“Our ancestors have invented, we can at least innovate” – Amit Kalantri
When I first jotted down the idea for Contactually, I thought it was unique (otherwise I likely would not have bothered to capture it). As expected, I was wrong. We only found a couple then-active companies with any kind of meaningful feature overlap.
However, as we started working more and more on the idea, more and more ghosts emerged. We found many people who had tried this before, some just an idea or prototype, some a total failure, some pivots away, and a couple acquisitions.
Our ingrained curiosity led us to figure out why. Why were some successful, and some not? What could we learn?
We did something unconventional – we spoke to them. Dozens of people. The concept of a startup postmortem is only recently gaining popularity, so we went to the source.
The learnings were invaluable. While what we got was just data points, and often times just delivered with a bitter tone of expected failure for us, we developed some core principals which, in my opinion, have aided tremendously to our continued survival.
- Charge for your product. Early.
- Therefore, build something people will pay for and find people who will pay for it.
- This is not a consumer application. This is for professionals.
- Do not rely on spamming a users address book. It just doesn’t work.
Very early on, investors we met with pushed the opposite of these points. We prioritized the learnings from our ancestors, and stuck to our guns. And we are still here. The similar products we’ve seen that haven’t heeded these rules aren’t.