The bigger the risk, the higher the rewards. This is very true, even more so in the case of startups.
Startups don’t guarantee success. In fact, statistics say that more than 90% startups fail.
So, entrepreneurs who risk everything to pursue a startup idea are a rare breed. It helps to know about them and their startups.
Regardless of their successes or failures, it is important we learn from such entrepreneurs. There is no better education than learning from their experiences. After all, continuous learning is what helps one succeed.
If you are a developer or ever managed a development project, you perhaps would have experienced the joy, or rather the lack of it, while planning and managing features, resources, code, continuous integration, bugs, support tickets etc.
There are scores of tools available in the project management space to manage every aspect of a project. They range from free to highly expensive, easy to difficult (painful) and differ on several other attributes. However, the biggest challenge is the lack of seamless integration between various tools & apps used to manage different aspects of a project, resulting in stakeholders losing focus and lost productivity.
Realizing an opportunity, Rishi Mathur, a serial entrepreneur set out to make management of software development projects a joyful experience. Jixee.me is his way of addressing the problem by simplifying the development workflow through seamless integrations and rich user experience.[hero heading=”Rishi Mathur, CEO, Jixee.me”]Never assume what the market needs. Listen to what the market wants![/hero]
Here he shares his (joyful) journey with Startups.
1. The Pitch
Jixee is a task and communication hub. We bring dev teams together by connecting their existing tools to our task tracker, which creates a fluid workflow that keeps everyone on the same page
2. The Motivation to startup
Startups are exciting. They move fast and provide an environment to learn by breaking stuff. I’ve worked at large corporations with a steady paycheck. All I ever did was sit around in meetings talking about work, rather than actually doing work. Startups are just more fun.
3. The Brains
My last company was North Social, a social media apps company that was sold to Vocus in 2012. A couple of our guys worked at North Social in various roles and when North shut down last year, the opportunity for them to join Jixee came up.
Jixee was originally a project to backup files from SD Cards to the cloud. It is a drastically different product today then what we set out to build. We were fortunate to have enough capital over the years to keep the company afloat, pivot and test out new products and markets.
5. Value Proposition
Ease and flexibility. That’s what makes Jixee better than the other solutions out there. We have a clean design and setup is a breeze. You don’t have to spend lots of time on-boarding team members and dealing with a large learning curve.
6. Initial customers & Market validation
Jixee has gone through many iterations. Most recently, Jixee was a general project management tool with a focus on enterprise markets. As we were going out and selling to these companies, we discovered that we were a solution in search of a problem. There was no clear use case that made sense for these companies.
While we didn’t generate any interest from these meetings, it did allow us to narrow down our market. We realized that distributed teams, like ours, needed better communication. We were all over the map with our earlier versions and had no real structure. As we re-focused Jixee for smaller development teams, we started to nail down our value proposition.
After our re-focus we found customers to test out the product. The response was positive and we started to add more features based on feedback. Once we added our first round of customer requested features, we started to see companies sign up and pay for Jixee.
7. Growth & Metrics
Needless to say, it’s been an evolving process. We’re in a heavily saturated market, so it’s hard to gain rapid, viral growth, like Uber.
Ultimately our success is measured by Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) and Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR). But there’s a lot of measure before the sale. At a high level, we track our ratio of total traffic to free trial sign ups. From there we track the different stages of the customer from a site visitor, to trial signup, to a paid user.
8. Growth pains & Lessons
Jixee has taken the long road. We built so many iterations of Jixee before launching, that it hasn’t been the most efficient path to growth. We tried to follow trends we saw on Techcrunch, which cost us time and money.
When we started to focus on a singular problem, in a specific vertical, and backed up all our decisions, our product started to progress quickly.
9. Growth plans
Our current focus is making Jixee the best possible experience for developers. We plan to release some tighter version control integrations (branching, merging and semantic versioning from within Jixee) in the coming weeks. After that we are going to consider releasing a customer support tool with integration points to Jixee. This will allow customer support specialists to seamlessly communicate with clients and developers at the same time. Many of the popular customer support tools lack this seamless integration and are bloated with unnecessary features.
10. Growth funds
I have personally invested quite a bit of capital and have raised several smaller rounds from friends and family over the years. My experience in securing investment is that investors are really investing in the track record and passion of the team. Products always evolve and change, so the pitch is not only about the product. Also, I am a founding member of a company that was recently acquired, which made it easier to build investor confidence.
11. Hiring Effectively as a startup
To date, everyone that is working with us has come through referrals. That made the hiring process much easier. But in the early days of Jixee we had trouble hiring talented developers. We went through several developers who didn’t work out for various reasons. They either didn’t believe in the product, understand the startup lifestyle, or were just looking for a quick paycheck.
12. Trends we see
We’re very interested in the growing freelancer economy. More individuals are opting not to work for your traditional company and work for themselves. Often this leads to small clusters of developers who come together for a job or to embark on a new startup. Jixee is looking to help these teams connect without breaking the bank.
13. Utilizing local startup eco-system
We have been so busy building our product and enhancing it based on feedback, that we haven’t really been active in the local startup ecosystem.
14. Expectations from an ideal startup hub
In order for a city to have a successful startup hub, it needs three things: entrepreneurs, talent and an active community of investors.
Not everyone is cut out to work at a startup. You can have great technical skills, but not the mental makeup for a startup. It’s rough. Things don’t always go your way and it can really drain you. This is where having a community of like-minded entrepreneurs can really help.
A strong educational system backing the community is another key ingredient in finding great talent. Silicon Valley has Stanford and Berkeley. Boston has Harvard and MIT. Los Angeles has Cal Tech, UCLA, and USC.
Lastly, in order for a startup hub to thrive there needs to be active deal flow and investment. Deal flow allows for more opportunity and gives companies the money needed to scale great ideas. One of the reasons that Silicon Valley is the king of startups is the amount of venture activity and deal flow that occurs on a daily basis.
15. Areas needing help
We are looking to build a community and spread the word about Jixee. It is a product that we use every day and development teams around the world will benefit from it. We’re looking for some developer love!
16. Advice to Entrepreneurs
Never give up. Never be the smartest guy in the room. Never assume what the market needs. Listen to what the market wants! Never get married to your product, as it is always evolving and changing.
17. Jixee is special because…
Our mission is to help developers focus on software development, not their task management. We are focused on building a great product with an amazing user experience so that development teams can hit the ground running.
18. For more info
More about the product @ jixee.me
(Please post your announcements, press releases or other requests directly to appropriate exchange forum forum)
(If you are an amazing Indian startup founder or enabler of startup eco-system in India and would like to be interviewed or featured on Startups.in then I’d be happy to talk to you. Contact me right away.)
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