Geeks and Experts - Sneha Saigal & Vaibhav Bhanot

From Startup Dream to Reality: Sneha & Vaibhav's Journey with Geeks and Experts.

September 29, 2023
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  • Sneha Saigal & Vaibhav Bhanot
  • New York (USA)
  • Started in 2022
  • Bootstrapped
  • 2 employees
  • 2500 subscribers

So Sneha what's your backstory?

I was born and raised in Mumbai and earned my MBA at IESE Business School in Barcelona, where I also became a WSET Level 2 wine sommelier. I am the co-founder & CEO of Geeks and Experts. As a management professional, my non-linear career path spans consulting companies and tech unicorns. I strongly believe in positively impacting communities; right from my college days of piloting prison programs in Grinnell, Iowa to my fundraising efforts at non-profits in Mumbai, India.

What's geeks and expert and how did you come up with the idea?

It was during the pandemic when I decided that I wanted to build a company of my own and while I knew it was the tech space that excited me the most, I was still trying to find the idea and product that was most fulfilling.

My diverse career path had given me the opportunity to work at many early stage startups, including managing over $2m in funds, overseeing global launches and even going public. I know how messy early stage startups can get and their needs are super volatile which are often not met by freelancers nor enough to justify fullltime hires.

That's when the idea to build a company like Geeks and Experts was born -  a “talent subscription” platform for early stage B2B tech companies.

How did you attract your first handful of customers?

Like everybody says, in the early days it is all about being scrappy and getting the job done. You have to go where your audience is and meet them there. Getting our initial customers started by being present in online founder communities, attending in-person founder events and taking the product in front of users.

I spent a lot of time talking to potential customers I met via Reddit, Indie Hackers, Kernal and so on. Very soon, we organically began to pivot from B2C to B2B with niche communities and venture funds reaching out to us to hire our experts for workshops or consulting projects.

How did you validate geeks and expert?

I don't think anybody gets it right in the first try. We've been through multiple iterations and have come a long way from what we first started out with.

It all boils down to the feedback that our target audience gave us. In fact, we very soon realized the high CAC and low LTV that came from the B2C approach we were taking and we pivoted from an advice sharing platform to a talent subscription platform.

How did you grow to get you first 100 customers?

We spent a lot of time in online communities and also created content that would resonate with our target audience including newsletters, webinars and so on.

Partnerships is another sure shot way to create synergies and connect with adjacent communities that might be able to add value to your product/service.

Getting the first 100 customers involves handholding clients and doing things that don't scale. We were making one-on-one introductions between both sides of our users and handling communication ourselves so that the users had a good experience.

Tell us about the distribution channels that didn't work

Building trust and credibility as a B2C platform is tough. That is why we partnered with existing communities and venture funds to build our brand.

Direct outreach to customers was slow and getting paid customers proved challenging as individual buyers are more emotional in their purchase and more price sensitive.

When we pivoted to B2B target audiences, we realised the conversions were higher and therefore we doubled down on this audience as our go-to-market.

How did you make the transition from side hustle to full-time entrepreneurship?

The transition to a full time founder requires testing hypotheses and making sure you are getting the early signs of revenue generation that allow you to go full time. Since we are still bootstrapped a lot of the funds going into the business come from freelance projects that my cofounder and I continue working on.

What specific tools have been most helpful in growing your business?

Paper-street has been great to keep our audience updated with the developments going on in our business. Additionally, Buffer is a great free tool that we have utilised to build our content pipeline and publish consistently.
I also highly recommend using as many low-cost and agile tools for development of MVPs and minimum viable tests in the early days before writing code.

What drives you to do what you do?

I strongly believe in optimising resources and especially as an early stage founder I understand the challenges of addressing a company's volatile needs.
Additionally, given the uncertain environment we're currently in, it is all the more crucial to bridge the talent gap by connecting talent impacted by layoffs to early stage startups that need this talent to keep moving forward while keeping burn low.

Who are some experts/entrepreneurs to follow to learn how to grow your business?

I am a huge fan of Naval Ravikant and follow his advice about focussing on the needle movers when building a business.

Any quotes you live by?

Don't make permanent decisions on temporary emotions.

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