiled down to:

  • Narrow down the area UrbanPiper wants to focus on. Instead of positioning the platform for every merchant, it would make it much easier to scale if we simply focused on being the best in one domain, and then decide to pursue another one.
  • Overhaul the website to focus on simple messaging instead of using buzzwords, which would most likely make no sense to even the people you’d like to sell to.
  • Break down the journey a merchant would have from not using our platform to the benefits of signing up and thereafter.
  • Last, but certainly not the least, build out the product and the website with a focus on selling globally. This involves a change in setting out a more global plan, but the start needs to be with the website–which should reflect in no uncertain terms the intent to cater to a global audience.

CURRENT SITUATION

It’s been a week since the PNCamp, but we have already finished work on the first iteration of making some much needed changes to our website. This iteration is by no means a finished product, but it certainly embraces some of the direction that we should be taking with our platform’s positioning.

It gives me a lot of pleasure to unveil the new look of our website–

While this is just our first iteration, there are some key elements that we wanted to address:

  • Focus the messaging around the domain that works for us.
  • Take the visitor through various parts of the platform in a gradual and relevant manner – the features should unravel themselves as an easy to understand narrative.
  • Use styling which gives the site a crisp look and feel, such as to measure up to the expectations of a global platform.
  • Add a blog (https://urbanpiper.com/blog) section to write about the platform and make a visitor find out more. Not to mention, reap the benefits of better SEO.
  • Prominently showcase a video which ideally has a current merchant talking about the platform.

Urbanpiper2

THE WAY FORWARD

We have just begun an interesting journey of making UrbanPiper relevant for the next phase of growth. During the PNCamp, Sudheer (founder of Zenoti) had suggested that I read a book – Crossing the chasm (Geoffrey Moore). I’ve just read the first chapter of the book, and already it feels like there’s going to be lots to learn from it.

Whatever be in store, it will surely help us rediscover ourselves at an important juncture of growth for UrbanPiper.

If I were to pause for a moment and reflect upon the events and the actions we’ve taken, it’s not like there was a grand revelation or something. Working in startups, we all carry a bunch of latent thoughts. However, in the everyday hectic operations of running a startup, we often lose “perspective”. If we’re lucky, then we have some good friends from other startups with whom we hang out regularly, and exchange notes, which in-turn helps us gain some of the lost “perspective”. But then, having friends from startups which have tread a path similar to yours, call for rather long odds.

Events are usually good to meet an eclectic group of individuals from the startup world, but then, most of them are primarily about networking, and soon lose value for all the effort that needs to be put in for attending them. And then, we just become lazy, letting our latent thoughts remain buried, while we continue to endure every aspect of a tunnel-vision syndrome.

For what it’s worth, the Product Nation Camp, was certainly a refreshing take on the idea of a startup conference – or rather, unconference. You’ve got a room full of smart people, doing smart things, and wanting to help you see things differently – to help you gain some of your lost perspective.

Guest Post by Anirban Majumdar @ urbanpiper.com

The Making of #PNcamp3 #Hyderabad

Just came back, feeling happy, from Hyderabad after doing the #PNcamp3. The drive from the airport in the evening to Gachibowli was pleasant and I got to see lot of construction in the city. I felt like I was driving in the Silicon Valley highway with wide roads and people driving in their lanes. In the evening, when I drove back from the ISB Campus, it took me just 25 minutes to reach to the airport.

Sunset near the HYD airport

Some background about what we have done so far in the Hyderabad Ecosystem

We have managed to do around 5 playbooks so far, 3 of them have been around Products, 1 of them was by Suresh Sambandam on Nuts & Bolts selling to the US, one of them was on Selling by Aneesh Reddy of Capillary. Few months back, we did put together a playbook around Product Showcase, inspite of having 8–10 confirmations, no one showed up except for Niraj from Hiver who was facilitating the playbook.

I was little upset as I felt founders in Hyderabad did not value the playbooks. I stayed quite for few months and then recently wrote a blog post on my contribution to Chennai and how it is now positioned as a SaaS/B2B hub of India. Chaitanya of Ozonetel tweeted saying he will write a blog post on how Hyderabad is emerging as a B2B hub. I felt guilty of not making an active contribution to the city. So after SaaSx, I thought of putting together PNcamp3, it’s a light format and adds value to the Pre-Product Market Fit stage companies.

The Hyderabad Tech Eco-system

Just to give you a little brief about the Hyderabad tech eco-system, they have an awesome Incubator/co-working space called T-Hub which is truly a global facility. Some of the leading companies from Hyderabad in the B2B space are: Pramati Technologies, Zenoti, Ozonetel, AgileCrm and in B2C we have MeraEvents and NowFloats is in the SMB space. Also you have some emerging players such as ReportGarden, AppVirality, Robustest and few others. This is just a partial list to give an understanding of the tech ecosystem. There are many more which I might have missed.

The team which pulled PNcamp together

Few months back, Shekhar Kirani of Accel had connected me with Sudheer Koneru of Zenoti as Sudheer was keen to get connected to the ecosystem and contribute some of his learnings. Initially, I wasn’t even aware about them, but the more I spoke with Sudheer I found him to be someone who was keen to help the Indian eco-system, keen to do something for Hyderabad. He flew in from Hyderabad as I requested him to attend one playbook before he does any for us….that was a big commitment and he made it happen. I’m quite fortunate to have leveraged Sudheer for 2 playbooks(1 in BLR & 1 in HYD), he was a mentor at PNgrowth and shared his learnings at SaaSx4. Sudheer was the first person who agreed to host #PNcamp in Hyderabad. I then reached out to Chaitanya as he has always been there to support in any initiative that I have reached out to him for. I had been working with Laxman from AppVirality on Beyond Founders…it hasn’t taken off, but I know he was committed and very keen to contribute.

I just shared the format of PNcamp2 that we did in Pune and I said, let’s target around the 75 B2B founders in HYD and do something for startups which are in the early stages. According to Chaitanya, it was a high number, so we settled for around 35–40 as we did not have enough B2B companies in HYD. We did the first blog post announcing PNcamp and noticed that we just got 1 application in 1 week. I realised that we have to probably do little more outreach to get the 35–40 number. Then Sainath Gupta heard about the PNCamp in Hyderabad, he shared it on Facebook and I did speak to him to help us out. Without knowing what we were getting into, he agreed and I set a target for around 75 B2B startups, probably around 40 from HYD and the remaining from other parts of India. I also told him that to get to 75, we have to probably get around 130 applications as we follow a tight curation process. I did update Laxman that we were not doing too well on registrations and he did reach out to Praveen Dorna who was very active in the ecosystem. I got both Sainath & Praveen on a call and requested for help. Both of them took on the target of getting around 75 people for PNcamp. Luckily, we managed to get around 90 applications out of which around 63 were short-listed and eventually 55 showed up for the event.

The day at PNcamp3

We started at 11am sharp with a warm welcome by Sudheer. This was followed by an inspiring talk by Jay Pullur. It’s safe to call him the father of the product ecosystem for Hyderabad. He started Pramati in 1998 and was one of the leading product companies in the Middleware space. Jay shared some insights on what it takes to build a global product company from India. There were lot of questions which came and he gave his insights to the startups and I could see that maturity and the depth of product knowledge that he had gained over the last 19 years.

Audience at #PNcamp3

We quickly moved on to the Product Tear down sessions. I was very nervous till the last minute on how the session would be conducted….but Sudheer and his team which included Mrityunjay, Anand & Bharath did a fabulous job of shortlisting 5 companies.

They actually tested out the functionality, ordered stuff, called up the startups like a customer and availed their service. They did a thorough analysis of their website, their market, their messaging, etc. One of the key things mentioned by the team was copy…copy…copy as the basics were not in place from few companies. This was something which Shekhar had also mentioned when he did the tear down in SaaSx.

Startup going through the Tear down process

The startups who presented got some good value and appreciated the efforts put by Sudheer’s team. Product Tear down is a good format which was started at SaaSx and now we are hopeful that we will be able to take this virtual.

Apart from this, we tried a Pitch tear down session, without the VCs, the session went well and i’m glad that most of the founders were trying to help each other in the session. Kevin William David of Siftery shared some thoughts on how you should be launching your product in ProductHunt. The session was around Product Launch…but a few companies shared their learning on how they launched the product…but it was ok…as the idea was to get them talking.

We were around 5:30pm when Sudheer started his own learnings on Building a Enterprise company for Global markets. He shared his learnings and how they have been obsessed in understanding their customer business. Sudheer and his colleagues actually bought software from the competition to understand how it works and many times went to customer to learn from them….never to sell. That was a very powerful insight. Most of the folks are always in the sell mode when they meet customers…but it was so good to see someone going to meet potential customer to understand how their business works.

Sudheer Koneru from Zenoti

They exactly understood their customers’ business, only then pitched on how their product can add value to their business. Sudheer’s session was very interactive and almost every attendee in the room had a question which he answered patiently. The end time for PNcamp3 was around 6pm and as with all interesting events, it kept stretching. knew that folks were flying back in the same evening, so around 6:45pm I had to bring it to a logical conclusion. We have collected feedback and the NPS score for the event is ~78 which makes my colleague Rajan happy 🙂

Tweet from one of the attendees.

Sudheer hosted some of the folks at his house after the session and it was great to catch up with some folks informally in the evening. I had to rush around 7:45pm as I had a flight at 9pm….and somehow I made it 🙂

I feel happy after making a small contribution to the HYD eco-system and I hope to work with the team again to put together the next #PNcamp in the city. Also, thanks to ISB for allowing us to host PNcamp in their wonderful facility. Was blown away by the infrastructure that the city has.

Blown away by the commitment of folks like Sudheer Koneru, Chaitanya Reddy, Laxman, Sainath Gupta, Praveen & Ronak Samantray for putting a great show. We just pulled this off in less than 25 days, with just a few calls…and a few whatsapp messages.

Team 99tests At #SaaSx4 Product Teardown

#SaaSx4 is a leading tech event that provides Saas founders the opportunity to network and share product insights. Product Teardown session was one of the key highlights of this year’s event held in Chennai on 17th March, 2017. The goal was to help SaaS entrepreneurs gain actionable product insights. Entries were invited from innovative SaaS products from all over the country.

When we, at 99tests got the first email invite for the Product Teardown from iSPIRT, our first thought was that, this was about UX and we might not be a good fit for the event. We then had a conversation with Prasanna who explained to us that product tear down is about Business Discovery of our Product and retention of customers. Basically, a session that will enable to understand your product from a customer’s perspective. This piqued our interest in the #SaaSx4


A panel of established SaaS founders and mentors that included Avlesh Singh, CEO, WebEngage, Bharath Balasubramanian, Director of Design, Freshdesk, and Shekhar Kirani, Accel Partners, were assigned the task of selecting the final products for the event. The first screening call with the panel was very interesting. It was a 30 minute call where we got the chance to showcase what 99tests does, and how it works. We answered questions about revenue, SaaS model, our core value proposition, and how we delivered our services.

With only three slots left, the pressure was on us as we waited for the results. After a few days, we finally got the message that 99tests was selected in the SaaSx4 Product Teardown. We were pretty excited and looking forward to all feedback on our product from eminent members of the Indian startup ecosystem. We admit that we were also a little nervous that our mistakes would be out in the open!

Key Takeaways From The Event

Software products chosen for the product tear down session were critically analysed by a team of expert SaaS mentors and SaaS founders. The aim was to understand the customer onboarding process, retention and discovery of business opportunities for the products. These insights helps entrepreneurs in answering key market questions like:

  • Who is my customer?
  • Who could have been my customer?
  • What characteristics of my customer makes them like my product?
  • If I am successful, who will come after me?

Our Experience At The Product Teardown

In the next call that we had a call with Bharath, Director of design, Freshdesk, we explained how 99tests actually works. The key questions were around customer on-boarding, understanding how much of our service was self-serve and how much was fully managed.

On D-day, we were a little nervous, wondering what aspect of our product would be showcased to a room full of SaaS founders. The first teardown by the first team did give us a hint into what would come next.

What We Learnt About Our Product

The first part of the teardown was about seeing how the search keywords map to our target personas. It was good to see one of the teardown companies having website that perfectly matched the keywords that they were targeting. In our case, we learnt that on our page, the content did not contain enough matching keywords that a customer would type in. This makes it difficult for them to find us.

The next feedback was on our homepage. We found that it was using too much of testing concepts. Moreover the Home page did not clearly highlight the functional message of Automation Testing by Crowd, our USP.

The last set of feedback was on customer on boarding. Here, we learned that our product asked too many questions that assumed that our customers would know a lot about testing. This is causing a lower sign up to the demo page. It was also great to learn that we needed focus in terms of countries, based on how customers would perceive our product. The most useful feedback that we got, is that product owners were not clear on how much time they needed to spend with 99tests on a daily and weekly basis. although they could get started in only 30 minutes.

Overall, we got the feedback, that we do have a fantastic product, but the messaging was not yet sophisticated enough for an international audience and could be improved. 99tests is very thankful to iSpirit, Bharath from Freshdesk, Avlesh from WebEngage and Shekar from Accel for the opportunity to be a part of the Product Teardown at SaaSx4. The feedback and insights we gained from the SaaSx4 Product Teardown was very helpful in identifying areas that needed improvement and also in gaining new ideas to make our products great.

Guest Post by Praveen Singh, 99tests.com

What we learned from the Product Teardown of Omnify at #SaaSx4

A week or so before #SaaSx4, I woke up with an early morning call from Prasanna (SaaSx Volunteer) to tell me that they have nominated Omnify for the Product Teardown. Honestly, I jumped out of bed and my first reaction was like Ohh sh*t.. Not the Teardown!!

But then he said that they will select three companies out of the few nominated. So I agreed for a Hangout call hoping that we will not be selected.

So, Why did we do it?

I think, as a startup it’s good to go through “Make & Break” cycles which helps building a stronger product. Incidentally, that week we were sort of doing an internal teardown of our product and our conversion funnel. After the first hangout call with Avlesh, Shekhar and Bharath, I realised that it is indeed a great opportunity to get external feedback as we will be making a lot of effort this year on Product Design and Marketing.

Also, best part about the SaaSx community is the positive environment where no one is judging others and it’s all about learning from each others mistakes. Guys like Girish, Avlesh and Sudhir openly talk about the mistakes and learnings so others can benefit.

So, in the same SaaSx spirit we decided to participate in the Teardown for the benefit of us and anyone who can learn from our mistakes.

About Omnify (to give some context)

Omnify helps small businesses to Sell and Schedule their services online through One, Simple Platform. We have built comprehensive scheduling for Group Classes, Appointments, Events, Camps, etc. which can be easily sold as Packages and Subscriptions through Omnify.

Goal of the Teardown

I had multiple calls with Avlesh, Shekhar and Bharath before the teardown. The purpose of the calls were to have better understanding about Omnify and see how they can help.

After some discussion, we decided to find gaps in our conversion funnel; right from discovery, signup, onboarding to setup.

Discovery

Our major channel for getting customers is Search. Hence this part was focussed on our SEO. Interestingly, we got a thumbs up for this part as we have already put some work into our SEO. There is so much more to do and scaling our Top of the funnel is currently our Top Priority as pointed out by both Shekhar & Avlesh.

The best part about Search is that it shows “Intent” which has a direct impact on your conversion. For SaaS startups (especially at early stages and targeting global market) this should be the most important channel for customer acquisition. Hence, my advice for anyone who has not yet worked on their SEO is to atleast get the basic On-Page optimisation, Major Keywords and URL structuring right. It is a time consuming project but it will be worth your time and effort.

Here is an old, but a simple post on this by Moz.

In case you have no clue where to start, just hire an SEO expert from UpWork for a $100 project to do an SEO Audit of your website.

Action Plan: We are now spending a lot of time on Keyword optimization, Improving on page optimization and figuring out ways to churn good quality content at scale. Will share our learnings with some data once we can.

Website

Next target for the Teardown was our Website (https://www.getomnify.com/)

Bharath did a great job pointing out few key issues in our website that may be affecting our conversion and also did a comparative analysis with our competitor’s website who has probably spent millions of $$ to optimise it for the target audience.

Although we had spent quite a lot of effort on our website as it the most important part of our company and our doorway to customers across the world.

Although, there is a lot of room for improvement but here are a few things that we already worked on.

Trust

  1. Good Design breeds trust.
  2. Simple things like SSL certificate (https) improves trust in your website.
  3. Transparency — About us page with photos and social profiles of the team.

Mobile Responsive

A big chunk of the website visitors are probably coming through mobile, so it’s super important that the website looks and works great on any mobile device.

Speed

Today, everyone has very little patience. So if it takes more than a few seconds to load a page we might lose potential customers. Simple things like image compression, lazy loading, etc can be very effective to improve speed drastically.

Visual Content

People scroll through the pages in seconds, it’s super important to have enough visual content like images and videos to grab their attention.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Our messaging on the landing page should be more targeted and simple to understand.
  2. Improve Trust on our website through customer review, case studies, etc.
  3. Learn from our competitors on targeting.
  4. Content language should be optimised for the biggest market (US in our case).
  5. We should have country specific landing pages for at least our major markets.

Action Plan: We are doing a sprint soon to optimize our landing pages with more targeted content and adding customer reviews + case studies.

We are also going to try Zarget (https://zarget.com) to experiment and improve our website conversions. Thanks for the dinner Arvind! 🍺

Customer Onboarding

This is where we already knew our funnel is broken and although we have already been working on it, we got good critical feedback and suggestions from Bharath.

Signup

Interestingly, this is one of the most ignored pages for most startups (including us).

Even small things here can increase drop-off or conversion.

In our case, I think we got away with small ux issues as Omnify is a business product and the value of a Free trial outweighs the effort of the signup. But, needless to say we are making it simpler.

Onboarding & Setup

To give more context, our current onboarding process is a wizard that appears on Home page of the Dashboard for new users and stays there until completed. One major issue with this is that once you navigate away from Home there is very little hand-holding.

This is how it works currently:

  1. Setup Business: Basic information and contact details.
  2. Setup Services: Comprehensive and a little time consuming.
  3. Website: Auto-created but valuable only after a few services are setup.
  4. Attach Payment Gateway: Connect Stripe or Paypal.
  5. Add/Import Clients

Design Suggestions

Bharath suggested a simple 2 step onboarding process for Omnify.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Our Onboarding needs more customer hand holding.
  2. Setup needs to be simpler or create Website with Sample Services for Instant Gratification.
  3. Auto-fill wherever we can.

Action Plan:

We believe in fast iteration and are already redesigning our onboarding and setup. I will share a detailed post on our Onboarding redesign later but for now, here is a Sneak peak on what we are upto (Still iterating):

Market and Positioning

Last part of the Teardown was about understanding the target market and our positioning.

There were 3 points that were discussed.

Understanding our Target Customer

Omnify can be used by anyone who provide services and scheduling is an important part of their business. Most prominent segments are fitness, wellness, sports, kids activities and recreation.

Horizontal or Vertical SaaS

This was one of the hot topics at SaaSx and I am hoping for more content on this from the community.

In case of Omnify, we started as a vertical SaaS product but went through a customer discovery process thanks to Inbound Marketing and pivoted to Horizontal SaaS.

Since we didn’t have control over who was signing up, we thought we might as well turn it into an experiment to understand demand and gaps in the market. After working with hundreds of customers across different categories and 50+ countries, we learnt that we are solving a core problem for a wide set of customers who behave very similarly.

Hence, our view of the market changed to horizontal.

Target Geography

While it’s extremely important to choose the right geography if outbound is the core channel for customer acquisition, businesses like ours who run on Inbound Marketing have an advantage of understanding different geographys at due to lower cost. Saying that, we are currently picking up few key geographies with better volume and conversion rates to put our efforts on.

Key Take-away:

Leveraging existing market segments is easier than creating new segments.

Last words..

Overall, product teardown was a great experience and we would recommend other startups to do both, internal and external teardown of your products regularly. It’s a great tool to find gaps in the product so we can iterate fast and grow faster.

Big shout to Avinash, Avlesh, Bharath, and Shekhar for putting so much effort into the Product Teardown.. taking calls at 8am on a Sunday, spending time going through our product demos, etc. Thanks guys, it was super helpful.

Also, it is truly a pleasure being part of such an amazing community of Entrepreneurs and I would like to thank everyone who worked hard for making SaaSx possible. Already looking forward to the next one.

Keep Hustling..

Manik Mehta

Founder & CEO, Omnify Inc.

Say hi @manik_me

P.S. It was the first SaaSx for my Co-founder, Kabandi and she can’t stop talking about it 🙂

Survival is not enough: #SaaSx4

Note: SaaSx is an invite only event, for SaaS founders, by SaaS founders. 

Are you ready to push beyond SaaS survival?

Are you all set for Chennai on March 17th?

The SaaS world is changing. Niches are breaking out, the number of SaaS startups is increasing by the day. Competition is fierce and being SaaS is not sufficient.

If you’re not the best in your market in some way that your customers deeply care about, it’s no longer enough to just survive.

So welcome to Singara Chennai, the SaaS capital of India, where you may find some answers you seek! Apply here for an invite, limited seats remaining.

Are you solving the right problem? Are you targeting a good enough market? If you’re at an early stage, @cbKrish @ArvindParthiban @Avlesh and @sKirani are hosting an unconference on getting the basics right.Be ready to participate, sitting quietly is not an option!

For startups that have reached product-market fit, with at least a million dollar ARR, are you ready to dial it up to 11? A small closed-door round table with @MrGirish & @SureshSambandam might help you get on track to build a world class organisation (and biz model too).

Post lunch, on stage we tear into the problem+discovery+UX+market of a couple of brave founders, in the early stages of product-market-fit. We’ll have @Avlesh @sKirani @Spinfree break it down for you, so you can build it back again. See http://pn.ispirt.in/every-product-needs-a-good-teardown/ for what went down last time around.

Want to increase ARR? You could increase your lead velocity or your ACV. Want stickier customers? You could improve product or move up market. Vertical SaaS for enterprise is getting hotter and hotter, and we have @Sudheer_Zenoti talking about making the move from SMB customers to Enterprise customers, and the pitfalls and perils thereof.

Do you know what it really takes to go from $0-100K-500K-1M ARR? Well here’s where we get a peek behind the curtains. We have a couple of entrepreneurs sharing their stories of growing from scratch to initial scale. This is a session which will NOT be recorded or replayed. Only for those who are in the room!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could keep taking the perfect steps on the path to $1M ARR? Wouldn’t it be awesome if someone could just tell us which steps are mistakes to avoid? Well @MrGirish is going to do just that, talking about what they did in their early days that didn’t turn out just quite right.

And after a long day of SaaS-talking, when you want to tune out of ACV, CAC, LTV, CMRR, LVR, … tune in to the soothing sound of the Bay of Bengal, and lose yourself in dinner and conversations. (We won’t judge you if the topic stays SaaSy 😉

So come right over, sign up now, there’s no place where your love for 3-letter acronyms, business customers, and software, will feel more at home, than Chennai on the 17th March.

See you there!

Secure your spot before 10th March 2017 to get a seat at SaaSx4

#PNCamp2: Shortlisted B2C Products for the Product Teardown Sessions

The volunteer team here at PNCamp are excited to share their list of candidates for the live Product Teardown Session. These companies have been selected to have their products analysed by our expert panel of in minute detail over a 2 hour long session. We expect that the feedback that they’ll get to take back from the session will be relevant and valuable in improving their product’s readiness.

  • Priyanka, Wishberry.in – help independent artists raise money for their projects from their fan communities
  • Sriram, Blue Sky Agriculture – Reimagining the supply chain for fruits and vegetables.
  • Vinay, FinitePaths – Get answers for your questions from people you can trust.
  • Dushyant, PodPitara – Discover curated podcasts.
  • Rohan, Garagehub – One stop for all your vehicle related problems.
  • Ajmal, Spenwise.com – Wise spending for a smart generation.
  • Murukesh, Codeflow.co – a programming platform that lets you build scalable cloud applications by simply composing reusable components.
  • Ashish Sharma, Phynart – building the future in the field of Home Automation.
  • Rohit, Koove.com – Discover exclusive products.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy for the curation team to go over the details of each company and pick out the right ones. If you haven’t been selected, or would still like to apply for a slot – do get in touch with us through pncamp.in.

On session day, the panel for the B2C track are:

  • Sampad from Instamojo
  • Amit from Walnut App
  • Sarang from Intouch App
  • Naman from FindYogi
  • Harshit from KPMG(UX)

The panel for the B2C track are:

  • Sampad Swain – Instamojo
  • Amit Bhor – Walnut App
  • Naman Saraogi – FindYogi
  • Sarang Lakhare – InTouch App
  • Harshit Desai – KPMG

To learn more about the format for the Product Teardown Session here.

Look forward to having you!

Guest Post by Santosh Dawara, DeAzzle & Volunteer for PNcamp.

 

Keep Calm and Attend PNcamp 2.0

You’re a dreamer? You’re a doer? You’re a doer-turned-dreamer? You’re a dreamer-turned-doer? If you are some or all of that, you are quite likely an entrepreneur!! It is no secret that a start-up’s journey is action-packed—identifying the right problems to solve, validating possible solutions, getting the product-market fit right, building an awesome product—figuring out the roadmap items to say yet to and say no to, scaling growth—and the challenge is to yet do it in a focused way. Sounds familiar? Worry not, we have one advice for you “Keep Calm and Attend PNcamp 2.0”.

keep-calm

If you are a discovery stage start-up, we have something specially tailored for you at PNCamp 2.0. Here are 5 reasons to NOT miss PNcamp 2.0.

Zeroing in on the product fit:

One of the biggest challenges a start-up faces is the right problem to pick to get product fit correct. There are many viable paths and how does one find the one. Learn to use the effectuation framework to help with entrepreneurial decision making in unpredictable environments.

Building the right product, building it right:

Having gone past the initial problem-solution fit validation, it’s extremely critical to build the right product, and to build it right, to build it fast. How do you define your MVP, how do you build a compelling yet rapid to build roadmap, how do you prioritize, how do you rapidly iterate? A track on building the right product for B2B companies by Suresh Sambandam address will cover “Building the right product”.   

Getting traction tips:

Finding right prospects, reaching them and converting them are key to getting early traction. Get insights from experts into mastering the sales funnel and process, campaign strategies, and hiring the right sales and marketing teams.

Product teardown sessions:

Beyond insights, tips and practical advice get ready for some coaching format feedback where selected companies will do a quick pitch for 10 mins and get feedback from experts. An excellent opportunity to not just learn from practitioners but also your peers and from their experiences and challenges! An immersive learning opportunity!

Building your own product tribe:

Join a social evening to meet and network with the experts and peers; and to make connections for life.

There are few seats left and you can grab yours here.

#PNCamp – No BS feedbacks and teardowns to build great products groundup

So, you got a startup. Great! You have a product ready and a few users/customers too, Awesome! I am sure you are super excited to take it to next level, right? But thats when the hurdles begin.

Users just do not understand it
Users don’t go beyond certain point
Our product is awesome, but Product lacks stickiness
I am not sure how to position our product
We have different kinds of users, how to deal with varied expectations of users
I don’t know where to find large number of userbase
I am a technical guy, I don’t know how to market it
User growth is very slow, we need some cool growth hacks

If some of these thoughts/challenges are lingering in your mind too, then you are not the only one. Trust me pretty much every startup goes through these hurdles in its early days. Sad reality is, vast majority fail to cross these initial hurdles and die early death.

“Almost every startup has a product, what they don’t have is users/customers”

If you are an early stage startup with a working product thats been used by a few users/customers and you are struggling through some of the above mentioned challenges, then look nowhere and block your Calendar for Oct 8th, 2016. iSPIRT is bringing PNCamp in Pune focused towards all the early stage startups.

whatsapp-image-2016-09-09-at-11-08-35-amPNCamp in pune is your grand opportunity to get candid feedback on your product and its marketing. If you are a startup with a prototype or product at an early stage with few users/customers but struggling to get further traction, then PNCamp is a great place where you could get an opportunity to showcase your product and seek feedback, inputs and suggestions on specific to your product. At PNCamp, experts will take product teardown sessions on following aspects.

  1. How to build a right product (great and useful product)
  2. How to market your product (product marketing, communication, KPIs)
  3. How to achieve 10X user growth (Use Analytics, customer feedback loop, sales tactics)

At PNCamp, India’s some of the most successful entrepreneurs are coming together to host one day focused camp and work with selected group of startups on their product, market and sales growth strategies. This one day focused action oriented efforts are equivalent to your one year of badly struggling to figure out things in dark.

Here is whats going to happen at PNCamp –

“You involve me and I learn maximum”. Keeping this in mind, PNCamp is structured in a way to maximize real action oriented learning. Its no Gyaan, No B.S. All real action, real stories, real candid feedback, real strategies, real action plan, real work toward real results. At PNCamp, successful entrepreneurs who are expert in their specific area of product, marketing, or sales growth will discuss their observations and learnings.

In case of B2B products, things such as the product quality, security, product learning curve, analytics, integrations, etc might be driving factors for initial success whereas in case of B2C products its visual appeal, user friendliness, pricing, discounts, customer loyalty, social appeal, etc could trigger the success. Hence each product need to be looked at it from various angles. At PNCamp, specific sessions are dedicated to deep dive in these areas. In B2B track, experts will discuss building a right product for B2B market, getting traction for your product, marketing strategies and sales funnel. In case of B2C track, the experts will delve into building products with focus on mobile an analytics, finding right KPI and organizing everything around it, product communication, and building a successful customer development strategy using feedback loop. After every session, a few select product startups will be given an opportunity to present their product, marketing strategy, or growth strategy. Experts and fellow participants will do a product teardown and give a deep dive feedback. In all 12 startups in B2C space and 12 startups in B2B space will get an opportunity to present and get detailed feedback.

Product teardown: In this section, select startups will provide a quick walkthrough of their product website/app. As each startup will get limited time to present, key is to stay focused on most critical or concerning area of your product. Experts and fellow participants will provide feedback on core functionality, usefulness, right fit of the product, visual and experiential aspect of the product. In the past, such product tear down has help entrepreneurs get amazing inputs in matter of minutes. Moreover it has opened up doors for more insightful beta users from the cohart. Product teardown session focuses on product flow, functionality, identifying specific KPIs and using analytics to derive insights, and immediate critical aspect that might be hindering product traction or stickiness. Founders will get actionable inputs that can be applied next day and see improvements.

Marketing/Communication teardown: Great number of startups have good products but fails on its marketing. Product marketing is all about positioning. It is all about clear messaging and creating a “hook” in user’s mind. Unique compelling product positioning is always a challenge, especially when your product has potentially multiple target segments. If your product positioning is correct, then it helps in driving marketing and create a growth strategy. In this section, select startups will get teardown about their marketing and communication strategy, how to build initial traction, building a customer feedback loop, how to think specific KPIs and organize things around it, how to use analytics to tweak marketing funnel, etc. Is the message clear and compelling enough to click with your audience, can it be improved further, etc. In the past, founders used the session feedback to improve their product message, website communication, emails, etc for which the group continued giving feedback.

Growth hack / Sales teardown: This is a piece everybody wants and wish for but is very difficult to achieve. Experts will ask select startups to present their current growth strategy and provide working session on building a growth strategy. B2B sales strategies, setting up sales engine, inside sales strategies, etc will be discussed along with tools and techniques. Useful tools, techniques and trends in B2C market, use of inbound growth hack techniques, from customer acquisition to conversion, retention and achieving viral growth will be discussed in detailed. This is a hands on session where startups will be asked to create a plan of action.

Get naked – At PNcamp, everything is transparent. So, one may think, “How can I disclose my trade secrets with entire group?”. Indeed its a valid concern, but its upto an individual founder whether and how much information they want to share with fellow participants. Our experience is that, getting naked has helped entrepreneurs more than shielding or hiding behind curtains. Plus, one unsaid rule of the camp is, “Whats said in the camp remains within the group”. Product nation is building a community of trustworthy entrepreneurs who are passionate about helping each others. Hence, its expected that you bring a transparency and will maintain confidentiality.

So, enough said about the camp and its structure. PNCamp, with this full action oriented day is looking forward to bring ton of insights to you through direct feedback and critical inputs to help you take your startup next level. This is a MUST attend camp for any early stage product startup. Do not miss this unique opportunity to catch the brains of experts and fellow participants through product feedbacks and interactions. So, if you are an early stage startup looking to take your startup to next orbit, then register yourself right away at www.pncamp.in Lets build great product nation, one prodct at a time! See you at PNCamp.

Guest Post by Abhijit Mhetre, founder at Canvazify. He is passionate about startup innovations and is a volunteer at iSPIRT

 

Hey Indian SaaS Founders, Are you dreaming big enough and aiming high enough?

I took SaaSy bus to attend SaaSx3, a fun journey networking and ice break session among SaaS founder The sessions were on common challenges from funding to hiring right resources and also instant mini FinTech RoundTable (picture below).

SaasybusThe venue was at Chennai (Mahabalipuram) well described by above tweet and event started with afternoon session by Pallav Nadhani of FusionCharts on Referral Marketing. The discussion started emphasizing needs of marketing starts before existence of the product and continues with product and marketing should not be looked in silos away from the product. One question for SaaS founders is whether their startups are geared to leverage product features to perform self-marketing of the product The session brought some real examples of SaaS firms who have already done this successfully.

The impact of using “Powered by Logo” inside your product features on B2B2C websites that are focused on end user was highlighted and is more effective to target customers from new geographies where your product has not been adopted and are in early stages of entering new geography.

Nemesh of appointy stressed importance of backlinks (two lines of codes in the product), that became part of Google search when someone searched for a tool for appointments. Other suggestions include:

  • Sell lower price plan without option to “White label” product offering. After product is adopted, the lowest price plan can be offered as “Free forever plan” without white label option.
  • Find a WordPress plugin that is active and popular. Buy plugin and add one line in this plugin and publish the plugin.

#OneThing session happened where SaaS founders were asked to share a set of one things that creates significant transformation in their startups.

  • We did not predict, we performed action
  • Upgrade Field on Sales approach to Customer Success approach
  • “Support and train customers for first 45 days increased NPS score” – Think of it as customer Success Channel that is needed in scaling stage.
  • Keep high touch with customer and experiment how to maintain high touch with customers being online and not on-site. Leverage and experiment with cloud telephony, gamification and customer management.

Product Tear Down session where SaaS founders offered their product to be teared down by expert SaaS founder and audience. The experience SaaS founders published guideline template based on which they will provide feedback to brave startup like Zipboard and CanvasFlip and here are comments that apply to lot of startups found here too.

  • You first need to go deep focusing on the right customer segment before going broad.
  • While building a branded website, remember that website home page needs to convey emotional, functional and technical aspirations to connect with your audience. One good example is slack website, it is inspirational.
  • While displaying metrics of your product on the website, show metrics that creates positive impression in mind of prospects. Small number may not create right impression.
  • Remove small irritants. Devil is in details.
  • Does your product features pass Tooth Brush test? Ask, ‘Is this something people use once or twice a day and does it solve a problem?’
  • No right or wrong strategies, only shades of right while building startups.

Product-TearDownPeople who teared down choose right words to share comments to the founder who offered his product for tear down, also adding kind words “Do not become defensive. Their inputs are to improve not to criticize”. SaaS founder in the audience really liked the positive impact of product Tear Down session and followed with asks to #ispirit to have more startups in Product Tear Down sessions and suggestion for virtual Product Tear Down session.

There was another #OneThing session focused on what is one thing that in last 12 months worked well for SaaS startup with Aditya Sangi of Hotelogix , moderated by Prasanna

  • Alliance building approach steps – find complimentary product. Check whether your product adds to their value offering and whether other product have efficient reach to your customer target and whether joint offering creates value for your customer base.
  • Do not keep building a lot of non-core features in to your product and make the world as your competition and end up with no partners.

One attraction in SaaSx#n is story style presentation by Girish of #freshdesk, who genuinely shares learnings from his journey. This time the story had movie effect and learnings from the movie are

  • Everything need not be data driven. You can do things that people would notice and they will notice when things are on high quality bar.
  • Do what is right for customers first. Help sales team to develop focus on customer success by incentivizing to help customers first.
  • Started with sales team of young minds fresh from college and they started with focus on number of agents sold rather than revenue of agents sold. Once they were more customer focused and time arrived to scale, a change was implemented in discussion with sales team to change their focus to revenue earned per sales team member.
  • The importance of alignment between marketing and sales using instances from freshdesk journey.
  • Marketing teams must have targets for sign-ups. Pre-Sales team was useful to prepared customers on the product. He referred to article CREATING A SALES PROCESS FOR YOUR INBOUND LEADS: 150 IS A MAGIC NUMBER
  • Hired fresher’s following hack “Hire them for attitude and you can get them skills”. I liked the fact that the hack was implemented in sales and marketing function and not only in engineering.
  • Similar to other startups, freshdesk also got junks as prospects. They pruned not only junk and also channels where hunk data originated from. More junk arrival from channel lead to removing channel, leading to arrive at list of channels that worked for them.

Girish once again demonstrated that he was a hardcore Rajnikanth fan in real life too by creating a real movie style experiences bringing young talent who accompanied him at the start of #freshdesk journey in sales and marketing on to the stage. He created right impression that success is attributed to team’s effort rather than individual effort. Consider to be special in the days of “Winner takes it all”

Girish complete the movie with some thought provoking questions “Are SaaS founders aiming high?”, “Do you want to be happy with small year on year growth?”

Post by G. Srini, volunteer for iSPIRT