December 19, 2019

Education has always been my top priority

Usama Noman

Please introduce yourself (name, age, country, job before starting a company) and what you are working on

I am Usama Noman and I am a 26 years old geek, living out of Pakistan. I am the sole-founder of the bootstrapped startup called Botsify, which is a SaaS platform for businesses to allow them build chatbots for their customer support.

What does education mean to you? Do you have any educational qualifications?

I am a computer scientist and silver medalist of my university. I stood-up second position in the batch of over 300 computer scientists in my university which is the biggest computer science university of Pakistan (“National University of Computer and Emerging Science).

Education has always been my top priority, I am from a humble but middle-class background, my father have a small business of male-handsticted garments. So I had to work out hard, I taught young kids in my early days & relying on scholarship money to contribute somehow to pay tuition fees.

I think education makes a big difference in the way you think and behave in the professional environment.

What's your backstory and why did you decide to start a business?

Graduating out of university, I had two open paths, being a graduate of the best computer science university and even silver medalist, getting a job in the biggest local tech company wasn’t hard for me at all.

The other option was of struggling hard and do something of my own. It was a hard choice because my father was getting older and my elder brother just had started his job. But still they all supported me and gave me a time of year to start earning with my own business. Keeping the targets in my mind, I wrote the first freelancing proposal on Upwork and got the project.

Can you believe how many people would have got the project with their first proposal they wrote on a freelancing website? It was a good start and it never stopped me.

Along with my two batch mates we started a business with one idea in mind “to ease the hiring process of technical companies”. We worked on this product for almost a year, paying off our bills with the freelancing projects. And eventually made the first sell. Although it was the first sell, we didn’t get paid much and it was very hard to sell it to the local market back then. So we dropped the idea and parted ways.

Then I came across another idea of “Messenger Chatbots” when I was watching the glimpse of “Facebook F8 Conference 2016”. And then it struck me to make a platform for businesses to let them build chatbots themselves without coding or programming.

Describe the process of starting and launching the business.

I build the MVP in 3 days, and after 1 week I was hunted on Product Hunt. I focused on getting more media attention try to publish about my product in different platforms and directories and get the media attention and I was able to get a lot of media reviews and mentions in the first 2-3 months. It drove good traffic to my site and also it gave me product feedback which helped me drive my product.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I focused on the smallest MVP product, rather than a full fleshed product (learning from my past experiences). Here is a UI of my first product look like.

Botsify MVP

And one day I got hunted on Product Hunt which brought me so much traffic and so much media attention that I was in the sky. A media house like VentureBeat writing about just after 1 month of your launch was pretty amazing and gave so much SEO importance to the platform that it wasn’t any hard to attack new users.

In order to retain customers, we do one-one demo with them so they stick longer and have absolutely no difficulty in using the platform. Here is our current Dashboard UI.

Botsify New UI

Much cleaner isn’t it?

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I am already profitable with a team of 10. I can’t share my MRR but this journey without raising funds have been super exciting for me. For my future I would like to grow it my way without being dependant and without raising any funding round.

PS. I have calculations behind that :)

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I think to always be honest with my business and my customers is the best thing I have followed throughout my journey.

I have got multiple occasions I could fault my customers, I have got some crazy scamming ideas. But never try to go that way. Try to be honest with yourself.

Second; set your primary and secondary goals for the lift. My goal is to earn the respect, secondary is to earn money. So if something that brings me a lot of money but doesn’t bring me respect I won’t do it.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

We use AWS for hosting our website. We use SendGrid for sending emails.

We use GSuit for corporate emails, we use LinkedIn Premium for sales and building the network. And few lead-generation platforms for searching our potential markets.

What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

I learn from IndieHackers.com a lot, I hear other people's stories and I have joined SaaS groups on facebook which helps me learn a lot. So no matter in what industry you are in, join some facebook groups and ask questions. Ask on Quora and read as well so you can learn. For me these few resources and websites have been super useful.

Advice for professionals who want to get started or are just starting out?

If you want to start on a product, always focus on the MVP and try to enter the market and see if people still like your product and idea.

Try to run some ads and see the interest, or even sell the first item or subscription without even building the product.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are completely focused on in-house resources which is cheaper option in Pakistan right now. And we always do referral hiring.

Where can we go to learn more about you and your business?

You can learn about me on my linkedin profile: https://linkedin.com/in/usamanoman

And you can learn more about my business at : https://botsify.com