Shivangi Singh interviews Sampad Swain, the CEO and founding member of instamojo.com, a fast growing website which helps people sell their digital content directly to customers by just sharing a link. Here is what he believes about early stage entrepreneurs, the need for Instamojo and more.
What was the idea behind ‘Instamojo’? How did the actual setup happen?
All started after acquisition of my 1st start-up in mid 2010 where I was free and had lot of spare time. I started working on a small side project called “Instartup” which was a private newsletter containing random video interviews with entrepreneurs and start-ups. After I created few of them, it was getting too much and I thought wouldn’t it be cool to monetize those videos. But I couldn’t find much help there. So I booked the domain (instamojo.com) which is now the present day website trying to help folks like us, sell their digital content directly to customers by just sharing a link.
But between late 2010 and late 2011, it never occurred to me to take Instamojo full-time. And we as a team got together to work on simplifying mobile advertising for SMBs. After working for good 8-10 odd months we realized that we were almost bankrupt (was putting my personal cash). So early 2012, I shared the idea of Instamojo with my team and they liked it a lot. We pivoted and as they say, the rest is history.
Being an early stage technology start-up, what are some of the challenges that you face? How tough is it, in general, for any start-up to survive in the constantly evolving technology scene?
I think the tough phase is not evolving technology or competition. In fact, I would go to the extent saying that hardly any early stage start-ups get killed by competition. They just become irrelevant or obscure to their audience. So that’s what we fight for everyday. Other challenges that early stage start-ups face is about hiring talent.
What was the one moment in your journey as an entrepreneur that you learnt most from? Is it difficult to maintain a proper work-life balance in your field of work?
There have been many such instances I’ve learnt from, like the most critical part of a start-up is the team. Your product, vision, ideas keeps shifting based on customer feedback and iteration.
As for work-life balance, I think that it’s for a businessman; not for a early stage start-up entrepreneur.
What, in your opinion, sets apart ‘Instamojo’ from its contemporaries? What is your personal favourite feature?
Culture. Our set-up is a very informal one – may be because we don’t take ourselves too seriously. And that creates lot more room for experimenting new things. I guess in the current live features, I like the “Archive” feature which lets me turn on/off an offer real-time.
The rate at which your investor list has grown is amazing! How did you make this happen?
One word – hustling with insane amount of passion for what we are doing.
As one of the founding members and the CEO, What is your vision for Instamojo?
We want to make commerce simple, fun & dead easy. That’s what we are attacking.
You have a team to be envied. What is your success formula for attracting and keeping talented members in your panel?
On a candid note, I’ve been super lucky on this to work with folks who are 10x more intelligent than me but hey, that hardly shows right! There no formula as such except for finding folks who are just as passionate for the problem as we are. That’s it.
Your forum has an open ‘Join Us’ segment. What are the top qualities which you look for in a potential employee? What is your idea of a perfect team member?
We look for super passionate folks who care about what we are doing mixed with relevant skills to pull it off on a day-to-day basis beside us.
What would be your biggest tip for Indian start-ups and for the entrepreneurs in the making?
Be persistent about a problem which you can relate to and just keep at it; no matter what.
What is the most exciting part of your job? What motivates you to wake up every morning and go the extra mile to create something new every single day?
I think meeting super smart folks and facing interesting challenges everyday is what keeps me going.