"Entrepreneurship just makes you better at everything" - Gaurav Toshniwal , NextGenCatalogs
WiredIn Interactive Pvt. Ltd., an initiative of IIT Bombay alumni, is the company behind NextGenCatalogs, a mobile and web application development company on the rise.
The startup came to life in October 2012 when a group of engineers - Gaurav Toshniwal, Aaron Dsouza and Vishal Shah came together with a new business idea. Vikram Parekh, who is now one of the directors of WiredIn Interctive Pvt. Ltd. joined the team in 2013.
In an exclusive interview with CrazyEngineers, Gaurav Toshniwal discusses about NextGenCatalogs and WiredIn Interactive Pvt. Ltd., his first business idea and how he moved forward with it and what he learn't during his entrepreneurial journey so far. We also asked Gaurav about his favorite book and the benefits of a mentor's advice that helped him in the long run. Read on and find out more!
CE: Could you please tell our readers more about NextGenCalatogs?
Gaurav: • NextGenCatalogs is a B2B communication backbone enabling product centric conversations between manufacturers, distributors and retailers.
• Users can create product catalogs, integrate them with their customers’ phonebook, and map their supply chain onto the same platform.
• A small and medium business owner, who frequently updates their product portfolio, and has the need for continuous engagement with existing customers, finds NextGenCatalogs a perfect fit for their product marketing, and customer support needs.
• Download Android App: https://goo.gl/U8YNXv
CE: What was your first business idea and what did you do with it? What do you wish you knew before you started NextGenCatalogs?
Gaurav: My first business was a ride sharing (car pooling portal). It was inspired from our own day to day experience and need of a service that could help us find people travelling in the same route as ours so that we could share the auto/taxi fare and seemed like a compelling idea. I, along with a couple of friends in college immediately started out with the product development and launched a private beta for the product.
However, there were certain big issues that were not solved since the day we started out the product development, like lack of smartphone usage (to make it available on the go), safety issues, timing issues etc and it did not pick up. Due to all this, the team lost their interest and hence we had to drop the idea.
I learned over the course of failing at multiple ideas that:
1) Not all good ideas are unique. If no one is doing it, it can be seen as a red flag.
2) Research thoroughly before you start building something. Discuss with people. Discuss with your target consumers. Don't be afraid of sharing your ideas.
As engineers, our first action to any potentially good idea is to start building it, that too in a full fledged way. However, the lean startup approach where you build, validate, iterate totally makes sense.
CE: What is your competitive advantage and why do you think it cannot be copied?
Gaurav: We have an excellent mix of technical and business skills, ability to implement lean and scalable processes, and understanding of Indian SMEs which gives us a good edge against competition.
The NextGenCatalogs Team
CE: Compared to your competition, how do you compete with respect to price, features, and performance?
Gaurav: We differentiate from our competition at multiple levels. Our product roadmap is built in a such a way that a customer does not need to look at other products for their customer engagement and product marketing needs. Examples include creating a digital presence under 5 mins directly from your mobile, keeping customers updated on latest products, and leveraging the in-app product centric chat for seamless communication.
We believe that if price is the only thing you can compete on, then you've a problem in your product, and as compared to your competition, you're not adding any incremental value to your customers.
C:E What book would you recommend for every aspiring entrepreneur? Could you please tell us what is an average workday like for you?
Gaurav: Lean Startup (must read)
Eat that frog.
My average working day starts at 8 in the morning. I try to finish most of my work that requires high concentration during starting couple of hours, post which rest of the people dependent work like business discussions, technical discussions, mailing and rest of development related work happens. By the evening, core team discussions if any are due happen and they can go upto 9-10 in the evening. I ensure that I read a bit before going to bed.
CE: Please describe a pitfall you were able to avoid because of a mentor or other advisor’s advice.
Gaurav: I've learnt a lot from my mentors, whom I always looked up for advice. In line with the earlier comment, the biggest pitfall we avoided during NextGenCatalogs, was designing, building, and launching a product in the market...that no one wants!! My mentors have helped me focus on the lean ways of starting up.
CE: Could you please tell our readers about a time you felt you were right but you still had to follow directions or guidelines?
Gaurav: As you start working out in larger teams, there's a certain structure that gets build in your organisation. There have been times in the past where I had to go along with decisions where I did not fully agree. In times like these, we ensure that our egos don't come into play, and we focus on doing what's right for the company. Sometimes we hit, sometimes we miss...but we always keep learning.
CE: Do you, as a leader, bounce back quickly from setbacks?
Gaurav: You have to. There is no point in being discouraged by setbacks. It only harms oneself. Just assimilate all your lessons from your experience and move forward.
CE: Thank you for your time. Any message for our readers?
For students who are reading this, I would recommend that there has been no better time in the history of startups to startup. Entrepreneurship just makes you better at everything. Take the plunge. Its not as big a risk as it seems. Whether or not you succeed in the startup, it is always going to be beneficial in the long run.