We are connected on LinkedIn :)
A quick 3-minutes update seconds update over what has been going on with me lately.
If you read this till the end there will be small surprise waiting for you there.
I wrote to you last somewhere in February. I was getting ready to launch my first startup – www.stayuncle.com
I was a rookie at that time and needless to say the launching was a complete fiasco.
My own mother laughed at me. When will you realize you have no future in this poor country – she said.
She was at hospital at the time recovering from clinical depression. She keps blaming me for that.
We re-launched a month later. Noting better.
Around April we started seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
We were no longer doing one booking per decade. Transaction started happening daily. Well, OK every second day.
On May we got Ajay Naqvi aka Big Daddy to invest in StayUncle. He lives in Romania. His wife is really hot. and I kept her as my desktop background for a while. Please don’t tell him I said this.
That same month we moved into newer better flat at Hauz Khaz.
We bid farewell to Sanchit’s old bedroom.
There was only one chair one table and a wooden bed. I used to sleep on it while Sanchit slept on the ground. Just one week before we got the money in our bank account, the chair collapsed.
May was a great month also because we got Nandi our CTO formerly working with General Electric. Sometimes he shaves his head for no reason. His mother is very cute. He keeps a Gurka (old Nepali military knife) in his locker, so please don’t tell him I said this.
Tough times returned during June and July.
I was absent from India and the core team was split. I am very bad at maintaining distant communication via Skype and stuff. Don’t ask where I was.
On August I was back triumphantly. We discussed the possible directionStayUncle would take on the basis the new learning we got.
We noticed that our most common customers are young unmarried couples looking for space to hang out privately.
I don’t know how much you know about India but this is a major issue here. Hotels refuse to let unmarried couples in because of cultural orthodoxies and fear of police raids.
That was THE moment
We decided to revamp StayUncle into India’s first online hotel booking portal which lets unmarried couples book a hotel for 10 hours and pay only for 10 hours.
Initially not much changed.
When you start running out of money your brain gets into power mode and the primeval instinct takes over. You lose the common code of civilized behavior. You start making sounds..
We weren’t radical enough. We had to turn fluid and re-invent ourselves in a way we could have never imagined.
We started selling neem sticks for 50 Rupees.
We started giving massages to boys all across Delhi.
We started selling tea on the street.
We evolved. New ideas started colliding deep inside us.
The guerrilla campaigns we started running made some people run after us and others full of gaze. Here is a preview of it
We were flooded with comments and plenty of critique.
They said in future you guys are going to face troubles from India’s moral brigade, Shiv Sena (a terrorist group) and perhaps even the police.
We say thanks and we leave. We could not afford to spend too much time around well-intentioned talkers.
We chose to hang around doers instead.
The team got bigger too.
We hired Tanmay from a dying startup. He almost started a fight once because a guy said something about his sister. (trust me she’s ugly).
Then Rajan came straight from his father’s threading factory. He has the funniest laughter you will ever hear.
In October we got Shravan, the brother of Ravan the demon with 10 heads and we daily enjoy his gambling stories from his past times in London. He used to sell SIM cards on the street at that time.
I don’t know if we are a dream team.
I do know that we managed to build something unique, a special maybe slightly dysfunctional family.
A family that sticks sticks together and get chased by the police.
A bunch of great people that must hide from their parents about what exactly they are doing (promoting pre-marital sex in India), else they’ll never get married.
How do I know that?
Recently I told them that we are likely going to be out of funds after two months and unless we nail it we are as good as dead. Therefore if someone is willing to abandon the boat in advance, and seek for greener pastures there will be no hard feelings.
All of them remained.
That makes it a dream team right?
The game is on and is getting hotter by the hour.
Media is buzzing about the unusual gang of boys holding posters around Central Delhi which say – Couples need a room, not a judgement.
They seem to be alone against the world.
They get a lot of high-fives too. The ultimate satisfaction comes when a person comes to them and says – I am your client guys. Keep up the good work. Entire India needs this. Your market is huge.
We get excited when we hear that. We like huge things :D
Yesterday we got the information that the community is nominating StayUncleas a startup of the year. I made a public promise that if we win the award, I will dress a saree and walk around Delhi for entire day. Cast your vote here.
I guess I can stop now, unless you have specific questions to ask me.
Here is the surprised I announced.
I have this weird habit of sending people a list of 10 ideas that could solve a particular challenge they are facing – business or professional.
Feel free to reply back with your challenge and you can rent my brain to you for a while.
Till we talk again Prateek.