As early stage investors it is very hard to predict the success of a company. However, among all the uncertainty the one thing that usually remains constant is the team. The importance of having a strong team was chronicled in a July blog post by DRF alum Alex Ginsberg. It was the team that was one of the key reasons why DRF Philly invested in Prayas Analytics, a solution that brings the power of web analytics to brick-and-mortar retail, with a focus on the checkout experience (like in the example below).
Here are five ways we think the team’s founders, Yash Kothari and Pranshu Maheshwari, have set themselves up for future success:
- An obsessive focus on the customer: After meeting Yash and Pranshu, many DRF investment team members were impressed with the founders’ strong focus on building their company around the needs of their consumers. Before finalizing their initial product concept, the team took the time to contact Penn alumni who could discuss the lack of analytics and A/B testing at brick and mortar retailers. The team sent out hundreds of emails, and conducted countless interviews on industry trends and current practices as a way to understand how to build their product offerings. It was directly from these conversation that Prayas Analytics was born. As an investment team, we were very confident that Yash and Pranshu would continue this rigorous customer development process.
- A flexible approach: The ability to experiment and adapt has proven to be a big reason for the success of Prayas. The original goal for the company was to help small coffee shops and cafes improve operational efficiency. However after running a few pilots, Yash and Pranshu quickly realized that this was not the best market for their product. The incremental value that they were delivering could only be realized at a large scale with retailers that see significant transaction volume. About three months into founding Prayas, Yash and Pranshu decided to pivot and tailor their product to large retailers. The team, however, would have never been able to make the pivot if it wasn’t for their flexibility and ability to remain honest with themselves about what their results were telling them.
- Persistence, persistence, persistence: The Prayas team prides themselves on their persistence as a way to drive business development. Whenever they go to conferences or speaker series, they always make the effort to follow up with people they have met as a way to build their network and learn more about retail operations. They have also been able to hardcode this persistence into their sales process through the company’s customer relationship management system. Following every single lead has allowed the Prayas team stays on top of their sales funnel all the time. The team’s efforts have proven successful as they now have a contract with a Fortune 200 retailer and are currently in paid pilots with a few other notable brick-and-mortar businesses.
- Reliance on data-driven results: From working closely with Yash and Pranshu, I have seen the emphasis the team puts in making data driven business decisions. Particularly, they have focused on tracking their growth and holding themselves to quantifiable results to make sure that they are using their resources as effectively as possible. By honing in on numbers to drive their sales approach, the team is able to hold themselves accountable and motivated. Not only do they provide analytics to other companies, but they make sure to embrace it internally as well.
- Strong team dynamic: Over the past year, it has been clear that the Yash and Pranshu have been able to grow their strong team dynamic. Specifically, they continue to develop a deeper understanding of one another through maintaining trust in each other’s judgement. The team is great about setting rules and boundaries around when to work and when to take time for themselves. For instance, the team has decided that they want to work during the weekend, as it provides a time to focus on the company without worrying about email and class. In order to prepare for the weekend, the team has set a strict rule to not work past past 7pm on Thursday nights so they can maintain a balanced workstyle and prevent themselves from burning out. Additionally, Yash and Pranshu have taken to heart Alex Ginsberg’s question about “how well do you know your co-founder’s family?” On a recent visit to a client, the co-founders took a detour so that Yash could meet Pranshu’s family. As Prayas continues to hire and increase its number of customers, the strong relationship that has been developed between Yash and Pranshu will serve as the foundation for the company to grow.
Personally, it has been an absolute pleasure working with Yash and Pranshu. I am inspired by their drive, determination, and diligence. They are always asking the right questions and maintain a high level of transparency with the DRF investment team. Additionally, they are selfless in their actions and make an effort to give back to the community at Penn, including presentations about how to start a company or offering advice to underclassmen interested in tech. Their smiles and charisma around the First Round office will truly be missed when they graduate. The Dorm Room Fund is lucky to have Prayas as a member of our community and we wish the company continued success. And we have some great news–they are hiring! The team is in the process of onboarding 3 new members and is looking to add more. If you would like to learn more about how you can work with Yash and Pranshu to help build Prayas, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.prayasanalytics.com.