A few weeks after its public beta launch, Ahmedabad-based start-up Gridle is finding acceptance for its cost-effective collaborative platform. Gridle, incubated by Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad's Centre for Incubation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE), plans to expand across verticals and geographies. In an interview with Vinay Umarji, Gridle co-founders Yash Shah, Abhishek Doshi and Anupama Panchal talk about the journey so far. Edited excerpts:
Recently, Gridle was launched officially. How has the journey so far been?
Shah: Gridle launched its public beta on February 17. Since then, we have been receiving amazing acceptance, both in terms of the idea, as well as the product. We have been suggested aggressive methodologies in our approach and we are working on those. The response has given us confidence and motivation to take Gridle forward.
Doshi: The feedback we are receiving is motivating and revolves around user experience. Functionalities can be coded for, but the intuitiveness and multi-dimensional use of this platform is what sets us apart in users' mindsets. We are constantly working on making the user interface not just simpler, but faster and intuitive. Naimish Sakhpara, our product manager, is taking the lead on developing new functionalities and making existing ones better.
Panchal: Since the launch, the pace of work has increased, as we are in a constant state of receiving meaningful feedback. Our employees are working with a lot of motivation, as they are seeing their work being enjoyed and used by actual users, not beta testers. While we were boot-strapping, the money wasn't steady. Hardik and Kaushal, our first employees, worked with us full-time for five months, without any promise or expectations of a salary. Though we tried and compensated them for their time and efforts, we are really grateful to them for understanding our position and standing by us.
Did you raise any funds before the launch? Are you raising funds now?
Shah: We raised our seed-round of $20,000 on January 11, before our launch. The funds, raised from CIIE, Hiraco Ventures and an individual angel investor, were meant for product development and team building. Currently, we are looking for the next round of funding, about $150,000. This will be used to scale up operations, fetch resources and develop products.
Panchal: We will be aggressively hiring talent for our technical and sales segments. Currently, we only have a web version that can be accessed through any device. But we plan to be present across multiple platforms, through native apps, including mobile and tablet. We also plan to integrate it with existing services such as Skype and Dropbox to straighten the learning curve of our users and make Gridle familiar and easy to use.
So far, how much has been invested in Gridle?
Doshi: Overall, we have raised $20,000. Before raising funds, we won business-plan competitions and freelanced. Informally, before registering our company, we put in about $2000, while we were building the team and researching.
What are your expansion plans?
Panchal: Technically, the platform is highly scaleable and can be used by a large number of users, with no change in experience. At the same time, before we start to scale up, we want to understand the way users, clients and teams behave on our platform. Hardik has deep knowledge of analytics and he will profile users and figure which teams like a particular feature the best. Once we have an understanding of users' mindsets, we will scale up. This should take us three-four months, by when we will need the next round of funding.
Doshi: Before we raise the next round, we will have a fair idea on how users behave. Banking on that, we aim to launch a digital marketing campaign and have sales representatives in three cities. We also have a deal with an Australian company for licensing Gridle in Australia and New Zealand. We will be working on establishing similar channels in other countries, too.
Shah: We also need to step up our team. We have a policy of not recruiting people directly. We recruit interns and work with them for no commitment for two-three months. Only after that do we decide to come to an arrangement. We ensure we are a fit and the value brought to the company is tangible. Now, we are planning to recruit a batch of interns.