Educating customers about their problems to get the first few sales
Toshendra Sharma founded Wegilant in IIT Bombay in 2011 where he was doing Masters in Comp science. He was initially providing training services to the engineering students in the IT security space. He was able to sell and generate revenue of around 83 lakhs INR in the first year. In the last one year, he has exited the services business and is shifting towards the products space with an IT Security product. Toshendras’s brain child – Appvigil is an Android application security scanner. This helps enterprises to determine if their android app is hackable or not and this is a great boon for Internet Powered businesses. They help enterprises, developers, marketplaces on how hackable the app they are using for themselves and for others are. This is available on cloud with APIs for scanning and have also developed plugins for developer use.
Toshendra began development on the 17th of April when he was pitching to show a prototype to his potential investors. With a pressure to turnaround a working prototype within a short duration, he completed his first level of development within 15 days which was not robust. With this MVP, he began targeting a few apps, downloaded those apps from the PlayStore, tested the app for hackability and sent a report to the app administrator. He was pleasantly surprised to see that almost all of them ether replied or forwarded the reports to their company seniors who called him. This gave enough validation to him that there are enough people who are interested in such a product. He kept developing one feature after the other and kept validating this with the market and kept building additional features. He calls this a Reverse Pyramid Approach to build a good product that the market wanted.
The type of loopholes(bugs) that the product scanned in the initial version were very less (Intent spoofing, Unencrypted data storage etc. ) and figured out that his customers were happy that this was one thing that they never thought was possible and was getting solved. Toshendra also began finding out new use cases to this product for scanning and went about talking to customers on what they wanted him to add in the product. He found out that the users were not necessarily clear on what they wanted. He then pivoted from his initial model of handing over the software to the users and having them solve the bugs to having the customers hand over their app to him and the product will clean lots of bugs that need to be solved which the users will not even know why this has to be solved.
Toshendra used a content strategy to effect his first few sales. He realized that the users of the apps always read articles in multiple sites and try solving their problem. He began blogging about vulnerability attacks on apps and wrote lots of articles and that attracted people to his site and his product. He also uses a variety of tools to automate posting in social media so that he spends limited time on a daily basis and the tools take care of repurposing the content across multiple social media and that makes him focus on his work – which is building a great product for the market. He also effectively tested his product within the IIT Bombay SINE with the other cohorts.
Toshendra’s advice to startup founders – Set up a resource, time and money limit for idea validation whenever you start your company . He talks about him keeping 2 people for 3 months and he decided not to tart a company unless he gets atleast 10 customers. He did his first business plan after 2 years and suggest that it is a good idea to have a mentor and validate your market before you go on full-fledged product development.
Wegilant(http://www.wegilant.com/), has around 12 core people in their team, has around 400 signups and 5 customers. They are one of the Nasscom Emerge 50 companies of 2014 and are being screened by multiple other committees for awards. They raised around 1 Cr INR a few months ago and is currently focussing on product development. Sales is secondary at this point in time as the current investors channel will take care of the selling.