Start-Ups.Co really enjoyed interviewing the brilliant entrepreneur; Mr. ‘Arpita Chakraborty’; Co-founder of the Indian-based start-up “getechoed”.
Below, is the full interview that we have conducted :
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
GetEchoed is a social platform for people to act on their goals, superfueled by communities of like minded people.
People plan action and leverage experience of similar people / experts in the community; based on similar interests and goals. Fellow members suggest milestones, share learnings / pro tips based on user goals. User gets to approach people with similar goals for experiences. With time, every user will have an ‘Inspiration Quotient’ basis goals co created and milestones / accepted. GetEchoed empowers people to be known for what they do
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We conceived the idea in August, 2013. Rolled out the landing page in September, 2013. GetEchoed Beta Version went live in November, 2013. We have been iterating in the closed group of early adopters since November, 2013. We currently have about 1000 users; and we plan to do a public Beta release in a month’s time.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
We have 2 primary proposed monetization route that we shall integrate by the end of the year:
– Corporate Partnerships: Teaming with corporates to help drive the employee engagement agenda in the organization; further the employer brand.
– Brand Challenges: Companies roll out challenges that align with their overall values – connecting with users on their daily life imperatives rather than direct selling their products.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We are all long time friends; having known each other for close to eight years. Arindam and Arpita happen to be twin siblings. Dipanshu is the common friend since school days. We have done a plethora of things together – from trekking Himalayas at -2 degrees, working on startup ideas, group projects. In terms of our responsibility at GetEchoed:
Arindam – Is the Tech guy. He is a full stack developer
Dipanshu – Is the product guy. Carves the product strategy
Arpita – Is the social media geek. Handles distribution and marketing.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We believe our approach to the problem at hand is essentially our USP.
The USP of GetEchoed is it has the adequate balance between enabling goal tracking – at personal level and motivation at a social level. Leveraging a community of similar people; GetEchoed is architected in a manner where users have ability to seek and provide learning, experiences, milestones and goals to each other.
The ability to leverage inspiration from friends and family and collaborate is what makes GetEchoed different from any other goal setting app / product in the market.
Its one of its kind webapp – especially from the Indian market
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
We have been able to cross the most important huddle of first 1000 users on a social platform. And it has been achieved within first 2 months of rolling the private beta. The entire growth is organic and we have been moving steadily across the months.
As for the milestones achieved, we have on boarded couple of mentors who are among industry experts; gotten along a team of interns across different areas; selected among the top 10 tech startups as a part of the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator Program in India and are in the process of getting featured across multiple platforms. We feel all of this being achieved within the 1st two months – while we are still iterating is reasonably well placed for now.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Everest, Lift, Bucketlistly, Limitless Chrome WebApp – some of the direct competitors
Wishberg, Quora, Wikihow – some indirect competitors.
Our USP – our understanding of the problem and the approach to the solution.
Problem Statement – people are not able to work on their goals and share their learnings / experiences
Our Solution – Provide people with a platform that will help them collaborate in different ways and leverage each other’s experience; partner in the process of pushing / nudging each other. Tracking and performance measures – are hygiene factors in personal goals. We set goals not only to get better performance tracks; but also to let the world know that we are DOERS – have achieved something. At GetEchoed; the idea is to be known for what you do
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Talent Challenges : Getting people to collaborate / join core team in a startup. We solved the challenge by hiring interns on board; whom we trained in house. Now they are delivering reasonably good results.
– Design thinking:Striking balance through a lean development cycles with constant customer inputs has been challenging. We developed a disciplined approach to building and designing by sharpening our inhouse understanding of information design.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
The key thing about personal goal accomplishment is that ‘we do not persevere on things that we aspire for’. More often than not; people who use different productivity apps are somewhere lacking motivation and constant inspiration. Products available as on date are built around the tactical performance measurement aspect of the goal setting. However as human beings; we get motivated by normal people and their achievements / learn from their lessons in daily life.
For people to explore their full potential and work on their goals; platforms need to be both fun to engage with and provide avenues for people to discuss about both their success and learning. People miss out on goals; change deadlines and have learning. Building a community of people with similar challenges will bring out the best in people and make the product a part of their lives and not just an app.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
We believe we are going to succeed because we understand the problem and the solution that we present is a mirror of behaviors in real life; not an ape of brilliant product features or design grandeur. The platform expects people to do only one thing – work on the goal – the rest of the things are superfueled by a community
The community interacts because they have similar motivations and interests.
Further, we are actively teeming up with influences / hobbyists across interest areas who will help us penetrate market with more meaning and less jargon.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
If we crack through the B2C market, we may plan to take on a B2B version of GetEchoed – where businesses get to list their next goals; their journeys and the learnings as of now. Obviously, the major differentiator there will be the level of privacy that organizations will be able to maintain. We foresee GetEchoed for Business to be a major alternative route for organizations to change the way they are perceived by their customers. How many people know of some of the interesting (non-controversial) things that happen across very interesting organizations today. Very few people do; unless there is a press release covering the same.
Comes GetEchoed for Business; and organizations / corporates get an unprecedented chance to communicate with their audience in a never available manner; build an viable employer brand and show definitive ROI on the-then ‘social media’
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
The idea for GetEchoed was conceived around August, 2013 – when one summer afternoon we had friends over at home. All of us were discussing opportunities and general life aspirations. The common thread was there were things all of us wanted to do – and do better. But none of us eventually ended pursuing that.
A major concern the group of people we were discussing was “it is very difficult to know what other people with similar goals / interest areas are upto. And all the current goal setting products are way too mechanical.” Hence even though solutions and mechanisms were existent in the real world to get us going off the ground; they were to little utility for “us as people” to get going. We realized that today – people need much beyond performance measurement apps. People need a product which talks to them as a friend and where they can talk to people around as friends. People need inspiration and not performance measures
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
It is extremely important to have a very well balanced team – across all dimensions. As much as skills and capabilities are important; it’s equally important to have a thoroughly emotional balance in the team. Building a startup is an unprecedented journey is never an easy task. The team dynamics need to encompass respect, tolerance and capability to complement each other. Diversity in the team helps avoid ‘group think’.
Co founding team members always need to be hungry and ready to learn new skills and be willing and capable to do anything and everything.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Talent challenges. There is limited talent and enough startups at the early stage in India vying for the same talent. As a result there is enough inbreeding because only a certain portion of educated engineers / designers are ready to work in tech startups. Hence, attracting the right kind of talent at the right time with balanced equity / compensation may be one of the most challenging things
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
Users get to be ‘social’ in the entire process of working on their goals. Getting pro tips / suggested milestones, sharing learning and experiences – make the process of goal accomplishment not a lonely journey. Better yet, users get to inspire people basis their accomplishments and journey covered
Community interaction on goals is something people like on the product; they feel inspired when someone achieves a milestone and share lessons when someone is stuck!
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
Social media, content marketing and guest blogs have acted as major enablers in people discovering about the product.
The first couple hundred users were acquired through landing page and a few product evangelists across colleges and working professionals – who further tapped in their network to reach the first 400 user mark
Our distribution channels – read Slideshare, Facebook, Quora Answers , and Twitter – helped us get more visibility and eventually user acquisition.
40% of the traffic is referral which implies for every 5 users that we acquire directly, 2 users are referred
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
We have a 40 – 60 user base comprising people from India and States. Our distribution channels are a reason for this spread and we are happy that we have been able to have diversity in user base as it enables people to share and learn from each other across diverse areas
Our target users are hobbyists / enthusiasts across the major interest areas that we serve currently on the platform – music, dance, writing, startup, travel, adventure – being the most popular categories
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Content Marketing / Social Media / Guest Blogging have proven useful for us. Slideshare, Twitter Contests, Facebook Opinion Polls, Freebie Giveaways – all help us generating adequate leads and increase visibility. Social Sharing across all major platforms has enabled referral traffic. Currently roughly 40% users contribute to our referral traffic.
New users spend time on the platform because they have either come through referral channel or through content marketing and hence are already primed
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Early adopters of the product loved the product even when the interface wasn’t very encouraging!
– A guy accomplished his goal of “Securing a photography internship aborad” and wrote a beautiful personal email to us one night before leaving saying “He loved talking about his goal and journey at GetEchoed because that was a cool thing to do”
– Our users like the goal based nature of the product and say they like it this way. They like the fact that we are enabling them to talk about the journey of their milestones rather than talk about it.
20. How are you going to scale?
At this stage, we are in the stage where we are figuring out the first few months.
Not to say we have not thought through Scaling. That was one of the first parameter to start a web enabled business – so as to minimize operationally heavy scaling challenges.
However, having scaled multiple forms of business, tech and people challenges and solved them – we believe we have our Plan A, Plan B & Plan Z to work through it.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Users are excited by the ability to see similar goals; see their journey and also interact with them. Leveraging this interaction; users want to be able to mentor someone or find a mentor / buddy through the platform such that they can pursue their personal goals together. Buddy discovery on the platform is something that our users are very excited at the prospect.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
Given it’s a web based tech startup; we already have around 50% International Users. For us expanding operations essentially implies into using the correct distribution channels and getting Influencers across different geographies on board.
On the ground operational expansion across geographies shall be implemented, should we plan to venture into multiple languages or get into different corporate vendor liaisons basis our monetization route.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
Since ours is a consumer oriented product; the potential to grow is large. We plan to leverage and stabilize user base – a community at a time.
We are planning to roll out distinguished utility features for particular high goal density communities in the coming couple of months for which we are planning to leverage influencers – across globe. These people will be drivers of both content and tonality on the product; will be the go-to people for knowledge and goal milestones.
We plan to aggressively use a inbound and content marketing to let internet users understand and be aware that social goal setting is the way to stay hooked and feel proud of whatever they are doing.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
We are open to have interns for engineering positions. Engineers with experience in Ruby on Rails development and architecting social networks will be a plus
Should anyone be interested, they can email their resumes with links to github profiles to firstname.lastname@example.org
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are open to seeking external funding from investors. This will be a seed stage funding – which will be majorly used on product development, salaries and user acquisition. We are looking for a corpus of 150USD and are open to syndicate investments as well.
Should anybody be interested, we can be contacted at email@example.com
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Ensure to spend enough time listening to your customers before writing the first line of code. Figure out your distribution channels even before you figure out the code stack as eventually even the best product boils down to its reach ability.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
GetEchoed is live in the Beta Mode and we will urge everyone reading this to give it a spin.
Check out www.getechoed.com
We are more than enthusiastic to understand what are your expectations and what would you like us to offer .
Working on personal goals is an aspiration all of us have. We at GetEchoed would love to be a democratic platform – where we shall build what you need. So feel free, give us a spin and let us know. We are all thrilled!