A series of questions guided our growth and laid the foundation for our success.
BY VISHAL SUNAK, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF LINKSQUARES
When I was a kid, I was lucky to see my father start a company in our basement and bring it to a few hundred employees. Like him, I studied engineering and fell in love with the problem solving that was involved.
Over time, my career has brought me into the world of software as a service (SaaS), and I’ve seen the challenge companies face in terms of contract management. It was a crucial moment: I could stay where I was or jump, become an entrepreneur and see if I could solve this problem.
It turned out that yes. Over the past three years we have grown by more than 1500 percent and attracted more than 160 million dollars of funding”.
To achieve this, it took a lot of time and determination. I was lucky that I had a co-founder with whom I blended perfectly. We filled in each other’s gaps and complemented each other. We started our company working in coffee shops, and by answering a few important questions, we were able to create momentum that continues today.
In this process, I have identified a number of issues that have guided us and have been the basis of our success.
1. What is your North Star?
The first thing that any company needs to do is to identify the problem that you are going to solve and confirm it with your ideal customer. Our initial hypothesis has always been that companies need help to store and understand their contracts without spending thousands of hours collecting data on each one. Once you have a deep understanding of the problem, you can begin to create a solution and learn how to differentiate yourself in the market.
2. Is your product viable?
Just because you see potential, doesn’t mean that the soil is fertile for the development of the company. Although we knew that every company on the planet uses contracts regardless of its business model, we knew little about our potential customers. Fortunately, the mentors have advised us to talk to the general consultants (GCs) to see if they have the same problems with contracts as we do, and to better understand how they work.
When we started communicating with them, we realized we couldn’t start full-scale product development until we talked to hundreds of GCs and got to know them inside and out. It took a year, but these conversations gave a big boost. We developed prototypes and demonstrated them. Soon these GCs wanted to buy our solution. We knew our product was viable.
3. Where are your sources of income?
I knew from the beginning that some channels were not suitable for us. Lawyers general don’t like to use social media to get content, so we needed to find them and figure out how to get into their room. As a result, we have had tremendous success through our participation in industry events. We attend conferences, sponsor them, create a booth and meet our audience face to face. We also used the method of “cold” e-mail, because the GC is usually not blocked by suppliers in their mailboxes.
Knowing where and how to find your clients is very important. The thrifty way we did business at first means you need to get the most out of your money and get a return on it as quickly as possible.
4.How to raise capital?
When it comes to funding, you have to be fearless. Comb your network, talk to the other founders and ask to meet with potential investors. If possible, ask friends and relatives to buy your business. We are fortunate that by the time we approached angel investors, we already had clients, which allowed us to develop our dynamics. We grew and we got results, which led to subsequent rounds of funding, which only increased.
5.Who do you want on your team?
The co-founder and I filled our team of CEOs with experts who are smarter than us. To hire great men, you need inspiring leaders in your company. Hire people that you trust, that you like and that get results. I’m lucky I always picked someone I knew for every job.
Guide to action
Each startup has its own unique path, and each founder has its own methodology. Your action plan may differ from mine. But listening to and understanding your customers, being faithful to your mission, and being surrounded by wonderful people who share your values will go a long way.