The journey for these 4 years was not easy. After leaving a corporate job as Developer Analyst I was not sure what I would do. But I always wanted to start a company of my own. After doing a corporate job for more than 5 years it was cup of tea to earn the bread & butter. But landing into freelance community with full of competition with no preparation what so ever was my first taste of entrepreneurship – where the saying goes “Jump of the cliff and then build your plane”. It was more a like a you are trying to attempt suicide wishing you fail at it.
So I jumped and the free-fall happened for almost 6 months where I was still thinking what to do. Then my first attempt to make the plane was to start a free basic computer coaching to under-privilege children. And it took me an year to realise that charity starts only after once you have established yourself in your area of expertise. So my first attempt to make that plane for survival failed as I ran out of finances to run this small coaching centre. I decided to postpone my dream to start a school and empowering under-privilege until I have empowered myself.
During these 18 months I was still doing some coding building some web applications and small softwares but nothing did hit the market and all those seeds that I sowed was not watered well and hence they did not reap. During that time when I was not sure what I would do, I made some bold cum stupid steps to hire couple of teachers to teach basic computers but as that plan did not go well we had to switch to plan B which is to finally run a software company. The challenge was not easy here too.
I worked as Java developer for 5 years and these new cubs where just passed out of college and had no experience in java nor there were many java projects in freelance community. Freelance communities were full of PHP, HTML and CSS projects which were quite easy to learn and by these new cubs. So I made few websites in core PHP but again it was a challenge to get big projects in core PHP because the amount of time you spend in building these websites and getting clients who are willing to pay for your effort were quite few. They want a website in CMS and I had no time left to build a CMS myself as I already ran out of my saving and time. I was working very hard to earn few bucks to ensure that I can at-least pay salary to these new cubs.
There came a time when I had to take some money from my retired mom to pay salary to these new cubs. Finally I decided If I did not earn good money to take care of my expenses and salary of these new cubs, I will be no good to live up to my dream and will call quite to join back the corporate job. As some client of mine had asked for CMS for their website so I downloaded all open source PHP CMS that were in market from Joomla to Drupal to WordPress to Magento.
Out of all these WordPress was pretty easy to learn. We built many sites for free just to learn it well. Below is one of our first few sites that we built. There were many more such sites that we did, they ranked pretty good on google and these shop owners were getting good leads for free. It was a great boast to our confidence that we are on good track and we have learned something via which we can benefit business owners.
We then decided to make a furniture portal to target all furniture shops in our area and register them on it as a paid user. We did build this custom portal in WordPress and then came the time to market it. I had no marketing or sales experience and I was visiting form one shop to another to sell the paid listing. I was competing against the big giants like justdial and google as they already listed those shops for free. I had no convincing factor as why a shop should register a paid listing on our portal. So it failed and no one paid us for listing their businesses on our portal. We did this activity on a smaller furniture market that is on Jail Road New Delhi where our office is located right now.
Then we decided to do this same activity on of the Asia most largest furniture market – Kirti Nagar. We build this listing site. Below screen shot below of this site.
We marketed this site and again we failed to get any paid listing. We made its USP as the only furniture hub dedicated only for the reputed and selective showrooms in the market. I was devastated that we had lost 6 months again and we had not earned a single penny. I was feeling hopeless, earning Rs 10,000 / month was tough task where I used to spend this amount of money without second thought when I was in corporate job.
There were many more such failures which I will discussing in new few blogs that I had in two years of my experiments with my self and seeing what is my worth. I was shattered seeing that I could not even earn Rs 10,000 a month. It took us months to build these sites and portals which did not yield us any returns. Finally we thought to add google ads to get some revenue out of it so that we can at-least pay for its hosting.
But in these 6 months we have learned a CMS which my clients wanted on their website. The eager to provide this benefit to my clients got injected in my veins. We started offering basic website as people wanted to spend less and get most out of it. Our new cubs were now have grown big and have learnt how to build these websites. From there the story of building affordable WordPress websites started.
I made a freelance profile to offer wordpress website design and development service to client across the globe. We got our first order and we worked tirelessly to make sure our first client is 200% happy. We received a great feedback and then there was series of orders that we got. We use to build as many as 20 websites a month by working day and night. We were three employees in this startup. And we started providing value and in turn started earning some bucks.
It started with just $100 ~ 60 GBP (as of 2012) basic website design service that we offered on a freelance website and today we have build sites that worth $25,000 ~ 20,000 GBP (as of 2016) and more. From complex memberships based site to job portals we have build varied businesses and helped lot of startups to go online.
Now I feel its time to give back to the society what I learned in those 9-10 years of my professional career. From a java developer to a php developer to marketer to salesman to designer, it is not easy as I was building my own road but I want to make it easy for someone who want to get on it, learn it quick and start earning some good amount. Journey on a bumpy road is often slow, but when the road is well constructed you can speed up as quick as you can to get ahead of anyone.
We are still on a growing phase and challenge to further grow is never ending. We are still a pretty small startup of 5 team members. I will share you all my experiences, failures, success and learnings in next few blogs.