Burrp!! is recently in news for being one of the best non US Web 2.0 companies. Today we have CEO of Burrp!!, Mr.Deap Ubhi talking about the emergence of Burrp, its future plans, Enterpreneurship and challenges faced by startups in India. Here goes the interview:
Mallik: How did you get the idea of creating burrp!?
Deap Ubhi: On a trip to Mumbai one Christmas, I found it very difficult to get around in the city. The only way to extract this sort of information was by asking a hotel concierge or some acquaintances. That information too was varied and could not be confirmed. That’s when I started to muse over the idea of developing burrp! It was meant to act as a go-to site where locals could share their experiences.
The idea was initially born out of a real-world problem. It certainly drew inspiration from similar models that existed in the U.S., such as Judy’s Book, InsiderPages.com and Yelp.com.
Mallik: What is the current team size of burrp!?
Deap Ubhi:We are currently a team of 11. Anand Jain and I are the co-founders of the business. Of the 11, 6 make up the engineering and technology team, the others are on the business side. On the business side, we have a sales practice, a marketing practice, and a communications/community practice. Since it’s so hard to find quality people here, we’re very proud of the small team we’ve built.
Mallik: What is the major challenge that you faced while creating burrp!?
Deap Ubhi:The greatest challenge in India is hiring. Finding talented, passionate people is not as easy as I had assumed it would be. There is certainly a different image of India that is perpetuated abroad. I think a lot of people are under the impression that India is a burgeoning bank of engineering talent and that simply is not the case. Theoretical knowledge is all well, but finding self-motivated, bright engineers is still a challenge. Building a quality team will continually be our largest challenge
Mallik: Is burrp! looking for funding? Or is burrp! looking for acquisition by a few big players as most startups in India do?
Deap Ubhi: burrp! has raised a significant chunk of angel money when it started out last year. We are approaching self-sustenance; yet at the current pace, we want to move faster, both with product development and with city-expansion. We are opportunistically in the market for a true series-A.
Mallik: Does burrp! have any competitors?
Deap Ubhi: It would be naïve for any company to say that they do not have any competition - everyone does. Some of the prominent players in the market are Yahoo and Google.
Mallik: What are future plans of burrp! and where do you see yourselves 2-3 years down the line?
Deap Ubhi: In the very near future, burrp! is launching in 4 more cities. Also, we are launching a TV-related product very soon.
The ultimate goal is for burrp! to become an all encompassing lifestyle-focused social media company. We’re not just about food, and we’re not just about the Internet. We will be expanding our content offering across other lifestyle-related categories, both local and city-agnostic.
Mallik: What are your major accomplishments with regards to burrp!?
Deap Ubhi: The single most amazing accomplishment I believe is the passionate community behind burrp! Very few social media companies in India can make that claim, and it makes us very proud.
Mallik: What do you think is the difference between the startup scene in India and the US? What are major challenges for budding entrepreneurs in India?
Deap Ubhi: A few major differences. First, the ecosystem is not only in place, but it is thriving in the United States. Entrepreneurs lean on each other for advice, guidance and inspiration. The process is encouraged and there are plenty of outlets for entrepreneurs that will help them along the way. Secondly, the startup scene is much more mature and competitive in the US. The bar of innovation is much, much higher. It is part of the reason you see so much concept arbitrage going on in the Indian startup scene. The bar for innovation here is very low.
In my mind, logistics and hiring are the two major hurdles a startup could face. Simple things like getting an Internet connection could take weeks. Finding the right people and building the right team, as I mentioned earlier is another major challenge for budding entrepreneurs in India.
Mallik: What is the best way to create buzz about any new Web 2.0 startup?
Deap Ubhi: Unlike most startups, we’ve made a strategic choice to focus less on marketing and advertising but build one of the strongest communication practice in the country. Besides, we’re a poor startup, so we can’t afford the elaborate marketing campaigns that aren’t measurable anyways. Our communications practice includes Internal Community Relations, Web Community Relations as well as traditional Public Relations.
Having all this said, the best way to create buzz around any product is to let the product speak for itself. Good products will always market themselves; no amount of flashy marketing will save a shitty product. I am a big believer of word-of-mouth marketing. If your user has a pleasant experience, he/she will spread the word. Thus, it’s important to build a product that speaks for itself.
Mallik: Congratulations for burrp! being selected as one of 30 Top Non-US Web 2.0 startups. How do you feel about it?
Deap Ubhi: It’s a great honour. We are truly humbled. As I mentioned earlier, if feels good being appreciated for our work while we are still only a year old. Of course, this is nowhere close to what our ultimate aim is, we still have a long way to go. This recognition has added fuel to our aspirations.
Mallik: What is your personal advice to budding Indian Web entrepreneurs?
Deap Ubhi: Firstly, from my experience, I feel that the most important part to building a successful company is to build a successful team. Hire the right people and do not lower your bar when it comes to the expectations you have from your colleagues.
Secondly, it is very important for a startup to be capital-efficient. Spend where the biggest impact can be made; be stingy when the expense is avoidable.
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