Nischal Shetty, the founder of the biggest Social Media Marketing product in the world – Crowdfire – makes failure his bitch.
Now, with a team of over 40 people and 15 million registered users worldwide, he’s a pretty damn successful millennial entrepreneur.
After quietly teaching our audience to use Crowdfire for years in our monthly Become a Social Brand workshops on Miami Beach, we just had to ask Nischal to chat with us and share his story about the revolutionary app Crowdfire – one that empowers the emerging entrepreneur to build their audiences and grow on Instagram and Twitter like no app has ever done before.
What did you mean when you said, “Failure is my bitch.” in your Twitter bio?
I’ve tried a lot of things in my career, and I have failed at a lot of things. Every failure taught me something new and how to build the next [business] better. Instead of fearing failure, you should just embrace failing.
And not just failures in business. In my personal life as well, like breakups. When you’re young, you know, these things happen.
What kept driving you to keep trying new things?
The reason I built Crowdfire was I was failing at my blog. It’s not like one fine day I woke up and said “Let’s create Crowdfire”.I started blogging in 2006! I think I created 5 or 6 blogs at various points in time.
The reason I built Crowdfire was I was failing at my blog. It’s not like one fine day I woke up and said “Let’s create Crowdfire”.
The last blog I created was a blog about all the apps on Twitter. It was just good timing I guess. Twitter had just announced that you could build apps on Twitter. At that time, there was no way I could have built Crowdfire. Crowdfire was built in 2010.
But before that, I worked for Burpp.com It’s like the Yelp of India. That was my first window into the world of startups. It was a product that was used by a lot of consumers, so I got a taste of how you build a team in a start-up.
It was really fun working there, but I was more interested in doing something in this space, which is why I probably moved on. But that experience is coming to good use now in the hiring process. What to do and what not to do when you’re running a start-up.
Captured is all about the emerging entrepreneur. A lot of them are faced with the question, “When do I quit my safe, well-paying job to go for my dream?” When did you know you were ready to quit?
It took me a year to quit my job. One thing I promised myself was that I would only quit my job when I had no time left to do anything but to just work on Crowdfire all the time.
And when Crowdfire was making me more money than my job did, it was something I could measure. By the time I’d quit, my weekends were completely occupied by Crowdfire. I used to reply to all the queries. I would sit up and code all night.
Crowdfire was free for a long time. Money started coming in when I finally monetized it and it was enough to cover my expenses. When I did finally monetize it, it was enough to cover my expenses.
How did you know it was the right time to monetize something you had offered for free for so long?
You only pay for a product once you understand it. At the beginning, I had to set some limits on following and unfollowing people on Twitter to make sure people didn’t spam others on Twitter. I started getting a lot of emails from users saying they didn’t want to spam people, but they did need to follow more people. That’s how the idea of introducing the paid version came in.
I knew that there would be power users who knew what to do (how to properly follow and unfollow people), and I thought they should not be limited. So ultimately, I put in the pay plan only after people started emailing me asking for such a feature. Our users give us the idea.
Your original app was called JustUnfollow, and you did a major rebrand to bring the name Crowdfire. Our audience is very interested in branding decisions. Can you share a little about how you decided to rebrand when you had so many users that knew you as JustUnfollow?
To be honest, I always wanted to change the name, but changing the brand name was not a small time exercise. I needed to spend my time and energy thinking of a new product name, when there were other things that were always pressing.
It was in October 2014 when when I had enough resources that I could actually spend time on rebranding. JustUnfollow was pretty early in the product development stage. By 2014, we already had quite a few features that were not about just unfollowing people but finding the right audience for your business.
Why did you create Crowdfire in the first place?
I created Crowdfire so small businesses would not be at a disadvantage anymore for lack of a marketing team compared to big businesses that can afford one. Crowdfire 2.0 is going to help small businesses like e-sellers, cafe owners, bloggers, authors, YouTubers, influencers, photographers, freelancers and startups market themselves by being their marketing assistant.
I created Crowdfire so small businesses would not be at a disadvantage anymore for lack of a marketing team compared to big businesses that can afford one.
Why do you want to help the little guy?
I’m one of those little guys who thankfully could find success. To be successful, the most important thing is you have to be is good at what you do. The second most important thing is you have to be able to sell it or market it to people in the right way.
People are always good at one thing, and it is at the core of what they do.
If you’re a blogger, you might be good at blogging, but you may not be really good at putting it across to thousands of people.
Each one of these people do not fail because of what they do. They fail because of what they do not do – which is marketing. They do not know how to sell what they do to people.
When I realized this, I thought why not build a product that sort of becomes the marketing team for these people. And that is the inspiration behind Crowdfire 2.0.
So what’s your top tip for entrepreneurs?
Always focus on your core. Don’t try to do everything on your own. You may not have the money to get that help, but there will always be free products. Start using them.
Many times, [entrepreneurs are] spending a majority of time doing things that are not their core. Just focus on the core thing that you’re supposed to do. When you see an entrepreneur trying to do something they’re not good at doing, it’s easy to understand why they’re struggling. Why waste your time doing that when you can get better at what you’re best at?
You just have 24 hours in a day. If you try to do all the non-core things, I don’t know how far you will get. Having been one of those guys myself, I know the pain it takes to build something and get it out there. [Marketing is] the biggest mystery to entrepreneurs out there.
Okay, so let’s talk product development. What are some of your principles for building a great product?
A great product separates the men from the boys. I’m the founder of the biggest Social Media Marketing product in the world. We have over 15 million registered users. One of my secrets is we have stopped looking at what our competitors are doing. We just look at the people who are using our product. We look at how they use the product.
A great product separates the men from the boys.
You want to make sure that the majority of your users understand what you’re building, and they find maximum use out of it.
For example, my team is always presenting new features that are being suggested by customers. If I have five features in front of me, I need to ask what are the four features I could remove from these five and still make the product equally as valuable to the customer.
The problem that happens when you add features users don’t need is the users have to suffer. They have to choose between the good and the bad features in the product. We always spend a lot of time considering if a feature would help people more than it will confuse them. If it does not add a lot of value to the product, then we never let it out.
The problem that happens when you add features users don’t need is the users have to suffer. They have to choose between the good and the bad features in the product.
If it does not grow our business by a factor of 2x or 3X, we don’t let it out. We don’t believe in small incremental changes. We want big changes.
What can you share with us about Crowdfire 2.0?
It’s a paradigm shift from Crowdfire 1.0 and will simplify marketing for small and individual businesses. Crowder 2.0 is powered by an artificially intelligent bot that analyses millions of online data points to create marketing tasks which only take 5 minutes to complete. It will get smarter with consistent use.
Crowdfire 2.0 will connect your business to the right audience. It will help you keep track of your mentions, engage with your audience and retain their attention. It will also recommend you the right content to publish on the right networks to get your business the attention that it deserves. And this is just the beginning of our overall plan to help you succeed.
I’m glad you guys [at Ideal Marketing] are doing what you’re doing. I’m sure the biggest fear for most emerging entrepreneurs is the word “marketing.” And if you’re going to help them with that, I think it’s a very good thing.
Thanks Nischal! We think so too. Thank you for taking the time out of your incredibly full life to speak with us!
The CAPTURED Recap
What we captured from our conversation with Nischal.
- Make failure your bitch! A lot of us get so down on ourselves because we believe something we tried failed. Making failure your bitch means taking it in stride, growing from the lessons learned, and making the next attempt even better than the last!
- Quit your job when your calendar is so full you can’t afford to keep working for the man. Make sure you’ve got some form of financial stability, either in the form of investment, savings, or a replacement income. Working from fear could skew your decisions and make your success more challenging.
- Monetize when you have something people are willing to pay for! (Duh!) Your customers may be able to tell you what they’re willing to pay for.
- Rebrand when you’ve got the time to truly focus on it.
- Focus the majority of your time on what you’re best at! Hire help or use free tools to do what you do not do well.
- If you’re developing a product, only add features that the majority of your users will want and understand. Never crowd your product with unnecessary features!