Ever had a new vendor let you down? Had trouble finding a company that does/sells X? Then ContractIQ has got your back. ContractIQ is a fresh new start-up matching the Small and Medium Enterprise space with top-of-their-class service providers.
With a continually updated list of benchmarked vendors ContractIQ advises SME business on their vendor selection — empowering them to make valuable growth-oriented decisions.
I got the chance to interview the brain behind the brainchild, Ashwin Ramasamy — founder of ContractIQ and graduate of the Founder Institute. After lead roles in several startups, and now ContractIQ, Ashwin is in a great spot to offer advice to entrepreneurs-to-be, so I asked him about ContractIQ and his entrepreneurial experiences.
What is your educational and work background?
I have a Bachelors degree in instrumentation engineering and an MBA in marketing. 9 Years of business and executive roles in startups and F500 (all IT service firms with some products that I created and managed) .
What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
Things that I don’t know that I don’t know are the ones that keep me worried. Among all the things that I have to manage, the ones that I don’t know that I have to manage are the ones I am going to mess up.
What are your plans, hopes and marketing ideas for the future of ContractIQ?
Build a curated list of IT service providers that are startup friendly. Scale the list and turn it into a platform in 2013. Tie up with all accelarators and their portfolio of startups, to offer our services.
What are some of the mistakes and/or failures that you learned from while starting up?
Too early to say. One mistake I made though is premature exposure to important decision makers even before we were ready.
What were and are the biggest challenges that you face(d) starting up?
Giving up a fat salary. The demons of “what would my career path be, if I fail here”.
How have you personally changed since you started ContractIQ?
I network a lot. I am more sympathetic to people who run mundane companies. Running a company is a challenge in itself. It doesn’t matter if they innovate or not.
What has been the biggest surprise been as an entrepreneur and business owner?
Not a surprise. People don’t give a shit if you are an entrepreneur. No one cares till you are something.
What development, event, or new understanding has had the most impact on your original plans for ContractIQ–and how have your plans changed in response?
Scaling happens when the business is proven. Till then don’t invest in anything that is required for scale. This realization made the difference in every decision we make (Hiring, spending, product vs. service, revenue vs. growth).
What sacrifices did you have to make in order to focus on your startup?
Salary. Peace of mind of family. Little pleasures like holiday, fine dining etc.
How did you lure your first customers?
Past network, references. Free services.
Was there anyone/anything who inspired your managerial style and defined the culture of your company?
Yes. A fellow senior entrepreneur (thought process) – who runs a company called valued epistemics.
What made you first think that starting a company is right for you?
I had opinions on every business and how its run. I was good at what I did and was good at big picture.
If your company tanked tomorrow, would the experience have been worth it?
Yes. I have had experiences that are more hopeless. I have almost seen bankruptcy. So this doesn’t matter.