No matter how bad things are right now, they always get better if you keep working on it and have the perseverance to push harder than before. I never had a lavish lifestyle since childhood and I am thankful for that because that made me adaptive to situations no matter how hard they were. During my childhood, I had seen my father go through a lot of ups and downs and he always kept working hard, giving us everything while he could have only a little. He inspired me and gave me the courage to work to make things better. Never give up has been my motto for a long time and believe me or not, things really do work out.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Vishu Gupta. Vishu is the Co-Founder and CEO at Flutin. He has been working in the mobile and tech industry for about 8 years, wearing different hats, but this has been his most interesting project. After helping many entrepreneurs and learning from them during his past experiences, he was able to build this company from scratch with the help of his team and bring it to the next level.
Thank you so much for joining us, Vishu! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
During my past experiences, I worked with many entrepreneurs helping them with their tech business ideas and turning them into reality. I learned from their successes and failures and was able to identify a few problems that I wanted to solve myself. Music was always really close to me and their were a few problems in the industry I always faced as a music lover. Early stage musicians always struggle to promote their music to relevant audiences and listeners have a hard time discovering new music as well as artists that they might like. We bundled these together to create this product that solves problems on both sides.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
I had a vision for this platform a while back, but a lack of resources has always stopped me from executing it. In a country like India, leaving the security of a job and jumping into the risk of building a startup without any resources is not easy. However, somehow I had the courage to finally start working on this. Initially we survived on our savings but they vanished quickly. We did not have any money to pay rent or even to eat properly. I almost took another job to keep doing this on the side. However, on the day I got my job offer, I also received a connection request from the first investor who wanted to explore this opportunity with us and he actually committed the investment by the end of the call. I have been able to be lucky like that a few times during the journey. Building the initial team was another big challenge that we had to tackle during the next year.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
From the initial experiences I always observed that no matter how bad things are right now, they always get better if you keep working on it and have the perseverance to push harder than before. I never had a lavish lifestyle since childhood and I am thankful for that because that made me adaptive to situations no matter how hard they were. During my childhood, I had seen my father go through a lot of ups and downs and he always kept working hard, giving us everything while he could have only a little. He inspired me and gave me the courage to work to make things better. Never give up has been my motto for a long time and believe me or not, things really do work out.
So, how are things going today? How did Grit lead to your eventual success?
I can say that this year has probably been the best year for our venture. We are scaling globally and are much closer to bringing the change we always wanted to, into the music industry. We have a great team, investors, and mentors on board who have been helping us during this journey. However, there have been a lot of downs as well. We have had points in the business where most people would have given up trying and would’ve decided to do other things, but support from people and having a strong will kept us going and we were eventually able to pass those tough times.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We made many mistakes when starting the venture. The funniest one I remember is that, we changed our servers and did not write down or save the account username and password. Initially we had very few users and the servers were free so we never had to login to keep checking that, but one of our marketing efforts was successful and we were getting 50 thousand downloads everyday. Our servers ran out of capacity and went down. Now, we were trying to recover our server password but the user id that we were using was different and we found that there was nothing on that server. We panicked and called the server support and threatened to sue them. After two days we realized that we had been using the wrong email id all along and the actual server was somewhere else. We lost a lot of users and received many bad ratings during that downtime.
We learned that we need to have proper central documentation for everything. These are the small things you come across while building a startup that become very relevant later.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Being a small startup we were able to successfully achieve many milestones with limited resources which have played a big role in our success. We have been very capital efficient and were able to get about 9 Million downloads by spending less than 100 thousand USD on marketing. One of our most successful campaigns got us over 1 Million downloads with zero investment. We created several humorous videos with our app integrated in them that went viral on social networks. We were even responsible for bringing influencer marketing in India.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not burn cash?
An entrepreneur should not burn a lot of cash on validation of the product. Build the minimum viable product and test it with an audience before spending too much time and money. A smart entrepreneur will always find ways to overcome problems and move ahead with the least possible expenditure. Some tasks may be harder to execute than you expect, but you will be surprised by your abilities when you actually put effort into it. Investors always like to hear what you were able to achieve with less money and if you’re capital efficient, they will back you again.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
There were many people who helped us along the way. Other than our amazing team, we were lucky enough to get great investors on board. Our early investors, Pavan Kumar and GHV Accelerator in India have guided us throughout and supported us during bad times. They helped us to establish a mindset of challenging ourselves to do great things and they also helped us to overcome those challenges when necessary.
Who were Flutin’s first supporters in the US?
International Accelerator based out of Austin, Texas saw potential in us and invited us to join their program. Everyone on their team has great experience and their network in the city and globally helped our startup and others like us to scale in the US. We joined their program because we saw great potential in what we could achieve with them. They are not just accelerator, but an extension of our team who represents us in the best way possible. They have connected us with the most relevant people in our industry and have really helped us to scale.
They pick foreign born founders to join the accelerator and help them succeed in the US market by providing resources and connecting them with relevant people in their respective industry. Their program runs generally a year long where startups get opportunity to explore the market and make as many connections possible.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We are supporting emerging artists and promoting their music to relevant audiences. Many of them are able to sustain their career in the music industry because of our platform. This gives us immense pleasure when the talent is appreciated and they don’t have to give up on their dreams because they don’t have any means to do well. We consider this as a goodness we are bringing by providing people a platform to do what they love.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why.
I believe all the startups will go through these things no matter how many times they read it or someone tells them, but these are some of the things to look out for.
1. Money management: When you have funds, you don’t think much before spending the capital, but you realize the value of it when you are almost burned out and you wish that you hadn’t spent money on a few things that could’ve been avoided. Always keep expenses as low as possible unless you have great revenues backing you up.
2. Compliance: While starting a company, most of the founders don’t care much about compliance that they’re required to follow. They later realize how important it is when they end up getting into trouble for something small like not filing paperwork properly. Get an accountant and lawyer on board and make sure you have everything up to date to avoid unpleasant surprises.
3. Ups and Downs: No matter how smart you are or how much planning you have done, you are going to discover some problems in your industry that are really hard to solve. Some of them could be money intensive as well. Make sure you have some funds set aside for those situations and always be ready to tackle problems.
4. Leadership: Your team looks up to you and want to follow you on every turn. Make sure you are setting the right examples by doing the right things yourself. There is a difference between a leader and a boss. You can become a good leader by following the things you want your team to follow.
5. Relationships: Establish good relationships with everyone on your team and board including your investors and mentors. They are the ones who have experience with the problems you may come across and they will help you to overcome the bad situations always.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see people give value to the talent and not just fame. There are so many talented artists around us. Let’s start a movement of taking a video clip whenever you find any artist playing live around you and post on your social media. Who knows, one of them could go viral and get the chance they deserve because of you.
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!