Insights on Scaling Pre-Seed and Seed-Stage Startups

Abhishek Uniyal
WeKan Company
Published in
6 min readJun 5, 2020
At the Quake’s happy hour for the NYC Cohort in February

Recently, Sathya, Co-founder & CEO of WeKan Company, had a FireSide Chat session with Quake Capital's latest NYC cohort about scaling products. Sumay Parikh and Amy Coveny moderated the session.

Here are the excerpts from that conversion: —

Sumay: Tell us more about WeKan Company and how you’ve been instrumental through investment and scaling products within your portfolio?

Sathya: Wekan is a hands-on product accelerator that provides capital and product support. We help our companies achieve product-market fit and also help to build a scalable growth engine. We started about four years ago and have accelerated ten early-stage startups out of which:

  • Two of our companies are currently raising Series A.
  • Two of them have already raised seed capital.
  • And, we have exited three companies to enterprises companies (out of which we share one exit with Quake capital).

We have helped our startups in different aspects — I would say most importantly on product growth, dev acceleration, and growth marketing support. However, I can proudly say there aren’t any programs that offer strategic and execution teams for 12–18 months.

We primarily accelerate companies in Future of Work, B2B SaaS, and mobility domains that are solving problems in the US market.

Sumay: How many companies do you have in your portfolio, what business models do they have, and what is the current progress of the portfolio after WeKan helped scale the product?


  • ViaHero is a travel startup that helps travellers connect with local experts to customize their itineraries. Today, we have Rachael, one of the Co-Founders, here! Hi Rachael, great to see you again and know you are also a part of Quake’s current cohort.
    For example, Viahero grew ten times in the user base from when we started working with them.
  • The Residences, a subscription service for millennials stays, doubled its repeat user base within six months.
  • RideKleen, a mobile car cleaning company, grow 3X in revenue in less than 12 months.
  • OBE Power, an EV charging service as a company, has been able to onboard its entire charging network into our new data intelligence platform within four months.

Sumay: Based on your experience, what are the most significant issues when scaling a product as a pre-seed and seed company? What examples can you provide from your portfolio of companies?

Sathya: I feel companies can be better prepared if they have the following:

  • It's essential to stay focused. Identify your bull’s eye customers and make sure they love your product. When you are an early-stage startup, it's normal to sell your product to everyone to keep the lights on, but make sure you prioritize feature requests from only your bull's eye customer.
  • Prioritizing roadmap is very important for early-stage companies as they have a lot of tech to build — Always run ‘Complexity vs. Impact Value’ analysis on your roadmap, Be scrappy, and don’t be too worried to launch and validate your hypothesis.
  • Have the courage to try new growth experiments, track them, learn to kill them fast if it doesn’t work
  • Managing cash flows and raising a little more than you need.

Sumay: What are the most common misconceptions of products you’ve seen at an earlier stage?

Sathya: Some of the major misconceptions I’ve seen founders doing is:

  • Approaching a problem with a pre-defined solution in mind (my suggestion is to follow lean canvas, value proposition canvas workshops)
  • Not setting clear company goals/KPIs would lead to a product that does not solve anyone’s problem.

Sumay: What are the must-haves for products at a pre-seed and seed stage, given that most companies, if not all, are strapped with cash?

Sathya: Well, that’s very open-ended, and it differs from one company to another. My suggestion to founders would be to listen to their customers obsessively. To do that, launch your MVP with a set of tools to understand user journeys, behaviours, bottlenecks. Then, it’s essential to take these learnings and create better solutions. Early-stage is all about finding product-market fit.

Sumay: Tell us more about ways to implement the growth of the company using the product itself? Think growth hacks for founders at the pre-seed stage.

Sathya: Achieving growth through the product is not a single activity. It is a combination of different activities that you perform from the point of customer discovery, engagement, transaction, and retention. Most product-led growth companies have moved from a customer funnel to a flywheel which puts customers at the heart of every action.

Product-led growth hacks might include adding a chatbot to improve conversations, throwing a popup at the right time to know more about the user, building mobile-first viewing experiences, customized viewing experiences/landing images for customers, finding the right moment to ask your customers to share this product with other users.

Sumay: What is your strategy for building the right feature sets of the product?

Sathya: The best way to validate your early-stage product would be to build a group of power users (they could be advanced users of your competition right now)

Understand the different use-cases for which the power users would use your product, figure out what they believe are must-have and good to have features, ask them what are their pain points, ask them what will they be willing to pay if you solve their problem.

Sumay: Create a bridge between sales and marketing function, and what contribution does it have to scale a product?

Sathya: I think this is a very important function, and this needs to be certainly streamlined to scale. This is what we call a growth stack. As a part of the growth stack, we help our companies automate the entire sales process — From customer discovery to retention.

This step is very important for startups as they approach Series A as this is the most sustainable way to handle growth.

Sumay: WeKan’s journey has been very interesting. Tell us about your journey scaling your own product. What is some core learning you had that you can share with our founders?

Sathya: Well, we initially started accelerating idea-stage companies. One year into it, we realized that we needed to focus on post-angel/pre-seed companies than idea stage startups. As a product accelerator, our core skill-set is in helping companies find product-market fit, which comes after validating problem market fit. We initially focussed on only product-market fit, but our startups also needed growth marketing support. So a few years into this, we built our growth team, which helps our companies run experiments.

This whole experience is what I can call our journey to achieve product-market fit. And, every company needs to go through this journey to scale.

I hope you learned something here to apply to your startup!

Until next time…

WeKan Company, based out of New York, is a product lead growth accelerator focusing on pre-seed and seed-stage companies in the Future of Work, B2B & Mobility verticals. We supplement our capital with the best product development and growth marketing teams to help startups achieve Product-Market fit and help them build a sustainable Growth Engine. We are made by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.

Join the conversation about the future of startups by following us on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and of course here on Medium!

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Abhishek Uniyal
WeKan Company

Software Engineer, Blogger, FIRE Enthusiast, Open Source. Open to gigs: