A chat with the Co-Founder of Guid Software – Mr.Nawaz Dhandala

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Hello Guys ,

Let me introduce you all Guid Software founded by a couple of ambitious students from Hyderabad. Here is a short chat I had with the co-founder of Guid, Nawaz Dhandala.

NawazAbout Guid Software : GUID was founded in 2012 with a passion to build ground breaking and kick-ass software that runs on mobile phones, tablets,and in the cloud. It was founded by Nawaz Dhandala and Hatim .

AJ :How the entrepreneurship journey started? Or who inspired you to start business? 

Nawaz : It all started when I was at Bangalore airport and was flying to Mumbai. I remember, It was winter in India and the northern parts of the country were foggy. My flight was an incoming flight from Delhi and it was delayed by over 3 hours because of the fog all around. Needless to say, I was bored. I was playing with my phone and that was the “Eureka!” moment.  How great it would be if I could see people at the airport right now on my phone and pick people whom I want to talk to? How great it would be if I could “shout” something like – “Anyone bored around and interested in #coffee?” and people could join me for a hangout? How great would it be if I could discover and connect to local people who like what I like and make new friends and expand my network?

As soon as I landed in Mumbai, I called up Hatim, He was one of the co-founders back then, He went on to start his company in Mumbai now. Hatim connected me to Anshal. We (Me , Hatim, Anshal and 2 other co-founders ) started a company earlier which was  Markofy which later crashed. That’s an interesting story, but for another time.  The next thing I remember – I was writing this app on Windows Phone.

AJ :When did you start the journey?

Nawaz : Me and Hatim incorporated the company back in Feb of 2012. Back then, we had a completely new business model which aims to patch the loopholes in the education system of India. We partnered with colleges, hired students as interns, equipped them with open source software and mentored them to build projects from Day 1 of their engineering. But this did not work out. Hatim had a new plan of starting out a serviced based company and build projects for clients, but I was more of a product guy. We then wanted to build a product which people love and use every day and this is how we started.

AJ :How much funding initially needed, where did you get the start-up funding? Any angel investors helped you??

Nawaz : We’re currently bootstrapping, It’s friends, family and “co-founders” money that’s being invested into the company. We don’t have any angels yet. We’re looking for one but we’re incubated by “The Hatch” in Gurgaon. We have a few excellent mentors who are guiding us both on the Product Development and Business development and we love their support.

 

AJ :What was the vision mission of the company? What exactly you wanted to do when you started your business?

Nawaz : With our product “Zoik it!”, We’re now focussed to make local social networking easier and simpler for you. We want to introduce you to stunning people every day and that is the mission of the company and we want to reach over 10 million people in the next 5 years.

AJ :Tell us about Guid Software and target customers??

Nawaz : Have you ever been a part of one or more of these scenarios?

#1 .You wanted to go out for a recent “James Bond flick”, called up your friends and family, but they were too busy to go out for a movie?

#2.You were at the airport and your flight is delayed by 3 hours. You’re bored?

#3.You want to trek/hike, but none of your friends are actually interested in this activity.

With our Local Social Networking app “Zoik it”! You can for example, share a status saying “I want to #hiking at #4:00PM #tomorrow”. We know that you’re going to hike tomorrow at 4:00PM because of the hash tags.  We send out this notification to all of those users who love to trek, are in the same city and have some free time tomorrow at 4:00 PM. So the only people around you who are interested in hiking gets the notification are most welcomed to join you for a great meet up. We help you connect with real people at a real physical location easy and fast! Be it Hiking, Having a coffee at your local coffee store, grabbing a beer tonight, partying or even planning tennis – We connect you to people instantly who like what you like.

We target a wide range of customers that goes to local and global businesses and consumers who use smartphone and are in the age group from 16-35 because that’s when people are more receptive in meeting new people.

 

AJ : What kind of difficulties you had faced while starting/doing business?

Nawaz :

#1 : Finding Co-founders : Its always the co-founders who take or dive into risks with you when you’re in a company that’s not off the ground yet. You always want to work with best partners for your business and finding those people whom you can trust is tough.

#2 : Finding Talent : Its great teams who turn a great idea into a great product and then into a great company. It’s always difficult to find talent for your company. People who can complement you and can help you to take the company off the ground.

#3 : Conflicts : You work with people, You always have conflicts and that’s actually fun. You don’t need people who think the same as you. You need people who have different views, can debate over things and reach to a conclusion. Conflicts are always a part of any company.

AJ : Tell us about aha moments of your journey?

Nawaz : Well, We’re a product that does a lot of geo-location stuff in it, We wanted to build an algorithm that helped you to find people around you as fast as it can. But calculating the distance of every people in the city and ordering them just wouldn’t work. It takes a lot of time. We designed an algorithm that hashes your location details and computes it and that’s how we do that stuff in seconds. It took us a while to figure it out. But we eventually did.

 

AJ : What are your future plans? Or now what is your vision for next five years?

Nawaz : We want the product to be on all the platforms – iOS, Android, BB, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and even the Web. That’s our top priority right now. We’re also looking for good venture capital money to support development and launch. We want our code to run on at least 10 million phones and tablets in the next five years.

 AJ :It is generally said that “India doesn’t have a good eco-system for entrepreneurs ”, Do you agree with this?

Nawaz : No. It’s not! If it was we wouldn’t be having Flipkart, OlaCabs, JustEat, Zomato etc. The problem with India is the education system. Colleges and Universities train us to be corporate lab rats and that’s how students in India are. We don’t have subjects like “Start-up Capital and Fund raising”, “How to hire talent”, “Entrepreneurship” in technical schools and that’s where students don’t get to experience and know about these stuff. Things are changing, Incubators and Innovation Center in universities does foster entrepreneurship to a certain extent and in fact, we graduated from the Microsoft Innovation Center from our college itself. So yes, India does have a good ecosystem for Entrepreneurs.

AJ :Who are there from the beginning of Guid and how you recruit new team mates?

Nawaz : Me and Anshal are from the beginning when it all started. We’re a technology company and we need tech guys with us to write tons of code. We go to technology events – like hackathons where people actually code. We network with participants, look at the quality of code they write and hire on-the-spot!

AJ :Should a student join a start-up just after completing his education? Or work experience in an established company is better?

Nawaz : I always believe that a student should join a start-up, at least a start-up that’s angel funded because of these five reasons :

#1 : You make decisions. The important skill in life is decision making and you’ll never learn that in a 20-50 K/ month job in a company.

#2 : You’re responsible. In a start-up everyone is responsible of something big. Something that makes the company look different. Something you feel proud to be responsible of.

#3 : You learn the art of entrepreneurship : You’re in a start-up and start-up is all about survival. How do you design or build the product that people love. How does your service/product survive in the market. How does the company survive when it’s low on capital. You learn entrepreneurship.

#4 : You own stock : If you’re one of the first hires in a company you’d probably own some stock in the company and If the company you’re working for gets a good exit, That’ll make you good money.

#5 :  You have fun : Ever imagined pizza cartoons lying on the floor? You getting into an office with shorts or three-fourths / Bermuda and working?  Having beer after you’ve spent all night working with your fellow mates? Well it all happens in a start-up and It’s always a lot of fun!

AJ :Please share some info about your earlier ventures, if any?

Nawaz : Me, Hatim, Anshal and 2 other cofounders started a company Markofy. That was a part of Stanford Technology Entrepreneurship course at Venture Lab. Markofy helped people around the world to highlight text on the web like they’d do it on a normal paper and share it with others. It was a great learning curve and It finally got me connected with Anshal who’s the co-founder at GUID.

AJ :What will be your advice/suggestion for new entrepreneurs for starting new business?

Nawaz : For Students, You’re now in college and you have all the time in the world to experiment with things. Kick start a company. You’ll never regret what you’ve done.

AJ : Can you tell us your opinion on techaloo.com?

Nawaz : It’s a great portal having a collection of the college start-ups in India. Portal like these always encourages students to turn into next gen entrepreneurs. Keep up the good work.

 

AJ

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