story of “startup desi”… Purna Duggirala (Chandoo) founder of chandoo.org

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Have you ever tried to learn excel??
Have you ever typed “Excel Tutorial” on google?? the first link will come as “www.chandoo.org”

It is the story of Purna Duggirala (Chandoo) who started this website as a personal website. Presently it is being run by a 6 member team and a large volunteer force.(As posted by chandoo on chandoo.org)

Back story:

As far back as I can remember, I have always wanted to run my own company. It is one of the reasons why I pursued MBA. But over the course of years, the part in me that is curious, risk taking and stubborn has vanished and was replaced by cautious, calculated and flexible self. May be it is all the education and social set up, or may be it is just me. The change has been subtle but very powerful. So much that when I finished MBA in 2006, I did not consider setting up my own company, even for a second. I was bending backwards to impress the recruiters and get a steady 9 to 5 job.

Year 2007 – the year of change:

The transformation from cautious to curious has been gradual and began in 2007. I went to USA for the first time in my life and met several interesting and enterprising people. I also realized the potential of web based startups. They are low cost, easy to setup and run and can be managed on part-time basis. Around the same time , my crush with Excel happened. So I started writing about it on my personal blog (yes, PHD used to be a personal blog before 2007. Dig deep in to archives and you will find a lot stories, experiences and trivia). But I also started a small website in the movie domain. The movie site didnt go that well, but PHD kept on rocking.

In the meanwhile, my day job kept me busy and gave me lots of challenging assignments. So I pushed PHD to the side track and worked on it in the nights and weekends. But somewhere in my heart I knew that I would have to quit my job and pursue PHD as a full time venture. But the cautious side of me never let it happen.

Years 2008 and 2009 – Foundation years:

Along the years (in 2008 and 2009) I cleared my student loans and most of the mortgage (house loan). I also made some buffer money by working in foreign locations and monetizing PHD’s traffic thru ads. All this was poured in to our bank accounts to create little cushion for us. Even then I wasnt thinking about quitting my job and starting a company.

Then I became dad in late 2009. Simultaneously I launched excel project management templates for sale. As my kids grew, the sales of PM Templates also went up. This was encouraging.

Year 2010 – Finally,

So in year 2010 I took some of the money made from PM Templates and invested in the Excel School program. Again many of you have welcomed the program with both hands and I saw a generous boost in part time business. But even then I wasn’t quite sure if working on PHD alone is a good idea.

Then something strange happened. Between day job, work on PHD I was spending very little time my family. My work demanded that I be in Denmark for extended time and I could hardly find any time to be with Jo and the kids. I was being a bad dad and husband. And that feeling was killing me inside.

So in March 2010 I came back to India on vacation. My initial plan was to take a 6 month sabbatical from day job and spend that time with my wife and kids. But after spending a month with them I couldn’t imagine going back to work. So I sent in my resignation.

What is the full story?

How to survive for 2 years?
After completing 2 years chadoo said to
>Make Mistakes
>Ask a lot (Feedbacks and Learning)
>Focus on main motto “Sell yourself”
>Define what you want to do [our goals for 2012]
>Define your values & philosophies
>List down a bunch of metrics that help you know how well you are doing against above 2
>Track them monthly
>See where you are going wrong and find ways to improve
>Do not expect your new store design, web site layout to be effective overnight.
>Do not expect your product to make a million dollars in first week.
>Do not pressurize your employees to perform from day 1.
>Follow your Passion, but Manage Poop too

7 Things Startups can do that Big Businesses Struggle to get right
1. You can Email immediately
2. List your personal phone number on your website
3. Choose whom you want to sell to
4. Service instead of sell
5. Collaborate instead of Compete
6. Keeping things really simple
7. Doing the right thing instead of doing the profitable thing

Monitoring a Startup Business – What Metrics to use?

Financial:
■Cash generated in the last month: Remember cash ≠revenues.
■Revenues last month and their breakup by area (I get money thru product sales, training, consulting, advertising and affiliate sales)
■Expenses last month
■Overall sales trend and whether it is as usual or something interesting is happening

Marketing: ■New customers last month
■Sign-ups to various news letters, RSS etc. on my site
■Overall unique visitors last month
■Customer engagement: No. of comments, tweets, link-backs on my site etc.

Operations: ■No. of customer queries, support requests
■Number of questions students raised
■What I feel about how productive I have been
 
 
 
work-from-homeThis is the office where he used to work

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Mohit Bansal(23) is B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India. He has interest in business and entrepreneurship and has published couple of research articles. He is also associated with various NGOs. He is with Techaloo when it was just in concept stage. The Techaloo site was not existing even then. Currently Mohit is working with Mu Sigma as a Business Analyst Profile.

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