Ronak Daga - Sep 6, 2016 min read
How we bootstrapped from zero to 1 crore in a year!
So we just crossed 1 crore in revenue this August at Red Baton and I am writing this to help people understand the issues and the challenges faced in a bootstrapped startup.
Like any other startup, we had a very humble beginning. As I had prior experience in design, sales and marketing, I started thinking about starting up right after college. I wanted to take a similar path. But when I left the small city of Mangalore and came to Bangalore, I realised I needed a much better designer to join me. Searching for someone was not easy, but a Facebook group — PMIT (Put Me In Touch), made life a little easier and I found my co-founder Arun Gopidas. We started working together on something a couple of weeks after meeting each other. What was it? Even we didn’t know. We would probably just design and make some money and yes, we had our full time jobs which kept us going.
With no knowledge of running or working at an agency, we started a small office in my house with 2 planks and 4 second-hand chairs. It costed us around Rs.2000 nearly (30 Dollars). We scored a few small projects from small businesses and started making 15,000–20,000 rupees per month.
By October 2014, we had saved around 25,000 rupees. We made sure we did not spend anything out of it as that would fuel something bigger. We moved into a small sharing office in November and switched from our former jobs to start-ups, which are big names today ( Byjus and Taxi For Sure). Everything we learnt from working at startups helped us grow our business further. In the middle, we started getting bigger projects from bigger companies (Woodland and NH7 weekender). People had started recognising our work online. We had regular day jobs during the day and worked in our office at night, where we paid 5000 rupees as rent. By March ’15 we had saved over 1,00,000 rupees. Luckily, we got a few big names to give us work, enough to survive without our day jobs.
We put down our resignations by ending of February’15 and started setting up office. Unfortunately, the company we were going to share the office with backed off in the last minute and by the end of March, we were left with a only 500 rupees in hand!
“Always get your finances and agreements in place, calculate the risks and factors that might come without notice and have a long term plan in place.”
We worked out our tiny 2-bhk office, met a few really successful entrepreneurs who liked our work and finally registered Red Baton Creative Marketing Solutions Pvt. Ltd. by the end of May ’15. It was fun working with brands like Practo, Chai Point, TFS and a lot of others who trusted us with our work. We learnt a great deal from them.
We had to hire a few people in the beginning and fired them within the next 2 months. We just couldn’t find the right people.
“Always make sure you hire the right candidates, give them assignments to do, take thorough interviews, check the way they worked in their previous organisations and if they will fit into your company.”
For a founder, firing someone is the biggest fear and it feels really bad to let people go.
After hit and trial, we found Fayaz who joined us part-time as he was still in college (NIFT Bangalore). He gave the name ‘Red Baton’ and also the branding we have today was his college assignment. Later Anuja joined us and with all the hard work and effort put in, we managed to save up close to 15 lakhs by end of December ’15.
We moved to our new office in October ’15 and a lot of Fayaz’s fellow classmates joined the team. Still in college, these guys put in the effort to stay up till 2–3 A.M. in the morning and made sure we delivered on time with at-most quality.
“The kind of team you build at a start-up is your biggest asset; keep people happy at the work place, make them your family and keep calm no matter what.”
The team we built from the fresh designers straight out of college churned out really awesome campaigns and designs and pulled off any thing which came their way. All of them joined us full time after college and we had 4 more designers to the team. We kept the right mix of people and hired a few engineers, advertising guys and content people.
In the next 8 months, we grew from 4 to 14 members and 4 consultants; clocked over 10 lakhs monthly.
A lot of interesting things happened: my co-founder, Arun who had dropped out of college, still attended the placements TO HIRE more talent. We also got locked out of our first office for not paying the rent on time and lot of other interesting stories.
We are moving to a bigger office, getting bigger clients and scaling really fast. Recently, we launched 01design.in and are working towards making things happen. If you think you want to be a part of amazing journey, write to us on: firstname.lastname@example.org!
For a bit of background, I am a a 24 year old engineer from NITK and my co-founder, Arun is 23 year old college dropout from NIFT Bangalore.
“Believe in what you do! Don’t think, just go out and do it! and what we believe the most “Move fast and break things”