When we started Shoutout, there were many assumptions. that people would complain… that India has enormous number of people who complain on regular basis… that we will evolve a business model after gathering a critical mass of consumer complaints… that we will magically weave an SEO band to attract consumers in hoards… that somebody will invest in us once consumers start pouring in… that we can draw living expenses to sustain and grow. When we launched, consumers came in good numbers to vent out complaints. Bloggers wrote about the exciting new story and companies started resolving complaints based on complaints. So far so good… till we started to define all foundational assumptions in numbers. We found from Flipkart’s yearly report that they received 1M active users during the year. This number was startling! much lower than any of own estimates. It does give a ballpark on number of active internet users in India. My folks at home use Gmail, Facebook and Youtube to consume information. However are they so active on the internet to transact (Flipkart, ICICI bank etc…) and contribute content (shoutout and the likes)? Probably not right away. They will, like millions of other internet users in India… take few more years to become really active. However we didn’t have financial muscle to sustain that long. A respected investor in town showed interest but perhaps found us wanting on techie skills. We had to move on… ShoutOut was exciting and will still be exciting. Opportunity still exists for somebody to grab this market, perhaps for those who can sustain for a longer timeframe.
My closest of friends have often challenged my wisdom of not having an easier life with a cushy corporate job. The journey to hang on and discover new inroad to what we believe makes it exciting lends a sense of purpose to every new day. The satisfaction of trying than wishing makes the effort worthwhile. As they say, startups are not for weak hearted… certainly not for those who are not prepared to fail. What do you think?