GenCrowd Founder Barun Rath believes mightily in crowdsourcing, so much so that he used the increasingly relied-upon tool to launch his own crowdsourcing platform. While some sites focus on specific business needs, Rath’s company looks to pool solutions for any type of business problem. Ask your question, name the price and the number of answers you’re willing to pay for, and accept only solutions that you find satisfactory.
If the process sounds straightforward, then GenCrowd might be off to a great start. The company’s objective is simple: to connect people with the resources that will enable them to start and build businesses. Rath knows firsthand that beginnings are tough. He’s determined to make it easier for businesses to overcome the initial hurdles of endless to do lists and budgetary constraints. The young entrepreneur has a clear vision and a steadiness beyond his years, which he’s shared with KillerStartups.
How’d you come up with the name for your company?
The name GenCrowd has an interesting backstory: I toyed around with different company names, and not being able to think of something that resonated well with our business model, I decided to take the help of a crowdsourced branding website, SquadHelp. We received, and went through, over a thousand naming suggestions before we were able to find a name that instantly made us take a liking to it. In this case, “Gen” may signify “generation,” or the next generation, and “Crowd” stands for crowdsourcing, or the wisdom of the crowd. We crowdsourced the logo design for the website as well, through 99designs. This entire process was, in ways, symbolic for us: crowdsourcing different aspects of our own crowdsourcing service.
What’s the very first thing you do at work every day?
I keep a mental reminder of the different areas we need to focus on, on a daily basis, namely:
- Product Development
- Marketing and Communications
- Financing and Expenses
- Company, Culture, and Vision
With this in mind, we divide up our time and resources for each of the areas throughout the day.
How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?
I’m the sole founder of GenCrowd as of now. Apart from me, we currently have a team of two people dealing with web design and development, and one person handing business and marketing development. Our website rolled out a Beta release a couple of months back, and we are taking our baby steps now as we look to grow the company and the team further.
Remember the early days starting up? Maybe you can share one anecdote that describes the struggle you went through?
Starting up as a solo founder was–and continues to be–challenging. When developing the business model, and subsequently building the prototype for GenCrowd, I had to make sure that everything, from branding, logo and UI design, to web development, usability testing, content and copy writing, matched the standards that I had set for the website. Launching the website was an entirely different ballgame. Our main focus point right now is finding our target audience, and developing a marketing and sales plan to cater to them accordingly.
How do you handle frustration? When/how was the last time you dealt with frustration?
I keep a mental checklist of the things that absolutely need to get done on a specific day, and the things that could be put off till a later time. When dealing with frustration and distractions, I “blank out” for a few moments, then remind myself of this checklist to get back and focus on the work that’s needed to be done.
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?
We have a very informal, in-house environment here. Everyone makes sure to work hard and collaborate on the work that we do, but also to take time off and relax when needed. With free meals, snacks, beverages, and unlimited vacations, amongst other perks, we make sure that coming to work is something that our team members look forward to.
How do you picture your company in 5 years?
We have laid out some defined short-term as well as long-term goals and visions for GenCrowd. Eventually, we are hoping to branch out to providing crowdsourced services for a wide variety of business needs, i.e. for market research, brand building, logo, web and graphic designs, marketing, content and copy writing, and other aspects of running a business.
Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Snack food?
Family has provided me with a strong pillar of support and guidance through these times. I have always been a big fan of people who started out as underdogs, so to speak, and went on to build these sustainable companies. I engage in reading on just about anything–to keep myself inspired. One quote by Steve Jobs has always stuck with me: “Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”
How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowd-funded? Where’d you get the money, man?
GenCrowd has been completely self-funded till date. I run a consultancy job (as a Sr. Support Specialist on JustAnswer/Pearl.com) on the side, which has helped cover my personal expenses, as well as company expenses–and will hopefully continue to do so until the company becomes self-sustainable, and/or takes on outside funding.
Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?
For starters, read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries and “The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki, if you haven’t already; these two books should help you get off the ground when bootstrapping your business. Identify the main areas you need to focus on to launch a minimum viable product (MVP), build and release, and iterate as necessary. Cash is king here, so all of the additional features and functionality you may have in mind can be implemented at a later stage, when you have the manpower and the financial resources to do so.
What would you be doing if you had one year off and $500,000 to spend (and you couldn’t spend it on your current startup / projects)?
Take off on a long, blissful vacation to an island!
Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur right now? If not, what’s it gonna take to make you feel successful?
For me, being “successful” is not, and should not be, just about business, but about achieving an optimal work-life balance in general. Figuring out how to do so, and getting to a state where I can feel content and satisfied with my life, is what I strive to achieve.
Website you couldn’t live without and why?
Gmail is something I have open 24×7. Netflix, for when I need to recharge my batteries. More recently, Quora–a delightful storehouse of information.
Mobile App you’re in love with and why?
Too many come to mind, but I’m hooked on to Temple Run these days, sometimes for hours at a stretch!
Dogs or cats?
Dogs, any day.
iOS or Android?
What’s the greatest thing about your company/website/idea?
Our service model was conceptualized from the very pain points that I personally faced when starting a business–I was looking for resources to provide me with different ideas and perspectives on different aspects of my business model. And so, GenCrowd was born–an online marketplace allowing people to crowdsource ideas, content, and feedback for their business needs.
Where can our readers get a hold of you? Facebook? Twitter? Google+? Personal blog? Any other projects you’re working on that we should check out?
Feel free to reach us on our Facebook (facebook.com/gencrowd) and our Twitter (twitter.com/gencrowd) pages; or, get in touch with us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We greatly appreciate your feedback as we continue to grow our business and make it both more accessible and easier to use.
What do you wish I had asked you? Ask yourself and respond.
How old are you? Twenty, and counting!