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Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship: Janet Kosloff, CEO of InCrowd (Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, Apr 30th 2016

Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking?

Janet Kosloff: This was 2010. I wrote the business plan in 2010 and I started to think about it. Once I was ready to take the leap, I left my job because I am very commerically-oriented, and I wanted to  find a co-founder that had more of the research and operations side. It was very important to me that I find someone to go on this journey with me because I’m a people person and felt that I wanted to be in this with somebody.

Diane Hayes, who has a background as an epidemiologist, was that partner. There’s a long story that includes a psychic, which I won’t get into. I told her about this idea and, literally, the next day after she slept on it, she said, “I’m in.” She and I decided to bootstrap the company out of the gate. We, each, wrote fairly large checks, put it in a bank account and set out to build the MVP with some software engineers that we hired. We’re not technical founders but we had very strong vision for the product.

Sramana Mitra: Who built the product for you?

Janet Kosloff: The name of the company was Zentech. They are a very small firm. We sat down with them and said, “This is what we want the product to do.” They built it out of our description of what we wanted it to do.

Sramana Mitra: How did you find them?

Janet Kosloff: They actually had done some work for Diane in a prior organization that she was in. She did know them. We didn’t have a lot of money so we couldn’t hire a big well-known firm. We hired these guys and gave them some equity. We also paid them but we paid them significantly under market. Ultimately, they’ll end up making a lot more money than they would have had we paid them the market rate because our stocks are going to be worth a lot more money at some point. They built the product. It was really an MVP. It worked but it wasn’t built on a foundation that can necessarily scale the way that we need it to. About a year or two later once we got some additional funding and some traction, we essentially rebuilt the product while we were still operating the company.

Sramana Mitra: Let me ask you a few questions on the MVP. What was on the MVP?

Janet Kosloff: The business problem that we solved is the need to get questions that come up for our clients over the course of doing business answered very rapidly. The elements that we needed in a software application was the ability for a user to launch their browser, be able to craft the question that they wanted to have answered, and then send that question to a very targeted group of responders.

In our case, those responders are physicians, nurses, and people in the healthcare space. They needed to be able to send those questions to very specific responders. For example, they may have a question that they want an oncologist specializing in lung cancer who practices in academic institutions in California. We need to give them the ability to target those questions to very specific groups. Then we need those questions to be delivered to those specific responders on their phones ideally, and then give the responders to answer those questions and then for the data to be available for being visualized by the user. Those were the components that we built for the MVP.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Capital Efficient Entrepreneurship: Janet Kosloff, CEO of InCrowd
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