SupportBee is one of the 5 Indian startups that got through the latest batch of the Startup Chile program. It took us about half a day to finish up the application. If you are looking for a reference, here are our answers. Since I don't have access to the actual application, I am publishing the first draft of our application here. After I submitted, I had to work on a few of the below answers to fit their word limit though.
Tweet your pitch in 140 characters or less Customer Service is the new marketing. Delight your customers with SupportBee handling support is as easy as managing your Email!
What skill set does each team member bring to the project? (How long have the founders known one another, and what skill set does each participant bring to the project? How did they meet? Have they worked together before? How do they complement each other? Also, tell us some impressive facts about the founders. Completed projects? Special technical expertise or ability? Life experiences?)
SupportBee is a 3 member team - Prateek, Nithya (Founders) and Avinash (first non-founding member)
Prateek and I (Nithya) go a long way: We started-up together with our B2C product - Muziboo and working with each other as Co-Founders for the 4th consecutive year.
We have bootstraped our way to profitability in Muziboo (our past project) by being at it together right from the day when it was just an idea to this day when Muziboo is more than 500,000 sign-up users with a percentage of them paying for the service.
Prateek is the technology backbone for SupportBee while I, considering my Human Resource background, take to community building and customer development very naturally. This diversity has helped us do well in both Customer Development and Product development unlike most other start-ups that have strength in only one area.
Avinasha joined us 4 months back to assist Prateek in dev. They both built an app called igeek.at over the last weekend that has attracted more than a 100 sign ups within a day of launch.
Our achievements :
Muziboo has been covered extensively in most of the national dailies and other blogs We won the first place in Facebook India Developer Contest Finalist in Proto - One of India s premier start-up show case events Won 3rd place in Yahoo Hack Day (Prateek) Speaker at Ruby Conference India (Prateek)
Describe your company in 1 paragraph SupportBee was born out of our needs that we felt while running Muziboo. With more than 500,000 signed-up users in Muziboo we were in dire need for an appropriate support tool. After much scouting we realized that, today, growing web businesses are stuck between 2 extreme choices when it came to support tools - Either clunky tools with Web2.0 skin made for retail giants like Wall mart or a Gmail with clumsy manual processes. The solutions were just one size too small or one size too big. SupportBee aims to be the right sized solution - Simple and efficient like Gmail but powerful like a CRM when it comes to handling important customer mails.
At SupportBee , we not only provide a software solution but also strive to raise the bar in customer service by publishing interviews with Industry leaders. http://blog.supportbee.com
What is your action plan while in the program Private Launch: For the past 7 months we have been vigorously doing customer development and product development to get to the product-market fit. The first step in our action plan while at the program is to release the product to a private group of beta customers.
Work closely with beta customers: With the input from the beta customers we would be refining the work-flows within the product to make it more usable and intuitive. The feedback will also help us in coming up with the right positioning for our public launch and markeitng.
Public Launch Once we nail down the work flows and the pricing, we will open up the product to the public. We'll also be sending an Email invitation to all the 200 businesses ( still growing) that have signed-up for the SupportBee beta already.
Who is your customer Any web/desktop/mobile business that considers Email Support as an opportunity to engage with customers than as an overhead. Any company that is customer-centric enough to invest in a tool that will help them with their support processes in delivering a service that delights their customers.
Value proposition (What's new/revolutionary about what you are doing? How will you add value? What is your competitive advantage? List your competitors and explain how your product/service is unique and competitively distinguished from them)
Our competitive advantage is usability and API design.
Usability: Usability as a competitive edge is probably a much abused term today. When we say usability, we aren t just talking about shinier buttons or prettier forms but simplified work-flows, lesser clicks to carry out an action and quicker access to relevant information for doing a job well.
We have derived this knowledge from extensive customer development and the four years of experience in design and development of Muziboo.
Competition: Businesses out there are frustrated with our competition. Here are some interesting comments from people that signed up for our beta.
Recently started XXXX evaluation. Required reviewing several videos, several webinars and sandbox time to even get started. Looking for a software that is easy to get started with.
XXXXX is more trouble than it s worth. In-spite of the 60% discount we have, we decided to not use. Looking forward to your product
XXXX is frustrating. It makes me want to punch kittens
Using XXXX right now. But, we are looking for an efficient system for handling very high volumes and easy methods for quickly tagging and easily retrieving tickets.
At SupportBee, we understand that a well designed API is the next big marketing edge. The success of a Support application is not just about what it can do but also about how it can make it easy for others to build on top of it.
Most of the existing systems have badly designed APIs. They are bad because exposing the API was an after-thought; they are bad because they were never built to be used internally.
At SupportBee, we have a carefully designed API because our own product development is through our API. And, we will completely expose it to help our customers and third parties build specific applications that are not in our road map.
Customer Relationship: (How will you service different customer segments?)
We will be catering to different customer segments by intelligently partitioning features. For example, for start-ups, the primary concern would be addressing their customer emails. For bigger businesses it is addressing customer requests across channels like Email, Facebook and twitter with ease. The cost of servicing the different customer segments will be more or less the same after we make the upfront investment in developing these specific features for different customer segments.
We will be using our own solution to service our customers.
Cost Structure: (Whether yours is a cost-driven or value-driven business, offering low-priced services like discount airline tickets or creating exceptional value like a top hotel - this determines your model's cost structure.)
Though ours is a value driven business, the way we have modeled our pricing gives us a competitive advantage. Today, all support tools are priced based on the number of user logins. This model was designed for big businesses with separate support teams and standard number of support tickets. There's a whole spectrum of companies that have a very different need - relatively lower support volumes with the need to involve the entire team in Support to create better engagement with customers. When a support tool is priced based on logins, it can become very costly for such organizations and they can never justify the cost of a having a Support tool. Our model which is going to be based on the volume of support tickets will prove very useful and affordable for such companies.
Return Value AgendaWhy are you applying to Start-up Chile As a company, we believe in the positive impact of knowledge sharing that can come from the co-existence of start-ups. Start-up Chile not only provides a common platform but also offers an opportunity to interact with start-ups from various geographies. This interaction will go a long way in helping us understand different consumer segments. The access to mentors, networking events the positive feedback from the Start-up Chile alumni make this option even more irresistible.
How will you contribute to the Chilean entrepreneurial environment? As start-up founders we have always been involved in evolving the start-up ecosystem in our country. We were among the first few that initiated OCC (Open Coffee Club) meets in the city we live - Bangalore. OCC today has more than 1000 entrepreneurs and meet ups happen twice every month. We also participate in OCC meets in other cities to network, share and learn.
We participate and contribute extensively in Barcamps, Ruby/Ralis conferences and other Tech events.
We run a discussion platform like Hacker News - hackerstreet.in - in India to help entrepreneurs here discuss issues that are very specific to India and its start-up space
We would be more than happy to contribute the same way in Chile to evolve the Chilean ecosystem.
How will you link your networks to Chile n viceversa Growing a business is all about networking. Today, much of networking happens through Social media. While at the program we would extensively talk about our day to day experiences and learning in our blogs and post updates on Twitter. This not only will help link networks but also spread the good word about the awesome platform that you provide. We share our start-up experiences by blogging extensively in our personal and team blogs
Here's our video