The first cheque is always special, and even more so in the case of a startup. A fledgling startup with no certainty of a destination sets off on a journey only with optimism on its side. And when it finds validation by someone willing to pay for the service, the feeling is very satisfying. Such was the case with iDubba.
iDubba started as a TV guide and pivoted to iCouchApp which is more in the TV engagement space. YourStory met Co-founder Rabi Gupta, who talked about his business and expressed his gratitude on reaching this milestone.
YourStory: You’ve had quite a journey the past three odd years, what has kept you going?
Rabi Gupta: Well, first and foremost the space is interesting and yet to be disrupted. Many startups have tried in the space but apart from Twitter none have actually been able to capture TV viewing moments of a person’s life. We started with a TV guide and alerts model (iDubba) but are now shifting more towards engagement and second screen model which has a bigger potential (iCouchApp). We have real good mentors who have supported us along the way, including our families. One of the most important thing in a startup is to keep learning and growing. You need to be really flexible, optimistic and keep your eyes open for opportunities. Till the time things remain interesting and we keep on getting ideas based on genuine feedback we will keep moving. And yes, till the time we have cash in the bank (smiles).
YS: What does the first cheque mean to you?
RG: Frankly speaking, it completes the circle. A real business as they say is incomplete without revenues. However small it is, I think it’s a validation that our product development is going in the right direction.
YS: Tell us about the revenue model and how it evolved over time.
RG: Our revenue model revolves around iCouchApp. We will slowly merge the two products (iDubba and iCouchApp) into one as that makes more sense.
iCouchApp for businesses is a combination of product+engagement+analytics which we give to TV channels and media houses. The aim is to leverage the platform which we have built and give a customizable solution to TV channels where they can engage their audience in real time. We also provide industry standard analytics (in partnership with Goonj Labs) to our clients, which helps them in understanding their audience better.
YS: What were the key things that have helped you find your way?
RG: Right mentors — we have some really great investors and mentors, including people like Sameer Guglani, Rajan Anandan, Kanchan Kumar, Yezdi Lashkari (ex Zynga), Srikant Sastri (Crayon) and Raghu (Nielson). All of them give us a lot of insights and good ideas and most importantly they have a lot of faith in us.
Good team — we have slowly built a team which is capable of delivering a great product.
Consumer focus and listening to feedback — learning is the most important part of a startup’s journey and consumer interaction gives direct insights.
Mobile growth in India — India’s smartphone user base has crossed the 70 million mark and is growing. Being at the right place at the right time with right offering can open up great opportunities.
YS: What lies on the road ahead?
RG: We are focussing on building a great second screen app. iCouchApp has been in the market for six months now and we understand what a TV viewer needs. We are coming up with a new avatar of the app which will be a much simplified but powerful version of our existing app. We hope to launch it by early next month. Regarding our B2B offering, we are getting more and more clients every month and our plan is to break even in the next four months.
YS: What would you tell a young entrepreneur who has a product but doesn’t have a strong revenue model around it?
RG: First make a great product, which is really tough. We are still struggling around it but somehow you need to find a product market fit.
It is also important to keep your eyes and ears open and meet a lot of people. Our revenue model came out of a random meeting with Mr. Raghu Venkatraman and we were flexible enough to tweak our model, find right partners and execute it.