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The SaaS Podcast

Vajro: The Importance of SaaS Founder-Market Fit – with Baskar Agneeswaran [262]

Baskar Agneeswaran

Vajro: The Importance of SaaS Founder-Market Fit

Baskar Agneeswaran is the co-founder of Vajro, a cloud-based mobile commerce platform that creates instant mobile shopping apps for e-commerce stores.

You probably hear about product-market fit all the time and why that's so important to building a successful SaaS company. But what about founder-market fit?

In 2015, Baskar and two of his friends set out to build a price comparison app. They wanted to get into the e-commerce space and believed they could help consumers find better deals.

Two years later, their startup failed. They'd underestimated how much work was required to maintain the huge amount of data they needed to power their app.

And as a bootstrapped business, they just didn't have enough money to keep going.

But even though they failed, their experience helped them learn about e-commerce and more importantly about themselves. They knew their price comparison app was a great idea. It just wasn't a great idea for them.

They realized that their strength was in mobile app development and that they were more likely to be successful if they focused on that.

Soon after they came up with the idea of a SaaS product that helped Shopify stores to quickly and easily create a mobile shopping app. And it didn't take long for them to get traction.

Then the pandemic hit and initially, it looked like their business was going to be in trouble.

But instead of panicking, they started taking a closer look at what was going. And they saw that mobile usage was increasing and it felt like there was actually an opportunity for them.

So they decided to double down and actually hire more people during the pandemic. And in the last few months, they've tripled revenue and are doing 6-figures in MRR and still growing.

It's a great story about the importance of founder-market fit. You may have a great idea, but it might not be the right idea for you. So figuring your founder-market fit is just as important if not more important than product-market fit – especially in the early days of your SaaS business.

Enjoy the interview.

Transcript

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Omer: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan. And this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies, and insights. To help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talked to Bhaskar Agneeswaran, the co-founder of a cloud-based mobile commerce platform that creates instant mobile shopping apps for eCommerce stores.

[00:00:37] You probably hear about product-market fit all the time and why that's so important to building a successful SaaS company but what about founder market fit. In 2015 Bhaskar and two of his friends set out to build a price comparison app. They wanted to get into the eCommerce space and believed they could help consumers find better deals.

[00:01:02] But two years later, their startup failed they'd underestimated. How much work was required to maintain the huge amount of data they needed to power their app. And as a bootstrap business, they just didn't have enough money to keep going. But even though they failed their experience, help them learn about eCommerce and more importantly about themselves.

[00:01:23] They knew that price comparison app was a great idea, but it just wasn't a great idea for them. Then they realized that their strength was in mobile app development and that they were more likely to be successful if they focused on that. Soon after they came up with the idea of a SaaS product that helped Shopify stores to quickly and easily create a mobile shopping app.

[00:01:47] And it didn't take too long for them to start to get traction. Then the pandemic hit. And initially, it looked like their business was going to be in trouble, but instead of panicking, they started taking a closer look at what was going on and they saw that mobile usage was increasing and it felt like there was actually an opportunity for them.

[00:02:06] So they decided to double down and actually hire more people during the pandemic. And in the last few months, they've actually tripled revenue and are doing six figures in MRR and still growing. It's a great story about the importance of founder market fit. You may have a great idea, but it might not be the right idea for you.

[00:02:25] So figuring out your founder market fit is just as important, if not more important than product market fit, especially in the early days of your SaaS business. I hope you enjoy the interview. Oscar welcome to the show.

Baskar: [00:02:37] Hey Omer, it's a pleasure talking to you.

Omer: [00:02:40] Do you have a quote, something that inspires you or motivates you or just gets you out of bed every day?

Baskar: [00:02:44] Oh yeah. I'm really obsessed about Vajro and I feel, every entrepreneur should be obsessed about his startup. That in my opinion is possibly the key to success.

Omer: [00:02:55] Obsession. Yes. So tell us about Vajro. What does the product do? Who is it for? And what's the main problem you're helping to solve?

Baskar: [00:03:06] Vajro is basically a mobile app development platform.

[00:03:10] We are currently aligned to e-commerce and more specifically aligned to Shopify. What that means is eCommerce stores who have that backbone with Shopify. If they actually want to convert that website into a mobile app, they could basically do that using Vajro and they don't need to write a single line of code.

[00:03:34] So we had a no-code mobile app development platform and the eCommerce stores could basically get up and running like in about a year, a few hours. That's all that it actually takes to be live with their apps through what you're.

[00:03:51] Omer: [00:03:51] So the, the app, is this a native app? This is like, you know, there are some apps and it's just basically an app showing the browser page, or there's a sort of a native implementation.

Baskar: [00:04:01] That's right. So this is a fully native app. So native for Android, a native for iOS. So, yeah, it's, it's fully native and, it's not a BWA, we don't really take the web pages and then put it into an app. That's that's really not what we do. We are a full-fledged mobile app with over 200 features and over 50 integrations.

Omer: [00:04:23] Got it.

[00:04:24] So Vajro basically was sort of founded around June, 2018, just over two years ago. But I think the story starts probably two and a half years before that when you built a prior product, which didn't work out and then eventually led you to, to starting and, and the product that you have today. So why don't we, why don't we start with that product?

[00:04:54] Tell me what that. That previous product was called and, and how you came up with the idea for that?

Baskar: [00:05:00] Sure, sure. I think that's where we need to start because behind every success that is a failure and the failures are actually the stepping stones for success. So our journey actually started with, Prizap that was basically a price comparison app, but I'm only for the US market. So what we actually tried to do was we connected the backend with the major eCommerce platforms like Walmart, eBay, Amazon, and so on. And we were basically pulling in data from those websites saying we were basically trying to provide the latest and the lowest price for product.

[00:05:41] So that, that was our objective. So, for example, if you, if you searched for an iPhone, we would, we would quickly go back to these sites and get the lowest price for iPhones from all of these sites. So that was Prizap's intention, but it wasn't failure because it actually required a lot of heavy lifting at the backend.

[00:05:59] And we had actually outsourced the backend work because our cost gen was actually mobile app development. So, and we realized through the journey that the mobile app was only a kind of rendition engine. So, the actual heavy lifting was done at the backend, which we had very little control on and, it failed and that's when we kind of introspective and we kind of talked through what was our strength?

[00:06:25] And, what we really wanted to do. And we realized that our strength was actually mobile app development. And that was the starting point for  Vajro, the one biggest learning that we had when we did Prizap was that we actually learned a lot about eCommerce we did not know the size of the market before we did  Prizap. We did not know the potential that eCommerce held for us.

[00:06:50] So Prizap that was kind of a stepping stone for learning all of these. And then when it failed, we medialized our cost chains and aligned ourselves accordingly. And the day that we actually launched Vajro in Shopify, that is basically in June, 2018. That was really the turning point for us.

Omer: [00:07:09] Got it. I want to talk a little bit more about Prizap, because I think there's some interesting lessons here.

[00:07:15] First of all, when you said, you know, we were working on this, how many of you were there? How did you have co-founder or co-founders?

Baskar: [00:07:22] Oh yeah. So I actually have two co-founders in Vajro. So Niwin Santhos is my Tech Co-founder, if you can call that. So he's a technology genius behind the Vajro's platform right now. So, and he was the person who also created the app.

Omer: [00:07:40] So why did you, so you said you have two co-founders.

Baskar: [00:07:43] Yeah., the other co-founder is Ragu. Ragu is basically a sales and marketing expert with, more than two decades of experience in selling software, internationally across geographies.

Omer: [00:07:55] Okay. So it was the three of you that started Prizap together as well.

Baskar: [00:08:00] That's right.

Omer: [00:08:01] Why eCommerce like, how did you guys decide that was the, the space that you were going to tackle?

Baskar: [00:08:08] Okay. So we were, to be honest, we were actually very named when we actually needed Plaza. So we knew that Price comparison could hold significant potential, but they're not really size up the overall eCommerce market.

[00:08:21] But through our journey in Plaza, we actually discovered the size of the eCommerce market and, you know, the kind of play that we could possibly have in that market. And so on. Okay.

Omer: [00:08:32] And then, so this was sort of like a, B2C play, right? This was the product was designed for consumers.

Baskar: [00:08:39] Yes, that's right.

[00:08:40] That's right. And that, that was the other part. So you hit the nail on the head. B2C is possibly not ideal with a bootstrap company. So you possibly need to have a big war chest if you will want to do B2C. So that was definitely another learning that we had. You know, and, when, when we did, Vajro, it was B2B and we could, we could still pull it off a bootstrap.

[00:09:05] So until like December, 2019, we were bootstrapped. Then only then we actually raised our first round of funding.

Omer: [00:09:12] And how long, how much time did you spend on Prizap? Because you were working on this for a couple of years, right?

Baskar: [00:09:20] Yeah, nearly a couple of years. So from conception to building the backend and then building the actual mobile app, it did take a significant amount of time.

[00:09:30] And after we birthed, we, we kind of spent a few months in trying to make it successful. We realized that number one, that the product was not up to the mark. we kind of needed to admit that to ourselves because sometimes you just need to step back and look at things objectively, you need to call a spade, a spade.

[00:09:48] So if your product was not good enough, you should be able to admit that and move on, or, you know, at least try to bring that up to speed. So at that point of time, realized that, you know, the bring it up to speed was going to be a heck task. We could possibly not pull it off being bootstrapped.

Omer: [00:10:04] Okay. So you, you've kind of gone through this process that a lot of entrepreneurs and founders go through, which is. You come across an idea, everyone gets excited about it. You go out and sort of build a product and then the honeymoon is over and the reality.

[00:10:20] Yeah. And at the point that you guys decided that this idea didn't have legs, or certainly, you know, it, you didn't have. All the resources to be able to really see this idea through. Did you already know that what you are going to be doing with Vajro or was this sort of a thing that you sort of shut down and then sometime later you sort of came to big together again with this idea?

[00:10:49] At what point did the Vajroe idea merge?

Baskar: [00:10:51] Yeah, so the Vajro idea actually emerged kind of a year before we actually launched in Shopify. So, what we were actually doing was soon as we launched and, you know, a couple of months down the line after launch of blazer, we kind of realized that the reality of a Prizap's failure and, you know, we started thinking about as I said, cost changing and you know, what we really wanted to do and so on. And, we really decided that we would actually go ahead and do it, the mobile app platform, because that's a cost trend. So we actually went ahead and created the platform. And incidentally Shopify was not that first platform that we actually launched Vajro with.

[00:11:35] So, it was actually a platform card. KartRocket. So they are based out of India. So it's a, it's a kind of a small platform, maybe a few hundred clients as compared to kind of 1.5 million stores who are currently using Shopify by that, that again kind of gave us market validation. You know, it instilled the confidence in us that, you know, we could, we could actually make the whole thing in work.

[00:12:00] It was successful with KartRocket and then we went ahead and named, launched Vajro on Shopify, a few months later.

Omer: [00:12:09] What kind of validation did you do with this idea? How did you. So to hedge your bets and make sure that what you were doing here was, was going to be most successful the second time round.

Baskar: [00:12:19] Oh yeah. We were kind of, I would say cautiously, confident that legit all would be successful primarily because we were playing to our strengths, which was basically mobile app development. And the second thing that worked on our favor was two things that worked on our favor one is basically the fact that this was actually B2B and not B2C.

[00:12:42] And, the second thing was, as soon as we started ideating, we reached out to KartRocket and, the deal immediately worked out. So they made it actually planned out was that we actually signed up with KartRocket first and then actually built the platform. So that way, what happened was we actually had a platform in our bag, before we actually got started.

Omer: [00:13:07] So how did you do that deal without. A product.

Baskar: [00:13:12] Okay. Yeah. Yeah. So what KartRocket was, basically looking for was actually a mobile app developer. What we actually did was that. You know, w we just told KartRocket that, okay, a  mobile app development is what you want, so you could refer your client and we could basically make mobile apps, your eCommerce stores.

[00:13:33] So that, that was basically the deal. And, it was only later that, you know, we actually went back to them and told them that, Hey, you know what, we will actually build the platform. So it's actually kind of easy for us to build mobile apps for your clients. And we could actually do it on a much larger scale.

Omer: [00:13:49] Got it. Okay. So that was sort of like the way for you to sort of test the water and to validate the idea. And then how did the Shopify opportunity emerge? Why did you decide that Shopify was the, the, the ecosystem that you were going to to invest your, your, your energy.

Baskar: [00:14:15] Oh, yeah. Yeah. that's a very good question because the day we launched the platform with KartRocket, we started doing research and, we kind of zeroed in on a few platforms, but we picked Shopify, primarily because of the maturity of the ecosystem.

[00:14:32] We realized that what Shopify was doing was basically something like what Apple itself had done, in the early 2020, when they actually opened up the Apple ecosystem and said, Hey, you know what, any developer could actually come on our platform and actually develop apps on the iOS platform. So that, that was basically what Shopify  had done too, they had a core eCommerce platform, but they realized that they could not possibly build each and every feature that the platform required. So, they had actually, and an ecosystem where third party developers could basically, they come and they could basically, you know, build anything on Shopify that could help customers sell more, or, you know, that that could help customers in any which way that it could, help an  eCommerce store so the maturity of the ecosystem was the prime driving factor for us to zero in on Shopify.

Omer: [00:15:30] So this is two and a half years from the time that you, you launched Prizap to getting into Shopify and you guys were bootstrapping this business up until that point. So how were you paying the bills? Like how were you funding the business? How are you, you know, paying your own bills? Was this a part time thing for you guys?

Baskar: [00:15:54] Oh no. So it was part time for me and Ragu until we kind of launched in Shopify, but Niwin was full time into this and we also had a handful of employees and I'm thinking now, Possibly, I think we had three employees or four employees at that point of time. So I was actually running a couple of more businesses and that was basically funding this initiative.

Omer: [00:16:19] Okay. Got it. Okay. That makes a little more sense

Baskar: [00:16:22] Yeah. Yeah. And the day we launched in Shopify, you know, it's kind of, I I've been, more than full time into this right now.

[00:16:30] Omer: [00:16:30] So tell me about, so, so you got the, what does launching in Shopify actually mean?

[00:16:36] Cause I'm not that familiar with, with, with Shopify as platform and for a lot of people listening, what does that actually mean? What, what, what sort of work or time is involved to get your app in front of Shopify as customers?

Baskar: [00:16:53] Sure. Yeah. So what that actually means is, a listing on the Shopify ecosystem. So you actually have apps.shopify.com. That's, that's the kind of the marketplace where eCommerce stores can basically find a kind of, thousands of plugins, that they could potentially use for their store. So getting I've said it was listed in that ecosystem. That's that's basically what it is. So we basically built our platform and, we actually went through, the vetting process with Shopify for like, I think six months really before Shopify could approve it so that they have a very stringent process of, you know, making sure that the app is really functioning the way that it should and you know, that that is a good customer experience when they go through the setup and so on. So they have a lot of parameters saying, you know, I'd say it's a very intense, process. So it took us quite a few months, but, when we finally got there, it was a really awesome.

Omer: [00:17:56] Okay. So tell me about the day you launched?

Baskar: [00:18:00] Oh yeah, it was quite exciting. And I remember the conversation that I had with Niwin and Ragu that day when we actually got listed. One of the key decisions that we made on that day was that, you know, we could actually price the product really low because we wanted to acquire customers.

[00:18:20] So if you, if you actually visit the Shopify ecosystem, you you'll realize that. Each plugin or each app is actually rated by customers. So the more rating you had, the more your eCommerce store is actually come and install your app. So we initially wanted to drive a lot of installs. So we kind of started our plan at $25 a month.

[00:18:46] That that was the starting point. And that really helped in acquiring a lot of customers in the initial stages. So I remember that conversation the day we actually launched. So, and, it, it turned out to be a pretty good launch for us. So immediately after the launch, we kind of started getting a lot of customers.

[00:19:06] So all our organic installs. So that was pretty exciting for us because there are the first time that we had actually built something and you just needed to wait and plans could basically, you know, come and install and they could, they could basically start paying and so on. So it was like a little bit of magic happening there.

Omer: [00:19:25] Okay, great. So you've got you, you you're in the app store and you're sort of figuring out how to improve. Your ranking in there, make the product more searchable and drive up reviews to incentivize more people, to feel confident enough to try your product. Were there other things that you were doing outside of the app store to reach Shopify customers?

Baskar: [00:19:53] Oh, yeah. we actually started doing a lot of stuff. We started building affiliates or, you know, partnerships. So we basically started researching Facebook groups where, you know, people are actually, looking out for. Solutions to increase sales or solutions for increasing conversions, or solutions for increasing customer retention and so on.

[00:20:16] And we discover a few groups saying we got ourselves entrenched in a group and we started doing a lot of digital marketing consistently. So all our affiliate time, we realized that yes, to patiently do your digital marketing and wait for the magic to happen. You really need to build a brand, in those groups and so on.

[00:20:38] So, and then, you know, people start to know the brand Vajro. We did some pretty smart stuff. So we would typically, you know, ask our customers who come from that group, you know, they would have a moment of realization when they actually like our app and their customers provide positive feedback about the app and so on.

[00:20:58] So at that point of time, we would actually ask them to, you know talk about that in those groups. And that really helped us gather momentum and that was the initial part of the first strike of 15 months we were predominantly doing a lot of partnerships, affiliations and, you know, making our presence felt in various forums and building the brand. And that was really what was driving the app, installs and revenues.

Omer: [00:21:26] Okay. Got it. So. There's a clear difference with Vajro. And once you launched that in the Shopify marketplace, which is very different to the experience you had with Prizap. And so looking back at, I mean, you know, you, you often have found and say, you know, once you've found the right problem, solution fit or the right product market fit, you know, things are different things start to fall in place in a different way than when you're trying to force an idea into a market that nobody really wants, or there's a bunch of different reasons why you can't find that traction.

[00:22:07] So. How different was that experience for you? And what did you, if anything, do you think you could have done differently with the price app experience to learn that lesson faster?

Baskar: [00:22:18] Okay. That's a tough one. So, because I'm not sure if it would have been possible for us to actually learn that stuff faster. Because, you know, I feel sometimes it just comes with experience.

[00:22:32] You got to fail in order to introspect and understand and, you know, use it as a stepping stone for success later. So I'm not sure if that learning can be crashed because it's a process that you need to go through. But thinking back. I think there are a couple of things that I want to talk about here that could possibly accelerate the learning.

[00:22:55] So when you actually ideate about a product, I think one of the key things that you need to think about is watch the data that you're actually delivering to your customer, you know, what was his previous state and what are the state that he would be in after he uses your product? Because if that data is 2X times better than what the customer is experiencing currently, you'll definitely have a business case.

[00:23:21] So that's definitely something that you need to think about. So for example, if you talk about Vajro, that is a clear data and the fact that, you know, 80% of the online sessions for eCommerce stores now happen from mobile devices. So it's, it's actually a no-brainer eCommerce stores to have a mobile app.

[00:23:42] So, it, it would, there's out them significant increase in conversions, significant increase in customer retention and therefore a significant increase in revenues. So that, so that there's a clear data in, people using a Vajro. So that's one thing. The second thing is you really need to know what you can do and what you cannot do.

[00:24:03] Right? So, that's, that's a key learning. If our course chain was actually mobile app development, then that is what we should have stuck on too. So rather than trying to be opportunistic in what we are doing. So, so you, you, you possibly need to marry the data part to your inherent strengths and weaknesses, and really figured out what you want to do.

Omer: [00:24:26] Yeah. I think that's a really, really good insight and really smart thing that you, that you just said there, that it's, it's really important to understand your own strengths. And I think a lot of the time when people are trouble, founders is trying to get their idea off the ground. There's almost this misconception that I have to find.

[00:24:50] The right idea for the market and yes you do, but it also has to be the right idea for you and the lesson there is that, that sometimes it might be a great idea. It's just not a great idea for you. And so, we'd look at Prizap and say, okay, well that doesn't mean a price comparison tool is a bad idea. Now I look at companies like Honey, right?

[00:25:18] Which is a very similar product in terms of being able to do price comparison. And you know, that can be, has like six, 700 employees they've raised 20, $30 million. So. The idea wasn't a bad one, but it was about understanding what is it right for us? Do we have the core skill set to be able to execute on this idea?

[00:25:43] Do we have, you know, the, all the things we need, like, and the funding and the investment for the B2C marketplace. And then, you know, obviously the, the answers to that we'll no, and then you found the thing that was a much better fit for you as a group of founders. So I think that's just a, just a good thing to say to, it's not just about good idea or bad idea it's also about is the idea good for you or not?

Baskar: [00:26:06] Absolutely, absolutely. Right. Yeah. Yeah. You definitely need to think about. Whether it's good for you because you need to have the skillsets to actually pull it off when it comes to execution. So yeah, as you would actually say, the idea may be great, but you still need to execute.

Omer: [00:26:22] So let's talk about the business, you know, June, 2018, you're into the marketplace 2019, you know, you're continuing to grow and acquire more customers.

[00:26:37] We talked about some of the things that you've been doing to find customers both in the ecosystem and sort of around things like Facebook groups and so on.

Baskar: [00:26:45] Yeah, there's just one more thing that I would like to add there. So it was not only about the partnerships and affiliates and the kind of marketing that we were driving. So, the one thing that I would like to add there is, we also had a very keen ear on the ground listening to customers, and we realized that, one of the key things that customers needed was actually live video selling capabilities from within the app. And we would actually the first mobile app platform in the world to actually launch a live video feature from within the app that, you know, where.  eCommerce store owners could actually go live, sell products, you know, don't try on and those kinds of stuff. And buyers could actually go ahead and, you know, at the click of a button, they could actually add the product to their cart and to click checkout basically. In effect, what I'm trying to say is it was not only about the marketing. It was also about enhancing the product all the time.

Omer: [00:27:47] Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's a, that's a very good point. And then obviously this year 2020 that pandemic hit and a lot of businesses have, have obviously suffered heard or, or, or gone out of business, but there's also, so a lot of businesses that have been doing well during this time.

[00:28:10] And Vajro is one of those examples. And I know a lot of companies are sort of reluctant to talk about. How well they're doing through the pandemic because it kind of feels a little weird, but I think we also have to accept that. Look, the way things are changing is that I was having a conversation with them.

[00:28:32] Some of my SaaS Club Plus members yesterday on a call, we were talking about, look, it's not like the money has just gone away all the money that's out there. It's just moving and shifting into different places. And it's really important to understand what's happening, how people and companies, behavior is changing, what they're spending more money on or where that money is shifting to.

[00:28:56] And I think, you know, Vajro is, is a really good example of that. So let's talk a little bit about that. Like, what did you see when sort of the, the, the sort of the pandemic hit, did you see any slow down in the business? And then at what point did you realize that this was actually an opportunity. For you guys

Baskar: [00:29:17] Sure yeah. That's, that's going to be a very interesting story by itself. So we actually more than doubled our revenues since the pandemic started. So we've been growing at a frenetic pace in the past four or five months, and we've, we've actually tripled our revenues since Jan this year.

Omer: [00:29:36] I know you don't talk about numbers specifically, but you're okay with us telling listeners that that Vajro is doing six figures in monthly recurring revenue, right?

Baskar: [00:29:46] Right and I'm with that. Yeah. So we actually tripled our revenues since Jan. There's an interesting story behind it. So sometime around Jan and towards the end of Feb, things were really slowing down and the pandemic was starting to take a grip of the entire world. And that's when we kind of put on our thinking hat.

[00:30:09] And we, we actually did a lot of data analysis. We went to a stores, we were actually using Vajro. We looked up their stacks and we needed those groundwork. And we also try to anticipate customer behavior. And I actually stuck my neck out and I said, you know what? The next couple of weeks people are gonna kind of stock up essentials, but, or the next month or next couple of months what's going to happen is people are, it's going to move beyond essentials.

[00:30:41] People are actually gonna start buying things differently. A lot more people are going to start to buy online. And those kind of stuff is really going to happen. And maybe we actually anticipated that. And, what we did was, I know it might sound counterintuitive, but we actually went ahead and doubled our team size during that time.

[00:31:01] And we also put in place a lot of serious sales and marketing efforts. And as we anticipated by the first week of April, things really started to pick up. So, it was not about essentials anymore. I had actually done a blog about it beyond on a certain point. A lot of people are gonna start working from home and, you know, they're going to have a significantly more money because they're not going to travel anymore to their workplace and so on.

[00:31:27] And they're going to have a lot more screen time and all that was going to translate to more eCommerce purchases beyond essentials. So we actually wrote about it. And we went ahead and plan for it and we created our marketing campaigns around it. Of course, the advantage that we had was, we were in the eCommerce space, that, that kind of really helped, you know, if we went, for example, if we were possibly in real estate, you know, we would have possibly fallen flat.

[00:31:56] So it did help that we were actually in an industry that was kind of poised for tremendous growth, but we don't take the risk and, you know, doubled our team size and invested heavily in sales and marketing. And the result is now for them to see, because we've been able to double our revenues since then.

Omer: [00:32:16] So what gave you the confidence to, to double the size of your team at a time when everybody else was? Well, not everybody, but most people were going into this, this mode of fear and kind of thinking about cutting costs or, or managing or freezing things.

Baskar: [00:32:37] Yeah. So actually three things that led us to believe strongly in that and take a calculated risk. So the first, as I said, was the anticipated consumer behavior. The second was actually the data analysis. So we actually went back and saw our stores and we realized that a lot of stores actually started doing really well during March and April, the sales were going up. So we realized that there was really something there for us to think about. So the analysis was the second part.

[00:33:08] And the third part, it was again, another critical piece of stack. So when we did that analysis, it was not, not only the revenues that were going up, but the mobile sessions were also increasing significantly. So, you know, what was previously like, you know, 50% web sessions and 50% sessions from mobile devices.

[00:33:28] That was a decisive shift there. So we started, seeing something like 70 to 80% of sessions coming from mobile devices. So that that's primarily because, people. Having a lot more time with them and not crowding to offices and so on. And therefore having a lot of time with them and browsing a lot more from their mobile devices.

[00:33:48] These stats basically, you know, the stats combined with that is a bit of human behavior. That's what led us to take the calculated risk and say, let's double up and let's, let's try to pull this off and kind of that's what it happened.

Omer: [00:34:02] Yeah. It reminds me. Do you know, there was, There was a paper that I read from a Bain and Company, the consulting firm. And this was from probably from about nine, 10 years ago, maybe around the last sort of, you know, the great recession that we had in the US 10 years ago. And they had done some research and they looked at a number of previous recessions and seen, try to identify who were the companies that, that came out doing well after a recession.

[00:34:37] And they sort of said, think of a recession is if you're in a race, track a recession, think of it as almost like a very sharp curve that you have to take on the racetrack. And what happens is that a lot of these in a recession everyone's sort of is slowing down and is not spending is thinking about cutting costs.

[00:35:00] And they said that the companies that did well after each of the recession that they looked at are the ones who looked at that opportunity. To actually invest to actually think about how they were going to prepare for when the recession ended and that allowed them to use that of at the point that they could overtake the competition and they show the example, like the example I, and I'd love to kind of like it, like I should find with that papers. I don't have ID right now, but, I thought that was a really, really good insight, sort of a very data driven way of looking at what has happened in the past and a good lesson for a lot of companies. Although. It's not always an easy thing to do or a decision like that to make when you're in the middle of all that chaos, right?

Baskar: [00:35:52] Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's, it's definitely not easy. So in fact, when we did our reading, a lot of, I would not say peers, but, but, but a lot of people in the eCommerce industry where we're still talking about. you know, essentials point for growth that as you know,  we were thinking ahead and said, the essentials, point for growth will hold good, for the first month, but what happens from the second month on?

[00:36:16] So, you know, we were, we were going beyond the headlines that were given to us, and that was also one of the key for us to, you know, make that calculate a guess and say that, you know, this is what is going to happen. You know, it's kind of very intuitive, but sometimes you gotta, I believe that. And we also had the staff backing to say that, there was actually a lot more, sessions and lot more purchases from mobile apps now.

Omer: [00:36:41] Yeah. I mean, it sounds like it was, you used as much data that you could get hold off to, to make that decision. But it was also, it was also an intuitive decision. That's turned out to be a good one. Now that we're sort of starting to look back at what's what's been happening.

Baskar: [00:36:58] Right.

Omer: [00:37:00] Alright. We should wrap up. We should move on to the lightning round. So I'm gonna ask you seven quickfire questions. I just try to answer them as quickly as you can. Ready? Okay. What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Baskar: [00:37:14] Yeah, I think the best piece of business advice that I've seen is I guess that's basically from, an Indian founder, Vijay Shekar Sharma.

[00:37:24] He actually expanded the concept of data for that it was talking about earlier. So I think that that's possibly the best piece of business advice that I heard.

Omer: [00:37:34] What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

Baskar: [00:37:36] I would possibly recommend a “Sphere by Michael Crichton”. So, the reason is, it's, it's all about self discovery. So I think that's, that's really key for entrepreneurs. So I think Sphere by Michael Crichton would be my take,

Omer: [00:37:53] I don't think we've ever had a Michael Chrichton and book recommended him for the show before.

Baskar: [00:37:57] Yeah. I don't read management stuff. So yeah, I learned from the practical world and fiction writing like Michael Crichton.

Omer: [00:38:06] What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful founder?

Baskar: [00:38:11] I would, I would possibly say two. One is obsession that I talked about, in the beginning, the second is perseverance. I think those two are possibly foremost, in my opinion.

Omer: [00:38:22] What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habits?

Baskar: [00:38:26] Personal productivity tool, and actually old school. So I actually have a notepad and bended me all the time, taking down, not saying that, you know, taking it off and I actually complete, the stuff that needs to be completed. So that's, that's possibly my favorite productivity tool.

Omer: [00:38:44] What's new or crazy business idea you'd love to pursue. If you had the extra time?

Baskar: [00:38:50] Oh, yeah, that's a good one. So I think I would, I would possibly do something like the Chennai incubator. So, you know, I, I want to incubate SaaS companies and if they have a good idea, I want to provide all the other ingredients to basically make it successful. That's that's my favorite idea.

Omer: [00:39:09] What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

Baskar: [00:39:13] Interesting fun fact about me and, and, and really, as old school as it can get. And, yet, am at the forefront of technology running a successful SaaS company

Omer: [00:39:26] Because of the stuff like the paper and pen stuff.

Baskar: [00:39:29] Yeah. Paper and pen, deeply religious. And, you know, I do a lot of meditation and, you know, those kind of stuff. So it's, it's, am really a contrast, in that sense.

Omer: [00:39:40] And I knew what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?

Baskar: [00:39:44] Outside of work my passion, I will take two things. First. I like to spend a lot of time with family, my wife, my kids, and my parents. So I like to spend time with family. The second thing is I love sports. I love playing table tennis. And a little bit of Carrom. Yeah.

Omer: [00:40:03] Carrom,  if you don't know what Carrom, Google it up.

Baskar: [00:40:08] Yeah. And that's a very Indian game.

Omer: [00:40:12] Alright. Ask her. Thank you so much for joining me today, sharing the story of  Vajro and how you guys launched that, that opportunity in the business. the lessons you've learned along the way.

[00:40:29] If people want to check out , they can go to  Vajro that's V-A-J-R-O.com. And if people want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that.

Baskar: [00:40:41] They could possibly email me at Baskar, baskar[at]Vajro[dot]com

Omer: [00:40:48] Awesome. Baskar thank you so much. I wish you all the best and, Thank you for taking the time to talk.

Baskar: [00:40:54] Yeah. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity. So it’s an absolute pleasure talking to you.

Omer: [00:41:00] Cheers.

Baskar: [00:41:01] Cheers.

Book Recommendation

  • Sphere” by Michael Crichton

The Show Notes

Omer Khan

Hi, I'm Omer, the founder of SaaS Club and host of The SaaS Podcast. I help early-stage founders and entrepreneurs to build, launch and grow successful SaaS businesses. Join me on this journey.