MindTickle – ranked by Business Today as India’s coolest startups – is a gamified social learning platform founded by four enterprising men, who are were so passionate about games that they decided to make it their vocation. While the three were hard at work, we managed to draw Mohit out for a quick chat. So here is Mohit Garg, CoFounder MindTickle.
ProductNation: Hi Mohit. Welcome to Product Nation. Let us begin with your story.
Mohit Garg: Thank you, productnation for this opportunity.
MindTickle has four cofounders – Krishna Depura, Nishant Mungali, Deepak Diwakar and myself.
I am an electrical engineer having studied and worked in the US. While in the states, I had a chance to work at some great software product companies like Aruba Networks. My experience with a software product company straddled the entire spectrum, when it comes to business outcomes. Not only was I witness to an IPO exit, but one of the companies (x) raised $100 million only to go down under. Such has been the intensity of the learning.
The four cofounders of MindTickle have been friends and work colleagues. Krishna and I were batchmates at ISB, while Krishna, Nishant and Deepak were colleagues at PubMatic.
The genesis of this idea came from our combining our personal interest with a market opportunity. The four of us had been hacking away on weekends to create quiz based games. In fact, our quiz based games for IIT Mumbai Mood Indigo and few sponsored contests that were integrated with Facebook were immensely successful.
Since all four of us were passionate about creating high engagement oriented digital products, the combination of corporate training and gamification just looked perfect. We had observed that corporate internal training programs were time-consuming, with very little excitement and no connection to business outcomes. Then one day in 2011, all of us decided to get started with MindTickle.
ProductNation: Interesting, tell us about the name, how did you guys crack it?
Mohit Garg: We wanted to pick a name that is appealing and fresh, yet has enterprise appeal. So we put down a framework to score many names and we got MindTickle.
ProductNation: Mohit, please tell us about your customers and your future plans.
Mohit Garg: Some of the World’s finest brands are the customers of MindTickle. Ebay, SAP, Yahoo, InMobi, MakeMyTrip all have experienced high engagement rates and consequently improved business outcomes with the products from MindTickle.
While technology companies in the market have understood the importance of engagement when it comes to corporate training programs, the traditional real economy companies are also realizing the importance of high engagement delivery. A dominant young workforce is also a driver in this shift.
Most of our enquiries at this point in time are from the US market. We have a sales team in the US as part of our business development efforts. And we continue to invest in that market which is a priority.
India is also tickling with opportunities and we are very excited about it. It is not just the Indian arms of technology giants that are taking interest, but even the domestic organizations.
ProductNation: MindTickle’s moment of glory, what comes to your mind?
Mohit Garg: We have won the GAward for the Best Use of Gamification in HR (Enterprise) in the World for two consecutive years in 2012 and 2013. That has been the proudest moment till date. We came trumps ahead of formidable competition that included startups as well as large investor backed companies.
ProductNation: What have been your big lessons – personal and professional?
Mohit Garg: On the professional front, first, there is too much focus (at least in India) on overcoming weaknesses. My experiences have shaped me into believing now that a successful professional career is more about playing to your strengths. Second, the power of being disciplined and diligent is often underestimated. Once you start any business you will find low hanging fruit in doing a better job than your lazy competitors. Therefore, often market share is a vanity metric, one should focus on how to develop a mind share among the customer segments that matter.
Third, there is a good chance that 10 people across the world are thinking or working on the idea that you just came up.
Have the tough conversations early in any relationship, things which could be sticky later are best addressed while there is little contempt in a relationship… “Familiarity does breed contempt” from what I have observed. Lastly, all said and done, speaking direct and clearly will provide better results with less heartburn and confusion in the long run.
ProductNation: What would you like to tell someone, who is struggling or planning to start a product company?
Mohit Garg: Product entrepreneurs should dream big and not be scared of competition or large existing incumbents. Market leader in a marginal niche is worse than a contender in fast growing and large market.
One has to take a very realistic view of the size, location and maturity of the target segment, especially in B2B. One should design experiments to validate those hypothesis and quickly focus on early adopters as opposed to going after large horizontal markets at least initially
Many product entrepreneurs take the market as a given. In my opinion and experience, the market risk is generally bigger than the product/technology risk
If possible and if you can pull it off, get professional money early. You can be more aggressive with your business plan, invest more for long term, and stay focused. Moreover, investors on the board forces a discipline which is really valuable in the long run. Having to worry about having enough to pay the bills and salary every month may sound romantic, but its only as romantic as war
Thank you, Mohit for talking to ProductNation. We wish you all the very best in living up to these challenges