Get your first customer at any cost
Abdul Gafoor is the Co-Founder & COO of Infinite Open Source Solutions LLP. He started the company along with four other co-founders (Abdul Majeed, Ameen Islahi, Ashok KS, Pavanan Ghosh). Three of them studied engineering together and also had worked together for around 6 months in the same company which gave them a lot of bonding. They began as a pure play software services company. They began scouting for offices and did a presentation at NIT C TBI and got incubated.
They began offering software services. After a few months of searching for business and not getting anything because they were unable to differentiate their offerings, they hit upon the concept of providing services based on open source products and built capability on some products. This got them some services businesses from the SME clients who were keen on cutting cost of their software development and were happy to find a company that had talent. This began growing the company.
The founding team recollects the day when they got an enquiry from a church for a family tree concept development. The team spent time to understand the family tree concept and developed a great project for the church and began talking to other churches for similar needs and suddenly in one of the chance meeting with one of his clients, he realized that there are lots of similarities between the family tree and MLM concept. He also realized that there were no products in the MLM space in the Indian market and began deep diving into building a product for the industry. They did lots of internal meeting, met lots of MLM companies directors to understand their problems and found out a good solution. They also took the help of a consultant who gave them practical insights into the industry.
They got one of the earlier prospects to whom they were showing PPTs and having discussions with to give the go ahead to them but with the payment being 2 months from the date of deployment. Since they felt that they had nothing to lose but a product to make, he took the plunge and accepted it. The team began the product but the two parties did not know how long it will take to complete the product and worked almost 16 hours a day for almost 3 months and completed it. With the client accepting and using the product, the client began making money and also paid them on time and the reference implementation was good enough for them to travel around the entire state to pick up for other clients. Suddenly there was a backlash in the entire industry in the state on the MLM industry and that drove them to begin looking for outside market.
The IOSS team, with no funds to be able to hire sales people decided to do the selling all by themselves and reached out to their target audience through Marketing and then engage with them on a deeper level with the prospects who showed interest. In addition to spending lots of time and energy on SEO, they also created blogs, forums, discussion boards and videos on their website talking about the product and also began marketing via multiple social media to reach the market and began engaging with individual customers through Skype and a website chat engine began closing business globally. Using this clients portfolio, they went to the other prosepcts to get more work.
IOSS Founders advice – Don’t give up too fast on your dreams. I have seen many founders who start with enthusiasm but give up very soon and the one or two years they have spent in the venture ends up wasting their career. Once you have decided to start, one need to look at how to make it successful and not think of will it work or not. Work hard on your dreams and you will be successful.
Now IOSS has graduated out NIT-Calicut TBI two years ago and now has around 500 clients in 40 countries for their product.