An interview with the maker of “The Lifestyle App” for drinkers- Anand Janardhanan Co-founder of Vgulp.
Now let’s talk about a Kerala Mega Mind “Anand Janardhanan”. He is well known for his craziest idea “Vgulp” which helps drinkers make smarter drinking choices by getting more value for their money spent. “Vgulp” curates and sometimes negotiate deals with drink out places like Bars, Pubs, lounges, Clubs and liquor retailer chains and provide them online as a search engine. The idea is not just to be a deals portal, but also to manage loyalty in these outlets. It’s a site full of liquor information. To say it’s a god’s gift for drinkers. Anand is a marketting specialist, who intended to do something really crazy and innovative. And for sure “Vgulp” shows his craziness. So let us know how Anand had transfigured his crazy idea into a tangible deal and loyalty portal for tipplers. Here is an exclusive interview “Anand Janardhanan”.
1.How’s the journey as an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship isn’t definitely as easy as it sounds. You read examples of those 5 companies who have made it big, and not about the 95 who never made it to the top. But what’s your goal in life? – crib about your employer for every tiny bit, talk at friday night parties about how much your job sucks, or be frustrated taking on someone else’s pressure, or feel liberated and chase the biggest dream of your life?. It’s a no brainer, you definitely want option 4. But there is more to it. You gotta leave that job, that fixed take home every month, you gotta plan about your mortgages, you gotta make your friends and family believe what you are up to, and convince them there’s hope at the end of it all. These are your personal challenges, and add to it, the everyday roller coaster of building something ground up. I would be kidding if I told you it has been easy for me, add it to the fact, the kind of industry I am in. We get judged often. But the sheer satisfaction of freedom, and doing what makes you happy is worth it. Many have different ways of looking at it. This is my personal fave by Peter Drucker. “An entrepreneur searches for change, responds to it and exploits opportunities. Innovation is a specific tool of an entrepreneur hence an effective entrepreneur converts a source into a resource.”
2.You came with an different idea. Where did you get this idea? Is there any situation that turned you to launch “Vgulp”?
Yes, we hear it often that what we came up with is different, quirky might be the apt word. It’s fundamentally what every majority of the drinkers want. When you need it, and when your friends are of the same opinion, there’s a gap to be bridged, and you could make money doing it – Why not? We had no intentions of doing this full time. What was meant to be a fun app, eventually transformed into a serious product and a business, after we got our first few verbals from customers.
3.What hurdles you faced in starting it up? How you managed to overcome them?
First thing we did was to vet the business plan and the concept from legal hassles, not with one lawyer, but three of them. You don’t seriously want to end up in prison :). No matter how unique the concept it, we are in a classic market place model, that’s fundamentally chicken and egg. For our business model to succeed, we knew we had to bring on board deals and also gain user traction quickly. Hence we went about doing adding locality by locality, building rapport with our customers. On the user side, we know most of our users by their email ids, because we have personally interacted with most of them, and they have referred their friends to use the app. We also stood outside liquor shops and distributed pamphlets on Fridays and Saturdays.
4.How you met Ajeesh? Tell us about your team
Ajeesh and me met at our last company, where I was heading marketing and he was heading technology. We worked closely on multiple assignments for 2 years. We are both from Kerala. Did our engineering. I am 27. He is 33, is married and has a son. I am responsible for anything business, and he’s all tech at Vgulp. Do you know Vgulp is going to be featured on the website of one of the frameworks we’ve used. Ajeesh undoubtedly the best geek I’ve ever met. He is blazingly fast too, he built the complete app in less than a month. Isn’t that bloody awesome?
5.What do you think Anand, how India is in necessary for entrepreneurs?
So bloody yes!! It’s not just India in fact, the entire world is in need of entrepreneurs, so are entrepreneurs in the need of brilliant skills. I find that ironic. I would say the favoring ecosystem isn’t much matured as it is in US or Europe. The risk appetite is less here. I have personally known foreign founders, who have raised 4 – 12 million in the seed round. Didn’t quite find a similar example in India, or there might be. Hope it improves in the next few years.
6.What are your future plans?
Vgulp intends to be “The lifestyle app” for drinkers. As much as we are focused on scaling operations, we also have cool new features planned out for the next 6 months. Future is really hard to predict, isn’t it?. We can only plan the course of action. So far, we are aligned to our excel sheet, and hope to do so in the next few months.
7.Anything that you would like to add for the readers, students and buds who want to make a difference!
One of the things I say often is – you would definitely be judged, first few months are definitely going to be a struggle, you will have to make some sacrifices personally, but it is worth the risk. You’ve not known it, unless you’ve experienced it. It’s bloody awesome. So start up! Second, don’t let your dreams make you blind. Build a prototype and get feedback early. It’s not necessary that you build should be a “must have”. Let it be a “good to have”, but don’t build anything there are no takers for. After Vgulp, we personally haven’t visited places that have no deals. We always claim a deal, and so is the case with my friends. Third, screw social stigma and challenge status quo. Don’t worry about what people would think which industry etc. As long as there is an opportunity, go for it. I love what Drew Houston said “You just have to be right once”.