Interview with Founders of zipBoard

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[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have addtional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

 

zipBoard , a new-delhi based product startup, has recently launched its cloud based platform. zipBoard at its core is a review and feedback tool which lets product developers work collaboratively on their web-products (web-apps, websites & elearning courses). You can either use zipBoard while you build new products or improve existing ones with the help of collective visual feedback. All the stakeholders get real-time updates during the whole process which makes it a productive and fun experience.

It’s a great tool for anyone involved in the design and development process of a web-product. Some of the people who are going to find zipBoard extremely useful are web developers, product managers, UX designers, graphics designers, project managers, and their respective clients.

What motivated you to start the company and what is it all about?

From day one, our biggest motivation has been a strong desire to make product development simpler. Every product design, whether at a large corporation or a startup,  starts with the vision of a product manager (or founder at a startup). But most of the time, there is huge gap between design and development, specifically during production. With zipBoard (www.zipboard.co), we are trying to bridge this gap. It will help people review and collaborate on web projects – like websites, web-apps and eLearning(SCORM) projects – during production.

zipBoard reviewboard

Our readers would like to know about your core team and their roles?

zipBoard has been co-founded by 3 people who have known each other for more than a decade.

Bhavya, who finished her education from Texas A&M, is passionate about UX and design.

Pranab, who was Bhavya’s classmate at Texas A&M, heads product development at zipBoard.

Our 3rd co-founder, Nitin, has spend most of his career in enterprise/B2B sales. He was also a classmate of Pranab at IIM-Ahmedabad where they completed their MBA.

What is the current team size?

We are a team of 12 impassioned and energetic folks. Apart from the founding team, we have been able to assemble an industrious dev team consisting of 4 people. All four of them were graduates fresh out of college and more than ready to bring out their guns. So we have been able to ramp up quickly.Rest of the team members help us in QA as well as in our marketing initiatives for zipBoard.

zipBoarders

 How did you hire your initial team?

Ah, hiring. We actually happen to love this topic, even though it has been one of the most difficult tasks for us, much like any other startup.

Honestly, we tried everything we could: hiring events, job portals, referrals, platforms such as Angel.co. Some things worked great while others didn’t. Once we hired our first few developers, the rest of the hiring was done through referrals majorly.

Although it has been a very time-consuming process each time, it was well worth the time and effort. Once we decide to hire a new team member, we don’t compromise. Sometimes, it takes us a good 2-3 months to find the right person for the job, but that’s effort we’re willing to put into the process. We know that our team is our biggest asset.

We have even written a detailed blog post on how to hire the right developer, and you can read it here.

Which recruiting channels work best for you? Referrals/job boards/staffing agencies?

Guess this is already answered above in our blog. But as an additional advice, I’d say it’s best not to go with a staffing agency. Instead, you can invest that money in a more worthwhile avenue.

What are the key factors that you look for in a potential candidate?

“Willingness to learn” and “ability to work under uncertainty” have always been two of the most important qualities we look for in any candidate. There are other things too, each pertaining to the role of the person we’re hiring, but these two are a must-have for any potential candidate.

According to you, how much is the competition in your vertical? How big is the industry? Who all are your competitors and what are your views on them?

zipBoard is a product review companion for web-products (websites, web-apps and elearning courses). Every month, over 16 million websites and some 20000  web-apps are being built. And eLearning, of course, is a growing market with a market size at about $100 billion in 2015. So the space is big indeed, very big.

Whenever you build a web product, there are always gaps between design and development. Most of the existing solutions work on design (mockups, wireframes, psd etc). But in today’s world, people like to create rapid prototypes, host them somewhere and see how they look. This is where zipBoard comes in. If you have a shareable link for your product, you can bring it on zipBoard and have a visual review while you build it. This is where we differentiate from competition, who are basically focussing on design review.

zipBoard eleanring review

What are your marketing strategies? Do you take help of social platforms to promote? Which channels have been very effective? Which marketing channels have been super flops?

We are trying our hand with a lot of channels such as Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn, and Reddit to name just a few. We don’t have a real hero or a real flop currently. But what is working well for us is content marketing. Develop the right content and present it to the right audience at the right time. Whether it is a blog or a twitter feed, you need to provide valuable content so that people come back again to your feed. There is far too much noise on the internet, especially platforms like Twitter, so you have to be really careful that you don’t come off as spammy and add to the noise already present. Always try to add value and be genuine, otherwise your content will fade into oblivion.

What has been your experience with paid marketing channels?

So one of our co-founders built 2 online portals earlier, related to travel and fashion.  From her experience, we learned that paid marketing channels work much better when used at a slightly later stage. So for now, no money is being spent on paid marketing by zipBoard.

Can you elaborate on the challenges in promoting your website?

zipBoard is more of a web-app than a website. It’s a product which has a specific use-case, and our current challenge is to reach the global audience for our use-case. It’s a hit-and-trial process and you really have to try many things.

It is therefore a time-consuming process which requires superhuman levels of patience at times, haha.

zipBoard project explorer

What is the current traction? Can you share some numbers on Usage and Revenue?

We just moved from private beta to public beta around two weeks back (during the week of 8th Nov 2015).  Fortunately for us, sign-ups are growing at a rapid pace (300% per week). With current pace we are targeting 500 signups by the end of 2015.

Based on your experience, would you give any advice to the new entrepreneurs/startups?

Okay, 3 things from 3 of us…

Bhavya – Believe in your team but hire fast, fire fast (if you don’t find a fit!).

Pranab – Get to the market fast & get feedback early on.

Nitin – Stay connected to your prospects and also stay lean!

And dont forget to SIGN UP for zipBoard right here!

 

[This interview is sponsored by workspot.in , India’s leading aggregator of co-working spaces, meeting rooms and shared offices. If you have addtional office space and are looking to rent it, please do list it on workspot.in. If you are looking for space for your startup, do visit workspot.in]

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