Ayush Singhvi: Ultimately, a Founder’s Job Is to Sell – Whether You’re Selling the Product to Customers or Selling the Company to Potential Employees

Ayush Singhvi

Ayush Singhvi of Byldd.

Tell us about yourself?

My name is Ayush and I’m the founder and CEO of Byldd. We’re trying to democratize software entrepreneurship by making it easier (and less capital-intensive) for non-technical founders to start software businesses.

Our approach is to build very focused revenue-generating MVPs for bootstrapping founders. We define an MVP as the least complex product you can build that solves a problem well enough that customers are willing to pay for it.

Once they manage to get that revenue, we help them take customer feedback, analyze it and use that to drive further product development.

Before Byldd, I spent a lot of time at early-stage companies in different product roles ranging from junior developer to senior engineer and eventually CTO at early-stage and scaling companies.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

Many founders tend to think that their product needs to be able to do everything their competition does in order to ‘make it.’

That’s really not the case and it’s generally a recipe for disaster. Most of their competitors have been in the market for years, invested hundreds of thousands in research and development, and have sustainable revenue streams.

It’s not a good idea to go pick a fight when you’re a pre-revenue startup. Instead, founders should really narrow down their focus and make their messaging very very clear.

What is the core issue they are trying to solve? It won’t matter if your product doesn’t have a lot of the bells and whistles if it eliminates a real problem your customers would pay to get rid of. It’s either that or they think their journey is going to be like the montage in Social Network.

They’ll come up with an idea, fast forward 6 months, they’ll be a million dollar company. 99% of building a company is grunt work.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

It’s much better to risk losing a good candidate than to risk hiring a bad candidate. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned – especially when it comes to hiring – is that culture fit is incredibly important.

You cannot teach cultural fit and it’s never a good idea to hire someone who’s values don’t align with yours. Hiring well is expensive.

Actually, let me rephrase that – hiring well has a high upfront cost. Hiring cheap has a lower upfront cost but is more expensive in the long run – for both your wallet and mental health.

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If you see a red or yellow flag in an interview, you should immediately probe more. If at the end of the interview, you’re still not convinced that this is the best person you’ve interviewed for the role, then it’s much better to risk losing a good candidate than to risk hiring a bad candidate.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

I really like focusing on setting up processes and systems. I’m a firm believer that “You do not rise to the level of your goals.

You fall to the level of your systems.” and we’re trying to spend more and more time so that these systems ensure that the company survives and thrives beyond just me.

I’m setting out with a clear goal to make this a business that lasts several generations. In that vein, a company can only last long if the team enjoys working there and working together.

We focus strongly on culture in our hiring process with the end goal of uplifting the entire team and their families as the company grows.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is how to stay organized.

I manage myself with two task lists – one for the action items I need to complete and one for the follow-ups I need to do from my team or other stakeholders.

I start each day with a review of each list, prioritization, and then execution.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

Before Byldd, I spent a lot of time at early-stage companies in different product roles ranging from junior developer to senior engineer and eventually CTO at different early-stage and scaling companies.

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen founders, especially non-technical founders, struggle with is building version 1 of their product – whether that’s by bringing on interns, outsourcing development, or by hiring in-house developers.

In almost all cases, the founders end up paying too much for something that just didn’t work right. No market need is the biggest reason startups fail.

Founders typically end up paying upwards of $50K for a product without knowing whether the market cares for it.

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It’s especially rough for non-technical founders and founders working full-time jobs – they don’t have the ability or bandwidth to build a low-cost MVP themselves and run viability tests.

This is the problem Byldd was created to solve – we help founders build products that are just good enough to generate revenue.

We aim to solve the problem just well enough that customers are willing to pay for it.

We then take those customers, build a feedback pipeline and use that feedback to drive further product development.

Where do you see your business in five years?

In the next year, we’re looking to scale up to 100 team members – that means building out scalable sales and marketing functions.

In the next five years, we’re looking to be the go-to partner for MVP development for most major accelerators, incubators, and angel investors and have a team of 500 to support the startup world.

On the product side, we’ll have automated the vast majority of common use cases and functionality necessary for early-stage product development, allowing us to build and launch apps cheaper and faster than anyone else.

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

We faced quite a big challenge recently – the number of projects we had increased quite a bit. We had 20 simultaneous projects at one point and things started breaking down in the company – key decision-makers became bottlenecks.

We had bad hires which delayed the success of some of these projects. Our biggest challenge is definitely going to be creating a scalable and sustainable organizational structure.

The structure will need to be able to handle shocks to the system and have redundancy built to handle emergencies.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

I think our biggest success story has been the number of founders who have continued to work with us after building and launching a product.

We have had 0 churn – every single founder who has gone to market with us and was able to validate their business thesis has continued to work with Byldd to scale their company.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

Almost all of the business we’ve had so far has been through referrals. Our clients like our service and recommend them to people in their network who want to build and launch businesses.

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I’ve been an engineer through and through so I never had any experience with sales before Byldd. It’s one of the things I was most worried about when starting out. I tried very hard to read books and find mentors to help me bridge that gap.

It’s necessary because ultimately, a founder’s job is to sell – whether you’re selling the product to customers or selling the company to potential employees.

Right now, I’m the only one handling sales on the team and it’s become a pretty big bottleneck for us.

We’re looking to build a sales engine now and hire a team with strong technical sales experience.

What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

What’s your OOTM – one metric that matters? This is something that you need to think really hard about as a founder – make sure it’s not a vanity metric like views or downloads – and that it’s as closely tied to revenue or profit as possible.

Focus on that number and make sure your business efforts are tied to making it go up. Running a business has a lot to do with momentum.

Starting out is going to be the hardest part but when you get that wheel turning and that flywheel effect going, all subsequent steps will only make it easier and add to your momentum. Hang in there.

Running a business is also incredibly difficult. You will get tired of day-to-day operations over time so you need to hand that off to smart, capable managers.

Hiring well is critically important and not easy – study the hiring process, best practices and learn from mentors where you can. But ultimately, trust your instincts when it comes to hiring.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

Personally – I recently got married so I’m looking to just enjoy that and travel widely for the next couple of years.

We’re structured as a fully-remote team so I’m planning to take advantage of that and work from some interesting places around the world.

For the business, I’m really looking forward to growing our team and figuring out the scalability challenge – we’re a team of 35 people right now and I want to grow to 100 by the end of next year.

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