Mayur, who comes from the Marwadi community, which prizes entrepreneurship, knew he always wanted to start up. “My parents are my source of motivation”, he says, adding “When I resigned from investment banking job, my father was the happiest person”. When Mayur was working at JP Morgan, he had lots of ideas for both recruitment and career building and started pitching them to his colleagues. Their feedback helped him gain confidence in his ideas. In his opinion, the three most important things for starting up were – trying everything possible with available resources, gaining first-hand experience and learning from mistakes. “Some of the milestones you might achieve will be through the least expected channels. All you have to do is keep trying”. And that is exactly how he met his co-founder – Subramanya.
Subramanya is a hard core geek, with a passion for coding. He always dreamed of starting his own company but was clueless about where to begin. Still he had one thing clear – be hungry for knowledge. He had decided to get the most out of his college life and got his hands dirty with robotics, automobile engineering, electronics, programming and innumerable other projects. By his fourth year, he was a freelance web developer and was working on projects for IITM alumni. That gave him immense experience as a developer and an entrepreneur. He is known as the guy with “magic hands” in the team, because of his amazing coding skills. “We complement each other well. I handle operations and execution and he focuses on building the platform” tells Mayur and adds “we are looking for two more people to join us to scale up the startup”.
On being asked the reason behind focusing on an offbeat field like placements, Mayur said that a major issue they faced during their own placement preparation was in reaching out to seniors to know their interview experiences and ask for fundaes. Over a coffee table discussion, they thought of coming up with a solution for this and thus started Ambitionbox.com. The vision is to build a product that enables students to choose and prepare for a company in the most efficient way.
The website displays well-organized authentic content from people who have been placed in top companies. On being asked the major focus of the company Mayur says “We are highly product and design centric and like to build something that gives a “WOW!!” effect. Since the day we started, we have iterated the UI/UX of each page countless number of times. We believe that design can itself solve a lot of problems and more enriching the user’s experience more likely he will recommend us to someone and also keep coming back to the website.” The website has company and profile centric reviews, rather than generic and “one solution fits all” tips for placements, combined with an efficient and fluid user interface – this differentiates them from other offerings in the market.
They do not fear being replicated by others. “It is easy to replicate an idea but idea in isolation does not hold much value. The thing that matters the most is execution and the speed of execution. Also, we believe that competition is necessary to keep us on our toes”, Mayur explains. They see themselves evolving into the most preferred recruitment and career decision making platform. As of now, they have many products to offer which are in the experimentation phase and will be launched one after the other.
The model for getting inputs is really very simple. Anyone who is interested in knowledge and experience sharing can fill in his/her details at www.ambitionbox.com/helpjuniors. The team verifies each post and user individually, using some basic metrics and then approves the content they submit to the website. They plan to soon launch an “Ask a Question” feature where juniors would be able to ask questions to seniors regarding placements.
Mayur’s journey has not been easy throughout. “One of the major roadblocks I faced was building the team. One early mistake I made was outsourcing the web development. Soon I realised that the agency to which we outsourced didn’t work with the passion we had. I advise against outsourcing the core offering of a startup.”
Mayur feels that the right kind of entrepreneurial ecosystem is building up in India. In his opinion, there is plenty of mentorship available, there are investors and B-Plan events which can help one gain a lot of insight. “There were a few moments at the start that almost made me give up and I think every entrepreneur will go through that phase. During that time I took a lot of mentorship and advice from friends and seniors. Also as an entrepreneur you need to listen to a lot of people but at the end it must be your own call, because it’s your startup!!”
Ambitionbox.com believes in Mahesh Murthy’s words – focusing obsessively on the product pays off in the long term rather than marketing. “We believe in having a “zero” member marketing team. Unless your product sells by itself through word of mouth you haven’t created something that’s really solving a problem. In fact, having a huge marketing budget, according to me, is a sign of lack of innovation”, says Mayur.
Mayur gave us some great insights, when we asked for advice.
- Focus more on the product and less on marketing. The marketing, as he has demonstrated, will happen of its own accord.
- Keep your team motivated – while you are a founder, you definitely have a passion for your start up. The challenge is to make your team feel the way you do about your company
- Learn from your mistakes and never outsource something that is very critical. This piece of advice is Mayur’s way of letting us learn from his mistakes.
- Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. The only way for you to get forward here is to believe in yourself. Digest failures, and don’t feel the need to explain them to anybody. If you have learnt from them, that’s enough. The next piece of advice follows from this.
- Make friends who are also entrepreneurs – sharing helps lessen the burden of difficulties, and you’ll have less explaining to do to people who are going throught the same things as you.
In a short span of two months, they have 1500 reviews for 320 companies. They soon will be launching another product – an extension to the current offering that will provide company information and comparative decision tools that will help users make a more informed decision about their career. There’s also a plan to provide insights based on the data available to make the website more relevant.
Ambitionbox.com is looking for people from IIT Madras to join (they have multiple openings). Anyone interested can apply at www.ambitionbox.com/joinus.
All pre-final year students, do check out www.ambitionbox.com.
All final year students you can help your juniors by filling in your advice and experience here www.ambitionbox.com/helpjuniors
- Mayur Mundada – Founder & CEO (Dual Degree in Civil Engineering – 2013 batch);
- Subramanya Jingade – Founder & CTO (Dual Degree in Engineering Design – 2015 batch);
- Rishiraj Surti – Operations Intern (Dual Degree in Electrical Engineering – 2017 batch); and
- Around twenty interns who help in various aspects such as design, technology and content writing.