Amaresh Shirsat, COO at Qualitia Software share his experience of founding startups and what it takes to build products that are really useful. He also share his thoughts around building the best teams and the culture from very early on.
Key takeaways from the episode
- Product market fit in my opinion is the most important aspects of building the product.
- For Product market fit it’s essential to do a real Competitive Analysis in terms of what are the other players doing in the market and what are the looking case need to build first.
- How do you sell the visions and how you make people equally passionate about the mission is how you are attempting to achieve the kind of culture.
- About MVP, it’s not a compromised quality product it could be less in terms of the features and definitely needs to solve particular use case really well. So, that customers start using your product, it may not have all the appeal, it may not have the different crucial but it solves the particular use case into the end and which is a pain point for customers they will hatch on it.
- A company is not just about the products it’s about the people that are giving along. How do you sell the visions and how you make people equally passionate about the mission is where you are attempting to achieve the kind of culture that you build along the way and values that you inculcate into teams.
- The founding members play a huge role in the success or failure of the company. It’s not just about the technical ability but the diversity that you can bring to the team in terms of technical skills in the product management to sell the particular product, diversity in terms of skills values.
- My belief is people get attracted to you even though you are startup and are ready to compromise on other aspects of compensation, working hours about facilities as long as you able to send them that vision.
Some important questions covered in the interview
- Do’s and don’t to build a successful startup.
- The importance of knowing and finding the product market fit early on.
- What is the ideal MVP you should enter the market with?
- How to build the right team with the right skill sets?
- When should you start focusing on building the right culture in your startup?
Here’s the full transcript
Meetul(00:48): As a serial entrepreneur somebody more A knows a technical band this kind of startup podcast. Can you help us understand that? You know what got you started you know on a journey and what has been the learning’s that you have discovered along the way as to the do’s and don’ts of the successful startup
Amaresh(01:01): Startup journey is really exciting in the sense that when you look around we see a lot of problems, what really excites you if you are an entrepreneur in nature, is that the way you would like to solve these problems. I come from a technical background alternate enough work with many strong technical companies like Symantec, BMC which were working solve some specific crucial problem for the enterprises and in the process what I figured out lot needed to be done and which was not done.So, that where entrepreneur bug was looking me and a drove me in starting a couple of companies
Meetul(02:00): During the day the conversation you kind of mentioned that starting is just probably the easier part of it. But starting right away is probably really crucial. How did you kind of discover that some of the states and what are the things that are needed to make it successful?
Amaresh(02:19): Right, as a technical person myself what all was said what you could quickly and very easily build the product without really focusing on the product market fit.And that’s the biggest mistake mostly entrepreneur especially come from the technical background they commit, initially they build the product which they feel is really fit in solving customer problem but what is extremely crucial is to validate the product in the market as quickly as possible even it’s not perfect the validation is extremely crucial. So, product market fit in my opinion for the most important aspects of building the product and which is we are there to talk about MVP early to marketing getting early validation very fast so all that comes building the product.
Meetul(03:19): As a technical founder said the building product is very natural to you but in general what I’ve seen is either people are too early or they are too late in the market because talking to people and getting validation is harder than building a product. What’s your recommendation as to what’s the optimal MVP that essentially can help you do this product market fit?
Amaresh(03:47): So, that’s right many of times product is too early for a market where the market doesn’t the tool or they are too late in the sense that it’s enough competition the differentiation doesn’t stand out.Where one has to really with the golden name is to identify the real problem that they are trying to solve, do a really good competitive analysis in terms of what are the other players in the market and what is it. What is that in this case that leads to building first? So that you get that attention you deserve while bringing the product out in the market then we talk about MVP. It’s not a compromised quality product it could be less in terms of the features and definitely needs to solve particular use case really well so, that customers start using your product it may not have all the appeal, it may not have the different crucial but it solves the particular use case into the end and which is pain point for customers they will hatch on it. You can always add the other additional features enhancement later, that one which you have to get it right.
Meetul(05:03): So as a technical founder what can say natural is okay to build a product you know hopefully the product has a good product-market fit. And that you’re able to attract some customers and the journey starts. But the startup is just not about the products. There are a lot of soft skills and very some hard skills that aren’t quite according to you what are some of the important skills you are acquired even for engineering leaders to make a company successful.
Amaresh(05:35): That’s a very good point for Meetul because a company is not just about the products it’s about the people that are giving along right. How do you sell the visions how you make people equally passionate about the mission that you are attempting to achieve the kind of culture that you build along the way and values that you inculcate into teams especially the founding members all of that play a huge role in the success or failure of the company. It’s not just about the technical know-how technical ability but the diversity that you can bring to the team in terms of technical skills in the product management, to sell the particular product, diversity in terms of skills, values that founding members of the founding engineers be suitable also make a huge difference.
Meetul(06:42): So, you talked about hiring the best in the right talent and then the importance of culture. Let’s tackle the first part of it like you know building the right team in general you know in India huge amount of talent available but the suitable talent for a startup and finding that talent has been a challenge pretty much across the globe but it seems like that is a little bit more of a progressive challenge. In India is that a correct statement, what I’m hearing from people and you know I would love thought how do you found it.
Amaresh(07:25): So finding a specific skill set can be challenging especially in India. So, when I initially started back in 2007. There weren’t a lot of product companies coming out of India. So, the product-specific skills are somebody who can understand the Invent development of product was a huge challenge and in many cases, you had to bring a real parts young developer on board very attached fresh out of college and groomed them and train them to like have the best engineer to you can have. Ready talent during those days is really skilled were a challenge. But talent is always there so as long as you have a very strong which is really trying to solve any interesting problem my belief is people get attracted to you even though you are startup right people are ready to compromise on other aspects like compensation, working hours about facilities as long as you able to send them the vision.
Meetul(08:47): Was there a particular source or particular accessibility that you had that thought that you know kind of work for you, where they were when you were building the company.
Amaresh(08:58): So, what I found was that if we are trying to solve real technical problems. Many technical solve engineers will be able to attract as long as problem statement is good enough you can attract that kind of people in terms of building teams not during startup but even in large companies where we have worked, we always mix the express level where we hired a lot of freshers where we get our talent and high energy and we are mixing it with experienced leaders. So that combination works very well for us.
Meetul(09:48): The other point you kind of brought up that was that was actually the music to my ears, not sure how many founders actively think about it, the importance of culture and making sure that is kind of talked about and from the very beginning and it can be like an afterthought. So would love to understand that what is the importance of culture and how you use how the established culture when you are such a small organization and you running fast.
Amaresh(10:22): That’s a very good question Meetul so, culture plays in my mind beneficial role in the terms of growth of organizations are an alignment of the team. And cultures are pretty much defined by the founding team. So, as long as you get your founding team right with all of them are aligned with the common goal it becomes easy to set the culture for a lot size of 10’s or even 100 herd big team.If you don’t get it right the first place maybe then you under 10 it becomes very difficult to manage if they do become 100. So, unless you have the focus right from the beginning it very difficult to manage later.
Meetul(11:16): So in general it is we talking right. I mean not even many companies or startup probably think about it from the onset. Is this something that you could fix later? Is culture something that is fixable later once potentially realized it because you may not be aware of it in the beginning but you know when you do. Is this something that can be fixed.
Amaresh(11:45): I think it can be fixed, can be a painful process fixing it, Maybe even once you grow you should be able to align most of your stuff with not all but then either you’re in or out. So, it becomes painful process but you really want to fix it, I believe that it can be fixed it just time-consuming of all Costly one.
Meetul(12:24): I think this has been an exciting conversation and I learned a lot out of the conversation that we had and as a parting thought do you have any recommendations for listeners regarding any source, any books that you get inspiration from, that you know other people should listen to read or get inspired from.
Amaresh(12:49): There are a lot of resources, personally I have benefitted a lot from books, Reading or listening to the great speakers. I would certainly recommend Podcast like a ‘Masters of skill’ I will recommend books from Zero to one by Peter Thiel.
Amar is Chief Operating Officer at Qualitia Software and is responsible for driving growth strategy for new markets, marketing, product and technology roadmap and engineering. Amar brings over 20 years of industry experience in bringing many enterprise products to market in areas like Data Centre Security, IT Security Threat & Intelligence and IT GRC. Prior to joining Qualitia he co-founded Palatable Technologies, which created a completely new way of bringing people together over food and drinks. Amar has worked in a variety of technical leadership roles in startups as well as MNCs.
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