Vinay Pahlajani is a serial entrepreneur and has been a startup enthusiast through out his career. He is the founder & CEO of India’s first alumni referral network – CATCHUP (https://letscatchup.net), which helps jobseekers get hired, through referrals from their alumni communities.
An alumnus of IIT Kanpur, he has worked as an innovation consultant for many international projects and did two successful startups in last 10 years. He co-founded his first venture- Hexolabs in 2007, which soon became a leading mobile VAS company in India. Vinay is also the founding member of a game design studio called Punflay, which has produced hundreds of educational games and applications for the global audience.
Throughout his entrepreneual journey, Vinay has touched millions of users through his apps and products. He gives topmost priority to user experience design and the importance of user feedback for evolution of any product or technology. Talking about customer acquisition strategies, he said “ Its really important to define your customer before you go on to acquire one. Your product should solve a customer pain point and must identify with their needs and requirements.” At CATCHUP, they work on a major customer pain point, which is – “Getting a Job”. Today, it’s really difficult for jobseekers to get noticed in a deluge of online applications; CATCHUP solves this problem.
With their early market research they realized that about 70% recruiters prefer internal referrals and young graduates often struggle in finding relevant connections. As a solution, they created a network, where jobseekers can instantly connect with hundreds of professionals from their alumni community and find job referrals to get hired. This is something people want and they immediately adopted the network. CATCHUP launched its beta in July this year and is already connected to over 10,000 users from 200+ colleges. They add a new user every 10 minutes and are receiving hundreds of enquiries every month. Relying on the power of internal referrals, 80% of CATCHUP users applying for jobs, land an interview opportunity.
The next big challenge was user satisfaction and retention. Sharing his experience on this, Vinay added, “User retention is more important than user acquisition. One happy customer brings ten new leads and that’s where you start growing organically. I personally responded to hundreds of mails we received in first few months; and even now, when the number is growing fast, we ensure that not a single query goes unanswered.”
Vinay is an active participant in startup events around the world and regularly speaks to young entrepreneurs through different platforms. His advice to startups- Value your first few customers.They are your best critiques and brand ambassadors. Your product should evolve based on their feedback and requirements. They should be an integral part of your design process. Startups should also be cautious about defining their target market; the “one size fits all” approach is fast declining, specificity is important – if your product solves a customer problem, it will definitely solve yours.