From Camera to Doughnuts

Doughnut is an amazing product. Successful fast food chains have opened up across the globe around this simple dulce. And yes it tastes great.Eating a good doughnut lets you appreciate the flavor. It’s when I tried to offer one; I learnt why people enjoy it so much.

Aashit (Co-founder) and I were at a busy Bangalore market street trying to convince people to download our app — Storewalk. The incentive: a free doughnut.

Now experts will tell you it is a wrong way of doling out incentive. Still I am glad to have made that effort. Standing in the crowd and offering doughnuts, I learnt a lot of common sense mantras that are part of my Startup journey today.

Context

I had doughnuts from a very famous brand. Yet it became very difficult for me to offer doughnuts to passing customers. It was obvious in retrospect. I was not targeting hungry people. Offering doughnuts in front of clothes stores does not help. People were going there to shop, not to eat.

Trust

I moved next to a famous Chai corner. I still saw that the customers were not at ease. Even with pani-puri stall or a man selling guavas, there is a certain connect that customer shares. We did not have that connect. We had not earned the customer trust, not yet.

The grind

Coming back to the first half of the article’s title — Camera. In my previous role, I built algorithms to understand images from cameras. I have had a great time showcasing state of the art spectral cameras to clients in the West and the East. I had the opportunity to have intellectual conversation with some of brightest minds in the realm of artificial intelligence. And did so with great ease.

Yet, I was a stranger in my own streets. Post engineering, the world around me convinced me to get industry exposure and then plunge into startup. Now I know that no amount of experience is sufficient. You just have to do a startup, to do a start-up.

I am now prepared to do anything that helps my company grow, and I do so with great pride.

Its activities and experiments such as offering doughnuts that helped us knowing our customers, increased our market understanding and refine the business pitch.

Simplicity

It is still the most popular doughnut!

In the end, all the doughnuts were handed out. I attribute it to the simplicity of the product. Today that is what we have built. Storewalk — An app to help avid shoppers find awesome fashion styles in the stores of Bangalore. And it is doing well — because it is simple.

I am sure all start-up founders, at some point in their lives, have offered doughnuts. If not, you should. There is no better way to learn your customer’s behavior. An hour in the street is better than a week behind classroom desk.