Fuck Up Nights: Running a Startup Is a Team Game

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Fuck Up Nights

In this post we will go ahead and talk about the various fuck ups and learnings from Mr. Chandan Gupta, who is currently a Sr. Director at Snapdeal, a company valued at $6.5 Billion as of February, 2016.
Mr. Gupta is an introvert and a techie at heart and has had his fair share of fuck ups which have got him to the illustrious position he holds at one of India’s premier unicorns. So, let’s take a closer look at the path Mr. Chandan Gupta took to get where he is today.

His first big fuck up was that he wanted to create a company all by himself. What this means is he did the following things that did not help his cause at all:

  • He wanted to do everything all by himself. Right from product development to sales, marketing and strategy.
  • He never gave his co-founders a fair chance to contribute to his business.
  • To his surprise, his best hire was someone who wasn’t able to find a job anywhere else (sometimes these things just have no explanation).
  • He was very shy when it came to talking to customers and he thought that didn’t matter as long as he had a great product. He was clearly mistaken.
  • His product has a whole bunch of features. However, these features only existed because he loved those features and not because the customer did.

He built his MVP with Rs. 3 lacs and had absolutely no idea what to do with the seed funding he got. His various learnings from this were:

  • You must take help from whoever you can get it from. Be it mentors, advisors, peers, customers etc. Startups are all about working together to build something and not about doing it solo.
  • You don’t know if the market is viable if you do not have enough competitors and so you need to move really fast. In order to do this you must attack the market with your MVP and build/add features according to the customers needs and not your own.
  • Do not procrastinate trying to build the perfect product. That is never going to happen and will only result in wasted time.
  • Premature scaling is definitely a bad thing, but what’s worse is not being scalable at all. That can really hurt you at the wrong time.
  • Be a miser with your money. There’s nothing wrong or embarrassing with haggling with people. Be it for salaries even though they may be great hires. Try and be as frugal as you can.
  • If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t going anywhere.

Another major fuck up on Mr. Gupta’s part was that he wasn’t passionate enough to solve the problem that his product promised to solve. His learnings from this problem were:

  • First make sure the problem is meaningful, but at the same time you must also make sure you really really want to solve that particular problem.
  • Find a efficient way to be in constant touch with the market conditions. You know the old saying, you snooze, you lose!
  • Being lean and making sure you’re close to your unit economics is always a good thing and never hurt anyone.
  • When you’re bootstrapped, you do not have the luxury of spending money. In order to get good hires, look for the right attitude and someone who shares the same passion as you to solve the given problem.
  • Always give your team ample time to design scalable systems. Don’t keep slapping your team with feature after feature.
  • Last and most importantly, know how to make sense of what your customers tell you. 10 different customers on most occasions will tell you 10 different things.

These were all the fuckups and learnings Mr. Chandan Gupta went through on his way to becoming a Sr. Director at Snapdeal. As they say, even if it’s a rose strewn path, it’s bound to have it’s fair share of thorns along the way.
This was part – II of our Fuck Up Nights blog series. Check out part III which features fuck ups and learnings from the co-founder of the very popular chain of chai shops, Chaayos.
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