Entering Blitz-scaling with 100x after Bootstrapping for 5 Years

It’s been almost 5 years since Bala and I quit our jobs to venture out on our own. Since then, it has been quite a journey of discovering — ourselves, our interests, our strengths, weaknesses and the kind of company we want to build. If someone had told us in 2016 that it would take us 5 years to find something that we, the team, our customers and our investors truly believe in — we may not have taken that first step. Good that no one did tell us that then. Else, Fieldproxy would not have been born.

Fieldproxy provides a no-code SaaS platform that lets any field service organisation streamline build custom apps to streamline their field operations. But how did two people who have only managed desk teams (and development teams at that!) stumble upon the complex, complicated and convoluted world of field operations?

A LookBack

Fieldproxy was not the first idea we toyed with or implemented, but surely the first that we spent a lot of time talking about, researching, ideating, talking to prospective clients and building multiple MVPs of the product.

The first product we launched in mid-2016 was a video news app called Snippt. We launched it after speaking to a grand total of 0 users from our target audience. We knew we just wanted to “startup” and just “felt” a need for such a product. After spending 10 months on it, burning through all of our savings, speaking to nearly 100 investors and receiving No’s, earning zero revenue and receiving no traction (as expected!), we decided to kill it off. That was the most difficult time in our journey so far, where we almost went back to searching for jobs. It was Jun’17 and we decided to give ourselves another 3 months to decide what to work on and start generating revenue.

One thing that we did learn from our experience at Snippt was building products. We at least had the distinction of ideating, building and launching a product from nothing. And we did know many people in our circles who had brilliant ideas but did not know how to build and launch them. It was around the same time, someone whom we knew reached out about an idea he had been thinking about for sometime — an online marketplace for hiking & treks. One thing led to another and we soon were on to our next venture — codemycompany — where we helped founders move from ideas to product launch within 8 weeks. Codemycompany was moderately successful, and had many things going for us: we launched with zero capital (and we had zero capital), started generating revenues from day 1, scaled the team to 20 people, were profitable from the get-go and got the opportunity to interact with some brilliant people across multiple industries.

But codemycompany was what Sanjay would call a “living dead” business. We were alive, getting enough revenue to pay the team every month, get a small profit ourselves — but we always knew we could never become a large company that would truly impact the world. There were many times when we asked ourselves if working on codemycompany was the reason we quit our high paying jobs — and the answer was always no.

Baby Steps for Fieldproxy

In mid-2018, while building Codemycompany, we happened to work with one of the divisions of a large FMCG major, where the Area Sales Manager reached out to us with a problem: it was difficult to manage his field team and he wanted us to build a tool that will help him streamline his field operations. We built and launched the tool for the client and the rollout was successful.

We did not think too much of it then — but 6 months later, the same client reached out saying that the technology we built won the most innovative product award, which increased our visibility within the organization. Throughout 2019, we worked with 10 other teams within the organization helping them streamline their field operations. That is when we realized how much more complex it was to manage an on-ground servicing team compared to a desk team. We spent most of 2019 talking to multiple stakeholders across different field first industries, learned the huge revenue losses they face daily due to lack of digitization of their field operations and by the end of the year realized it was too big an opportunity to not focus our efforts on full time.

Starting with 100x.vc

We launched Fieldproxy in the second half of 2020, with the core objective of helping field servicing teams easily digitize their operations. We started getting a few pilot customers — who provided great feedback on the product, and the daily usage among this small set of clients was extremely high. It was the first time in 5 years, we felt that we had built a product that users had wanted. We were excited, we knew that we could think big again — but we were not sure how to proceed. We did not want Fieldproxy to be a ‘living dead’ business where we were happy with just a few clients, small Y-o-Y growth and limited ambitions. The market size and opportunity were large, and being the first movers in the no-code tools for field businesses, we knew we had to move quickly, for which we needed to raise funds.

My previous experience fundraising for the Snippt video news app did leave me with a sour taste of the entire fundraising journey. I remembered cold emailing, sending multiple Linkedin requests to investors, filling up multiple forms on websites only to be ghosted or met with rejections. On the one hand, you read about startups raising multiple large rounds in the media, and over here it was impossible for us to even get a meeting with an investor. Looking back, we did realize we followed a spray and pray approach when it came to approaching investors and we never looked at our business from an investor point of view.

This time around we decided to be more focused and calculated. We knew we had the product and the market validation but had no idea how to scale. We identified certain investors whom we felt would be perfect for the stage we were in — and made a list of just ten of them. Coincidentally, 100x.vc was the first on the list. I had been following Sanjay, the founder & partner at 100x on various social media platforms since the time I started in 2016, and much before 100x had launched. His tweets & Linkedin posts were extremely useful nuggets on the ground realities of being an entrepreneur. Being an active follower, I had known about 100x since their launch, seen 3 batches come and scale and had consumed most of their content and found it extremely useful.

I knew their motto was ‘Funding Simplified’, but unless you experience it, you are always bound to be sceptical, especially after the energy-sapping process the first time around we had when looking to raise funds for Snippt. I dropped a mail to the common 100x pitch id (pitch@100x.vc if you are looking to raise funds) — least expecting a response. To my surprise, I got an immediate response from Vatsal, Principal at 100x asking for more details and to schedule a call. Most heartening was the fact that he mentioned his WhatsApp number too on the email — and asked me to reach out to him anytime for any queries. VCs are supposed to be unapproachable right? Don’t think the 100x team got that memo.

Scaling with 100x.vc

Things moved quickly post that — where we had 4 back to back calls with the 100x team within a week before a final meeting in Mumbai. The quick pace at which the 100x team moved also helped me mentally prepare myself for the world of blitzscaling. For each of the meetings, there were tons of questions the 100x team posed, for which we needed to have our answers ready by the next meeting. This would involve having to talk to our existing customers, do in-depth competitor research, talking to prospective clients and preparing detailed pricing analysis — all within 10 days. That is the pace at which high growth startups are expected to move and now looking back — we realize that 100x was just preparing us for it — even before investing in us. The process of self-discovery during those 10 days helped us fine-tune a lot of aspects of our business, focus and narrow our GTM and give us clear visibility on the roadmap for the next 3–5 years. It was great meeting the entire 100x team in Mumbai — discussing and dissecting the vision of Fieldproxy. By the end of the day, they were ready with the term sheet, with the time from the first call to the term sheet being just 2 weeks — such speed is unprecedented in the startup investing world.

Post signing the term sheet, there has not been a single moment of regret. The entire 100x team was very deeply involved in helping us become successful. Sanjay provided recommendations to industry veterans who have access to a large number of prospective clients, Ninad, who has run large public companies still found time to sit in a few demos calls to help fine-tune my client pitch, Yagnesh helped fine-tune our financial projections, enabled us to think bigger, Shashank provided us introductions to some of the most respected investors and Vatsal spent countless hours helping us fine-tune our investor pitch (he helped us go from version01 to version23). You cannot expect more from your first investors.

Masterclasses with 100x.vc

It takes an entire village for a startup to be successful. Once onboard, the best part about the 100x cohort is the masterclasses, which provide you with instant access to some of the most successful founders and executives who have been there and done that.

We had ICICI veteran Hitesh help us understand how to sell to large enterprises as a startup and give us an inside look at how large companies evaluate startups. And at the other end of the spectrum we had the current toast of the blockchain world, Jaynti Kanani, share his learnings on starting up and taking risks.

Another interesting session was a live workshop by brand building guru, Ambi Parameswaran. We as founders love to talk about our idea, and many a time we get too carried away when we think of our positioning. Ambi helped us narrow down our positioning to make it easily understood by both a 5-year-old and also an 80-year-old.

There were also multiple sessions from investors which helped us understand some of the complex fundraising terms and concepts, which can sow seeds of doubts in the minds of founders who are fundraising for the first time. Sessions by Jatin Desai, Vinit Bhansali, Manish Singhal and many others help bust some of the myths around fundraising.

It was not only about fundraising and customer acquisition though. One really interesting Masterclass was by Amit Mookim, wherein he spoke a lot about the mental toll that entrepreneurship and leadership may take on individuals and how to always stay positive irrespective of the outcome.

All in all — the Masterclasses were like a mini-MBA where the concepts and practical learnings were distilled to us within a month.

Up, Up & Above

100x has helped provide us access to tools, people and resources for us to blitz scale — and it is time for us to go back and implement all the learnings and focus on execution.

If you are an innovative startup on the cusp of scaling, 100x is accepting applications for its batch 5. Do drop a mail at pitch@100x.vc.

If you are excited about what we do at Fieldproxy and would like to join a high growth startup, building a category defining product do write to me at swaroop@fieldproxy.com




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