Relatas turns 5 today. It feels like yesterday when I was hunting for the domain name. The first 4 years just flew by, then it hit me. We are 5. In our 5 year long bootstrapped journey, we took some good bets but also made lot of mistakes and luckily learnt quickly from our mistakes.
First thing I did today morning was congratulated the team. Then thanked our customers.
Henry Ford said it best when he said, "If you always do what you've done, you'll always get what you've always gotten."
We did something different. 5 learnings from our 5 year journey.
Hire smart motivated team members.
In a startup you'll have your hands full all the time. Hire smart people who are self motivated. I have been very lucky to have found the team I can trust, our core team is self motivated and working towards the same goal. Team members who can deal with my idiosyncrasies and still stay focused and give 110%, you have to count yourself lucky. Our core team has been together since the start and have been though a lot of ups and downs. More downs than ups, but always came back chins up.
Funding is a means, not the end goal.
During the initial years, I met few investors and I was given multiple reasons. "This space is too crowded"/ "Large competitors will build this"/ "You don't have a co-founder"/ "Show us revenue" / "You are too early for us" and many more... I'm sure anyone who has been though this journey can add an unending list. It was actually a blessing in disguise that we didn't raise funds early. We started focusing on customers and revenue. And revenue came in. It's been 5 years since, and we are customer funded.
And mind you, there is nothing wrong with fund raising. Make sure you are raising funds for the right reasons and at the right time.
Learn to say no.
I heard this from another entrepreneur friend who is few years ahead of us. It is very difficult to say NO to both; your customers and also the next shining object. Luckily for us, we learnt our mistakes early in our journey. The biggest distraction is the next shining object (shining object syndrome) and no matter what one says, every entrepreneur has at some point in time succumbed to it. Over the period of time, most learn to say NO to them. Here I have to give credit to our core team, every time I come up with a new feature, new idea they question me hard and that helps me introspect. I'm going back to my first point, hire smart.
This happened by chance. Our VP Engineering, a good friend of 20 years decided that he has had enough and wants to take a break from manually doing all the stuff for the team we were hiring, and we were hiring at great pace. We increased team strength by 300% in a month. He took it up on himself and created all the processes for the technical team to abide by. We reduced our new team members onboarding from 2 weeks to 1 day! Well it's still underway, but I can't stress enough on the need for process that can automate things.
Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey.
Along with the core team, I have also been lucky to have found some great friends along the journey. It's an understated fact that startup journeys are lonely, very lonely actually, but when you have family and friends who are there, it becomes a little easy. You need a bunch of guys who you can trust and share openly. I'm part of a group of 20 odd entrepreneurs and we get to discuss anything under the sun. This group is a great stress buster. Find your group where you can be yourself.
I requested few entrepreneur friends to pen their first 5 year journey and here they are:
Aurobinda Nanda; co-founder, Happiest Minds
Congratulations Sudip!!! Wish you luck and success in years to come.
5 years is a big milestone and a matter of great pride that we were growing the business well. It was important to take a breather and have a relook at the vision statement of the company & change it to reflect the ground as well as market reality and also raise the bar higher.
The new vision statement re-energized the entire organization and helped us reach where we are today. The assumptions that had challenges were around service offerings & business growth. The biggest challenge was to retain the organization culture and values given that we were growing at a fast pace. This one was more critical than business as it’s the team which ultimately defines customer success.
Shanmugam (Nags) Nagarajan; co-founder 7.ai
Congratulations on completing 5 years Sudip and Team Relatas! Happy Anniversary!
5 years is a good milestone to look back and substantiate your learnings and achievements for the next decade!At 7.ai, by 5 we had learnt that we needed to diversify in all aspects: by then we had started to diversify our product offerings and just about started to diversify geographically as well.We had started with email management services in 2000 and quickly moved to chat and voice. We grew from India into Philippines and started looking at LatAm for near shoring.We had to rethink how to scale in people strength as well as what worked for 20-200 didn’t work for 200-2000 people.
I am sure Relatas would have gathered enough experience foe you to distill the learnings for your future! All the best to shape it into a very successful one!
Phanindra Sama; co-founder, RedBus
When we started redBus, there was a lot of scepticism whether there was a large enough market and if this business will ever be profitable by itself. At the end of 5 years, these concerns were proven wrong.
Panguluri S K Mohan; Managing Director, Qapitol
We wanted to be change maker when we started off and did not fall into the trap of becoming yet another testing services company. Somewhere in the journey we gave undue priority to the revenue and perhaps at this stage original vision took a back seat. We quickly realised and we are back on track - innovating and delivering better value.
Congrats on the Relatas 5th anniversary. Love your perseverance and conviction to keep going ... May god bless you with loads of luck and success
Ashish Tulsian; co-founder, POSist
In POSist's journey by our 5th Anniversary we looked back to realize we started for SMBs but we're now serving enterprises, built for india but we're now focussed on global customers, our price point changed, our sales mechanism changed. And all these changes were a result of so many failures on the hypothesis we had at the start.
5 years I feel is a milestone when companies get to know who they really are and how far or different from who they thought they were when started.
Congratulations to Relatas on the milestone !
See how it is done the "Relatas Way" : https://relatas.com/relatas-way