As the Co-Founder of Kulfy, Basanth acts as the glue that keeps the entire operation together. As with a founder of any startup, Basanth needs to be versatile and adaptable because he is responsible for so many facets of the business. On any given day, his responsibilities can include fundraising, vendor management, product strategy, product quality analysis, and managing finance and legal matters.
Basanth got ready and prepared for his 6 AM meeting.
Basanth works from home. He doesn’t have a commute.
His workplace is his room. His bed it right next to him. Working from home could be hard for many people. Basanth said that his wife, and team keep him motivated. He’s also expecting a baby soon which adds some more fuel to his fire!
He also has 100,000 users on his app. At this point, his vision is reality and stopping now is simply not an option. It’s the passion that keeps him going.
Held his weekly meeting with content moderation team. The meeting is held so early because in India (where the moderation team is located) it’s already 3:30 PM the afternoon.
The moderation teams job is to moderate all the content that comes through the app. Everything about the Kulfy is about feeling happy and making your friends feel happy too. Explicit content is not good for the overall brand. Currently the team is made up on interns in college.
1. Life updates
2. Work updates
3. Strategy for next week
Applied for founder.university program. Kulfy is raising a pre-seed funding round and applying to accelerator programs to learn and progress quicker.
For accelerators and fundraising, Basanth has learned that there are investors who only invest in immigrants. These are his first targets. He also has noticed that when it comes to funding, it’s much better when the investor has actually experienced the problem that Basanth and his team are trying to solve. Since they’ve experienced the pain first-hand, they can commit to the solution easily.
Made breakfast with his wife. Their favorite: Bagel, Egg and cheese with Orange juice.
Meeting with the COO Harsha, who lives in India.
1. Harsha’s new baby
2. Hiring progress for a new Business Development Lead.
3. Fundraising updates
5. Employee performance
6. What does it take to launch the GIF booth business in the US. In 2017, Kulfy built and deployed their first physical photo booth in India to make an attempt at letting users create personalized GIFs. This is a business that took on a life of it’s own and now they do corporate events and free events at colleges. It’s going to be a challenge to scale this into the US.
API Meeting. Basanth has a quick meeting with the API developers about the upcoming features and updates. The API developers live in Singapore and San Francisco. Kulfy’s co-founder, Girish is one of the API developer as well.
1. Task progress
2. Future updates for API’s
3. Life in Singapore and Bay Area
Interviewed a Business Development Lead candidate:
They’ve always been great at making products, but when it comes to sales and developing a business, Basanth and his team need some help. So they are looking to hire an experienced business development lead who can come in teach them while working alongside them so they can expand. The perfect candidate needs to complement the team’s skill set, both for the app and GIF booth.
He met an amazing person at NYC Techday conference. He has over 25 years of experience and was willing to come and help improve Kulfy business.
Prepared for pitch practice session at 12:30 PM. He works a lot with his co-founder to perfect his pitch. The strategy thus far has been trial and error. They start with their pitch deck and iterate on it as they get more experience pitching.
Basanth often practices in front of a mirror. More importantly, he practices in front of family because they tell him exactly what he’s doing wrong.
Pitch practice session with Caroline from Rouge Venture Partners.
Basanth is part of Founder Network. A community of founder that help each other. Founders Network creates events to enable founders to succeed in their business. It’s important to surround yourself with like minded entrepreneurs because as a first time founder, Basanth says you go through ups and downs everyday.
Each participant gets 3 minutes to pitch with no slides and get feedback. Basanth nailed his pitch!
Lunch break! He heats up some pizza from last night while watching cricket and catching up on emails.
Meeting with the account manager for Amazon Web Services (AWS). Basanth was able to secure $20k in credits.
Basanth has been an AWS customer for the last 4 years. All the projects he worked on was hosted on AWS. Currently, Kulfy sends 150 gigs of data everyday. So when he speaks with Amazon, they’re able to see how much data he consumes and how good of a customer he is. Because of this he was able to convince the account manager to take a look at our account and give us some credits that will enable our business to succeed.
The key take away here is to always ask for what’s on your mind. If you don’t ask, the other person doesn’t really know what you want. He tells his team to always ask for discounts!
1. Researched for more accelerators that they’re eligible for.
2. Looked for events and conferences he can attend.
3. Updated his investors spreadsheet with the info he found through his research. His investor spreadsheet is how he keeps track of the investors he’s had contact with, when he last spoke and what the next follow up steps are. Fundraising is just like a sales process. Basanth has since migrated his spreadsheet to Hubspot where he’s able to automate a lot of his follow up emails.
Basanth says that follow ups are extremely important! People get busy, so you have to stay organized so you can remain top of mind!
Walked to Astoria park with his wife.
They bought sandwiches for dinner on the way to the park. They have a nice walk and got a chance to wind down and catch up.
Traveled to the pitch event hosted by ERA accelerator.
At the pitch event, Basanth didn’t actually pitch, he was there as an observer. He listens to pitches delivered by various founders at ERA.
Met two investors who were judges at the event. He was able to get an investor contact who was interested to listen more about Kulfy.
After the event, Basanth traveled back home.
Kulfy is named after an frozen Indian dessert called “Kulfi.” Some people refer to Kulfi as the south Asian ice cream. And that’s exactly how Basanth ended his day, a bowl of ice cream while catching up on some emails.
Basanth and his co-founder, Girish we were high school friends in India. When Basanth came to the United States, they, unfortunately, lost touch. Basanth went off to study at Drexel, while Girish stayed to study in India.
Just one random night in New York, he went to a Duane Reade. In the corner of his eye, Basanth saw Girish and instantly ran up to him and said “Hey, your name is Girish!”
Fast forward 3 months an they were roommates living in New York!
During this time, they learned that they shared the same enthusiasm for creating businesses or making ideas realty. They began working on their first project together, a university registration portal for India. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to sell it. But Basanth and Girish were still young and still had so much creativity to use.
After taking 3 months off and traveled to 6 countries, they decided they’d try to create a universal operating system for cars. After it was built, they couldn’t find a car to experiment on it and ultimately, the project collapsed. Basanth said “We didn’t have the resources we needed and didn’t go out of our comfort zone to find those resources.”
Back to the drawing board.
Basanth and Girish began thinking back to the day they met. Their conclusion was that the only real thing they had in common other than knowing the same language and going to the same high school. So they wanted to create an app where people can comment in the language they speak. From there, the Manam app was born and quickly grew to 100,000 users.
As they grew, they wanted to incorporate GIF sharing into their platform. But being that this was an app for an Indian language, finding GIFs to match the language and the culture was difficult. After doing some market research, they found that there’s no platform that is doing that for Indian users in mind. GIFY is great, they do things for U.S, and the world that speaks in English, but they don’t have algorithms or content, that would appease India and it’s many languages. “We cannot expect one solution to work for everyone in the world, right?”
Basanth and Girish saw the opportunity in front of them and immediately jumped on it and created Kulfy.
Kulfy was launched in August of 2017 and at the time, they were working part time. Basanth mentioned that the one unique thing about being an immigrant in the US is that he could not quit his job and start the company. They had no choice but to work part-time, however, whenever they did find the time, they’d sit down an code.
Currently, Kulfy has grown to 110,000 users who are spending roughly 7 minutes per day on the app and sending 5 million GIFs per month!
But the Kulfy team is not done yet. Currently, they’re only operating in one language. Today, there are at least 25 different languages in India. They plan to expand to 10 more in the next year.
What were your first career goals and how have those goals evolved over time?
Basanth always wanted to be an aerospace engineer. As a kid, he would see these huge airplanes that carried hundreds of people across continents and oceans. He remembers being amazed with how it could all be possible. Basanth said that it really puts everything into perspective when you think about all the small things that need to work to get the plane up and safely back down to the ground. There are thousands of components that come together to get the job done and that alone always intrigued him.
Unfortunately, Basanth said his grades and scores were’t up to par, so he took his second best option: electrical engineering. Unfortunately, Basanth said his grades and scores were’t up to par, so he took his second best option: electrical engineering.
Basanth has always been a dreamer. He wanted to be an astronaut or an aerospace engineer. Then his goals shifted to working as a team member for Formula One Racing since they use a lot of aerodynamics and he was amazed at all the tech, originating from F1 that we use in our daily lives. When it came to his career, he shot for the stars, even if he knew he wouldn’t be the most qualified.
But Basanth is still a dreamer. And as his career developed, he began to think about his childhood. Ever since he was a kid he’d love to come up with ideas and making them a reality. After experimenting with founding another app. He is now doing something he loves doing: creating and talking about ideas and making them a reality by owning his own business.
What was the most impactful experience of your career?
While completing his undergraduate degree, Basanth landed an internship at Siemens Medical Solutions. It was this experience where he got his first taste of computer engineering and was able to work on unique systems that he’d never worked on before.
Basanth found this so interesting that he often stayed at work late into the night trying to fix things. By putting in this extra effort, his boss noticed his enthusiasm and took a liking to Basanth. It wasn’t long before he began giving Basanth with new and more challenging tasks.
It was this experience that got Basanth really interested in computer science.
Basanth brought up a great point: you can sit on your bed and come up with thousands of ideas, but if you don’t act on them, they’re still just ideas. You can sell your idea to investors, but at the end of the day you’re going to need to execute.
“Ideas are great, but execution is the real skill.”
As a first time founder, you need to execute properly and find support that can help you make your idea into reality.
How do you define your best work?
Its not just about coming up with the idea, but who can he get on his team to help solve the problem. During his first few projects, Basanth learned that he can’t do everything by himself. Basanth and Kulfy require a well functioning team to achieve their ambitious goals. So when Basanth is able to connect with people, build a team and motivate that team to solve problems, that’s his best work.
What would you tell your 18 year old self today?
Basanth first took a flight to the United States when he was 18 years old. He was so worried because of the uncertainty of how his life would turn out. On top of this, his father took out a loan from a local bank in order to send him to the U.S. The pressure was on from the beginning.
But as he progressed, he looked around and didn’t see all too many students accomplishing what he has been able to. This taught him to not undermine himself. Learning to be proud of his achievements instilled confidence in Basanth that’s carried him to founding Kulfy.
Oh, and… SAVE MONEY!