“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” — Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon
The above quote by Jeff rightly fits my Journey. It was not easy for me to start Artivatic venture after failure of the last startup COGXIO & DateIITians. The Artivatic journey for last 3 quarters has been very interesting and challenging too.
The reasons for failure:
Part-1 – History
The kind of same story as said by Dropbox co-founder as need to success ones, goes with COGXIO & dateIITians from starting up to executing to shutting down. The story began in 2011 during final year at IIT Kharagpur with conceptualization of dateIITians for IIT/IIM Network to let them connect around with interesting people. dateIITians was launched in Jan 2012 before even Tinder, Trulymadly, Happn or Woo entered to the market. dateIITians was one of the most popular first of its kind social dating platform. The platform was big success but due to lack of our understanding about entrepreneurship, fund (cause we were student) and did not know scaling, we shutdown the product after few months, though product still have significant search online 🙂
After we graduated, we started understanding and research about the market, saved money, and again started working but we did not realize that we already got too late in the market. Even then we did another mistake by working on web platform than mobile platform and burnt a lot. At the end of 2014 we realized that the importance is to build online social dating app focused on location intelligence and we again started building (we did not accept defeat but did not even understand the market trend well) the app and launched around Oct 2015. There were many things new in the business model no tried before by anyone through. As we created online to offline model in dating with seamless planning & meeting with partnership with Dineout, Zomato, Uber, Ola, Bookmyshow etc and also built Intelligence tools to make this happen.
We spent a lot on technology building and did not focus much on marketing as well as we thought once awesome technology is ready consumer will drive towards the product automatically with earlier dateIITians brand. Our assumptions were proved false and we did not achieve the growth we were expecting. We could reached to 47K Downloads on COGXIO and 2K on dateIITians (after relaunch in Jul 2016) but the best thing was this all was organically. We even had search of 500K-600K per month on our COGXIO Web Paltform because of its strong brand presence.
We spent in crores in this sector to build the product and executed to the market but the expectations did not meat in terms of growth. The team built everything (technology etc.) from scratch in house but failed to executed as needed. We introduced many new things to the market but eventually copied by existing businesses in the online dating sector.
On 15 Jul 2016, we decided to shutdown cogxio & dateiitians based on various factors including unit economics, the current market, lagging in the industry and more. The another reason was fundraising too cause of already existing new players in the market (even all players are struggling in the market today too). The main reason being too much investment needed on consumer marketing in this sector and yet not confident that those consumers coming to the platform will actually be there so hard to keep them as retaining consumers.
What we think is that, there will be different kind of online dating market in coming next 3-5 years in India more focused on online to offline, social interaction, leveraging other industries as benefits for online dating users and allowing open access. The culture in India is changing, people are getting more matured to try online dating apps but still will take next 3-5 years to actually see the use of online dating apps in India, so if the businesses in this sector have patience for next 3-5 years will win based on they have enough fund to invest as well.
There are lots of learning during this time while building product, launching and executing in the market. During this journey, many people came in to life and many went, had both sweet and bitter experience, built strong network of like minded people around. learnt how to spent money wisely, how to build products on time, how to get right team, what to be build that is beneficial on mass level, building something that changes the way people communicate, discuss, live life and more.
Finally, would say that it was eventful and excellent journey all together that made us what we are right now. Even after we failed in this, it did not stop us to build something more awesome and useful.
Part-2: New Journey – Current
There were multiple challenges that were faced during this journey (It has been around 7 months we started building Artivatic – Artivatic was started in 26 Sep, 2016), like building new team, motivating the team enough to be with us, financial crunch, working without salary, living in office to save costs, getting rejecting by many people for our idea and much more.
The best part of our journey was the support from the team who worked continuously day & night (sometimes with little or no salary) to build a product to take it to the market. Artivatic will grow a lot more but will not forget the contribution from the team – Puneet, Soham, Awadhesh, Tushar, Shikha and Omkar, Thank you guys.
First Quarter of Artivatic [Sep 2016 – Nov 2016]: It was the toughest time that we all have spent till now. This was the time we had some wrong hirings and everything turned into internal politics instead of working on the product. Had no idea, what was the product we were building, had endless meetings to discuss what is Artivatic? So many brain storming sessions to understand Artivatic in depth and it took us almost 3 months to decide finally – what was Artivatic, how to build it further, who will be building Artivatic and where were we aligning our visions for future. Many people and even investors rejected us that we all were talking ‘superficially’ and can never be built or executed. The ‘so called’ people started comparing us with ‘data analytics’ companies who were well funded without even understanding what we were building and how it is going to impact the industries in the long run. The value addition to the large enterprises to improve their bottom line significantly. Overall, what we got was straight rejection and de – motivation – nothing else. This was the toughest quarter for all of us to overcome and luckily we got over it after facing many challenges with the team’s support.
Second Quarter of Artivatic [Dec 2016 – Feb 2017]: This was one of the most important quarters of the Journey. At the end of the first quarter, we were able to figure out what we were building and why? Though in-spite of the financial crunch, the team was supporting enough to understand that there is a future with the product if it is built. We had lots of learning in first quarter and also from our last shutdown startups, which were applied to Artivatic. We were very – very fast in building and executing Artivatic and in the 2nd Quarter itself, we were able to launch our first version of the product (though not perfect). This first version gave us the much required confidence boost and we were motivated enough to go ahead further. We partnered with Zomato, Dineout and ClearTrip as well to test our technologies with help of our in-house product ‘LiveOnGo (LOG)’ and it was really successful. We validated our technology and business model in 2nd Quarter.
Third Quarter of Artivatic [Mar 2017 – Present]: The last quarter (still going on) has been quite eventful and awesome in many ways. After so much struggle we finally saw some ray of hope. From the beginning of March, we’ve seen some interesting things:
- Product Market Fit – Artivatic has got its product market fit with multiple market validation and need of the product to solve large & complex problems for startups, MSMEs & large enterprises in many sectors.
- Demand & Supply Gap – The traditional businesses which are working from a long time but still finding it difficult to understand consumers and delivering them what they are looking for. Many such businesses are on the verge of transforming themselves with disruptive technologies to become intelligent, efficient and intuitive to focus on consumer needs in real time. There is huge impact of emerging technologies on the businesses to keep them sustainable in future. At the right time, Artivatic was able to identify this opportunity to fill the gap and provide them AI infrastructure without much investment and development efforts to help these businesses transform into disrupting businesses.
- Industry based Understating – Understanding the data points, mapping them together, prediction & recommendation to enable decision making (enabling these businesses as Virtual Brains to take decisions itself for better ROI, Engagement, Strategy formation and personalization as like Human does in real life) was the turning point in Artivatic Journey. Learnt the key problems of many industry sectors like Lifestyle, Travel, Entertainment, Fashion/eCommerce, Telecom, Finance & Insurance, Retail & Analytics, Recruitment, Healthcare & Pharma, which can be solved using Artivatic technology by placing industry experts.
- Launch of Beta Product – The Artivatic beta was launched in April 2017 for few industries like Recruitment, Travel, Fashion & eCommerce to directly use the product for few hours without any development efforts on affordable cost. The team is working in new sectors like telecom, healthcare, pharma, finance & insurance to enable these businesses to take advantage of Artivatic’s decision making technologies.
- Raising Angel Funding – The interesting and cheerful moment was when Artivatic raised angel funding from Singapore based angel investor Rahul. Rahul understood our product in depth and identified its real life use cases in various industries and showed confidence in our team and product both. He invested his own money and gave us a free hand for more product market fit, validation and growth further. This was the next confidence booster and motivation for Artivatic product and its team too.
- Partnering with Fortune Listed Companies The biggest turning point in Artivatic journey came when large enterprises showed interest to partner with Artivatic. We demonstrated our technologies and capabilities to solve these businesses problems by partnering with them. It has been one of the biggest motivating moment in Artivatic journey.
The last 7 months have been quite interesting and learning focused for entire Artivatic. The belief of people and businesses in our team & product has helped to boost our confidence, motivation and interest to build further more innovative technologies and support these businesses for improving their ROI, consumer engagement, personalized experience, business strategies and automating decision making.
Thank you all for your support and motivation. We at Artivatic, promise to build innovative products that solve the real problems around. Want to know more, do connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to host you for a coffee in our office. Visit us: www.artivatic.com [Stay tuned for more updates. Follow at @artivatic]