By Avlesh Singh, Co-Founder & CEO, WebEngage
Headquartered in Gurgaon, WebEngage was founded in 2011 by Avlesh Singh and Ankit U. It is an on-site customer engagement toolkit which enables the users to run on-site promotions/offers like ‘deal of the day’ and collect customer feedback from a remote dashboard, without changing any code on your site.
Turning a startup into a successful and sustainable business requires growth - predictable and reliable growth. It was almost three years back that, Ankit and I laid the first bricks of WebEngage. In the short but educating journey, we had quite a few experiences. Lack of capital, shortage of workforce, insufficient knowledge of the processes, lack of goodwill, and lack of PR - the list is practically endless. But I am not going to whine about the things you don't get; rather I will discuss the thing that keeps your startup growing in spite of all these challenges - the mindset of growth.
During my short but hectic stint as an entrepreneur, I have met my fair share of successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs. Most of the time, the line that divided them both was the mindset I am talking about. While there was a vivid list of reasons behind the successful ones, the unsuccessful ones had one thing common - they ceased to grow, no matter what.
Paul Graham of Y-Com and Lisp fame puts 7-10 percent a week as a good growth rate for startups. Well, it is true and achievable in the initial phases, but when extrapolated to more than two years, the numbers not only become astronomical but unrealistic too. In my opinion, growth, in actual terms, comes later in the lifecycle of a business; what matters is the realization to grow.
How can you grow?
I don't know if we did things right, or we were plain lucky to have tasted whatever success we could though WebEngage. In hindsight, I think we did a few things right and I would like to summarize them for you:
Stay Product Focused: Being the founders of a fast-growing company, you and your co-founders would easily be swayed and strapped for time. Hiring new talent, managing company culture, handling the press, wooing the investors and many other tasks eat up your day and leave you begging for more hours. In times like these it is very easy to lose your focus from the product to manage a company. Well, you should not. Never ever look away from your core offering.
Hire Right, Hire Fast: I know how founders feel about getting things done. They believe that they can do everything; from managing the office to managing the product and the company. In reality, they cannot. Even if they have the talent to do it, they don't have ample time. We grew WebEngage from a team of 3 people to more than 50 in 3 years and we happily pay our staff for the job they do. Real talent is rare and highly sought after; if you come across somebody having it, don’t let them go.
Processize Things: I know that is not a word, so take mine for it. The startup community hates processes. But when you want to have the leap from being a startup to a growth company, you must have a fair bit of predictability in your business. High-speed growth cannot be sustained in chaos. Everyone likes their way of doing things, do not change that abruptly and if possible, form the processes in such a way that they are compliant with your team's way of working. But bringing in the necessary processes is an important call to make.
Growth is Knowing When You are Not Growing
People love WebEngage globally. It helped us get to a broad customer base through which we have made profits for quite some time now. But such was not always the case with us earlier. Before WebEngage, we had built another product, WebKlipper. We loved the product equally and had made some noise too, but then we shut it down, within a year. It was a tough decision to take, but equally necessary. There isn't a company without growth; and being at the helm of affairs, you should be the first person to realize that. Wish you and your team, a mindset of growth and success.