How Federer Inspired An Ed-tech Startup — A Letter
It was January 2017, almost a year, since we started our startup FollowClass. The idea was to build a school app, where all the academic activities of children can be tracked, where students can learn and practice online exams, where all all these activities can be analysed using artificial intelligence to help students perform better.
I have to be honest here. Things were not going well at that point of time. Even after reading 100’s of blogs, I made all the mistakes that first time entrepreneurs do. Total revenue was less than 1 Lakh Rs during the first 9 months and all our personal savings were almost over. You too had a similar year in 2016, plagued with injuries, performing well below expectations (But I guess you still made millions of dollars)
We were thinking about quitting at that point of time. I am sure even you must have felt the same way throughout 2016.
Then I remember listening your interview before Australian Open. You talked about taking one step at a time, not thinking too far. You said “It would be great if I could reach the quarterfinals.” It taught me a great lesson. We at FollowClass were making/selling our product thinking about how a million users will use it. If the man who has won everything in the tennis game, says that it would be great if i could reach the quarter final. Well this is something the all startups can learn from you. “Think about how you are going to get the next 5 customers. Take baby steps. Don’t think too far ahead.”
You reached the finals. I again watched your interview before the match. Instead of giving the typical ”It’s just another match” message. You said that it is special playing Rafa. That was you being honest about how you feel. Before that point I used to lie about how my start is doing? To everyone i would say that it’s going great. After this, i stopped hiding the truth. I told people that it’s not going great. Mentally, it helped me a lot. It made things a lot easier.
Just like you won the Australian Open, we were able to get two big clients. At that point we at FollowClass decided to change our focus from getting a million users to instead making these schools happy by providing them with the best school app possible. We put all our efforts into these schools and results were amazing. Things became a lot simpler, deciding what new features to add became very simple process. We talked to our customers, took their feedback and incorporated it in the product.
During the period of April-June 2016, we tried selling our product in a number of cities simultaneously with the help of interns. We were discussing that same option again, whether to get interns in different parts of India and market our product there. It made a lot of sense as interns would have cost very little and even if half of them had performed decently, it would have helped us a lot.
At that point of time, you came to our rescue once again. You decided to skip French Open so that you can be in a great shape for Wimbledon. We decided to do the same, let’s forget everything else and focus on schools and colleges in Bangalore. And just like you winning the Wimbledon, it worked like a charm for us.
Currently we are profitable in Bangalore, moved to a new office, raised some investment, and are starting a new sales office in Rajasthan. Things are going well for us at the moment. I do hope you continue winning and inspiring millions of entrepreneurs like us around the world.