Sent.ly Wants Your Application To Reach Your Customers Via SMS: Local Phones-Global Reach Style
Vijay Thampy wants to change the world. How? Well, as Head of Business Development at SMS sending Sent.ly, he hopes to increase communication to those who lack the resources while helping you connect your apps/services to your customer better. We caught up with him to talk about the two-person team hustle and why he wants to take the Long Way Round.
What makes Sent.ly a killer start-up?
Sent.ly takes a piece of functionality that is pretty mature in some parts of the world, and improves accessibility to the rest of the world. SMS gateways are a dime-a-dozen in most connected ‘developed’ economies. But can you reliably connect to the farmer in Cambodia or the aid-worker in Sudan? Sent.ly has been built up to work with applications aimed at a segment of the economy collectively termed the “Bottom-Of-The-Pyramid” or BoP.
It’s sad to realize that a huge section of population cannot get ahead, simply because they lack access to or education about resources. We’re big fans of efforts to get everyone on the same level playing field, and we feel communication is one of the key aspects common to all these projects. Sent.ly takes a lateral approach to connecting people in hitherto overlooked scenarios. We are killer.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
We wanted a name that reflected our values: Simp.ly, Reliab.ly, Global.ly, Affordab.ly. Sent.ly seemed to embody all those values. And it was catchy!
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
Good question – if I’m meeting up with Varun to work at his place, its usually waking him up. Varun’s more of a night owl, while I’m the opposite. If I’m working from home, work starts as soon as I roll out of bed, checking emails and planning meetings with potential leads.
How big is the team?
We’re two people at Sent.ly at the start, and we’ll soon be looking to expand the team.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describe the struggle you went through?
We’re still in our early days! But being just two people in a team means both of us needs to know everything about the company. If one of us is busy, the other one steps in. From getting ourselves listed in the local yellow pages, paying taxes, filing accounts, writing code, testing code, meeting with prospective leads, it’s more than a full time job.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
Thankfully, Varun and I communicate a lot, so there’s very little by way of frustration between the two of us. Both of us are lucky to be experienced at working with less-than-ideal odds, so we’re used to adversity.
We’ve had our fair share of extra-long days working away at trying to get to the bottom of some very persistent bugs in our code – but we know that putting dedicated time in, is key to resolving issues.
What’s your office environment like? Is it the kind of place where everyone is bumpin’ away to house music or is it more traditional?
I’d personally like some ambient music to help focus my thoughts, but we’re still a ways from working out the perfect office setup – maybe it’ll be our gift to ourselves once our funding round is in.
How do you picture Sent.ly in 5 years?
We’re hoping to keep the same feel as a small company, working with colleagues who share the passion. It’s fun now – we hope to keep it that way!
Who or what inspires you?
Varun is a photographer and artist, so he goes into his creative space to solve worldly problems. I’m personally a motorcyclist and get to my zen place on my way to and from work – it’s a peaceful 30 minutes in my helmet going to and coming from work – the perfect way to break that problem down to bits.
How’d you fund this venture?
We’re currently 100% self-funded and we’re working on a local grant currently. We’re trying to grow organically and raise money the old-fashioned way – by working with our loving customer base!
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean start-ups out there?
Trying very hard to not sound clichéd –
- “Build what your customers want, not what you think is cool.”
- “Stay focussed and keep shipping.”
- If you’re wondering whether it’s worth spending money on something, It’s probably not worth spending money on.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend?
I’d try to do my own Long Way Round! Varun’s already mentally planning his next around the world jaunt too – just not on two wheels!
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now?
We’re not successful yet, but I’ve got a great business plan, an even better team mate and a good feeling about Sent.ly. I think we’re on track to being successful!
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Reddit really is the front page to the internet, and serves to expand my mind on a lot of very varied subjects by listening to people from around the globe. It’s a great place to be inspired and motivated.
iOS or Android?
I’m on an iPhone till the contract expires, then I’m going to embrace my currently closeted love for Android! Varun vehemently says, Android rules!!!
What’s the greatest thing about Sent.ly?
It’s simple and straightforward – a WHOLE lot of power and functionality for everyone to leverage quickly and easily.
Where can our readers reach out to you?
Thanks, Vijay! I’m loving this Long Way Round situation, and I would LOVE to do my own epic trip as well (especially if Ewan McGregor was my travel buddy)!