How Shubham Rai came to make networking his businessAparajita Choudhury
Shubham Rai did not give up after he failed in his first attempt to become entrepreneur. Rather, he went back to the corporate world to build a strong network he could leverage in his subsequent attempt.
“My past networking deeds helped me get my first job after failing at my first entrepreneurial stint, when I had nowhere to go,” says Shubham Rai, Founder and CEO, Nodd.
About eight years ago, Shubham connected with Jaison Jose, who was running a PR firm at the time. As he was managing the rock band Sceptre, Shubham helped Jaison connect with many people from the industry, as well as with Sandipan Chattopadhyay (then CTO of JustDial). Shubham and Jaison became good friends, and it was this friendship that came to Shubham’s rescue when his first attempt at entrepreneurship tanked—Jaison gave him a job and is now also an investor in Nodd.
Thirtyfour-year-old Shubham, who has worked with the likes of Flipkart, Housing.com, and HT Media, is experienced in business expansion and helping developers and builders showcase and market their inventories.
In 2012, Shubham, along with friends Himanshu Chanda, Rahul Chidgopkar, and Karan Patel, had started a not-for-profit forum called Young Entrepreneur’s Society (YES) to help entrepreneurs network with each other and exciting stakeholders of the ecosystem.
Around the same time, he also started Achiever’s Table, a forum for mentoring startups. To encourage the sharing of knowledge and to allow members to gain from each other’s professional networks, they created a WhatsApp group that was moderated and curated in terms of content and members.
The response to the group was positive, but it was clear that members needed to put a face to all the people they had been engaging with, leading to the first community meetup. The success of the meeting evolved into monthly community meets across cities, and gradually, members started adding friends they thought could benefit from the community and also add value to it.
This newfound community triggered a lot of business deals, partnerships, funding, and investments. Says Shubham,
“We reached a point where we realised we had solved the problem of professional networking up to a certain extent but only for a small set of people. We then wondered if we could scale it using technology across the globe. In March 2016 I took the decision of converting this obsession into a venture called Nodd.”
Nodd is a real-time networking platform for achievers from across the globe to connect over common interest areas. At Nodd, people can search for and discover other achievers, and form strong relationships. The community comprises educational achievers, professional achievers, entrepreneurs, businessmen, HNIs, top management, CXOs, celebrities, and sports personalities. Nodd also helps entities like SAP, NOBROKER.com, and Travelyaari reach out to their target audience.
Mumbai-based Nodd raised seed capital of Rs 1.25 crore from 11 HNIs in November 2016 to scale up operations and expand across major metros like New Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai. Says Shubham,
“The unique part of our fundraising was that, rather than going the conventional way of raising money through business decks, all our investors were first community members and started believing in the value exchanged in the community.”
Organising events and generating revenue
Nodd, which is in the alpha phase, has conducted up to 20 events across Mumbai, Delhi, and Bengaluru. The events, which covered the domains of music, entrepreneurship, sports, business, sales, technology, and finance included everything from playing table tennis with the Commonwealth champion and playing cricket with CEOs and World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev to lessons in HR management and operations from Army veterans and learning about bitcoin from industry experts.
Nodd has nearly 8,500 members, of whom 70 percent are HNIs.
The people Nodd targets usually struggle to find like-minded people on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other platforms, relying on their personal networks. Nodd claims to have brought achievers from various fields on to one umbrella platform. Using its ‘map view’ feature, achievers can conduct a hyperlocal search and discovery of people as well as create and join activities and experiences. They can follow, chat with, and view the profiles of these people.
Moreover, Nodd is also working on developing tools and features to assist people with effective networking using IoT and beacons.
Nodd generates revenues from sponsored events (where users buy a ticket). Shubham says that in October last year, Nodd attained an average growth of 70 percent in terms of month-on-month revenue.
The startup currently has 17 members across tech, sales, marketing, strategy, business development, operations, product, and design functions. It aims to on-board one million achievers by the end of this year. In terms of revenue, the company aims to achieve $3 million in revenue within the next fiscal year.