IIT Kharagpur Alumni, Niraj Ranjan Rout and Nitesh Nandy recognized a key issue plaguing business across industries- email organisation. While on the surface, it may seem simple enough to solve, they found that with the right tool- GrexIt, businesses could coordinate and collaborate better leading to greater efficiency. We chat with Niraj about the Venture. An Excerpt from the Interview:
- What made you start your venture?
Email is the de-facto standard collaboration tool for almost all knowledge workers in the world. While email is powerful because of its simplicity, flexibility and ubiquity, working heavily on email can be very messy, with a lot of working hours lost in dealing with inbox clutter. We faced this problem at every workplace we worked at. It was hard to communicate using email on tasks, customer support, sales etc. We decided to do something about this problem. So we built GrexIt. GrexIt turns your Gmail into a simple, powerful collaboration tool.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
Building a simple but powerful product that just works out of the box. The biggest problem with adoption of collaboration tools is the learning and habit change required in adopting a new tool. With GrexIt, we completely bypass these problems by building on email, which people already know how to use. GrexIt’s functionality gets cleanly embedded within Gmail, making it very easy to understand and use. This makes adoption by teams seamless and fast. Keeping the product simple also helps us market it effectively. Our message is simple – we make email much better than it is right now, and make it suited for handling your business functions. And that message is very effective. The other factor strongly in our favour has been our outstanding engineering team. We have a small but very capable engineering team which we have built by handpicking people. This allows us to iterate quickly based on user feedback, and improve our product very fast.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
The market we’re in – that of collaboration tools for small and medium sized businesses – is a very competitive one. Most of our competition is heavily funded and spends heavily on sales and marketing. Competing and acquiring customers in this market is a challenge, but it’s a challenge that we enjoy. We are well positioned in the market because of the simplicity and ease of our product. Customers still choose us over our competition because GrexIt works right out of email, and getting your team to adopt it is quite easy.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
The Morpheus incubator was an early investor in our company, who provided a lot of useful advice in the first 2 years of our company. We currently learn a lot about running a Software as a Service business from online resources like SaaStr.
- Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
We use a lot of cloud based tools for running our business. They are: Quickbooks Online – accounting Mailchimp – for newsletters Kissmetrics – for user behaviour analytics stripe.com – billing Sendgrid – transactional (usage based) emails. All these applications and services have helped us have all the functionality we need for our business at a very reasonable cost.
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
As the founder of GrexIt, work directly on customer support and satisfaction. I am on top of every email that goes out to any customer, and make sure I’m always looking for signals to understand how we can increase customer satisfaction. We are constantly building new functionality, which helps us serve our customers better and also address new market possibilities. We also rely strongly on content marketing to expand our reach. We run a very active and high quality blog at grexit.com/blog, and also contribute regularly to other blogs and publications.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
I think one needs to be original, persistent and a fast learner. Originality of the people behind a product easily shows up in the product too. While feature based differentiations are hard to maintain in the long term, its possible to have a original philosophy behind a product that can take a company a long way. Persistence is another important quality. I have a theory that anything of significance needs at least 6 months to get right. Expecting quick results is a big trap, and one needs to have the patience to see an effort through a long duration until results are visible. Being able to learn quickly and on your foot is another important attribute. Its possible to learn every day, from customers, employees and from competition. Visit their Website: http://grexit.com/ Like them on Facebook: GrexIt