How 30 minutes shaped the startup journey of three youngsters from Kolkata: the Pracly story
Ritesh Singhania and Samik Biswas are Kolkata lads who met in college at NIT Warangal. They were keen to start up and were working on a product which students could use to take advice from folks in their prospective college. Meanwhile, after graduation they took up jobs at MNCs but did not give up the idea of diving fulltime into starting up alongside. It was in this phase when they ended up having a Google Hangout with Rahul Khanna of Canaan Partners.
“Those 30 minutes changed how we looked at things,” says Ritesh. “We got a much wider perspective and found a direction to pursue,” he adds. They joined hands with the third co-founder Gaurav Mittal who takes care of technology, and started Pracly. Pracly is an advisory platform for entrepreneurs where they can connect with domain experts for any business problem over a phone call or a one-to-one meet. The value proposition is for both sides:
- Young entrepreneurs and people looking for help can get an opportunity to talk with experts across various domains.
- The experts can manage their time well and schedule appointments so that they don’t have to answer to random requests on various online channels.
The trio started building Pracly but were still looking for more exposure. “We were in Kolkata which is not very conducive to technology startups. We decided to attend the in50hrs in Pune where we were introduced to Vijay Anand and were selected for the incubation program,” says Ritesh. The incubator helps shape the product and get early traction. There are no financial commitments. Selected startups move on to the accelerator where they are taken to the next stage (Eventifier is a good example of how this happened).
Pracly was launched in November 2013 and has 25 experts onboard as of now. “We’re planning to consolidate with the current experts on board and streamline the process,” says Ritesh. The product is free at the moment but going forward, will charge for setting up a call or interaction with the expert.
The premise with the current version of Pracly is that there are lots of first generation entrepreneurs who’re in the dark and are looking for help on specific subjects. Entrepreneurs are more connected and tech savvy and hence the initial product validation is being carried out in this area. The model will evolve after looking at the results.
“Idea Validation, Digital Marketing, SEO, Growth Hacking are the hot domains,” says Ritesh from the early users they’ve had on the site. The most common questions have been about customer acquisition and how to go about validating an idea. The platform plays the role of the curator and makes the appropriate match. “Entrepreneurs are a little hesitant to come to a platform to seek advice from people they haven’t heard of before or to seek paid advice, but the people who have used the platform have gained benefit out of it,” says Ritesh. The plan is to streamline the flow with entrepreneurship and then move to other domains.