Coming from a complete agrarian background, Ramesh Choudhary’s journey is Inspirational. He executed his father’s vision of being a job giver. Let us read through his inspiring journey & his 10 key learnings for fellow founders.
YC: Childhood is very important in shaping a person. Can we talk about your early days?
My father is my hero!
Ramesh: I was born in a very remote village, in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. There was no provision for primary as well as secondary education. Till class 10th I used to go to another nearby village. But eventually got the exposure to study from a big town in class 11th and 12th – RSV, Bikaner.
My father is a farmer and a very learned person. He is a vicarious reader with a good command over Sanskrit. He knew the importance of education. My father struggled a lot to provide us with a good education. He never let us work at the nearby kirana stores or spare parts workshops like many others from our village.
He was the one who instilled the spark of entrepreneurship in us (me and my brothers). It was my father’s vision for us to become ‘job givers’. I owe him a lot!
@ With my Father
YC: How were the Engineering days?
Ramesh: I joined The University of Rajasthan Integrated Dual degree Master of Technology offered by the Centre for Converging Technology (CCT). It was great exposure. We were exposed to four streams – Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, Information and Communication Technology, Cognitive & Neuroscience with specialisation in any two.
Our course was affiliated with other institutions as well. We had several invited talks, seminars and interactive sessions by eminent experts. It was quite a learning experience.
Blessing in Disguise
Unfortunately, due to some management issues, the affiliated institutions backed down from CCT. Now we had a lot of time in hand, I started spending it in the computer lab.
One day, through a common friend, a CA approached me. I still remember him saying, “Everyone says you are good with computers, can you help me?” He was contesting in an election for CAs. He wanted to communicate with the CAs across India. His requirement was a tool for communicating with such a large group at a go.
I did my research and realised that there was no such tool for Mass Communication in India. I was young, very high on energy and quickly started working on the problem.
Along with my friends, we were able to code and ship the product within a month. We could see a huge potential for the product within the city and quickly started the company – Sarv.com with just one feature of sending mass Emails.
YC: Being an entrepreneur so early in life, what were your key learnings?
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing” – Henry Ford
Ramesh: As everybody does, we also made a lot of mistakes. But my key learnings which I would like to share with my fellow founders and even follow now are:
1. Launch simple & Build on-demand – We launched Sarv.com with just one feature of sending mass Emails. Later we added more features to it. But we always added new features according to the needs of our customers who approached us.
Either they gave us the requirement or we suggested a solution. But before building a feature we always had a use case. Hence we never have had the problems of finding the product-market fit.
2. Step-by-step – To reach a big target you need to prove yourself in small targets. What I would suggest starting with is, to make good software and make it open-source. You will get feedback, bugs get fixed, a lot of suggestions come up and after a certain period, you will be able to launch a paid product. I strongly believe that if a product is profitable on a small scale, it will be so on the large scale.
3. Diversity – The founding team had people from various niches, and the CCT course built our skills in many areas. Thus, we were able to offer solutions in diverse niches. This helped us grow organically and earned us enough to stay bootstrapped.
4. Educate customers – Customers may not be aware of the features of the product or might be confused about how to put the product to optimal usage. Use campaigns, animations, short videos etc. to educate the customer. Spread awareness.
5. Customise outreach – Marketing is all about experimenting. Design multiple campaigns of the product according to customer type and use case. Right messaging at the right time is the key.
6. Well designed Graphics – Your first interaction with the potential customer is key. Graphics should have one message, and it should be clear and relatable. At the same time, it should also be attractive and aesthetically appealing. As Milton Glaser rightly said, “There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”
7. Meaningful Collaboration – We should indulge in collaborations out of an explicit reason for both parties. Our recent collaboration with Route Mobile is aimed at building a larger customer base. Route Mobile has exposure to international markets which we lack. Our collaboration will help us to grow faster.
Also, we will have a higher claim for our scalability among our potential customers.
8. Homework well done – Enterprise sales in India is a peer to peer selling. Make sure you do the homework really well. Your product should be able to offer a holistic solution to problems. Study your competitors really really well.
Also, you should be able to convince your customer, you have the right people in place to tackle various unforeseen hurdles.
9. Product development – Start with a product and make it perfect. Perfection doesn’t mean that you should cover 100% of the market and offer a product of the same magnitude. You might be covering 20% of the market requirement, but make sure your product is the best for that 20%. Then, based on the feedback of customers and analysing the market, expand and adapt your product.
10. Keep the feedback loop open – Free trial period offers work really well. This is the fastest way to start interacting with the customer and getting feedback. The only way you could improve the product is to take regular customer feedback.
Most of the above helped us in building and scaling SendClean - Smarter Email Automation within a year. SendClean now has a customer base of 35,000 customers (paying and non-paying). We process around 1 billion emails every month. We have a billion revenue now and are aiming for 3 billion revenue in the coming financial year.
We are bullish on our growth and would like to get SendClean listed within a couple of years.
YC: Any community that you would suggest to others?
Ramesh: GitHub – It is a great platform for founders and tech aspirants. It facilitates;
1) Faster Feedback – It is free and one could open source a project there. You would start receiving faster feedback. Suggestions from experts in the community are also quite helpful. Hence, it helps in increasing the utility of the products.
2) Awareness – GitHub showcases your work to a larger relevant audience, resulting in spreading awareness about the product.
3) Documentation – It helps you to keep track of code versions. It also helps in formatting documents. This would ease one’s workload.
YC: What is it that keeps you going on this journey?
Ramesh: Having the right founding team. It is important for the founding team to equally contribute to the venture. We began with five people, Preeti – Co-founder, Vivek – COO at SendClean Inc, Abhimanyu – Founder, Sushil – Director and myself. All these years we have stayed together as a family.
@ Founding Team
Being open. I once attended an event for aspiring founders. We had dinner together and discussed our ideas during the dinner table conversations. I found some among us reluctant to share their ideas, as they were worried if someone would steal their ideas.
During a meeting the next day, the organisers asked the participants who had similar ideas to form a group. The ones hesitant to share their ideas found it difficult. This is an example of how being open helps. You will find people to collaborate with, people who can guide you, and can criticise you when you are open.
Relentlessness– Tech is all about building the products for current use cases and future use cases. I am very excited to tell you, we are also working on developing a search engine website. It is progressing slowly, but we will launch it soon.
Ramesh, it was great talking to you. Yellow Chapter wishes you the very best in the coming years.