Founding a startup is a journey where the end destination is not always apparent or obvious. Ravi Mitaal, CEO of Vuukle, advocates
for patience and persistence as strategies every startup founder should use when approaching their ideas. Vuukle emerged from the misfires of two other startups: SplaTT and Blobin.com. Without pivoting ideas from both of those startups Vuukle would not be here today. Ravi’s innovative attitude and openness to change creates a platform for startup success. Relationship building and readiness to respond are key in the Vuukle story, -which is by no means simple-, and started in a London subway:
“I was sitting on the tube in London reading when I started thinking that people needed a better magazine that allowed them to quickly flip through the best opinions about trending topics. I set out to create a printed magazine and I was planning to live off the ad revenue, fortunately that never happened. Life would have been too easy if I found success from my first idea. Our idea of going out on the streets and collecting opinions didn’t turn out to be economically feasible and we created a Facebook page called SplaTT your opinion. I started to get comments from people who I didn’t know and needed a better public platform: thus Blobin.com was born.
Blobin.com was going to be an online portal where people could share opinions about any topic, website, or photo. People would have the ability to share their comments for each topic, website etc… Completing the product took me almost 18 months. When I brought the product to market I found that there was no demand, people were satisfied with opinion sharing services they were already using.
After spending so much time working on the idea, I had to reevaluate and look for the real problem or value proposition of my product. After careful evaluation I realized that the ability to see filtered and ranked opinions is a need that my product could provide. I took apart the whole product and just stuck with the commenting aspect, suddenly I was in the comments industry. I didn’t really know who my competitors were, all I knew that it is extremely hard to find good quality opinions on the internet. After almost 13 months since the launch last year Vuukle is now being used on more than a 100 websites including one newspaper, a few TV talk show channels, the government news channel of India and many more to come. We still have a long path to cover but slowly and gradually we will get there!”
I think Ravi’s story is great, I hope you do too. Let’s go over how he found startup success and what you can do to emulate it.
Patience is hard when time seems to pass so quickly.
Let’s be honest here. Patience isn’t anyone’s strong suit and you already know that it’s important without Ravi or I saying so. But tell me this, did you actively think about being more patient today?
Instead of just hoping a calm demeanor will come with age, take a more active approach: learn to keep your cool. Two of the best ways to learn are through deliberate practice and correcting a mistake.
About Deliberative Practice
I am sure that you have heard the phrase practice makes perfect many times. K. Anders Ericsson, psychologist and scientific researcher, takes that concept one step further with his research on deliberative practice. His research claims that, “the differences between expert performers and normal adults reflect a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain”. In other words, better quality practice creates better results.
Call to action
- Use deliberative practice to learn patience. Make a conscious effort to keep frustration in check while working your daily startup activities. Read this article for more information about and how to use deliberative practice.
- Recognize when you lose patience and correct the mistake. Read this excerpt from Scott Berkun’s essay collection, Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds, to find ways to learn from mistakes.
Ravi quit his day job at Goldman Sachs and started work on SplaTT full-time in July of 2009. That was almost three years ago to date! The lesson to be learned here is that your startup might take longer than a year to incubate and build momentum.
Call to action
- Follow Ravi’s example and invest time into your startup ideas. Don’t give up. Ravi says, “Always believe in yourself, discuss your problems and apprehensions, don’t stop till you drop!”
Building relationships is an important part of startup growth and direction
Although Ravi doesn’t mention building relationships in his startup story, it has been a pivotal strategy for the growth and direction Vuukle takes. Ravi says, “You need to build a relationship with your client and make sure they are absolutely satisfied with your product. This can go a long way on building goodwill and getting future clients in half the time.”
Call to Action
- Start relationship building immediately. Ravi says “It’s never too early to start building relationships with your potential clients. Don’t wait for your product to have all the bells and whistles.”
- Use relationships with clients to make business decisions. When a client needs Vuukle to perform differently Ravi tries to accommodate their need. Ravi says, “My clients are my decision makers at least until my product is generally accepted.”
When Ravi realised that asking people on the streets for their opinions wasn’t realistic, he moved it online. When Facebook wasn’t a good enough platform for his idea, he made a new one. When he realized that the market was over saturated, he re-focused.
Ravi has consistently adapted his ideas and pivoted his business strategy accordingly. Ravi is responsive, but he is thoughtful about making decisions. He says, “I don’t get too excited too quickly, I evaluate things before going to execution.”
Call to action
- Be open to adapting your original idea if it’s not working out. Remember that Ravi did not originally intend to be in the comment business, it was a possibility that he created and acted on.
Ultimately what you do to meet your business goals is up to you. Emulating Ravi’s strategies of patience, persistence, relationship building and responsiveness might help lead you to your startup success story.
How do you use patience, persistence, responsiveness and relationship building in your daily startup activities? Care to share your story? Leave us a comment!