Truth: Startup is a jigsaw puzzle!
The first thing that I hear from family, friends, fans (3 big fools :) ) ‘your startup is doing wonderful but luck hasn’t supported (they mean not many know about Explara).
What do you do when you get such adulation? I do the same i.e. just make them believe that is right ;) But somewhere deep inside, I know how this journey has been super by locating and building the jigsaw.
Truth: Startup is a jigsaw puzzle.
I thought to jot down to this post to share thoughts and analysis with 3 fools (family, friends, fans) (note: Fans include my team associate, my investors so far and people in larger ecosystem) of how this puzzle got solved one bit at a time.
No body, including me had any data points on how big this ‘event platform’ industry could be! Biggest missing piece.
If I was asked how many event organizer there in India that you are launching a DIY (Do-it-yourself) platform for ‘event ticketing and management ‘ in 2008, I would have closed down in 30 days!
There was no government-backed data, nor any formalized network/association till 2011. Unorganized industry, another missing piece.
EEMAI (Event and Entertainment Management Association of India) was formalized by govt. backing only in 2011?
The name ‘Ayojak’ (Explara was known as Ayojak till 2013) didn’t impress many high profile & brand conscious people. And the most high profile customers thought we are ‘some street side event management company backed by some engineers’ :P I still remember an investor analyst laughing at ‘Ayojak/ ayeojak/..’ name pronunciation during 2012. The ‘branding’ was a big missing piece.
I was bootstrapping an idea remotely sitting in London (from 2008 to 2011), even my childhood friend (& first investor) commented while writing cheque ‘I knew you were fighting hard but wanted to see you taking the fight in India’. Why would some investor sitting among posh portfolio in London believe ‘This is super and invest’? Similarly, why an investor had backed an engineer whom they haven’t met/spoken! Another crucial missing piece which was solved only during 2013.
There were ‘swiss-knife’ kind of ‘we can do all use cases’ but we haven’t done one thing finest way’ was the biggest lack of confidence.
Ayojak was Santosh Panda, Santosh Panda was Ayojak. Explara is not! We never shared ‘the road ahead’, after we rebranded to Explara and spilled the bean of ‘differentiation and much deeper use cases’, our endeavour got noticed.
There was no history of success of ‘Software-as-service’ in India yet, and we were launching a ‘SaaS’ for events. Had there been an history of large SME of indie event promoter, producer and organizer, it would have made instant sense. Though we ‘The Explara’ team saw something is coming on and were the fools to launch but larger ecosystem was not ready yet.
Super team drives Explara and growth has been due to the team. But this ‘missing pieces joined to become a super team only during 2013’. And it started to hit big in 2015.
Startups are being built for the love of solving something real, creating a micro-world with a culture code that one believes and being in the journey to solve jigsaw and solve more of those!