Sramana Mitra: Before you quit your day job, what was the timeframe between your coming up with this idea, deciding to start this company, and quitting your job?
Suuchi Ramesh: The idea took shape about 18 months before I quit my day job. By that time, Suuchi Inc became really tangible. It was in the second quarter of 2016 when we signed on our first few customers. I quit my day job at the end of 2016.
Sramana Mitra: It sounds like what you followed is Bootstrapping with a Paycheck.
Suuchi Ramesh: Yes. We raised our first round of money last year. That was the Series A. Having had sales roles in B2B startups was extremely useful. I was able to hold off before bringing in Series A investors. It also taught me a lot about how to hunt for those first few customers. There’s nothing that can help see the company’s growth like paying customers.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the period when you were bootstrapping while you still have your day job. What was the hypothesis that you started the company with?
Suuchi Ramesh: It had to be a large market. For me, it was to go big or go home. I had a great job. It paid me really well. It wasn’t going to be an entry for a lifestyle business. It had to have huge potential. It had to be in tech. It had to be B2B because that was all I knew.
One thing that was fascinating is that pure B2B software was interesting. I was noticing this trend where legacy industries were being reoriented and reorganized using simple technology. There’re examples with Airbnb and Uber in B2C, but also B2B names like Procor in construction. I find that really fascinating.
They completely redefined how construction sector operates. I started looking at the fashion supply chain. Fashion is a multi-trillion dollar market. The hypothesis was based around the challenges that there was a huge execution risk and compliance risk in how fashion supply chains operate.
The challenges extend beyond the physical supply chain. The purchases with respect to tech stack were also very fragmented. We were seeing that enterprise companies were purchasing technologies, but these silo systems were not communicating with one another.
The mission statement was to build a digital system that would connect to a network of factories. The software would help provide a workflow and digitize the entire supply chain from the point of material purchase through production and beyond. In the process, it helps make physical products through the factories that were connected.
That’s how we began. In order to build the software, we started off by operating a set of factories and doing the job of delivering these goods through these networks of factories. We didn’t commercialize the software right away. We were building the software as we learned how the supply chain operated.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do by way of customer validation before you jumped into this?
Suuchi Ramesh: We started by taking on small projects for customers. We started with a group of factories. We learned a lot through that. So we started off by operating a set of factories ourselves. Supply chains are broken beyond fashion.
We always wanted to build software that would be agnostic and go beyond fashion, but you have to start somewhere. We broke the problem to the microlevel. We broke that supply chain down further and focused on the production piece.