Today, we’re excited to be interviewing Vivek Bhaskaran, who is the founder and CEO of QuestionPro. He’s here today to share his experience bootstrapping QuestionPro.
Vivek grew up in India. After completing his primary education there, he left the country and moved to Russia, where he lived from 1995 to 1997. When he left Russia, he moved to the United States, and there, he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Brigham Young University in Utah.
After obtaining his Bachelor’s Degree, Vivek moved to Seattle, and he started QuestionPro in 2005.
He has never raised any capital for the business from outside investors, and he has managed to build his company up by himself, slowly, over time.
What QuestioPro does
QuestionPro started as a survey platform, and currently, it serves as both a survey platform and as an experience management platform.
Over the last couple of years, the company has turned upmarket, and Vivek has identified three different areas that have added confidence to the business:
- Consumer insights and market research
- Customer experience
- Surveys targeted towards employees
QuestionPro started initially as a survey platform. It then expanded into offering a survey toolset, and they have now also identified three buyer patterns within their ecosystem.
Vivek shares his experience of bootstrapping back in the early days
Vivek feels that he has been lucky in business. When he built QuestionPro, back in 2005, the term SEO had not yet been coined. So, as a software geek/hacker, Vivek created the QuestionPro platform, and he then started looking for ways to market it. He thought that the marketing of his platform would be easy. All he would have to do would be to become “number one” on Google.
SEO is an analytical exercise
Vivek points out that SEO is not a creative exercise, and that most people don’t seem to understand that it is analytical.
Vivek does not think that SEO is the right thing for marketing purposes. He believes that SEO should fall under the category of engineering, and it should work as an analytical exercise.
Getting to #1 on Google
Vivek thought that getting to number one on Google would not be too complicated if he were to adopt a trial-and-error mindset as a scientist would. That is what he did, and it worked!
So they got traffic inbound, they started selling, and they started making money. And Vivek came to realize that his business is intrinsically extremely viral.
A viral business
Vivek realized that his company is one of the few B2B platforms with a viral index. He understood that if he could get a customer who would send out a survey to a million people, it would be a good thing for his business.
Gaining value from his product
Vivek saw that for anyone to get value from his product, they would have to send it out, either to their employees or to their customers. And that would be a benefit to his business.
Why bootstrapping QuestionPro worked
The reason that Vivek was able to bootstrap QuestionPro, in the beginning, was because he did not need a lot of money to market it. And once he got started, he was able to keep the business operation going.
Living a good life and doing new things
Vivek explains that right now, he’s living the COVID life because he is waking up each day and doing whatever he feels like doing.
He is currently launching a podcast, and he is also coming up with new ideas for products.
Execution is everything
For Vivek, having the flexibility of coming up with new ideas is vital. However, it is the actual execution of the new ideas that counts for him. So much so, that he finds the final execution of an idea to be even more important than the idea itself.
Moving to Austin, Texas
Vivek started his business in Seattle, and he lived there for about ten years. He then moved the company to the San Francisco Bay Area in California. And at the beginning of 2020, he moved the company once again, this time, to Austin, Texas.
A fantastic team!
Vivek feels super blessed because he has a fantastic team, and many people will be surprised to discover that a large part of his remote sales team is based in India.
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