Learn from our community entrepreneurs! In this interview, Gaurav Sharma shares the story of building and growing Help Wise, located in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
Hey, I’m 31 years old & currently based out of New Delhi, India. I’m a chemical engineer by education, the only job that I ever took (& left after 3 months) was into investment banking.
But, I always loved programming and built my first tech business when I was around 16 yrs old. In the last 10 years, I have built 4 businesses, of which 2 got acquired (last one by New York Times), 1 failed and 1 is currently running & growing.
Currently, I’m running a digital products company called SaaS Labs. We’re a 60 people team working remotely across India, Philippines, and the US. Bootstrapped & profitable, we were the 5th Fastest Growing Company in Deloitte India Tech Fast50 & 54th fastest growing in APAC last year.
When I started my current company SaaS Labs, the thesis of the business was (& still remains) that we are big-time bullish on 3 major themes:
Cloud Adoption: More & more businesses around the world will adopt cloud for running their business operations
Remote work: A good chunk of the workforce will work remotely. Not necessarily work from home but away from HQ or the work desk for sure.
Automation: Every business will adopt some kind of automation to improve profitability and compete well with other businesses.
In late 2017, as the JustCall (a cloud phone system; https://justcall.io) team started to grow, we felt a need for shared inbox software to handle our help@, sales@, etc email addresses. For the next 12-15 months, we tried all the available products in the market. But, all these products were either too expensive or too complex. So, we decided to build our own shared inbox for our own team, for our own use only. Our managers helped us build analytics on top of it to track KPIs.
During a team offsite, when we were planning our annual revenue growth and goals, someone suggested launching our in-house team email software as a product in the market. This product satisfies all the points which are part of our thesis so we decided to go ahead and launch this as Helpwise.
Basically, this product came out of our own necessity. On 2nd Dec 2019, we launched Helpwise on Product Hunt & got featured. The current product is 5-10x better & powerful than the first version.
Shared inbox is critical software for any business as your business runs on it. So, the biggest challenge for us was to provide 24 hr support to our customers. Also, given our team’s location (India), the time zone difference made things even more challenging.
So, to overcome this, we firstly worked in shifts ourselves. And, then use Upwork to hire a support agent in PST timezone.
At SaaS Labs, as we build and launch so many products on a regular basis, we have a playbook for our product launches. I’m going to share that here with everyone.
1. Product Hunt Launch: If you launch your product at the right time (around 12-1230am PST), with great images and an engaging first comment - there are high chances of getting featured on the first page, obviously if the product is good. This will generate 1000s of visits. Now, it’s on you how you make most of it.
2. SEO: We start working on important keywords almost 2 months before the launch. We do a lot of offsite and onsite SEO to make it to the first 3 results for important terms.
3. Cold outreach to Linkedin contacts, customers of other products.
4. Paid Ads: It is good to have a working paid channel that is at least generating clicks with high CTR. This means that there is a legit demand for the product and you can scale.
5. Integrations with other tools and getting listed on market places.
All in all, we signed up over 1700-2000 folks in a short time. And, 55 converted to a paid subscription within weeks of launch.
SEO & Integrations worked the best. Paid ds did a good job & Product Hunt didn’t get us many customers but definitely helped us pick the momentum.
We’re growing organically at a healthy rate month on month.
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