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Bootstrapping With a Paycheck to Techstars: Nevin Shetty, CEO of Blueprint Registry (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Jan 17th 2017

Sramana Mitra: This is a big challenge. We do have entrepreneurs who are non-technical. Let me ask you one question before you go to the development portion. Before launching into this direction with your startup, you must have done some level of comparative analysis. Talk to me a little bit about what you unearthed in that process of looking around. What else is there? What other options are there along these lines?

Nevin Shetty: In 2013, I had the conception of building an e-commerce experience based on the blueprint of a home. We were like, “Let’s apply this to one particular market. Instead of going to general e-commerce, let’s focus on one particular niche.” We decided to focus on weddings. Wedding is a one-time life event related to the home.

The wedding registry market is large. It’s dominated by three big box retailers who have not innovated in a long time. There’s very high gross margins in terms of users per cart value. You don’t need a million people to be profitable. You only need 50,000 people. Looking at the analysis, we saw that we don’t need to take on the entire market. We can essentially take a small sliver. If we improve the process for buying online, then people will actually buy online and increase the total size of the pie. We did a huge competitive analysis.

It took several months, but it was the most exciting part of the whole project. The creativity, building, and the potential is probably the most exciting part of any endeavor. It was incredibly taxing to come back from a whole day of work and then spend time researching all nights and all weekend.

Sramana Mitra: Then you had to go outside of your core team to get this product developed. Talk to us about the experience of that.

Nevin Shetty: After Lizzie and I fleshed out a business plan, we thought of getting this built. We met with five development teams. In 2013, it was either offshore or onshore. We met with three firms who were in the US and three firms that were outside the US. We talked to all of them. This was the first endeavor for Lizzie and me on the development front. It was interesting to understand the different types of building the website. We ended up getting five proposals. The proposals ranged from $30,000 to $300,000.

The advice ranged from “You need to build a website, have it last a year, and then completely rebuild it.” to “Build a website where you can incrementally build it over time as you see features coming in.” The varying degrees of advice we got was incredible. We chose the middle of the path in terms of the cost of the project. We ended up choosing them. We can talk about this much later but we’re on our third development team now.

The development team that initially worked for us no longer works for us. They created a lot of tech debt for us that we’re still dealing with today. Going through that process, it was really interesting because when we were interviewing, we asked other clients, “How many developers did you look for before choosing this dev shop?” All of them said, “Zero. They’re the only dev shop we’ve ever worked with.” It’s amazing because all of these other companies never did comparative analysis on their suppliers. I don’t know if we chose the right shop but we felt we did a lot of due diligence there. We don’t know code. It’s hard to determine if we made the right choice.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping With a Paycheck to Techstars: Nevin Shetty, CEO of Blueprint Registry
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