Kish and Vanessa bootstrapped to multi-million dollars in revenue selling a private label product before quitting their job. In this story, you also get to see the nuances of running successful (and not so successful) crowdfunding campaigns. Very interesting journey and insights.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the very beginning. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in background?
Kish Vasnani: I was born in Jaipur, India and moved to the US when I was about one year old. I grew up around the Atlanta area and finished school there. I moved to New York to help a friend of a friend start a software company, which was also bootstrapped. We were able to sell that to Thomson Reuters. I had the itch again to go out on my own. Very candidly, I was also fired from a couple of other jobs over the course of two years.
Sramana Mitra: The company that you were part of that was bootstrapped, were you a founder of that company?
Kish Vasnani: I was not a founder; I was one of the early employees.
Sramana Mitra: Summarize a little bit of that story. How long were you there? What kind of company was it? What was the scale of the exit?
Kish Vasnani: I was the first salesperson of that company. I knew the founders. They were very technical people. They had a great tax and accounting product. When it came to demonstrating it in a client-facing way, they fell short. I was able to join the team, learn the ins and outs of software, and learn just enough. I started there in July of 2007. I was there until about October 2013.
Sramana Mitra: When did the company get acquired?
Kish Vasnani: The agreement to be acquired was in 2008. The full acquisition was in 2011.
Sramana Mitra: That was Thomson Reuters?
Kish Vasnani: That’s correct.
Sramana Mitra: You went to work for Thomson Reuters?
Kish Vasnani: Yes, I started opening up more sales offices. I moved to London, Bombay, Dublin, and eventually back to New York.
Sramana Mitra: When did you leave?
Kish Vasnani: October 2013.
Sramana Mitra: Then you did other things?
Kish Vasnani: Yes. I bounced around a few different startups. I wasn’t quite happy. These were venture-backed live-and-die by the month companies. There were times when I wasn’t able to meet their expectations. Over the course of three years, I was fired twice. The second time was right before Vanessa and I got married. I was able to take a long hard look and see what was out there. I took the bet on ourselves and started something from the ground up.
Sramana Mitra: What was your premise? What were you going to start?
Kish Vasnani: I had met Vanessa four years prior. We were dating long distance. I was moving around and she was based in New York. I was based in Bombay for a majority of our dating time. We used to meet up in the middle for dates. Vanessa was also in a similar situation. We had just come back from our honeymoon. We had lost some very important possessions including a GoPro camera, jewelry, and a few pieces of clothing. We started digging deeper. We both want to travel. We designed a bag that solves this issue of losing things when you’re on the road.
Sramana Mitra: Vanessa, what’s your background?
Vanessa Jeswani: I’m from the Philippines. My grandparents emigrated there from India. In the Philippines, they ran manufacturing for a lot of children’s garments. I moved to the United States for university. Once I graduated, I ended up in the advertising space. I did that for about eight years focusing on digital marketing and digital strategy.
I thought it would be really interesting to go client side, so I moved to Estee Lauder where I did digital strategy for their travel retail division. I did not love the idea of being in a corporate environment. I wanted to have more flexibility in terms of my work environment, so I decided to leave and start something on my own.
When I left, I had no idea what that would look like. I started a travel blog. Through that, I started an Etsy store to sell pillows and passport wallets. Once we saw that start to take off, we thought about how we could make this a real business and grow this sustainably. That’s when we thought of Nomad Lane.
This segment is part 1 in the series : Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapping an E-Commerce Business Using a Paycheck and Crowdfunding: Nomad Lane Co-Founders Kish Vasnani and Vanessa Jeswani
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