SocialHelpouts is now CutShort!

Yes, that’s true. After a year of experimentation and learning, we are changing our name to “CutShort”.

Why? SocialHelpouts was a great name, but only when we had explained it to someone for a good 10 minutes. When an average attention span is less than 10 seconds, asking for 10 minutes online is like asking for someone’s life.

“CutShort” is short, sweet and just explains our mission well. After all, we want to cut short your long winding path to the right jobs or candidates. Really short.

It took us about 10 days to rebrand our system. And it will give us an extra 10 minutes in our conversation with users. Not a bad bargain.

What should we use those extra 10 minutes for? How do you find CutShort? Eager to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

Why we didn’t raise funding early on

 

race-for-funding

Are you guys funded?

Everyone loves to ask this question. People at startup events, college buddies on WhatsApp groups and even co-passengers on flights.

And sure, I get it. In the world littered with umpteen startups, funding reflects a certain external validation and “seriousness” of your venture. So nothing wrong with this question, really. But what gets to my nerves is the way the conversation goes next:

I: No, we are bootstrapped.

The guy: Uh oh. Yeah, funding is a big problem these days.

Wait a minute. I only said we are bootstrapped.  Did it automatically imply that we failed at raising funds? Is raising funds the only way to build a startup?

Of course not. There are many successful startups that bootstrapped to success including the likes of Mailchimp and GitHub. But these are heady startup days and most people equate “funding” with “success”. In an emotional post recently, Sumanth Ragahvendra put it this way:

We no longer care about what a startup has achieved or aims to do, the problems it solves, the benefits it provides or the impact it has had.

We only care about one thing — how much funding has a startup raised. And that amount determines where you are slotted in the startup caste system…

At SocialHelpouts, we decided to skip raising funds early on. Our product idea could be applied to many markets and we were not sure which one would work out better. And even after choosing a market (“network hiring”), our biggest task was to figure out what problems we would solve best for which segment of that market.

At early stage, our biggest task was to choose a market, test it and find our sweet spot. Funding was not going to do it for us – we had to do it ourselves.

So in last 10 months, we evaluated different markets problems and experimented with different solutions to tackle them. We played with positioning and tried different ways of acquiring our users. Along the way, we worked on creative initiatives such as easyConnects, helping laid off employees form PubMatic and Foodpanda and doing highly focused hiring events such as JoinTheRocketship. These things not only helped us test different approaches to solving problems but also helped us identify our own strengths and weaknesses as a team.

Yes, angel funding exists to solve exactly this purpose. But finding a good angel can still take months and cause distraction away from the much needed customer discovery process. We had sufficient funds of our own that we found more convenient to dip into.

But let me add some caution – bootstrapping can be hard. Expenses on even simple things like hosting and office space can add up quickly. The reasons we have been able to do this are:

We had a lean and cross functional team: We have had only 3 full time employees to cover the entire gamut of operations – development, marketing and support. We all believe in our mission and are happier with more equity than cash.
We had sufficient funds to last 12+ months: This is not about just surviving 12 months. You should be able to provide a great experience to your users. For instance, we spent a disproportionate amount on our website infrastructure, customer experience (Intercom!) and an air conditioned office that kept our team productive.
There was a tangible path to revenue: We were operating in a proven market with a clear revenue potential (hiring companies). Companies will pay for a hiring product that helps them hire, there was never a doubt about that. To at least survive, we just had to build a decent enough product.

Your situation might be different. May be you need to raise funds early or may be you need not. But whatever you do, please don’t just assume you need funding because everyone’s seems to be raising it.

What do you think? Do you think startups are focusing more on getting funded than working on achieving product-market fit?

 

How can friends help you on SocialHelpouts?

Are you looking for a job and need some help from friends?

Sure, if you ask them about open jobs they know, chances are they will be as clueless as this guy:

With SocialHelpouts, your friends never need to guess. Here’s how.

After creating your short profile (a “signal”), just search for friends and send them your unique help link. When they login via that link, they will become your “introducers”.

Introducers make you visible and credible to their network
Introducers make you visible and credible to their network

So how do introducers help?

Introducers are shown prominently in all your signals, thus indicating that they trust you and have a strong relationship with you. This makes it easy for their network to ask for an introduction to you. At any time in future.

Apart from this, we also give introducers suggestions on friends who’re likely to be interested in your signals. In just one click, they can share your signals with them. Without any guess work or broadcast on their social networks!

So will everyone know that I’m looking for a job?

No! You can always keep your signal “anonymous”. This way, people will only see your skills, desired location and your chosen description. Your identity will be shown only when you choose to reply to an employer.

So go ahead, ask your friends for help. Don’t be surprised if they are like: