As Shashank ND nears a decade of entrepreneurship with Practo, he relives the challenges he encountered at the beginning of his journey. He and his engineering batchmate Abhinav Lal set up Practo in 2009. Since then the company has grown considerably from an Indian start-up to expand its roots globally.
In a brief chat with the Entrepreneur India, Shashank walked the memory lane to give us a glimpse of his journey.
The First Failure
“Our first failure came with a product we had launched called Practo Hello. It was meant for doctors to help them manage their calls. Unfortunately, we could not improvise and market it properly because of regulatory issues though it was doing very good and had created a customer base. Due to regulatory framework, we had to shelve our product. Before stopping its production, we informed our existing customers, refunded their money and allowed them to complete their subscriptions. It was a hard time as we saw our product gaining traction. A lot of problems were being solved and doctors were very impressed,” Shashank rued.
First VC Meeting
“I walked into Sequoia Capital’s office in Mumbai to meet its Vice-Chairman (VC) Shailendra Singh. The meeting lasted for an hour or two, but time flew unnoticed because we had a very engaging conversation. We connected readily in the larger vision for the company,” he reminisced.
Practo raised $55 million in funding earlier this year, which was lead by Chinese conglomerate Tencent. Some of its other investors include Altimeter Capital, Matrix Partners India, RSI Fund and Yuri Milner. The company has made five acquisitions so far.
First Customer Acquisition
“The first customer acquisition happened in Bangalore, near MG road (a popular business hotspot in the city). It was a packed building that I had entered and met this gem of a customer, who actually helped us build our product. He was very special because he explained us the true use case that many doctors struggle with. His involvement and cooperation helped us popularize our product and scale our company,” Shashank added.
Practo, which raised $179 million since its inception, has recently cut 10 per cent of its workforce. The company today gets 20 per cent of its revenue from international markets. Expects, reportedly, predict an increase in this figure in the coming years.
Shashank was one of the key speakers at the SaaS Talks event conducted by Kalaari Capital.