10 Q’s With Ranjith Kumaran Of PunchTab, Inc.

This weeks “10 Q’s With…”; our question and answer series that’s aimed at offering insight to our readers who are interested in the ‘Adventure’ of becoming: The Boss – features Ranjith Kumaran & PunchTab, Inc. PunchTab.com is a site that offers to implement a system for customer retention and loyalty for your website and increase website traffic and interactions. That sounds like a no-brainer.

Q. Tell our readers about your business, your passion, and what itis that you do? What’s your story? And what sets you apart from other businesses in your particular market?

“I started my first company, YouSendIt.com, to solve a problem that I came across time and time again in my profession and PunchTab is no different; at YouSendIt we got really good at customer acquisition, free to paid conversion and building products and were constantly trying different experiments to engage users. PunchTab is based on one of those experiments that never got off the ground. PunchTab is a simple, effective solution for customer engagement that addresses the millions of businesses that want to see lift in customer retention and don’t have the resources to build their own loyalty programs.”

Q. What inspired you to take the steps to becoming your own boss? Is this your first/only business?

“I learned early in my career that I (and employees in general) are really effective when they get to do what they are interested in. Being a founder has let me figure out the things that I like to do, try new things (everything from fundraising to user experience to acquiring other companies), and get better at identifying like-minded people who will be effective and happy to be part of the PunchTab family.”


Q. How much planning was involved prior to the start-up of your business? Can you offer some insight into that process?

“The plan was this: find an opportunity to build a company around that the team is excited about working on for the foreseeable future (it can’t feel like work in the early days) and addresses a large market need. These are the basics in any startup.  Next came the process of getting the right people (team, investors, advisors) around the table that supported the vision and can learn together.  Once this was knocked out it has been nothing but experimenting with the core loyalty platform that we’ve built to see what resonates with site-owners (a lot of interviews with early adopters) and measuring participation of end-users. Identify your key metrics early and see what moves the ball forward. Kill things that aren’t working quickly and feed the things that work.”

Q. In terms of running your business, what does a typical day look like for you; or is every day different?

“If I think about the last few months (we set up shop on January 4th) it went something like this:

January was all about team. We spent a lot of time figuring out how we’d work together, who else we needed to bring in, and talked to our favorite investors to see which ones were as excited as we were. We slowly put in the infrastructure to support a scaling business.

February was spent building core platform and defining important parts of the user experience and continuing to recruit.

March marked the first time the public got ahold of our products (both a mobile application for SXSW and the web loyalty platform for site-owners). Lots of feedback poured in. By April we had the second iteration of our user experience and customer acquisition hooks in place and starting to show growth.

This month we had a lot of good press and our giveaway widget and loyalty platform being used by hundreds of sites and viral growth started to kick in. We’re already in the hundreds of sites using our current solutions and thousands of users engaging with them.

In a nutshell my days are spent doing two things:

  1. Keeping an eye on key metrics and pushing them forward through any means possible (product, press, partnerships, recruiting, etc.)
  2. Making sure that nothing gets in the team’s way so we don’t lose momentum.”

Q. How many employees do you have and what went into hiring on more to your team?

“There are four of us total and the criteria for hiring at this stage (in our particular business) is pretty simple:

  1. Find people who can’t help but build products and experiment. You want to find people who see an intriguing problem to solve and by the next day have cobbled something together that tests hypotheses.
  2. Find people that aren’t a drag on the culture and enjoy what they do. We are hiring and know exactly what types of behavior we are looking for. It’s so crucial in the early stages of a company to have the right chemistry in the office.”

Q. What has been the most challenging part of your entrepreneurial adventure?

“Finding the right people to go adventuring with. There are lots of reasons to join a startup and you need to be conscious about why you are doing what you’re doing.”

 

 

 

Q. Besides the obvious of being your own boss, what is the most rewarding part about being an independent business owner?

“There’s something new to learn every day.”

Q. What motivates you? What keeps you going each day?

“Challenging myself to take everything I learned the first time around and putting it to work. Teaching others to avoid the mistakes that I’ve made.”

Q. How do you promote your business (i.e. Advertise, Endorsements, Contests, Social networking)? Or are there any marketing strategies that have helped your business? What about hurt your business?

“We’re still pretty early so we are testing a number of channels.  I’ve always liked viral product distribution (we have exactly 2 viral loops in our solutions right now that we’re optimizing), PR (we’ve drawn a decent amount of attention so far), and SEO/SEM (still learning).  We are seeing good success in reinforcing the things we’re doing with social media.  A lot of what hurts businesses in the early days is what others compare you to; we probably haven’t done a good enough job of letting the masses know why they should care about us but those that get it are teaching us a lot. We’ll take all this and go back to the market and amplify it before long.”

Q. Has the Internet or social media helped/hurt your business?

“A lot of our value proposition is based on harnessing social media to boost engagement and acquire new users so it’s key to what we do. We’re enjoying the real-time nature of feedback (good and bad) because it keeps us on our toes.”

Q. What’s next? What are your long-term and short-term goals?

“There are a few more key metrics that we’re proving out (ours is a lifetime value proposition so we need to run some longer tests) but ultimately we want to prove that business are actually getting a lift on both acquisition (we’ve done a good job proving this) and retention (starting to see good data) using our solutions.”

Q. What advice do you have to those reading www.bossstart.com that you feel is valuable?

“I’ve alluded to this a couple of times, but in the early days of a startup/business only one thing matters is:

Can you get up every day and crank?

If there’s anything that’s becoming a drag on your business then you’re wasting time. Find a way to address these things today.”

To learn more about Ranjith Kumaran & PunchTab, Inc., please visit:

Website: http://www.punchtab.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=152045414852131

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/punchtab

 

 

About the Author: Daniel Ballard

Daniel is a Writer and Entrepreneur. He is Co-Founder/Main Author/Editor of BossStart and Co-Editor/Featured Author for BossStart's sister site, PauseStart, launching early 2012

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2 Comments + Add Comment

  • Nice Q and A 🙂

    • Thanks Manuel. Nice site 🙂

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