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9slides just got acquired by Limeade!

This wasn’t going to be piece of cake, but I didn’t expect lemons either. I had left my Microsoft job in 2011, with some vague ideas and promises from pretend investors. For some reason, I believed that it would take just 2-3 months for me to raise some money and then all will roll. I had 3 months of money left in the bank with a wife and kid. 10 days post Microsoft we discovered we were expecting our 2nd kid. Something rolled for sure, but it was my head! 

We didn’t have enough money to pay for COBRA (form of health insurance post-employment in USA) and we were stressed out about paying the upcoming childbirth medical bills. We did some calculations and opted COBRA for my wife; we opted to put myself and our 3 year old daughter on another cheaper insurance. As it turned out, we missed a few payments on COBRA and a notice was served that my pregnant wife no longer had any health insurance. 

Now for the year 2011-12,  if you lost a health insurance, no one would take a new customer with pre-existing conditions. We were looking at an additional $20,000  (conservatively) expense at least in the next few months. We never felt so helpless. I had no uncle to call up who could lend us a few dollars or a strong network or visibility in a community where we could ask for help. Friends at Microsoft were cheering my decision but very few really understood that we maybe in need of more than a pat on the back. Saying, it was very tough, would be an understatement !!! 

To reduce distractions at home with a young kid, I co-rented a very small room with another person and used it as an office for a few months. This person was an executive in a startup working remotely (in my town), and was gracious enough to make my first investor intro who eventually invested and became lead investor. I think my investor gave the first check because he simply wanted to help me – he saw me going broke while trying to build something innovative. This investor (being an entrepreneur himself earlier in his life), understood what was going on in my life. That first $25K was a life saver for me, my family and the company. He reinvested in the company in the future and also helped me raise more from his network. I ended up raising about 1 million USD from the likes of 500 Startup Funds and top executives from Amazon, Facebook, Webex, CMU and others.

Over the next 12-18 months, as things started to look better, folks wanted to ride a “rising wave” and consultant ‘experts’ flocked in. We acquired some customers and raised more money. We grew the team and got more ‘experts’ on board. It was an emotional roller coaster with the future outlook changing 180 degrees every 4 hours. I know it’s normal, but folks who wanted to ride the wave were ready to leave the instance a low tide showed up. The only thing which was constant was that I was not ready to give up. There is no way I wanted to give away all the sacrifices by my family and lose the trust my investor showed in me. 

I had to let most of the team go. It felt like cutting my own hand to be able to survive little longer. It was a huge learning. Eventually, sticking around payed off. We continued to add a few customers at that time which payed the bills, and continued to refine our positioning and pitch. Over a period, we were able to rebuild the trust of our customer base by providing them absolute best service and product.

So that was the story of how my company 9slides was built.

At 9slides we’ve created a platform which allows users to easily add audio video narration to their presentation deck, so that they can communicate effectively with their audience. You can watch rich multimedia presentations on any device, any time, without downloading any software/app. However over a period of time, based on user feedback and adoption, we pivoted our messaging and have become an online learning solution.

Today, I am very happy to announce that we actually attracted a customer who acquired the company! 

9slides just got acquired by a company based in Seattle, USA, called Limeade. Below is a Limeade CEO Henry posing for this photo op. He is a fighter too and I really admire what they have built at Limeade over the years. I am very excited to unfold my next chapter…

Blessed by TOI yesterday!

*****

 Do read Ruchit’s heartwarming story ‘Commitment to Win’

  

******

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17 Comments

  1. RUCHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    many many many congrats!!! so so proud of you!! what a proud moment for all of us!!

    my gosh – if i feel this way, i can’t even begin to imagine how awesome your mom feels!!! what did she say when you told her?!!

  2. Dear Ruchit, You are an inspiration to  the community of entrepreneurs , What a way to make it up. More than the  LIMAEDE success i admire the balancing of attitude & aptitude towards life limitations and business opportunity.  

  3. We are proud of you Ruchit.. simply because how you decided to stick with your commitment and proved yourself! Many lessons learnt! Way to go!

  4. Fascinating stuff Ruchit … inspirational !

    To live on the edge and come back , not once but twice shows you are a tough nut indeed !

    God bless !!

  5. Thanks Asha! its been a long ride. Feels great.

    When I first told my mom about this over phone, she went into brief silence and was super worried. Something must have been terribly bad that made me sell my ‘own’ company. When family members and friends back in India started pouring in their wishes to her, she realized that its a real deal 🙂

    She is happy, proud and thankful to god !!

  6. Thanks Sanjaya.

  7. Thanks Anamika

  8. Thanks Harpreet. Looking back, it feels like I took some really crazy decisions, but meh It all turned out good.

  9. Congratulations!!! Ruchit!! And Team 9Slides

    Committed to Win is what gets home the Results!

    Good Luck for your future Endeavors too.

  10. Congratulations Ruchit!! 

  11. Congratulations Ruchit,

    Posts like this make me realize that some of the hardships and obstacles that I consider threatening are actually insignificant. Mind f$^%ing blowing journey man.

    All the very best for the next chapter.

  12. Thanks Mithun!

  13. Congratulations Ruchit.. You have shared the pain start ups go through very honestly…

  14. Congrats Ruchit! 

  15. 1) Did you recover more than Opportunity Cost? Sorry – just asking an honest Q

    2) Will you do it again?

  16. Great question. From sheer $ perspective, answer is ‘maybe’, given the way deal is structured. However I have got some recognition in market and lot of experience, which I believe are going to be play important role in what future holds for me. 

    Will I do it again, absolutely! already exploring few things 🙂

  17. Congratulations on the exit.

    All the best for the new things you are exploring 🙂

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