Alum Ventures: MVPRockets – Giridharan Natarajan, PGP 2010
It is every entrepreneur’s ultimate fantasy and desire to see their ideas flourish and become a business success, but most of the times debutant entrepreneurs lose the battle in the early stages for many reasons. To help young businesses thrive and triumph, Giridharan Natarajan founder of MVPRockets has the secret mantra to launch a product in the market in just 12 weeks. Yes, you heard it right – 12 weeks is all that MVPRockets needs to get you going. Don’t believe me? then let’s hear it from the man himself – Mr. Giridharan Natarajan
Please tell us something about yourself.
I am from a small town in Tamil Nadu & the first graduate of my family. I did my computer science engineering and started my career as a Product Developer at OnMobile, one of the first very successful product startups coming out of India, that went public rather spectacularly. After a couple of years in product development, I joined IIMB and graduated in 2010. I have spent all my corporate life in product management, starting in large companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Vodafone before moving into Startups. I joined Simplilearn, an ed-tech startup in a Sr.PM role and went on to head their products, design and analytics team. I then moved to Babajob, then the country’s largest blue-collar job marketplace hosting over 8 million users. I moved into entrepreneurship post-Babajob, building an AI-powered smart recruiter that helps the recruiters recruit blue-collar executives, like Delivery boys, ops executives, drivers rather quickly. With the onset of Covid, recruitment came to a standstill & we pivoted to a new offering, MVPRockets.com and have been running this from Aug 2020. You can know more about me at linkedin.com/in/giridharann
Can you please tell us about your venture – MVPRockets.
Startups are exciting, the possibilities are limitless, and so much fun – when it works. But, starting up is hard, lonely and scary – especially for the founders who have to do it all themselves.
We started MVPRockets to help such daring entrepreneurs & make this process of launching the startup slightly less daunting. We are a bunch of startup nerds, who have built over 15 MVPs in the last 3 years – and in the process have perfected the art of building an MVP. No frills – the actual “Minimum. Viable. Product.” & we are launching this as an offering to our fellow entrepreneurs. Our promise is simple –
We take almost 60% less time from an idea to the product than if you were to find a CTO, hire a tech team or find moody freelancers to build it.
When did you start MVPRockets? How did you get into this space?
We started this offering in 2020 July – Aug & branded it MVPRockets in Oct 2020. After the onset of Covid, our startup lost all our clients overnight & we were trying to figure out what to do next. There were a lot of uncertainties on if & when the hiring or funding will pick up pace. While we were deliberating on what to do, one of our friends reached out to us and asked if we could help him build his product. At that time, one of our other friends, who was the first director of design for Freecharge joined us & between the three of us we had a perfect combination of Product, design & development capabilities. In addition, between us, we had started over 5 companies, exited a startup successfully, pitched to over 100 VCs and received a few term sheets as well. In essence, we have walked the journey every entrepreneur walks & we understand the pains they go through. We felt that there was a large unaddressed need where good, accomplished operators starting up are unable to reliably launch their tech startup, and MVPRockets is the answer to that problem.
How does MVP work? And what is the 12-week mantra?
MVPs are Minimum viable products that do one thing – help you invalidate your hypothesis about a user problem that you have identified in the market. While different MVPs solve different problems, all MVPs have a bunch of commonalities(features, processes, components etc..). With our experience, we have identified a bunch of these common denominators and have created a team that’s capable of launching these MVPs, predictably in a very short time. 12 weeks is not an absolute. It varies from product to product. This is an indicative timeline & 12 weeks are plenty to launch a product. We have actually launched more products before 12 weeks than after.
Can you tell us about some start-ups that have benefited from the MVP platform?
We have helped over 10 startups launch their MVPs in the last 15 months of our existence. They are in varied domains like Fintech, health care, Marketplaces, e-commerce, Supply chain and logistics, etc. Some of the startups that we have worked with are Hafla(a Hub71 funded events marketplace in the middle east), Bimaplan (A YCombinator funded Insurance tech startup), Xperts (A D2C services vertical by Livspace, a unicorn based out on Bangalore), StreamAlive(An US-based audience engagement platform for influencers) & many more.
Who is your ideal client? Who should approach you as an entrepreneur?
My ideal client comprises of 3 things –
- is a very accomplished non-tech founders(marketing, sales, Fin, Ops – primarily a business guy(s)), who have had a storied career so far & are venturing to solve a problem in a space that they understand very well(think of a morgan stanley VP or a McKinsey engagement manager)
- Starting a tech startup – they should start a tech startup, We do not work with non-tech companies.
- Funded – we would love to see all the products we build to be commercialised & based on our experience, the funded startups are a lot more likely to be commercialised than non-funded ones.
So, any non-tech entrepreneur who is starting a tech startup & is funded can reach out to me.
Why did you choose the entrepreneurial path? What has been the most rewarding bit on this journey?
I am the first graduate of my family and in all my extended family, I was the only ‘employee’ 🙂 I am from a business family and I have always seen my dad, uncles, cousins – everyone running their own companies. So, it was natural for me to want to start up. That combined with the kind of exposure I got post my MBA in both large companies & startups – it was a no-brainer for me. It was never a difficult decision. In fact, most of my conversations with my family when I was employed would be “How long are you planning to remain employed?”
Any advice to someone just starting out.
Too many 🙂
- The most important question to ask before starting out is “Why is now the right time to start this particular company? What has changed & why has no one not done it?
- Be patient, it takes time.
- Go out and seek feedback about your ideas from as many people as possible – it’s not easy for someone to copy your idea and out-execute you.
- Be focused – in a startup, less is more.
A favourite quote.
A ship in Harbor is safe — but that is not what ships are built for. – John A Shedd