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Rahul Varshneya is the co-founder of Arkenea, a technical partner to motivated non-technical founders. He has helped 150+ founders build and launch a successful tech business. Rahul has been featured in Forbes, Inc, Thrive Global and CIO Review, among others.
City: Dallas, Texas
Favorite Quote: The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt – Sylvia Plath
What are you working on? How did you come up with this idea?
Rahul Varshneya: My current company is in software consulting for non-technical, founder-led companies that are either building a product ground up or looking to ramp up their existing teams.
I started this business with a cofounder 6 years back inspired by the challenges that we faced ourselves in building and scaling our tech businesses. Having leveraged outsourced development teams in addition to our internal resources, we found that almost every single time, the outsourced teams would just never be as aligned as the in-house development teams.
We spoke to our fellow startup friends and peers that were building tech product companies and all of them faced similar challenges.
We started this company to resolve those challenges for founder-led companies when hiring outsourced developers.
How is your company different?
Rahul Varshneya: We found out after digging through the business models of various outsourced development companies the reason for not delivering value beyond code. The number one reason was that their engineers that work on clients projects are appraised on project completion on time, rather than delivering a product that their customers would love.
And so, the engineers were only concerned about completing a task rather than adding value to the product or its features.
This was the inspiration to differentiate in the market of existing software consulting businesses. And so, the following are our core differentiators:
- The founders of Arkenea have actually built and scaled successful tech product companies – so walked the talk that most other software consulting businesses have no first-hand experience in. This first-hand experience helps us understand our client – an entrepreneur and their business challenges better and provide a much better solution.
- Our engineers are appraised on the product’s NPS or Net Promoter Score, and not merely on filling timesheets efficiently. This means that each of our engineers have a stake in the client’s product to make it a better experience for their customers.
- We offer end-to-end software and business consulting, where clients pay only for software consulting. We help our clients in product strategy, revenue and monetization strategies, go-to-market strategies, effective onboarding, engagement and customer retention tactics – in the belief that if our clients are successful, so will we.
- We help our customers actively in building and scaling their business by making introductions within our wide network for potential partners, customers or even investors to raise money.
What’s your dream with your company?
Rahul Varshneya: To see the entire software consulting landscape for founder-led businesses change to a model that we’ve built and even improvise on it – so that less and less founders have terrible experiences with their outsourced development teams.
How do you creatively advertise?
Rahul Varshneya: We’ve built a strong brand for our company – firstly by delivering quality products for our clients. 40% of our business comes from existing client referrals.
The remaining comes from our personal branding efforts – I am an invited columnist to write on ‘ building technology business by non-tech founders’ for Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post. I have also been featured in numerous publications such as Forbes, Inc, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Success and CIO Review magazine.
What were your biggest failure and biggest success? What did you learn from them?
In one of the tech product companies that I built earlier, we weren’t flexible enough to adapt to the changing nature of the industry. We hung onto the model and that caused the company to shut down soon thereafter. Flexibility to change and adapt to the needs of the customers is extremely important for any business to stay relevant in the long run.
The biggest success that I’ve had was a successful exit of my last EdTech company. You can turn a failing enterprise into a successful one if you’re persistent and stay true to your vision.
Give the readers the best entrepreneurship advice you have.
Persistency, coupled with flexibility to adapt is so underrated. It has the power to even turn a failing company into a successful one (as in my earlier company’s case). There are many times in business when it’s challenging and there aren’t the best of times. But putting your head down and working through them is the mark of a great entrepreneur. Versus those that give up at that stage and blame their idea or the market/competition or customer, etc – the problem almost always lies within.
Teach us something about Internet Marketing
Rahul Varshneya: Stop thinking tactics unless you’ve got your strategy nailed down. The biggest mistake most people make is to go after the flavor of the season – Instagram marketing, Snapchat marketing, etc without knowing anything about their customers.
Start with a strategic marketing plan that should answer the following questions and then take the path towards channel tactics.
- Who is your customer (nail it down to as much specific details as you can)
- What are their likes, dislikes, what do they like to read, consume
- Find out where do they hang out that also depicts their buy behavior – for instance, you’d have almost no success selling software on Instagram versus selling a clothing brand. On the other hand, think what’s the first place that your customers go to for researching on the product before buying
- Have a primary channel and two secondary. No more than 3.
- Create a strategic plan to promote your product/service using this medium – research your competition (the successful ones) well and see how and what they’re doing.
- Now use tactics/growth hacks to get the best leverage of the marketing channels.
What should an entrepreneur focus on?
Rahul Varshneya: The road ahead and not the obstacles. Think of a F1 driver – if they were to focus on the obstacles, they would almost certainly crash. Rather, they stay focused on the road they’re traversing.
What are some of the best books you’ve ever read?
Rahul Varshneya: There are just so many, besides I’m sure I still haven’t read many more of the great ones. But some of the recent books I’ve read that left a mark were: The One Thing, Never Split The Difference and Trust Me I’m Lying.