Growth journey of DrumUp.io – In conversation with Sophia Solanki

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Vishal and Sophia are the co-founders of DrumUp.io,  an integrated powerful social media, content marketing and employee advocacy platform. Vishal has over 13 years of experience being an entrepreneur and a business and technology consultant. Earlier with Sophia, he co-founded Godot Media and has been heading these ventures for over 8 years now. Sophia was previously a business consultant. She has over 12 years of experience. ScaleUp Magazine talked to them about their startup journey and how they keep themselves motitaved and productive.

Challenges faced while growing Godot Media and now DrumUp

The biggest challenges haven’t been the initial momentum in either businesses – this is something we managed well with both businesses. The real challenges kick in when you try to scale bootstrapped. You have to constantly strike a balance between push for growth and ensuring business sustainability – often a tight walk rope.

Aspect of business that keeps their team awake

Like we mentioned previously, growing a business sustainably requires constant focus on business fundamentals, your customers and finding innovative, inexpensive growth hacks constantly. This poses quite a challenge, and we experiment with a lot of ideas regularly to figure out what will work best and give long term ROI.

The key metrics used to measure growth

Registered and paid users are most important. In addition, we track a bunch of usage and activation metrics. We have internally developed a measurement dashboard and use that.

Product development process followed at DrumUp

We prefer working with in-house team, and have so far completely relied on all software development in-house. We use an open-source stack for development and Bitbucket for development management.

Hiring Process followed at DrumpUp

For us, a cultural fit on team is critical, so we focus very much on this aspect when hiring.

People stay with you if they enjoy working with you – so in our experience, the work quality and regular appreciation of top employees keep them motivated to stick around – all other incentives are secondary.

Take on competition

Social and Online listening. We keep ourselves abreast with how competition is moving by monitoring the news flow. More importantly we like to keep a tab on the pulse of the social media managers and marketers, as to what pain points they want solved urgently.

Finding early customers and acquiring new customers

We have so far always used pull marketing through online channels. Even our early beta users find us online. We are in the business of making content marketing easy and use content marketing ourselves too, to find both early users and scale.

We rely heavily on inbound marketing through content. Content marketing has been the driver for our customer acquisition, and we do this across channels – blogs, social media, communities and industry publications.

SEO is a tough cookie if you are targeting global market, so relying on it to click is not a smart strategy, in our opinion. If your content marketing is strong and aligned to SEO best practices, then over time, SEO should ideally kick in for traffic too if the competition in the space is moderate.

Paid marketing works well for some businesses and not so much for others. It’s important to ascertain the ROI of paid marketing before investing too much in it. For us, it’s a great strategy for Godot Media, but we are still divided on how it fits in with DrumUp.

Managing work life balance and tips for entrepreneur couples

What works really well for us is the understanding we’ve built between ourselves working together for over 7 years now. Our work streams are separate and well-defined, which keeps things running smoothly. We also don’t carry work home often, so there’s a clear delineation between work and personal life. Works very well for us!

Our advice to couples working together would be to decide clear roles early on, while working together. The second advice would be to keep office in office and find quality time doing other things together in personal life.

Managing finance through bootstrapping

We have bootstrapped both businesses so far, and things have gone very well. We focus on business basics and sustainability at all times, even if that means growing a little slower than we’d like to.

Get full-time, driven people on your team to work with you. Seems like opposite of keeping expenses low – but if you don’t have a team and you try to do everything yourself, then you’ll never get it done. So get more like-minded people on the team, with whatever incentives you can offer at the time.

Tips on being productive and motivated

By not taking unnecessary stress, and finding quality time pursuing other interests in personal life.

Productivity hack – take a chill pill, and go travel when under stress. You start again much better after the break. Here’s a post Sophia wrote about it – https://blog.drumup.io/blog/travel-is-therapeutic-5-ways-it-can-help-you-be-more-productive-at-work/

Advice for entrepreneurs looking to start business in general and SAAS startup in particular

  • Choose a problem and solution that you are passionate about – life’s too short to do things that you are not excited about.
  • Study your target market carefully – avoid solutions for overcrowded spaces or very very niche markets. Otherwise the marketing battle will get very tough.

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