If you’ve been a YourStory reader and been even remotely related to the internet, you’re bound to have come across SlideShare– a tool to share and distribute presentations. Having been acquired by LinkedIn in the middle of 2012, there are a couple of interesting aspects about the genesis of the company that have remained out of the spotlight but have some takeaways.
Rashmi Sinha, Jonathan Boutelle and Amit Ranjan co-founded the company in 2006 but how they got into the idea has a lesson for many. “Entrepreneurship was a complete accident for me,” shared Amit at the TechSparks 2013 Delhi edition where he spoke about the SlideShare Journey. The trio had got together in 2003 and a rather pivotal talk (in hindsight) led them to startup together.
They set out building a consulting company oriented towards UX research but soon realized that they wanted something that would scale with the help of technology, not people. All of them were popular bloggers and Amit used to run WebYantra back then which also organized the first Bar Camp of India. These events were a huge success but one big problem everyone faced was that after the event, everyone would keep asking for presentations and there was not one platform which could be used. And thus was born SlideShare.
Lesson: Startup only if there’s an existing problem. Don’t imagine up problems. Deep Kalra also shared in his speech on the same day about how Apple is probably one of the very few successful companies that emerged out of no real need (they were able to make the product aspirational) but to improve your chances of success, you really need to solve a problem that exists.
And is Slideshare an Indian company?
This is one question that gets asked about all the time but the answer is also tricky. “We were registered in the valley but of the three founders- one is Indian, one is Indo-American and one is American!” said Amit. Amit and Rashmi are siblings while Rashmi and Jonathan are a couple. The company is American in terms of where it is based and also the fact that it raised funds in the US but all the first 20 employees after the founders were Indians. “It is not completely an Indian company but the ethos are very much Indian,” said Amit.
Being based in the US also helped SlideShare in the acquisition (things you wish you’d thought of before registering in India) and Amit acquiesced to the fact that inspite of his desire for SlideShare to have been known as an Indian company, the US connection played a significant role in the success story.
Lesson: Being based in India and building a company from here is a thing of pride but don’t make very emotional decisions. Because many a times, it might be easier to register somewhere else or it’d be easier to raise funds from elsewhere. So, be dispassionate about nationalities when it comes to business for your startup.
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