Bangalore Startups’ AMA with Raman Shrivatsava, Co founder and CEO of Fyne
Raman started Fitsome after graduating from Draper University as a Change Agent. He is an engineer with experience from both sides of the table, helping and building startups.
Helping Startups: Headstart Ventures, Acara Institute & IIHS
Building Startups: Aforia & Lukup Media.
Q: Why did you start with New York? — Nagesh Bansal
We had 6 cities in mind in the US. New York has the most number of restaurants around 24,000 plus eating out spends are pretty high.
Q: Is your target market also New York? — Harshith Aggarwal
We are starting with NY but will expand to other cities soon once we gain good traction in NY.
Q: How was your experience to go through the Drapers Program? What were the top 3 take aways? — Harsha MV
Top 3 take aways from Draper Program 1. Think Big 2. Build relationships 3. Learn to code
Q: How did you get guys incubated? Can you tell something about your pitch? — Nagesh Bansal
We were 37 people in the class in my batch at Draper University. We pitched to a panel of investors at the end of the program. 4 were selected for the incubation program.
Q: When are you going to raise funds for Fyne and how much? — Mithun Muddan
We have raised a pre-seed round earlier. Right now we are in the process of raising our seed: $500K
Q: How open are businesses there working with startups? — Harshith Aggarwal
Business are willing to experiment with startups: SF, NY, LA are good places to begin with.
Q: Can you walk us through about the program? — Karthik Nagarajan
Draper University is a 7 week pre-accelerator program. It helps students refine their business ideas and build deep connects in Silicon Valley. Pitch day is the most important day where people are selected for funding/incubation.
Q: How do you see FoodSpotting as your competitor? How different are you from them? Are you also looking for the same path of being acquired one day? — Harsha MV
Our larger goal is to integrate ordering and payment and improve the dinning experience. Foodspotting was a sourced model. We are hiring our own photographers to take photos of dishes. It will be a more curared platform focussed on menu.
Q: How are you marketing your app? What do you say is the split between physical and digital marketing? — Kartik Luke Singh
We are doing a lot of physical marketing right now. We just hired someone from yelp. We are also helping us build partnerships with restaurants. We also have interns from Cornell.
Q: Are ya guys looking to raise funds? Do you see this sort of service hoping to gain traction in developing countries? Take India for instance where there is spending capacity but kinda limited to cities like Mumbai or Delhi — Karthik Nagarajan
I think spending capacity is increasing exponentially in India. People are looking for experiences. So we are hoping we will do good here when we launch in India.
Q: You must be having competition there, how do you differentiate getfyne? — Harshit Aggarwal
Yes, we have a lot of competition. Curating the dining experience would be our strategy to differentiate.
Q: If you are targeting the US market, are incubators and accelerators a good entry point? — Harshit Aggarwal
Yes, incubators are a great entry point. They help you understand local market conditions and also build local networks.
Q: We all know that silicon valley is the hub for startups, so there might be many pit holes that one must avoid. Can you name some? — Devansh Beriwala
Pitfalls: Raising money from right people in the valley. Every second person in the valley claims to be an angel investor so you have to be cautious who you take money from. Also, figuring out the right lawyer is also very important especially as a foreign national there.
Q: Are you based out of Bangalore. If yes, how are you managing a New York Startup from here? — Nagesh Bansal
As of now I travel between India and US every 6 months. I have hired some people in the US who help me run the ground operations in US.
Q: Do u guys compete with mobile app building websites like smbmarketing.com? — Arun Balaji
Q: What is the dark side of setting up shop in San Franciso? — Mithun Muddan
Developers are VERY expensive.
Q: Thanks for doing this. Fellow foodtech founder here. Do you think the foodtech space will lean towards more aggregation over the next 2–3 years? — Mithun Muddan
It definitely will. I think what happened with the e-commerce industry will happen in the foodtech space in the coming years. there will be a lot of consolidation.
Q: If its a b2b product (since you have both markets to deal with) what should be the best base for startup if the target market is the whole of US? — Harshit Aggarwal
SF, NY and Boston for B2B.
Q: How open are investors when you say that founders will travel from other countries and not based in the US? — Harshit Aggarwal
It depends how convinced they are about the founder and their business. Rest can be figured out with time.
Q: Does the program invest in you guys or is it purely for strategic connections? If not Do you guys had to go to angels just like everyone else out there? — Karthik Nagarajan
Program gives an opportunity to pitch and intros, rest is up to you.
Q. What is your personal learning till now while building Fyne. From Idea to Product? — Mithun Muddan
Build a great core team. Depend very less on freelancers/outsourcing.
Q: Just to add to Mithun’s question — what would you have done differently to hack your growth? — Abhinandhan
We should have started marketing way earlier. We got too busy with building the product. Also, I should have built relationships with restaurants from day 1.
Q: What was the most diffcult part for you during your pitch with investors while closing the funding round? — Harshit Aggarwal
We had a geographically distributed team. So It took some convincing there.
Q: What is the visa situation for you guys?
As there is no startup visa in US yet, my lawyer is working towards getting me an O1. Till then business visa.
Q: Can we do a B2B business in US without being there? Personal meetings are really required to close deals? — Harshit Aggarwal
for B2B I think it depends on the value of the transaction. If you have a SAAS product with say $50 per month subscription you dont really need to them . Though personal meetings help.
Q: Isn’t it expensive to hire Photographers to go get all the photos? Considering you guys wont be doing it! Whats your strategy here? — Harsha MV
Actually top notch photographers are expensive. When you hire them to be part of you team full time its not that bad.
Q: Whats your tech Stack? Tell us more about your team and what role do they play? — Harsha MV
Techstack: Node.js (backend) + iOS as of now. My co-founder is from Venice, Italy. He is the CTO. Daniel who just joined us is leading BD & partnerships.
Q: Final question! and a non-technical one. Given that you have a distributed team and you are travelling between US/India every 6 months, how do you maintain/monitor motivation within the team? How are you incentivising them? what’s your core culture? — Abhinandan
Actually against conventional wisdom, distributed team has worked really well for us and has kept the cost down as well. In fact, we have a joke within the company that when we all meet in SF less work gets done. Lot of experimentation is at the core of what we do.
Q: Can mobile websites/apps be sold in the US without meeting them directly? — Arun Balaji
Yes, depends on how good the sales guy is.
Q: When is Fyne launching in Santa Monica? — Kartik Mandaville
We have the menu data in Santa Monica. As soon as we have good photographs in Santa Monica we will launch there.
Q: How many restaurants have you tied up with? Most Restaurants usually have photos of the dishes (content) ready. Are they open to sharing them with you guys? — Harsha MV
Restaurants are a tough nut to crack. A lot of them have been burned by Yelp as they have been pushing their Ad product to them. We have decided to have a Ad free product. Restaurants are excited about that and hence willing to share content. We are building a dashboard for them through which they can themselves be able to add photos and content.
Q: Whats the rollout plan? city by city? How hard is it to roll out in each city? — Kartik Mandaville
Yes, city by city is the next approach as it allows us to get quality content in each city. We are now beginning to build partnerships which will help us roll out faster.
Q: How much communication happens between your team on a day to day basis? I am trying to understand is what amount of communication is right! — Nagesh Bansal
My whole team is on Slack like this group. So we keep chatting almost all the time. I play the zombie in my team and try to manage with everyone’s time zone.
Q: How do you hope to maintain the quality of self posted content on Fyne compared to your own photographers? It’s something we’ve been trying to tackle at my startup as well. — Kartik Luke Singh
We are allowing users to upvote photos of the dishes and top photos show up on the top. Plus we are working on gamifying the platform so that the person with the best dish photo(most upvotes) gets it for free.
Q: Give a shoutout if you guys are hiring! — Kartik Luke Singh
Yes we are hiring big time. All the open positions are listed here:https://angel.co/fyne
That brought our AMA with Raman to a close!
Final words from Raman: Thanks Guys for inviting me, it was fun☺
We want to thank him for taking the time to chat with us!
We’ve set up a Twitter handle — @blr_startups. We’ll be tweeting updates and such out there.
If you are interested in the startup ecosystem and would like to network with fellow tech founders join the Slack group if you haven’t already! Just fill out this form. If you have already filled the form, you would have received an invite. Contact @kar2905 or @harshamv if you have any issues. This AMA was summarised by @kartikluke and @karthik2502.
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