There are millions of books out there! How does one decide which one to read? There are hundreds of online reviews but how does one know if those reviewers like the same book as us? What we do know is that even one recommendation from a known person outweighs hundreds from unknown people. Established by Anuradha Bajpai and Manoj Jindal, Woodpie is a social network where readers discover books through a trusted community. Woodpie creates an opportunity for readers to connect with like-minded readers and if they live in the same city, they can meet over coffee, discuss and exchange books. We chat with Anuradha about their venture. An excerpt from the interview:
- What made you start your venture?
I was scanning through a bookstore in Bangalore when I found a book with an interesting title: “Why Men Don’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps.” I pointed out the book out to my husband, but we hesitated since we hadn’t heard of this book before and we were not sure if it was similar to the book ‘Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus’ which we had already read. That very week, we saw the same book at a friend’s house, the friend told us that the book was filled with humour, and also offered us the book to read. This incident was the first time when we thought about Woodpie. Even though the book was displayed prominently in a bookstore, I had been unwilling to purchase it until a trusted friend recommended it. My husband and I began developing a company based on creating a reading community where we can discover books through friends’ recommendations. I was working with Infosys at that time but quit my job in 2010 to build the online platform.
- What has been the key to your business’s success?
Constant communication with users, collecting feedback and prioritizing them for implementation has played a key role in making a product that is required in market.
- What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/do you overcome them?
Woodpie is a technology company and at the beginning the highest percentage is the cost of engineers. As both of our co-founders are from technology background, we could build a website that is up and running without raising funds.
- Do you have a mentor who guides/advices you on matters of the business?
We have friends running similar start-ups in fashion discovery and have learnt a lot from their experience of growth hacking. After being selected by Ingram for 1440 Accelerator program, we are attending program at Nashville Entrepreneur Center, one of the nine tech hub in Google for Entrepreneur Network in North America. Here, we are getting valuable advice from industry experts and people who have already achieved success in bootstrapping start-ups.
- Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
Amazon Web Services for hosting, Google Apps for storage and communication, Trello for Agility are some of the most cost-effective and performance improving tools. We will be using Intuit for our regular tax filling.
- What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
At Woodpie, our users are our top priority. We encourage our users to provide feedback and suggestions. Then we follow up on those suggestions. We resolve issues quickly if we can, otherwise we convey the estimated timeline to fix issues to our users. Currently, due to the high volume of communication from users and not having a large enough team, we are not able to accommodate all the feedback from our users. However, we are in the process of raising funds to address this issue and ensure the best customer experience to our users. User expansion is happening mainly through ‘word of mouth’ from our users. Despite zero marketing cost, our user base has expanded across 47 countries, 424 cities in India and 82 cities in US. Among many eminent authors, J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author has recently joined Woodpie.com.
- What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?