Sramana: What timeframe was all of this work occurring?
Paras Chopra: I started coding the second version in December of 2009.
Sramana: You basically bootstrapped Wingify using your paycheck, correct?
Paras Chopra: Yes. I spent about $20 for a domain name and really had no major expenses. I really just invested my time. My living costs were covered because I was living with my parents. I did not need to spend any money. I would not go to parties. I spent all of my time working.
Sramana: How was the beta version of your new software received?
Paras Chopra: The comments were very encouraging. I ran a private beta and then I sent out invitations to blogs. Their readers got exclusive access to the software which worked well for me. That created a lot of groundswell and interest. I got a lot of users asking for demos and I received a lot of user feedback. I was very active in soliciting feedback from the users. That helped me define the product which was useful since I did not have a marketing background.
By March of 2010 the growth was more than I could handle. I had over 1,000 users and I realized I had to quit my job. I decided to go ahead and do that so I could focus on Wingify full time. That meant I needed to get money coming in from Wingify. I knew that businesses were going to have to be my primary user base because they would be willing to pay for the product.
Sramana: By the time you quit your job you had a product that was validated and had a definite business need. You still lacked a business model and pricing model validation.
Paras Chopra: I had an early user whose email had microsoft.com in it. He had sent me an early email telling me that I had gold in my hands. This was the kind of feedback that made it easier to make the difficult decision to quit my job.
Sramana: When did you quit your job?
Paras Chopra: I left my job in March of 2010. I was earning about 50,000 rupees in salary from my job. I just wanted to get the same amount of money from this project. I told my parents that I would be able to get that much money out of this business so they should not worry.
I finally launched paid plans and signed up 10 customers my first day. By the end of the first month I had made $4,000. That was way above what I was expecting.
Sramana: How much were you charging?
Paras Chopra: I did not have any real economic rationale for my pricing. I just followed what I saw at 37Signals.com which was to keep pricing under $100. I guess I could have tried to go out and charge a couple of thousand dollars a year, but I went ahead and charged $39 a month.