Sai is an engineer at heart and the CEO and founder of MPL, a leading eSports platform based in India and operated by Bangalore-based Galactus Funware Technology Pvt. Ltd. The company has seen immense growth since its inception, and we were glad he was willing to share MPL’s story with us. To our surprise, being just a year younger than MPL, we saw that there are a lot of similarities in Bright’s and MPL’s journey. What Sai speaks of is something that we resonate with deeply.
Sai really helped put things into perspective by helping us understand what to expect in terms of growth in the year ahead. He admits that there is the initial struggle but says it will all be worth it in the end because time is a relative concept, a week could feel like an eternity. But once you get into the zone when things start moving really fast, you will see time fly by.
Like MPL, Bright started not too long ago. There are a few values that Sai keeps in mind when it comes to measuring the success of his company. One such core value is ‘Outcome is more important than output,’ and at MPL, they measure themselves based on how much engagement they got, what revenue they made rather than how many hours they put in to get there. At Bright, we share a similar view as a team of hard-working individuals who always have the big picture in mind.
”Great solutions are driven by insight, not just by the amount of work you do,” says Sai. Hence, it is necessary to push people towards achieving that insight rather than to make them work excessively without a clear goal in sight. This is true for the Bright-Ones too; they know exactly what impact they are striving to achieve.
MPL and Bright have both established their product-market fit in the very beginning of their respective journeys. This has played a key role in making both startups what they are today. Our customers make us, and we make for our customers.
It is essential to solidify your brand. If you don’t come from a marketing background or don’t have the domain knowledge, you don’t realize that in order to grow a brand, it takes disproportionate investments. Sometimes, it may seem like a ridiculous way to spend money. But over a period of time, you will see that it is usually brands that win.
Any product that you use, anything you see, brands end up in it. To build a brand, you have to be consistent and must continuously keep spending on that effort. In Sai’s words, “You need to come to an understanding that there is a business out there that needs to be built; now the only question is, is someone else going to do it or are you?”
You have to make decisions that ensure you capture the user’s mindspace. It’s all about who can get into the user’s mind first. You can’t go from spending nothing to ten million dollars overnight, it has to be a step-by-step process.
Similarly, even with the people in your company, work has to also be a step-by-step process because people are not machines. Machines can optimize themselves fast, but it is unfair to expect that of people. As processes mature, they surely get better.
When you make money, you can spend it confidently. When you rightly identify the levers using which you know you can make money, your ability to confidently spend money increases. There needs to be clarity on how you will calculate and measure your ROI (Return of Investment) in order for this to happen.
People usually fuss over some companies that have made money without spending on marketing, but it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Ultimately, the market only cares about whether or not you beat your predictions. This is why having a solid measurement process is important because it helps you set meaningful goals.
“Plan your growth push deliberately, with an inflexion point and with big channels,” says Sai. Monetization and unit economics should be something that the organization is clear on. This helps set a boundary of how much you can spend in order to grow. Strong metrics and reporting mechanisms help a company run on autopilot, and this is what is needed to manage revenue and run a business.
At Bright, we build processes as much as we build products. This helps us run the business like a machine. Since we are a data-centric company, strong reporting and metrics across all functions help us every step of the way.
A company’s internal plumbing is basically its internal data and reporting systems which comprises everything from what daily metrics your teams are looking at to what the reporting numbers are at the end of each week, as well as the internal workings and functionality within teams and people.
When your company is spending money, its employees ought to be on autopilot. In the sense that every single person knows what they’re doing. There is no place for ambiguity. It should be like clockwork, you’ve got all this money that you are spending, your numbers must reflect that positively. If something is wrong, you have to do all that is in your power to make it better.
If something goes wrong, people tend to point fingers to shift the blame on someone else. But the truth of the matter is, to the public eye, it is the company that has failed to achieve its target. When you don’t blame the person and instead blame the process, the organization triumphs because you work towards a solution, together.
‘Process’ and culture are almost synonymous to Sai. An organization’s culture speaks of HOW a person does work. It differs from company to company. Process is pretty much the same thing and hence, the best processes have to be implemented.
“In growing companies, much like Bright, everyone wants to be a part of the growth. Everybody wants to do everything they can to help the company scale and that is amazing!” says Sai.
There will always be competition, and it’s necessary to be aware of your competitors, to learn from them, to try to be better than them. But at the same time, it is important to remember that you are running your own, independent race. While those companies have had a chance to establish themselves, you’ve just begun.
The market will always compare. If you start to compare constantly, you miss out on some very important milestones. These are moments you never get back, moments like your first revenue or your first elating customer feedback. So, pay attention to your company’s journey. And if you’ve never had a chance to celebrate exhilarating milestones like these, working in a startup is a great way to start.