In a previous story, we showed you how Jas Grewal bootstrapped his company CareSkore with a paycheck and then got into YCombinator with a validated business. With Blueprint, we show you the same strategy as executed by Nevin Shetty to get into TechStars.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Nevin Shetty: I was born in Alabama but the first memory I have is of Saudi Arabia. I spent five years in Saudi Arabia. My dad is an aeronautical engineer. I grew up in an American compound in Riyadh and had an amazing childhood. Growing up, I remember my mom teaching English to some of the Saudi princes. I’d go over there and play with them. Then my dad moved and got a job at Boeing, so I moved to Seattle. Then I went to college at University of Washington at Seattle.
I started studying Finance because I always wanted to do Finance. Coming from Seattle, it was hard to get an interview for investment banking. My professors told me that I should pick up accounting. I picked up accounting and loved accounting. I think the theory of it is very amazing. I excelled in it. I didn’t get any investment banking interviews but got interviews at all the four big accounting firms. I ended up going to New York and started with PwC.
It was really interesting, but I realized that wasn’t for me. My whole career has been about melding finance and accounting to build systems and processes that are efficient, effective, and scalable. I have a very hardcore accounting and finance background, and it’s been very interesting to juxtapose that with technology.
Sramana Mitra: What years are we talking? When did you finish college and when did you start Blueprint?
Nevin Shetty: I finished undergrad in 2006. I did a Masters in Accounting in 2007. I did a few internships and I was full-time in New York in 2007. I rose quickly through the hedge fund investment world on the business side. After being at two funds, I launched a fund in 2012. Then I had the idea for Blueprint in 2013. Quickly after starting one business, I had the idea of the second and started it.
It took about a full year to launch the concept in 2014. I just didn’t want to start a business to start a business. I didn’t want to start a startup. It was a great idea and I wanted to be the one to solve it. I found an amazing co-founder. She has a complementary skill set to me.
Sramana Mitra: Talk about the idea and talk about the process of how that idea emerged in your mind.
Nevin Shetty: I was in New York for 10 years and lived in a number of different apartments. In my most recent apartment, I was trying to buy furniture and realized that buying furniture online was a terrible process. If you look at the market today, it’s all list format. The idea was for building an e-commerce experience that was based on the blueprint or layout of a home. You can visually shop through a house via web and mobile. No one had done anything like that.
Coming from finance and business, I didn’t know where to start. Luckily, I met my co-founder who’s an unbelievable designer who’s helped a number of startups in big corporations. I said, “Hey Lizzie. Here’s my idea. What do you think?” She was like, “I think this is amazing. I actually just got married. I’m moving from New York back to Seattle.” It was amazing for me. She was the first person to whom I ever told the idea. She comes from a different background and her excitement got me excited to keep on going.
To be perfectly frank, if I told three people and they said, “That’s a stupid idea.”, I might not have done this. Having her in the beginning was incredibly important. Our different skill sets and background help mold what we did. The amazing part about it is we started in spring of 2013. We worked with five development firms. One thing to keep in mind is both Lizzie and I are not technical founders. That was the biggest challenge and roadblock to date.