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Best of Bootstrapping: Bootstrapping Vantage Circle from Guwahati, India

Posted on Tuesday, Mar 1st 2022

If you haven’t already, please study our free Bootstrapping course and the Investor Introductions page.

I am always thrilled to do stories of pioneering entrepreneurs building technology startups in remote locations. Anjan Pathak, Co-founder and CTO of Vantage Circle, brings us into the nascent scene in Guwahati, in the northeast Indian state of Assam.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What kind of background did you have?

Anjan Pathak: I was born in a small town in North East India. It’s about 50 kilometers from Guwahati. I spent my childhood there. I studied in a very small school.

From there, I went to Guwahati. That is where I met my co-founder Partha Neog. I studied there for two weeks and after that, I went to the engineering school in Nagpur. I spent four years in Nagpur. I graduated and worked for a year and a half in a services company.

I then went to the UK, London. I was working for British Airways for a year and a half. After that, I joined a company called Art Technology Group. It was a great learning experience for me to work in that company. I was working there as an express service engineer troubleshooting clients’ problems.

I was traveling mostly around Europe. That was during the hay days of e-commerce from 2001 to 2002. After that, I started working as a freelancer/contractor in the UK. I spent about 13 to 14 years in the UK.

I then decided to come back. My parents were getting a bit older. I wanted to support them in their old age, so I came back to India. When I came back, I had the privilege to work with my co-founder and he said, “Why don’t you start something here?” I came back and there was nothing. 

Sramana Mitra: What was your co-founder doing all this while when you were in the UK? What path did he follow?

Anjan Pathak: He also had a similar experience. He went to Kurukshetra and we met there. We met in the UK as well. We were in touch all the time. I actually started a company in Bangalore in 2003. That was out of my home, but that did not work. I spent about a year in Bangalore trying to get things done. When it did not work, I went back to the UK to do freelancing work again. In 2013, I decided that I needed to come back to India. I came back to my hometown which is in Guwahati. I did not have anything in mind when I came back.

By that time, my co-founder had already invested two years into the company Vantage Circle. We were in touch and I’d invested some amount of money in the company. After two years, I decided to come back.

I thought to myself, “Why don’t I start a technology company. “ The technology part was small at that time. There were only two people in Hyderabad. I came here and I hired one person. The business started growing in Guwahati.

Sramana Mitra: What was the business model? 

Anjan Pathak: It’s very simple. Samsung might have a new phone on their website. They want to sell it directly to corporate employees, but they cannot. They need a medium to market themselves, so they give the deal or coupon to us which can be redeemed on their website. 

Sramana Mitra: Does Samsung pay you for this?

Anjan Pathak: Yes, Samsung gives us a commission for every sale. 

Sramana Mitra: Samsung gives commissions and then Infosys gives you what? Do they subscribe to a benefit service or package of some sort?

Anjan Pathak: We don’t charge our corporate customers. 

Sramana Mitra: So you only charge the brands that market through you?

Anjan Pathak: Correct. 

Sramana Mitra: In 2013, you went back to Guwahati and joined Vantage Circle?

Anjan Pathak: That is correct. I joined as a co-founder, because I had already invested a lot. 

Sramana Mitra: Are you currently the CEO?

Anjan Pathak: I am the CTO. There are no real external investors even now. It’s just friends and family who have invested in the company. In 2013, I invested quite heavily. I invested about £100,000. That is the last biggest investment that we had in the company. 

Sramana Mitra: Is it all in Guwahati? 

Anjan Pathak: Now it is almost all in Guwahati. We have 89 people in Guwahati right now. Employee perks were not making us any money; it was the employee rewards. 

Sramana Mitra: Hold on. We are doing an entrepreneur journey story, so back to 2013 and start telling me what happened sequentially. 

Anjan Pathak: In 2013, we started having these corporate clients. It was quite easy to get into the corporate market at that time because we were the first mover. We had Infosys and HCL followed by Deloitte and Cognizant in 2014.

By 2015, we had all the major corporates with us as clients. We were the only ones providing corporate perks in India then. Now, I think there is another one. 

Sramana Mitra: What kind of revenues were you doing in 2015 with all these corporates as your partners?

Anjan Pathak: It was small. We were only making less than a million at that time.

Sramana Mitra: But you managed to get from 2013 to 2015 with a million dollars?

Anjan Pathak: It was about a million. 

Sramana Mitra: That is pretty good for a bootstrapped company. That is not bad. What happens after 2015?

Anjan Pathak: In 2015, Infosys came in and they said, “Why don’t you give rewards?” We had this concept called Vantage points which is basically a wallet. We have this concept where people get fantasy points if they do some online shopping.

It’s like a cashback from online shopping. We tied up with all these big e-commerce companies like Flipkart and Amazon. If someone buys through us, then we give some cashback in terms of Vantage points. In that same Vantage point, Infosys said that they can offer five rewards as well.

This means that they want to give a certain kind of rewards to certain employees for doing a good job. They already had some programs running like that, but they wanted to make it detailed. The idea was simple. They used to give us a CSV file. The same thing is still running by the way.

The idea was they would give us these points through employee IDs and we’d just upload them. They can redeem the vouchers on our platform. Our main business model is getting people to redeem the vouchers through our website in exchange for Vantage points. 

Sramana Mitra: Let me understand this. Infosys said that they wanted to contribute to the Vantage points program as an employee reward. They would create vouchers that would get translated to Vantage points through a digital system and then they would give you a list of which employees get it and you load those employee wallets with Vantage points. Is that correct?

Anjan Pathak: Correct. 

Our conversation continues here.

This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping


. Bootstrapping to an Exit
. Why is Bootstrapping Important?
. How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently?
. Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings
. Excess is NOT Required for Success
. Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later
. Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies
. The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit
. Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping
. Bootstrapping to Unicorns
. Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million
. Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue
. Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million
. Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy
. How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million
. Bootstrapping with a Paycheck
. How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan
. Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses
. How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million
. Bootstrapping with Services
. How The Intern Group CEO David Lloyd Bootstrapped to $13 Million
. How Passageways CEO Paroon Chadha Bootstrapped from Indiana
. How SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning Bootstrapped to $50 Million
. Death by Overfunding
. How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+
. How FormAssembly CEO Bootstrapped a Virtual Company with a Paycheck
. TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage
. The VC-Entrepreneur Compensation Disbalance
. BioConnect CEO Bootstraps with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering
. Tremend CEO Marius Hanganu Bootstraps from Romania
. Gesture CEO Jim Alvarez Bootstraps to $10 Million
. SproutLoud CEO Bootstraps to $30 Million from Florida
. Tuft & Needle CEO Bootstraps to Over $100 Million
. Co-founders Bootstrap Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK
. Ownership Matters
. Vainu Co-founder Mikko Honkanen Bootstraps from Finland
. Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps to $10M from Colorado
. Power2Motivate CEO Bootstraps to $80M from Canada
. Financial DNA CEO Bootstraps to $10M+ from Australia
. Big Barker CEO Bootstraps a Niche E-commerce Brand
. PrecisionLender CEO Bootstraps to Over $10M from North Carolina
. Master Bootstrappers with Over $1B in Exits
. Ultra Mobile Founder Bootstraps to Over $100 Million
. Bootstrapping a Two-Sided Marketplace to $10M
. Can You Bootstrap a Virtual Company to Over $5 Million?
. Capital Efficient Entrepreneurs Turn $1M into $80M
. Discussing the Journey Through Failure to Success
. From a Small Town to $12 Million
. Bootstrapping to Y Combinator and $10 Million Series A
. Bootstrapping a Marketplace to Over $10 Million
. Freightwise Bootstraps to $33 Million
. Bootstraps First to $5M ARR, Raises $10M Later
. Bootstraps in Europe, Raises Money and Goes Global in the US
. English Major Bootstraps a Tech Company
. Bootstraps with a Paycheck to $15M from Tennessee
. Queue-It Bootstraps from Denmark to the US
. Bootstrapping A Virtual Company To $25M
. ActiveCampaign CEO Bootstraps Using Services to $40M
. Alteryx Bootstrapped with Services to a Public Unicorn
. Inspyrus Bootstraps Using Services to an Awesome Business Model
. CEO Bootstraps Using Services to Millions from Russia
. Wiredrive CEO Bootstraps Using Services to $10M
. Scaling to Over $10M by Bootstrapping Using Services
. Bootstraps Using Services from Poland to a US SaaS Company
. ButcherBox CEO Bootstraps a Perishable Meat Business to Significant Scale
. Waveform CEO Bootstraps to $8M
. Bootstrapped Entrepreneurship from Estonia
. From Laid-off Engineer to Successful Startup CEO
. Imagine Easy Solutions CEO Bootstraps to Exit
. BannerBuzz CEO Bootstraps to $35M
. Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to Scale
. Bootstrapping Using Services from Wisconsin
. Best Tactic for B2B Startups
. Bootstrapping by Piggybacking from Romania
. Bootstrap First, Then Scale with VC Funds
. Bootstrap to +$10M First, Raise Money Later
. Madwire CEO Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later to $120M
. Bootstrap Using Services First, Raise Money Later
. Wonderful Bootstrap with a Paycheck Story
. RushOrderTees CEO Bootstraps to $23M
. Bootstrapping with Freemium and Free Trials to $13M
. Bootstrapping, Pivoting, Gaining Liquidity, Scaling to $100M+
. Bootstrapping with Affiliate Marketing
. Bootstrap to Exit, Bootstrap Again, Then Raise VC Money
. Bootstrapping Using Services to $12M
. Bootstrapping an Ad Tech Company from Paris
. Bootstrapping a 100% Virtual Company from Ireland
. MiQ CEO Bootstraps with Services from London
. Bootstrapping to $8M During the Covid Crisis
. Bootstrapping a Marketplace from Brazil
. Bootstrapping Using Services from Sweden
. What Should Startups Do To Raise Seed Capital in 2021?
. EdTech Unicorn Bootstrapped First from Canada
. Coalition Technologies Co-founders Bootstrap to $10M
. Bootstrapping a Virtual Company to $10M from Atlanta
. Bootstrapping a SaaS Company with a Paycheck and Scaling
. Bootstrapping with Services to $20 Million
. Onit CEO Bootstraps First, Raises Money Later
. Pura Vida Founders Bootstrap to $130M
. Lawline CEO Bootstraps to $10M
. Bootstrapping a Technology Product Company from India
. Codesigned CEO Bootstraps Using Services
. Rukkus CEO Follows Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later Strategy
. Bootstrapping and Managing a Successful Pivot
. Ukrainian Entrepreneur Bootstraps to Global Scale
. Bootstrapping a Niche E-Commerce Venture
. Bootstrapping Planon to $100M from The Netherlands
. Co-founder Bootstrapped with a Paycheck from Indiana
. Bootstrapping an Education Company
. Bootstrapping an IoT Company from North Carolina
. Serial Bootstrapper Bootstraps to $27M
. Bootstrapping Identity Automation Using Services from Houston
. Bootstrapping ProjectManager.com from NZ, Scaling in the US
. Bootstrapping to $15M in Three Years
. Peruvian Entrepreneur Bootstraps to $200M
. JotForm Founder Bootstrapped with a Paycheck
. WeGoLook was Bootstrapped from Oklahoma
. Bootstrapping AutoClaims Direct to $15M
. Meltwater Founder Bootstrapped to $200M
. Bootstrapping to $20M From London
. Synechron CEO Bootstrapped to $300M
. Unique Vintage was Bootstrapped with a Paycheck
. Toptal CEO Bootstraps a Virtual Company to Scale
. Bootstrapping to $45M from Chicago
. Vacasa Co-founder Bootstrapped to $100M
. Bootstrapping Infinitely Virtual All The Way
. Bootstrapping to Exit Discussion with David Lambert, Right Side Capital Management
. Bootstrapping a Healthcare IT Company to $100M
. Discussing Seed Rounds with Cindy Padnos, Illuminate Ventures
. Auction.com Bootstrapped to $180M in Online Real Estate
. Discussing the Silicon Valley – India Corridor with Naren Gupta of Nexus Venture Partners
. Bootstrapped with a Paycheck to Techstars and Acquisition
. Discussing People vs. Market with Jon Staenberg, Staenberg Venture Partners
. Bootstrapping a Highly Profitable Company in Social Media Marketing
. Discussing Investments in Indian Startups with Anand Daniel, Accel Partners
. Bootstrapping an Evergreen Business from Oregon
. Discussing Startups in Africa with Osayi Igharo, Ripple VC
. Investing in Concept Stage Startups with Matt Holleran, Cloud Apps Capital Partners
. Serial Entrepreneur Bootstrapped Two Startups to Huge Revenue
. Discussing Investment Strategy With Deepak Jeevankumar, Dell Technologies Capital
. Bootstrapping Hotelplanner.com to $20M with Intelligent Financial Engineering
. Discussing Investing Across Sectors in India with Swapna Gupta, Qualcomm Ventures
. Bootstrapping Cleverbridge From Germany
. Discussing Open Opportunities with Hemant Mohapatra, Lightspeed Venture Partners
. Bootstrapping E-commerce Company Fun.com
. Discussing Seed Rounds with Bruce Cleveland, Wildcat Venture Partners
. From Friends and Family Funding to $30M Exit
. Discussing the Evolution of the Indian Startup Industry with Sasha Mirchandani, Kae Capital
. Lean Company Bootstraps to $7M
. Saatva Co-founder Bootstrapped a $25M E-Commerce Company
. Looking at Terms with Heidi Roizen of Threshold Ventures
. ADDA Co-founder CEO Bootstrapped with a Paycheck in India
. Duda Co-founders Bootstrap with Paychecks
. The Importance of Building Value with Shomit Ghose, Onset Ventures
. Get Real Health Founder Bootstrapped Using Services
. Bootstrapping Unique Vintage Using a Paycheck
. Discussing E-commerce Startup Trends with Daniel Gulati, Forecast Fund
. Bootstrapping a Digital Startup with a Paycheck
. Discussing Seed Stages with Amir Banifatemi of K5 Ventures
. Bootstrapping Avelead Using Services from Atlanta
. Founder Bootstrapped a Big Data Company Using Services
. Discussing Future Unicorns with Warren Weiss, Foundation Capital
. Founder Bootstrapped Axosoft with a Paycheck
. Raised a Series A with $10 Million in the Bank
. Discussing Unicorn Investments with Ravi Mohan of Shasta Ventures
. Bootstrapping a $7M Company in Houston
. A View into Pre-Seed Funding with Gaurav Jain, Afore Capital
. Bootstrapping to $13M in Niche E-commerce
. Discussing European Startup Funding with Alastair Mitchell, EQT Ventures
. Founder Bootstrapped Category Leading E-commerce Company Shoplet
. Discussing Trends With Yanev Suissa, SineWave Ventures
. Founder Mark Organ Bootstrapped Eloqua and Crowdfunded Influitive
. Sourcing Global Ventures with Ann Winblad of Hummer Winblad
. JAM CEO Survives Covid with a Bootstrapped Venture
. E-commerce and Investing with Tod Francis, Shasta Ventures
. How An Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapped RuffleButts To $5M
. TextMe Founders Bootstrapped an App to $10M
. Bootstrapped Journey of a Child Entrepreneur in India
. Discussing Alternatives to Traditional Venture Capital with Bryce Roberts, Indie.vc
. Solo Founder Bootstrapped Wingify to $7 Million in India
. Co-founder Bootstrapped a SaaS Company in India
. Bootstrapped MindTouch to $12M+ and Exit
. Mobiliya Technologies was Bootstrapped Using Services
. What Traditional VCs are Looking for with Scott Sandell, NEA
. Bootstrapped Srishti Software Applications with Services from India
. How Robust SaaS Company RateGain was Bootstrapped from India
. Bootstrapped eGroup to $20M in Charleston, South Carolina
. Gravitant CEO Bootstrapped Using Services to $15M in Venture Capital
. CEO Bootstrapped Sitecore Using Services from Denmark
. Co-founder Dan Hermann on Bootstrapping Paint Nite
. Founder Krishna Kumar Bootstrapped App Orchid Using Services
. Bootstrapping a Web Hosting Company to $60M
. Bootstrapping CloudSense with Services on Force.com from London
. Bootstrapped Book E-Commerce Business BookPal
. Student Entrepreneurs Bootstrapped a Zero-Logistics E-Commerce Company to $19M
. Bootstrapped to a High Growth Inc. 500 Company
. Bootstrapping Using Services and Scaling Using Content Marketing
. Bootstrapped from London, Went Public and Scaled to $450M
. Bootstrapped Credit Card Processing Business Payscape
. Bootstrapped TEOCO to $175M with Services
. InRule Was Bootstrapped Using Services
. HighQ was Bootstrapped Using Services from London
. Ingenious Med was Bootstrapped with a Paycheck from Atlanta
. Bootstrapped VistaVu to $10M from Canada
. OnSIP CEO Mike Oeth Bootstrapped in Pennsylvania
. Pramata Founder Bootstrapped in Minnesota
. Conversocial was Bootstrapped Using Services from London
. Zephyr Health Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later
. iText was Bootstrapped from Belgium
. CTO Bootstrapped InteliSecure Using Services from Colorado
. Bootstrapping Evariant Using Services
. Dave Elkington Bootstrapped Billion Dollar Unicorn InsideSales.com Using Services from Utah
. PMG Founders Bootstrapped Using Services from Atlanta
. Ensighten Founder Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later
. Bootstrapping LittleThings First, Raising Money Later
. Bootstrapping eMazzanti Technologies Using Services
. Reltio Founder Bootstrapped Using Services
. Co-founders Bootstrapped Ateb Using Services from North Carolina
. Bootstrapped HireVue While in School, Raised Money Later, All in Utah
. Bootstrapping the First Venture, Raising Money for the Second
. Co-founders Bootstrapped BeenVerified with Angel Money
. Bootstrapping a Significant Software Company from Australia
. Bootstrapping Meltwater to $200 Million
. Bootstrapping Casewise from London and Scaling in the US
. Bootstrapping Lessons Learned by FairWarning Founder Kurt Long
. Abacus Group Founder Bootstrapped a Virtualization Services Company
. Seismic Audio CEO Bootstrapped a $10 Million E-Commerce Business
. PhishMe was Bootstrapped Using Services First, Raised Money Later
. Firmex Scaled with Angel Money in Canada
. Wrike Founder Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later
. Bay Dynamics Co-founders Bootstrapped Using Services
. Building an AI Software Company from Dallas
. RJMetrics Co-founders Bootstrapped First, Raised $22M Later
. Bootstrapping Niche E-Commerce Business BuyAutoParts to Exit
. TemplateMonster was Bootstrapped to $15 Million
. Bootstrapping Edge Hosting to $18 Million
. Bootstrapping, Fund Raising and Exiting with Sefaira
. Bootstrapping IdeaScale to $5M from Scratch
. Bootstrapping to $10M from Finland
. Happy Grasshopper CEO Dan Stewart Bootstrapped to Inflection
. Bootstrapping Gravity Pro Using Services
. Founder Builds Multiple Bootstrapped Education Software Companies
. Bootstrapping to $10M from Australia, Raising $25M from the US
. Bootstrapped Y Soft to $30M from the Czech Republic
. Bootstrapped from Belarus, Raised Money from Silicon Valley
. Bootstrapped SproutLoud to $30M from Florida
. Bootstrapped 2600Hz Using Services
. A Serial Bootstrapping Entrepreneur’s Journey
. Bootstrapped First, Raised Money Later from Udupi, Karnataka
. Bootstrapped with Services, Raised Money, and then Acquired by Salesforce
. Bootstrapping Niche E-Commerce Company Modded Euros
. Bootstrapping KURU Footwear from Utah
. Bootstrapped to $5M First, Raised Money Later
. Ninth Wave Founder Bootstrapped Using Services
. Bootstrapping Vantage Circle from Guwahati, India
. Bootstrapping JobNimbus First, Raising Money Later
. Bootstrapping Infragistics for 30 Years
. Bootstrapping Zimit Using Services to $10M
. Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps an E-commerce Business Using a Paycheck and Crowdfunding
. Co-founders Bootstrapped Using Services, then Raised $10M and Scaled to $16M
. SearchStax Founder Bootstraps to $10M Using Services
. Bootstrapping an AI Startup Using Services
. Bootstrap to Exit and THEN do a VC-Funded Venture
. Bootstrapping Using Services to $26M and a Fabulous Exit
. Solo Entrepreneur Bootstraps with a Paycheck to over $15M
. Bootstrapped and Later Raised Money from Oregon
. Bootstrapping Evenica by Piggybacking
. Bootstrapping a Vertical CRM Product using Services
. Bootstrapping Using Services from Helsinki, Finland
. Solo Entrepreneur Bootstraps First, Raises Money Later in Utah
. Art.com Co-founder on Bootstrapping First, Raising $30M Later
. Bootstrapping to Exit
. Why is Bootstrapping So Important?
. How Can You Play the Low-Probability Game of Start-up Funding Intelligently?
. Don’t Go to VCs as Beggars – Go as Kings!
. Excess is NOT a Requirement for Success
. Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later
. More Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies
. The Buy Side of Bootstrap to Exit Startups
. Blitzscaling versus Bootstrapping
. Bootstrapped Unicorns
. Bootstrapped from Arizona to $10M
. Bootstrapping Under30Experiences to $5M
. Bootstrapping Algo.ai with Services from Michigan
. Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Startups
. Bootstrapping a Niche E-commerce Company to $20M
. Bootstrap Using Services
. Bootstrapping The Intern Group to $13M
. Bootstrapping OnBoard from the US Midwest
. Bootstrapping SmartBuyGlasses to $50M
. Startup Deaths by Overfunding
. Bootstrapping RainmakerForce Decisively to $5M+
. Bootstrapping a Virtual Company with a Paycheck
. The Entrepreneur - VC Compensation Disbalance
. Mitch Russo Bootstrapped Timeslips to Exit with Sage
. Bootstrapping with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering
. How Ownership Matters
. Bootstrapping with Services from Romania to over $5M
. Bootstrapping to $30M from Florida
. Bootstrapping Tuft & Needle to Over $100M
. Bootstrapping Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK
. Co-founders Bootstrap a SaaS Company from Finland
. Entrepreneur Couple Bootstrapped to $10M from Colorado
. Bootstrapping Power2Motivate to $80M from Canada
. Founder Bootstrapped to Over $10M from Australia
. Bootstrapping Niche E-commerce Brand Big Barker
. PrecisionLender Bootstrapped to Over $10M from North Carolina
. Master Bootstrappers with $1+ Billion in Exits
. Bootstrapped Ultra Mobile to Over $100 Million
. Bootstrapping a 2-Sided Marketplace to $10M

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