Interseed: Advertiser to Tech Entrepreneur

We were recently invited to join the Interseed Podcast, hosted by Tyrone Robb. During our discussion, our founder, Shambhabi, shared insights about our journey of launching Fieldmobi Frontline product on Product Hunt.

Table of Contents:
 
  1. Introduction
  2. Fieldmobi Product Roadmap

    1. Team Manager
    2. Information Manager
    3. Activity and Issue Manager
    4. AI ERP Consultant
  3. Fieldmobi ERP Extensions

    1. Roads Partnership
  4. What makes Fieldmobi different?
  5. Tips for launching on Product Hunt?

 

Introduction 

Tyrone: Hello everybody, welcome back to another episode of Top of the Hub. Today we've got Shambhabi with us, who's not only created a fantastic product, but she's had a significant achievement of being second of the day and fifth of the week. This success has improved everything she's doing with a positive feedback. So before we get into it, I'll ask you to introduce yourself, Shambhabi, and then we'll dive right in.

Shambhabi: I'm Shambhabi, the founder and CEO of Fieldmobi. Fieldmobi is designed to make enterprise software accessible to the 99%. Most enterprise software targets large enterprises and their back offices, leaving out the majority of workers. With the widespread adoption of mobile technology, many workers are now capable and willing to use technology. Our focus is on extending ERP software to field teams and frontline workers, as well as smaller businesses. We aim to bring technology to the masses who have been overlooked by traditional enterprise software. Our product, Fieldmobi Frontline, is the first of its kind, specifically tailored for frontline workers and field teams. It can be used independently to manage teams or integrated with an ERP system to bring a significant portion of the workforce onto the platform. It's not just for teams; it's also designed to manage resources and operations outside of the main office.

Tyrone: What's your background then? How come you've spotted this problem and sought to solve it?

Shambhabi: Surprisingly, my background is actually in advertising. I used to be a copywriter, so I used to be a creative person in advertising, which is not what you'd expect from someone doing software. Basically, I spent four and a half years in advertising and then went on to do my MBA from the University of Cambridge. I came back and actually joined my dad's company at the time. He has another company that's focused essentially on IoT and enterprise software, very project-centric. So I worked there for about a year or so, about a year or two. I've actually been working on and off all my life, I think, at some point. So technology's kept in there the whole time, call advertising my rebellion. So basically, while working there, one of the things that kept coming up while working with these larger enterprise customers was when it comes to actually working with their smaller partners, their field teams, there's so little available. And most of the time, they try building it themselves. Unfortunately, when you try doing something like that, what tends to happen is it becomes very centered around the larger organization, which means the usefulness for the smaller organization or the smaller teams isn't that high. So it feels more like a burden than something to help them. So what we started realizing very quickly was there's this huge gap in the entire sort value chain. Everybody working with an external party isn't really part of enterprise workflows at all. But large organizations care about them because that's so much data that they're losing out on. That's so much efficiency they're losing out on. You essentially have these huge teams of people that are not connected to your core system. And it's such a difficult thing to solve because most large enterprises unfortunately still have a little bit of the mindset where they believe that these guys won't be able to use the same technology. And in some cases, the same technology is very complicated. So it's the technology's fault more than the people's. So that's essentially where it started from. And we basically built this no-code platform. So my co-founder is my dad. He spent quite a while building up the backend platform. That is the backbone of everything we do. Because it's no-code, we can very quickly and easily build applications out from it. And it makes us flexible enough to handle enterprise customers. And then... It also gives us the opportunity to make things simple enough for smaller businesses. So we've done things in a way where we kind of balance that simplicity and flexibility. And we're trying to use that to connect all of these missing links, essentially. So yeah, that's essentially where it started from. A lot has happened, obviously, in the course of the last couple of years to get us where we are now. But the problem has always really remained the same.

Tyrone: It's interesting. How did you find Cambridge? It's from the UK. It's one of our world-renowned universities. It's a lovely city. It's a lovely place to go. Did you enjoy it there?

Shambhabi: It was incredible. So I was actually the year when COVID hit, and you'd think that would be a really terrible experience, but I actually really enjoyed it in many senses. I think I'm one of the few people, a handful of people who could say they were at Cambridge when it was completely empty. So there's actually this whole thing about the last time Cambridge shut down was when Newton was at Cambridge during the plague. So it was just one of those things that people talked about for a while, but it was a different experience, but it was amazing in many senses. After everything, there's very little you really have to say about it. Most people know about it, but in terms of say, so there are two sides of it. One part of it was me coming in as a creative background student going and doing an MBA was quite an experience in itself. And I specifically picked Cambridge for a few specific reasons. For one, it's very entrepreneurial and it's very diverse. They have students from every kind of background. There were producers, various different engineers, everything. Engineers are relatively common nowadays, but you have a wide variety of students in your class. And me coming in as a creative person, it really helped me actually learn from a lot of different backgrounds, a lot of different people. And then the wider university was also incredible. You have PhDs doing everything from anthropology to studying graphene. And it was wonderful. You learn so much.

Tyrone: I can imagine it. It would have felt a bit like being on a set of Harry Potter or something. There's so few people there. It would have been wonderful. I suppose while everyone else was in an awkward position with COVID, our lockdowns over here were, some thought, quite draconian, but... It's a nice spot for you to be in and I'm sure your dad was happy to bring his prodigal child back from the dark side of creative. He's managed to convince you to do a real subject at a good university. So I'm sure he's happy when you return. So what's the dynamic like working with your dad? Is it interesting? Is he a bossy boss? Should we send somebody to tell him off?

Shambhabi: I think he's going to claim that I'm the bossy boss. It's a really good dynamic. We work really well together to be really honest. I think people would assume the dynamic is him telling me what to do, but it's usually the other way around. So it's a very good dynamic. I have no complaints there. And it really does help to work with someone you completely trust because that's unfortunately one of the hardest things about starting a company. It's finding people you genuinely trust to do it with. It being your dad basically means you don't have to worry about a lot of things that other people have to worry about. Also, he's an incredible developer. So my dad actually develops himself. So he's probably the oldest developer you'll know. So he actually built up the system himself. He's the coder.

Tyrone: If you don't mind me asking, how old is he?

Shambhabi: He's 61 now.

Tyrone: 61. Yeah. I think I've had two people recently who've been coding for 30 years, but they were perhaps early fifties. And one of them thought he was the oldest. And I'm going to need to tell them actually, the accolade you thought you had is no longer applicable to you. So we'll need to pass that on to somebody else. Well, it's fantastic. Obviously, there's a couple of key ingredients you need when starting a business and he's got the background knowledge and the skill set to build it. And then being a creative from that, the advertising space and understanding copywriting and obviously you have brush shoulders with people in that environment that had different skill sets and then doing an MBA. You've got a solid foundation for a team to go ahead and do some good things. It's really well done to both of you and hopefully you're old enough now to not get grounded. So it's a good thing. I think it's quite rare as well for people to perhaps it's not as rare as it used to be. I grew up in family businesses, but they were more in like the services trades and there was no technology involved. And not many people I grew up with actually lived and worked in family businesses. So it's an interesting thing for you to have done than him to have the technology background. It's a very unique story. 

Shambhabi: Even the family business, which is the other business really, it's not the one we're working on, is technically, it's completely technology. There's nothing else. My dad's been in technology for like 38 years, I want to say, something like that. So he's been developing for a very long time.

Tyrone: He's wanted to start something new with you. Do you know what it is, because I think sometimes we have the assumption that perhaps from a younger generation, whereas people get older, but we're less interested in learning new things and doing new things. But at 60-61, he's doing a great job and he's got a good apprentice with you now who can learn how to run a business with some background that you can teach him as well. So it's great. So whose idea was it for you to go on Product Hunt? 

Shambhabi: I don't think my dad would have done this on his own. I mean, Product Hunt wouldn't be something he'd possibly even come across had it not really been for me. OK, so what my dad has always been focused on has been large enterprise, sort of salesy. One of the reasons we're taking this to the masses and even trying to do this is because to some degree having a marketing and sort of advertising background does help you understand how to treat more mass customers. It's a very different world. So one of the places we always clash on is constantly trying to productize and him constantly trying to do projects. And that's always one of those areas where we have to keep working on how to bridge the gap. But. That's almost always going to happen, right? So different backgrounds, but the reason we can do this is because we have different backgrounds. Otherwise, I think there's skills that don't usually come together very often. You rarely have ERP trying to reach masses, mainly because ERP is usually very project-centric.

Tyrone: It is, but obviously with his background and you observing through the years, some of the gaps and the pain points of the smaller companies not being able to access the systems of the larger companies, it makes a lot of sense for you to offer a solution in there to plug that gap. And I suppose it's, AP tends to have large barriers to entry regardless. And I think especially when you start saying it's going to be for smaller companies, cognitively you're looking at it, hit a brick wall and then you come back and you think, actually it does make sense, but it's a very unsexy business to do. And that often can give you a more by default, because I can imagine it's quite difficult to convince other developers, this is somehow boring, but it's very important stuff to do. So for the smaller companies that you're helping, how exactly would one use it? So what would your target customer be?

Fieldmobi Product Roadmap

Shambhabi: So we've just launched Frontline, and Frontline is a very key sort of component to what we're doing to launch our first ERP, which we're going to launch in say a couple of months. Our first ERP is going to be designed for first-time ERP users. So businesses that have never rolled out an ERP system. Not the guys who've tried and attempted to roll out slightly larger ones and failed. Really guys who've never, ever been able to do it. Because one of the larger challenges you have with small businesses is that they essentially don't even have their master data structure. So back to unsexy things, but master data is a key requirement to set up any system, right? You need to know, have all of your resources in place, your product data, all of that has to actually be structured and it has to go into a system for it to work. Now, what we're doing with Frontline is we have four modules in it, essentially four applications within Frontline itself.

Team Manager

The first being Team Manager, which helps you manage your field teams, etc. Information Manager, which is one of the key components to helping you roll out ERP eventually.

Information Manager

The way we've designed Information Manager, it's basically designed so you can use data collected from your field operations, from your real operations, your day-to-day work, and convert that into your master data. So it helps really structure, bring structure to your master data, almost in a day-to-day way where you don't have to go out of your way. And as an owner, you don't get overburdened with this one task of trying to figure out how to put everything into place. So it happens over time. You keep collecting data, you give it to your team. They start cataloging. They can start capturing sort of sites and locations and all of these different things that you need one after the other without you being overburdened. Because that's one of the big problems, right? The bottleneck in terms of rolling anything out is, "I have to do it myself. My team can't do anything. I don't have a team of really very comfortable with tech team. I don't have the resources to hire someone who's who be able to consult and help me." Those are the real challenges, right? So you end up doing it yourself. And if you're the only person doing any work, you're not going to be able to end up rolling things out. So the idea is this way, your team can also start contributing and you're essentially approving instead of doing it all yourself. So that would be the core bit that goes into our first ERP when we launch it. Our first ERP will come with Frontline, and it'll also make sure all of your data is always up to date because it's actually coming from day-to-day operations itself. And then the other two modules in Frontline are

Activity and Issue Manager

Activity Manager and Issue Manager, which again are designed so that all of your ERP information. So if you're rolling out inventory management, the operations that you have for inventory will go through Activity Manager and all of your actual users would be contributing to your ERP system, as opposed to someone sitting in a back office, plugging in data.

Tyrone: I can see the value of that for a lot of smaller companies, especially when they're trying to relay information perhaps to, as you say, the larger ERP software. So when you say field agents and other things, what types of operations would that be? Would it be like people who are sales representatives or would it be delivery companies? What type of companies?

Shambhabi: So considering this is designed for any scale of business and because it's not really a vertical, so it's quite horizontal in many senses, it could be used for anyone from drivers, equipment operators, sales teams, delivery people. It could be a wide variety of people who are actually out there doing work. It could even be used, say, for your assembly team or your actual manufacturing teams and internal teams that are working somewhere far away. So, say, if you have large-scale manufacturing done somewhere, construction done somewhere, those things are difficult to manage from a headquarter or head office. But there's actually... Quite a lot of people involved doing lots of, and lots of processes involved. And those things can all be managed externally. Okay. So for example, it might be a national construction company building houses in the UK who has contractors who work on different sites at different times, who need different materials. So then all of sudden that's be able to be managed on a site by site basis, as opposed to head office, folding up once a week. Have you still got enough bricks? Yep, exactly. Yeah. And every time you say you have a... shortage of something, someone just sends a quick update, a quick request, it comes to the head office. Every time you need, you see an equipment breaks down, you can just quickly, the operator can quickly update that and then you can connect it with whoever fixes it and raise those alerts really quickly as well. And all that data comes to you centrally, so you know what's happening everywhere at any given time.

Tyrone: I can see how that works for people. So obviously you've done really well in Product Hunt. You'd convince your dad to go for it. What was it feeling like on the day when you achieved a second

Shambhabi: I think we were really hoping for first. We lost out very close to the end, so we felt a little bad about that. But honestly, it was great. It was really a team effort. So there's a few of us working quite hard working towards that. And we spent the night. So we were all holed up in the office for 24 hours, lots of pizza and food and snacks and just going at it. I think by the end of it, most people were too tired to even notice where we were placed anymore. We were just like almost robots trying to get those last few people involved. But honestly, it felt great. And I think somewhere along the lines, we were a little afraid we'd drop off the top five of the week, but we're very happy we made that this week.

Tyrone: The top five of the week is a massive achievement. And obviously the effort you've put in is a reflection of the confidence you have in the product you're building or you wouldn't have invested it. Well done. You're the second female founder we've had on. And when we look through Product Hunt itself and then startups in general, female founders are not really represented very well. What convinced you to want to start?

Shambhabi: Honestly, I didn't take much convincing. So very honestly, I loved advertising. So I was very happy with what I was doing. I used to work very long hours, like almost 18-hour days. I was happy. And then one day I just realized that I should probably do my own thing if I'm going to work 18-hour days. Probably be more useful. But I think in reality, I went to Cambridge wanting to start my own thing that one of the main criteria for me to do an MBA was, unfortunately, creative people are looked down upon when it looks at math and finance and all of that. So I just needed my GMAT to just explain to people that, yes, I can do math. I'm not that bad.

Tyrone: You've mentioned that you're obviously busy on the day for Product Hunt. Was that at the end of a busy month or did you decide this week we're going to launch?

Shambhabi: You've mentioned that you're obviously busy on the day for Product Hunt. Was that at the end of a busy month or did you decide this week we're going to launch? Oh, no. So much, there's so much going into a launch, right? Because you're getting your product ready. You're getting... every tiny component ready, you're figuring out how to eventually get users, how you to onboard your users. There's just so many things happening together. I think that busy month hasn't ended in many senses, even post-launch. I don't think it will anytime soon. And I think that's how things should be, right? You don't want a slow month.

Tyrone: No, definitely not at the start. Obviously, you've gained some traction. People have liked you, people have voted you, people have come along and used the product. And perhaps not all of the people on Product Hunt are a perfect target customer for you. When they're launching small SaaS's into the things, maybe in five, 10 years, they might be your customers. But for today, it's good that you've had them. And obviously from what you've done, you've created awareness with them anyway. So hopefully, you're a name that keeps popping up to them every now and again. And then when eventually they do get there, then obviously you've touched them seven, eight, 12 times or something. So it's an easy sales process for you. So. Obviously, you've got a lot of feedback from there. Was it all good feedback? Was it bad feedback? What did people say?

Shambhabi: We got a lot of good feedback, to be very honest. A lot of it was constructive feedback, which we just used to change and upgrade our UI. So we're quite happy about that. We're happy people like it. Product hunting, I think is a little biased in terms of they tell you a lot more good things about your product than bad. I think it's part of the fact that you're in a community of makers and no one really wants to be extremely harsh. But. That being said, I think there's some feedback that we got that was really helpful in terms of how we can improve onboarding, how we can improve, how quickly you can start accessing the system and things like that. Things we were definitely thinking about in any case. So one of the things we're planning to launch is basically an AI ERP consultant. We're going to really help with the onboarding aspect right now because we haven't launched that yet. Our onboarding is a little slower. And we know that's a problem going forward. We'll have to fix. And that's something that's top of our mind in any case. But I'm glad that there were people who recognize that and recognize some of the things we were also thinking about as well. So yeah, it was quite useful in that sense. There were quite a lot of feedback from different people about different sort of usage modes, mainly onboarding and things like that, especially. Cause I think early on you don't really get more than that cause it's the first day. No one really gets too far along in a slightly more complicated system. So if you're working on something that's quick to use and it's a tiny product, you might get a lot more feedback that is central to the core function. But in our case, because after everything, it is business software, there's quite a lot to try out, there's quite a lot to go ahead with, that's going to take a little more time to get that kind of reviews and that kind of real usability information. But hopefully we'll keep in touch with these users and we'll find out.

Tyrone:  So how long would you anticipate it would be before somebody gets from signing up today to actually truly understand the value of what you've created?

Shambhabi: I'd say maybe two weeks to a month. I think it comes down to actually being able to use it roll it out properly. We can do it in a way where you can get started almost immediately, but the truth is until you manage, you gain confidence in it and then you roll it out with a group of people, you don't really see its value until it gets fully utilized. So I think we should give it about a couple of weeks at minimum.

Tyrone: Okay, because that kind of puts you still with a bit of a white glove process requirement, perhaps. So you see, your dad might be writing a few things along the way, but then obviously it's for those types of software, sometimes it's three or four years, isn't it, before they start to realize how much the payback truly is. So it's a lot quicker. So it's interesting that you've got a little bit of an awkward problem to try and solve, to educate them quickly, to keep them coming back on for a couple of weeks whilst letting them know. I suppose from there, it might be like a month free trial or something. And once you've used it for two weeks, then all of a sudden it's two weeks to go and you think I can't get rid of this now, I need it. It makes my job and life easier.

Shambhabi: That's true of anything that's heavily core to your business, right? So it takes more time for you to start using it because it's so important. You don't usually mess around. But once you actually start using it and it has value, it's very hard to leave it as well. It's the reason companies like SAP have been selling the same software for 25 years and no one's upgrading. So it makes sense, right? It's difficult to upgrade. It becomes too central to your business. So it's fine. We understand that. And I think that's something we're okay with at this point. It'll take time, but the people who come on board will not leave so easily. So that's always a good thing too.

AI ERP Consultant

Tyrone: Yeah, no, definitely. The consultant's job inside your app that there, that's going to then teach people like how to do things, why they're doing things, perhaps which things they need to use no code for and other things like that. Is that the plan with it?

Shambhabi: So what it'll basically do is yes, help you set up the system. So the way the entire system works is you don't actually actively have to use the no code system at all. You don't. So we pre-configure everything. You basically have to select from the pre-configured system. If you want to actually use the No-Code system, that's when we have our enterprise solutions.

Fieldmobi ERP Extensions

Shambhabi: So we actually have three sets of products. I've talked about two because those are the mass ones. The third is essentially called ERP extensions. And that's targeted towards larger organizations or partners. That's designed to essentially create what we like to call verticalizable SaaS. So essentially take a function or a part of your business or part of your ERP system that you want to really connect with an external party. So it could be smaller businesses, it could be field teams, etc. And then we'll help you customize that very quickly because we can do that very fast because of our platform. And then you can roll that out with your entire team, network, however large you go.

Roads Partnership

Shambhabi: So right now we have a partnership in the roads industry for road maintenance. And basically how it works is they've taken a part of our solution and they use it to manage issues on the road and then eventually connect it to the contractors who actually do the work. They verify it and they collect all that data and send it to the government as reports because that's something they have to do.

Tyrone: Okay, because I can imagine that there's roads in almost every country in the world. So it's a good case study to go to the next one with. I know perhaps hopefully one of your targets might be the UK to help us get rid of some of these potholes. If people don't know the UK and potholes, it seems to be holes everywhere that just leave. They put a little bit of tar over this year and then they'll come back in five years time and maybe we fix it again. And then before it looks like a Dalmatian. It's atrocious for, I don't know how they get away with it, but they do. So hopefully you can get into some of those companies and get them to fix it. I think it's more mismanagement from their side than actually not having the budget. So there's probably a lot of money lost on too many people in between, too many middlemen they don't need.

So obviously from the Product Hunt success now you're looking, you're thinking, is this part of your continued sort of early validation or go-to-market? So when you release the next part, is that going to come back on Product Hunt?

Shambhabi: It will, it will. So one of the real reasons we started launching on Product Hunt is it gives you a deadline. So one of the problems we have as a founder is honestly, there's no real deadline, right? You make your deadlines and it's so easy to keep pushing them, especially when you're doing relatively complicated things that can always be better. So what we have started essentially doing is deciding on our Product Hunt deadline and just going for it. It's helped us bring some structure on board. And it's getting things done much faster because you've worked towards a date. So we're using Product Hunt as product management more than anything else. Of course, it's also great validation.

Tyrone: That's worked for you the whole way through your life. When you have an exam date set, you stick to it. When your dad's had a deadline on a contract, he's had to hit it. But then I suppose like what you're saying here, because we've been victim of the same sort of thing. Our technical co-founder was... One of the first engineers hired at a company and they had, I think, less than 10 employees at the time, eight or nine. And then eventually it's been, it's grown, it's expanded, his business units increased. And then eventually got acquired by a massive conglomerate. So now he works managing two teams of twice the size of what the company was when he first started. So he's experienced the full journey. And now he's very much like, I can imagine what your dad's perspective is. This has to be perfect on the first time of launch. And then I can imagine myself and my other co-founder more like yourself. So let's just go for it. Let's get it launched and get out there. But it's finding that balance, isn't it? What can you get done in that timeframe? And I think it's, I might try to employ, but then he'll probably say, you can just cancel it. We refused to do that.

Shambhabi: We refused to do that. So we publicly announced the date before, from a month ahead. So there's no changing the day. Yeah, you'll be seeing us launch on the 27th of April then. Yeah, that's what we've been doing. It's been working, honestly. It's one of those things. It's not just my dad, right? It's the entire team. Everybody has something to work towards, which can be quite hard early on when you don't really know what you're working towards. You're still finding your fitting. You're trying to find product market fit and all of those things, which means there's always... iteration and things are changing, but things changing also means that it feels like a blur after a point if you don't have concrete things to work towards.

Tyrone: Definitely. You have to be smart about it, don't you? If you're not smart about your targets, then there's no point having them. Exactly. That's fantastic. What's the plan for the next stage? Are you looking at now a sales team to go out there or are you looking to continue to be product-led?

Shambhabi: We will be product-led. That being said, yes, we will have a sales team. You can't be a product-led company without anyone using your product. So we will be doing a little bit of both. We're simultaneously, as I said, working towards launching First ERP and our consultant. But along with that, we're already looking at different ways to increase usage in terms of our extensions, which are more sales-led, to be honest. That's actually project-driven almost. It's project-driven, but you have a constant increase in users. So, micro-projects in a sense. Micro-products in a sense. That's something we're looking at. And the other thing is going out there completely with Frontline. And Frontline, again, is targeted both towards smaller businesses and these early users who would come online and use it themselves. And then there's also the other side where you're extending ERP, which is targeted towards larger companies. So that's where we can also charge more. We have to charge more because you'll actually need hand-holding. You'll need customization. It's like, but that's where the flexibility part becomes so key.

Tyrone: It's like, but that's where the flexibility part becomes so key. So, back onto Product Hunt, is there anything you would do differently next time?

Shambhabi: I think I'd like to say, I wish I had more time to get ready because I keep putting these deadlines and then going, okay, we have to finish no matter what. But I think that's the main benefit we get out of it. So it's one of those things where you have to give up one part of it for the other to work. But I think, honestly, we've been finding it pretty decent. I think we found somewhat of a formula in terms of how to get Product Hunt ready now. This is our second launch. So we launched once before. And again, that time, I think we came fifth of the day and 10th of the week. So we've been finding some sort of pattern. And I think once you become a part of the community, it becomes much easier to keep going beyond a point. I think I would have loved to actually have my website and things like that ready a little earlier so I could have started sales a little bit earlier, but again, pros and cons. So if you're going to use it like a deadline for your product, you're going to have certain things that you have to just rush.

What makes Fieldmobi different compared to it's competitors?

Tyrone: Yeah. Cause I know you mentioned that the UI being updated and in your website design and the app, it's quite different, isn't it? To traditional enlarged SaaS offerings. • How come you've gone down that route? It's very interesting.

Shambhabi: So I think one of the main things we're focused on is again, the 99%. The 99 % is used to consumer apps. They're not used to gray boxes with tabs to go into everything and all of that. They're not. • That is again, targeted towards 1%. There's a lot of functionality usually in them, • but in terms of UI and usability, that's just, it's quite, • I have no other word for it. bad. •• But that's fine. It serves a purpose and people have been so used to it. That 1 % will probably find what we're doing for villas, which I understand that's not what we're targeting. We're trying to reach people who are not used to that, who are used to Google and Facebook and all of these other tools that are consumer friendly. • And we've actually noticed, so if you look at things like Google Pay, so • I don't know how much you know about UPI in India, but like our digital payment systems, • it's basically been rolled out across the country. And what's happened here is that if you go to any street vendor now, so even people from rural India coming out and selling fruits and vegetables, • most of the time you don't need cash anymore. No one uses cash anymore here. You just take your phone out, you open say GPay or something like that. They have a QR code, you scan it and you pay. • So even... It's trickled down to the lowest rung in terms of the far furthest corners of the country at this point. And I'd assume that would slowly happen everywhere. • People are very comfortable with mobile now. They're comfortable with a certain type of application. They're not comfortable with business software. • So if you're trying to get them to use business software, • it's probably going to be hard.

Tyrone: Because even the design itself is very different to most. • It's, I don't know what style you would call it, but what's the style? Cause it's different, isn't it?

Shambhabi: It's definitely a lot more colorful for one. • It's brighter. It's designed to be brighter. It's designed to not be dull. I think that is one of the four parts of it, just like any other consumer app. So it's not like consumer apps have not been doing this for a long time. It's just that enterprise apps decided not to for some reason. 

Tyrone: It's because it reminded me of a website, and I couldn't remember which one it was, and it still evaded me. It's just evaded me completely so it doesn't much matter. But it's interesting the way you've gone in. It is very obvious the way you position yourself very quickly that we solve these problems, but we do it in a very different way and perhaps for a different audience. So it's I think effective to be so different, and the way you're differentiating yourself from them makes a lot of sense. And it's... a testament to your experience and your 18 hours a day for a long time. And then you're going through, and you've understood the world in which you operate. It's fantastic.

Tips for launching on Product Hunt

Tyrone: From there, is there anything you would advise somebody who is new to Product Hunt and going through their first launch?

Shambhabi: I think the first thing I'd say is don't try to cheat. In the sense, there is no way to go past the actual reaching out as a human. So don't use bots and all of that. They just... cancel those out anyway. So the community is really amazing. Once you actually start engaging with them, they're really helpful. They actually come back to you. They do give you feedback. They're also quite interesting. So you end up talking to some people. I'm sure that's how we met. So they're a really helpful community and very useful to reach out yourself. The first time you're starting out, that community can be a little daunting to get involved in. What we did the first time around is we reached out to a hundred people per day for a month. So from the day we basically launched our coming soon page. From that day onwards, we made sure that at the time we were only two people working on the Product Hunt launch. And at that point, we were just reaching out consistently a hundred people every day. And by the end of the month, we had about 400 people who hit the notify me page at that time. And it converted quite well. We came fifth on our first try, which I think is not bad. And we also launched on a horrible day last time around. It was quite crazy last time around. There were four companies that hit almost a thousand on the day we launched. And I think one of them had about 50 million in funding. One of them was YC. It was just, it was chaos, but those things happen. You'll have days when, you know, OpenAI launches something and someone else launches something. And I don't think that really matters at the end. I think after everything, how many people end up commenting and actually giving you feedback and interacting really does help. And you'll notice that your website traffic increases so drastically on those days. It's crazy. So there are lots of benefits, but you've got to just consistently really reach out. And then of course, go into the groups, the various, there are lots of groups on every platform, starting with WhatsApp to LinkedIn, to Facebook, there's so many, Discord, Slack, it helps you talk to everyone there, just reach out to people, that's it, there's really nowhere around that.

Tyrone: It's good advice, and you chose not to use an influencer both times, or did you use an influencer the first time?

Shambhabi: We didn't. When you say influencer, I'm assuming you mean a hunter? I think what we wanted to do is long-term use Product Hunt to launch, so for us to build that sort base ourselves was also important. So we sacrificed any immediate benefit we might have gotten from getting someone else to hunt to build that ourselves. So it made this time much easier in many senses, for sure.

Tyrone: Yeah. I think it's perhaps the right choice if you've got a long-term view. Yeah. Obviously if you're testing, you're trying, and perhaps with your background as well, you've got confidence to go out and speak to people. Some people lack that, so they might think, I only have to talk to one person to do this. And then you see it because like you mentioned YC, I've seen a few companies from them launch and not do very well really. I think that they've had an influencer come and do it. They expected a win. YC perhaps it's just going to be easy. And it's not because the product and community doesn't necessarily respect anybody more than the next one. It's, if you reached out to me to have a look at your product, I'll go and have a look at it. I like it. I'll give it a vote and I'll leave a comment. If I don't, I won't. So even though you're putting that work in, it's more direct advertising as opposed to actually convincing everybody to vote because they don't do it. I've had people ask me to vote something and I don't, I can't see how it would be useful. So I won't do it. Where the other times I've voted something that I saw in the morning and then they've reached out in the afternoon anyway. Do you know? So it's. As much as it's a lot of hard work, there's no guarantees from doing it. If you don't build a good product that people like, then you won't end up at the top anyway. And if you don't put the work in, you're definitely not getting there.

Shambhabi: You brought up a point. Another really important part about product launches is not to ask for upvotes. For one, there will be someone who will report you at some point. So just don't do it. And also it's not trade. You're not asking for upvotes. You're asking for some support. You're asking for maybe take a look at what we're doing and see if there's any feedback that you might have. But anything again, as I said, don't cheat. So they have a very clear rule about not asking for upvotes. Don't ask for upvotes.

Tyrone: Yeah, there was a company I saw last week or the week before, and I felt sorry for them a little bit because I think I've mentioned it at the Times and the podcast, and I need to not be too repetitive with it, but they... came sixth, and they were at the time when I'd upvoted them, they were second. And they reached out to me about a month before. So they'd put the groundwork in and then something happened during the day, and they just tanked; they disappeared off the no longer featured. And then they went from a realistic fight for first or second place to finishing sixth. And they'd only had about 20 more votes after they disappeared. Towards the end, and I think, I don't know if they tried to ask everybody to upvote them. English wasn't the first language, so they might have communicated the sentiment in the wrong way. Sometimes you don't know if it's an honest mistake or if it's somebody being dishonest and wanting to game the system. But I did feel sorry for them, but I'm sure they'll be back again and hopefully they don't ask for upvotes next time or perhaps pay for them, I don't know.

Shambhabi: Yeah. I mean, you can see that through the day because there are sudden spirals where upvotes vanish. It happens to everyone. I think to some degree, you can't control who's upvoting. And in some cases, I think random people do upvote. So we see one or two sort of drop-offs in our case too. And we know for a fact that we've not used anything. But yeah, there are certain, if you look at the trajectories, you see some full cliffs in their upvotes. So you understand what's going on. Maybe someone reports them. I don't really know how that works, but yeah, for sure cheating is not. does not go well on Product Hunt, and that seems quite clear.

Tyrone: I think the worst part as well is if you cheat and you get yourself first of the day and then maybe top five, 10 of the week or whatever, you're in a position where you're trying to use that as social proof to help customers come to your platform later on. But when somebody's parting with money and they've not had the discount from you, they're in a position then where they're going to say, actually, this tool is not very good. I'm not going to renew my subscription anyway. Yeah. Do you know, so you've led yourself and given yourself some false positives that realistically will do more harm than good. People do it for whatever reasons they do it.

Shambhabi: Yeah. And also, what's the point? What's the point of getting anybody aside from real people onto your platform?

Tyrone: Maybe it's nicer. It might be nicer looking at a full Google Analytics dashboard than an empty one. • Other than that, I can't see it myself.
From there, is there anything else you'd like to add or discuss

Shambhabi: We're going to be preparing for another launch quite soon. Up until that point, I really hope people try out Frontline, and we're going to keep approaching different companies over the next few months, trying to get as many users on board and actually solve this problem. After everything, our goal is, as I said, bringing enterprise software to 99%. And I think that's, you said it's unsexy, it is unsexy, but for us, anything useful is anything but success.

Tyrone:  I can remember reading the book a few years ago, and it was something to do with the pyramid, and I think it was in India where he was writing it from. I'll find it and send you a link, but anyway, in the book, they were talking about obviously targeting the bottom end of the market, and at the bottom end of the market and the pyramid, that's where the 99% are, and obviously solving a problem for them can really change the world. Whereas if you're solving a problem at the top end, you're perhaps improving somebody's bottom line, but you're not necessarily making a difference for a lot of people. Somebody's job's easier in a big organization and somebody gets a promotion perhaps, but at the little people towards the bottom, you're keeping people feeding their families, paying their mortgages, paying for all of their bills, and keeping small businesses afloat, which longer term I think will feel a lot more rewarding at least. So it's a good way of looking at it, and I'm glad you and your dad have got the skill set and the experience to come along and help them. And I hope you do help a lot of them, especially those who do the roads in the UK. Please get in touch with them. I will try my level best. Outside of that, then if you've got nothing else to add, we can wrap up there, and hopefully we can get you back on in about six months' time or whenever your next launch. Sure. And just the progress you've made and how things have changed within your business. And obviously it's Product Hunt has been a major success today, and I'm sure it'll be a better success. Certainly I would expect you to be hitting first next time, but it might not be as significant of an impact on your business then because you've made so much progress, we'll see. Let's hope so. Other than that, I'll say goodbye for now and I'll speak to you again soon. Sounds great. It's been a pleasure having you and keep up the good work.

Shambhabi: Thanks for having me. It was great talking to you.

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