Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hello! I am Tony Paul and I am the co-founder of Datahut. I also head Sales and Marketing at Datahut. Datahut helps customers get data from websites at scale using our cloud-based DaaS platform. We are building the platform in a way that customers can get the data from hundreds of web sources without any hassle.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
We (Me and my co-founders ) wanted to start a venture of our own from the college itself. Before getting successful with Datahut, we faced a few failed startups and resorted to consulting jobs to survive. In the meantime, we were continuously brainstorming ideas. After working on consulting projects which had data at their core, we realized there is a huge demand for data as a service model for web data. This was the genesis of the idea behind Datahut.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
We help our customers get data from websites at scale. We have customers who receive millions of records daily from their competitor websites. Our customers use this data for a variety of purposes.
Traditionally web data was accessible for people with a programming background or who can pay a lot of money for software licenses. We wanted to change that by providing ready to use data at a much reasonable cost. We eliminated the technical barrier and that was crucial in our early traction.
This idea of data subscription was not really popular when we launched. We bootstrapped with a small team of engineers and achieved profitability and growth from an early stage. Most of our marketing efforts were educating our customers that there is a better way to get web data.
We have partnered with some of the largest retailers and brands to help them gain access to web data. Just this year, in 2020, to date, we have delivered over 3 billion records to our customers.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
We did not have any funding for Datahut and our only way to success was hustling. We hustled hard and it meant a lot of sleepless nights. We were often close to shutting down in the initial days of our venture. Once we landed a few big deals - we had the fuel to grow the team and scale the product.
How many hours a day do you work on average & can you describe/outline your typical day?
In startups, everything is extremely dynamic and changes so fast. Our working hours depend on what I need to deal with on a particular day. The founders are now managing the teams and delegating most of the work. Since we manage people and customers - we are online on Slack + Email + Whatsapp at least 15 hours a day. My typical day starts with checking emails from customers, prospects, and partners. Once that is done - I check the inbound messages we get and assign it to the sales team. Once the sales tasks are done - I'll have a chat with the marketing team and review the work. The sales, marketing, operations, and customer success teams always work closely, and as a founder, my job is to make sure that they have all the resources and help to deliver on our vision.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
Our market is very competitive and a lot of companies go out of business every year. We were able to compete with some heavily funded companies in the last five years while bootstrapping. Something that I consider as one of our biggest achievements.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since the launch of Datahut, we have heavily focussed on leveraging content marketing and customer referrals to acquire new customers. Our customer success team and well-built data mining platform helped us retain our customers as well as attract new ones. Our growth was purely organic.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Once we decided on the problem we are going to solve - we had an idea of the type of customers who will be interested in our service. We started with cold reach outs via Linkedin and closed the customer before writing a single line of code. Soon after that we built a website and wrote informational blogs on data-related problems we solved. We scaled this up slowly and that is how we reached where we are now.
Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?
We did not use any of these platforms.
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
We are a DaaS, data as a service model business and we doubled our revenue every year for the last five years.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and the obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the -future?
One of the biggest challenges we've faced is convincing customers that Datahut’s DaaS model of web data extraction is better and more cost-effective than setting up an in-house team for doing the same. We overcame this challenge by educating our customers through content and pilot projects. After showing some very promising results from these pilot projects, we compared KPIs of data extraction. The pros of DaaS clearly outweighed the cons.
Some of our early clients gave us huge positive feedbacks and witnessed a marked improvement in their data outcomes and cost-effectiveness, which also helped spread the word about Datahut’s web scraping solutions. Our future goal now is to hit $5M in ARR in five years. .
Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market Datahut and grow the service?
Our primary source of marketing Datahut is through content marketing. We use high-quality content to write about the problems we help solve in various industries. This content also helps us in lead-generation.
Do you have a model to get product feedback? What’s your favorite way to get product feedback? Did product feedback help you get the results you hoped for ?
We have a clearly defined process for getting product feedback. Without feedback, there won't be any progress and we understood this early on. While using feedback/survey tools sometimes gives just the " WHAT" of the feedback, we need to ensure personal interaction with the customers to understand the "WHY". We talk to our customers about what they liked and disliked in their experience with Datahut’s services over web conferencing. We are highly receptive to any negative feedback and regularly enforce changes to keep improving our offering.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
After starting up and going through a lot of struggles since the inception of Datahut, I’ve recognized the importance of perseverance. I’ve become strong mentally. Dealing with business problems and people has made me a better person.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our business uses a variety of tools like AWS, Collect.chat, Hubspot. Zoho services, Onesignal, Heap Analytics, hellosign, Taiga, etc
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
Jeff Weiner, the founder of Linkedin has been a huge inspiration to me.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
One of the books that have impacted me, in the long run, is: Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It. I’m not a huge fan of podcasts and I use online courses on platforms like edx to improve my skills.
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
To a fellow aspiring entrepreneur, all I’d like to say is: A Startup is tough, painful and tests you mentally in every way every day. Never do it for the glory, and perseverance and a ‘never give up’ attitude’ will take you a long way. I’ve seen people smarter than me in every way quit because they lacked mental toughness.