Pranav illustrates with an example “Lets say that you go on a trip with 3 of your friends. Normally, all of you would take photos, upload them to your respective photo sharing services and share links with your friends. However, in all probability, a few months on, you would not have a track of photos taken by your friends. At lifeblob, you would simply put your photos on your timeline, add your 3 friends as participants and the photos start showing up on their timelines too. Thus becoming a part of their lives and establishing a relationship between the 4 of you through this event.”
The fact that Lifeblob is a medium that can easily capture the fancy of everyone from parents of a new born baby wanting to capture him/her growing up to an educational institution, a company or any other community wanting to trace their achievements makes the business very scalable.
“With a current database of about a lakh people and 80% of them from the US, we see our customer base growing rapidly across various geographies and seek to expand on the business as well as technical side taking one step at a time. Of course it helps to have an excellent technical team led by co-founder Rakesh Rajan who has ensured that we are ready to handle the growing user base” says Bhasin.
Expansion involves a cost and Pranav justifies by informing that their plans to monetize include advertisements, merchandising, paid subscriptions and corporate alliances amongst others also adding that the focus on acquiring customers and spreading the word will not change with marketing plans firmly in place through word of mouth, search engine marketing and through existing social networks.
Having received the much coveted funding at an early stage, Pranav maintains that what has been even more beneficial and crucial has been the role of advisors – specifically one Mr. Bharath Chinamanthur, who was instrumental in keeping the Lifeblob team grounded in reality and substituting for the support system that normally exists in a company and assists in making the right decisions and not ones arising only out of passion for the idea.
That alongwith setting realistic expectations of themselves has seen the four member team to where it has brought LifeBlob today. Sony Music has been one of their most recent and recognized members, using the LifeBlob timeline to launch a new album. Playing on the excitement of users wanting to flaunt their relationship with the band, Sony invited them to share their personal moments on the timeline (http://www.lifeblob.com/topic/incubus) making it the most subscribed and visited timeline overnight.
One isn’t surprised then when the team based out of Bangalore modestly talk of their runners up win in the Bloggers Choice category at the Mashable Open Web Awards last year.
For those reading and thinking of all good things happening to this set of entrepreneurs, a fact to know is that LifeBlob is Pranav’s second tryst with entrepreneurship, the first – a portal started with friends while in college having failed to do well.
Yet something to learn from is Pranav’s optimism when he says that “The beauty of entrepreneurship is in the seemingly insurmountable challenges it poses. It takes time to bring an idea to a stage where other people can see it and appreciate it yet I know that entrepreneurship is something that was waiting to happen to me.”
This time Bhasin sure was prepared to stop at nothing. Not even when they couldn’t afford to hire someone to design a prototype of their concept to show around for feedback. “We turned into designers ourselves. Not only did we learn a thing or two about designing, but also gained valuable insight about the service that we would not have gained otherwise.”
With so much as experience, Pranav has a quick retort on being asked if he ever thought of giving up, “with so much to do and learn from, how could I? Besides while starting, we were prepared to not draw any salary for 2-2.5 years and work on our own funds.”
With that, Pranav takes our leave adding a few more notes from his personal experiences as advice to those wanting to start-up.
- Build a strong founding team: There is no substitute for a team that works well together and has the resilience to hold on its own during bad times.
- Have a differentiator: It is really important to have a differentiator and more important than that to be able to articulate it.
- Try often, fail often: The only option for a startup that wants to build a great product is to churn out features at a fast pace, ask the users if they would use it and course correct based on their feedback. If you keep building your service in a silo, you will probably be the only one using it in the end.