When and how did you start?
The year was 2017 when I ( Pratik Bhuyan ) & Praveen had just completed one year from graduation. Honestly, we were not much of the best pals or “bros” in our college life, but we always conspired to do something unknown, something new. I vividly remember when we were being taught C/C++ in our first year of engineering, we both were already developing & marketing our websites. And in 2017, out of nowhere, I received his email citing to do something of our own but with a clause to resign from our current job. To which I replied, “I already did 6 months back” and that’s from where it all started!
How did you come up with the idea? Your inspirational moment
When you think of new ideas, it never comes. It comes to you unexpected & uncalled. We were facing a huge roadblock in our entrepreneurial journey and were almost broke at one point in time. We stood in the bustling streets of Bangalore, completely dissipated, searching frantically for businesses & vendors to work with us. At that time we had a different business model & more of a startup, we were a digital solutions service provider.
We were running through every medium possible and leveraged highly on a particular Indian online platform to find leads, which is still heavily endorsed today by one of Bollywood’s most legendary actor (any guesses?) and while using it, we understood the pitfalls & the shortcomings which businesses and users like us were facing. We started discussing what would make it better, how to make it better and then it struck us, there are 1.1 Billion people in India for looking businesses, customers, services, leads online – so why not we give that platform to them?
Brief about organization and founding members
Built by not the IITians, IIMians or ex-employees of any blue-chip MNC, TheLister Inc. was handcrafted by two engineering students whose aggregate could barely even touch 60% to be eligible for campus recruitment or interviews. We had our goals set during our stint at startups that we could do much more using our knowledge & perseverance to build something for the Indian masses. Today from being a duo, to a team of 9, we work day-in, day-out to provide a seamless platform to find exactly what users are looking for, to help offline businesses transition online & to connect users with the right businesses , Says Mr.Pratik Bhuyan (Founder : The Lister).
The detailed journey, like what all you want to share with readers
When we were setting foot into the whole startup ecosystem, we knew one thing: only a few out of a million startups get to see the light of the day and to be amongst those few, we had to be unique. So, we had a good idea, we solved a real-life use-case, it catered to both B2B & B2C, but we still didn’t have that spice and we vowed that we won’t start writing a single line of code unless we figured it out.
More than 3 weeks had passed and we couldn’t get that one thing, that spice, our USP. When we were almost throwing in the towel it struck us – how to give customers the lowest price for what they are looking for? That question lead to different solutions and from those various solutions we picked our answer – bidding. From there it was just putting the puzzle together. Our core strategy was simple: Users post their requirements & businesses bid on it to create competition to quote lower prices.
The whole process was made transparent, seamless and non-sponsored. Every business is able to rank higher than their peers only by generating positive reviews by fulfilling the user’s requirements. And when a user posts a requirement, he/she gets to see bids from businesses with good reviews first. Every review is cross-verified by TheLister, & thus businesses with positive ones are poised to serve the user better. This made it win-win for both the user and the business as it gave a fair chance to businesses of all scale (small-to-large) to participate and users getting to work with the best.
Future plans and funding
Down the road, our ultimate vision is to make TheLister the goto brand for customers. Businesses partnered with TheLister would be guaranteed to follow a few set parameters to provide services of the highest quality & customers feel assured when they work with one. In terms of funding, we are currently bootstrapped and are open to equity-based seed level funding from individuals & VCs to expand our team and exposure in Tier-II & III cities.
An inspiring moment.
The launch date was set and hopes were high. We did all our test runs and it was time for us to set it live for the digital world. We took one step forward into promoting our website on social media and the next thing we knew, Facebook blocked our website from further sharing. And thanks to Facebook’s line of products, we were ousted from WhatsApp, Instagram and all other! The setback was huge but we weren’t just ready to give all up.
We chalked out a different strategy then & there to let people know about our upcoming platform (without using the link) and use Google Form to take email ids of those who were interested. We then could send out pre-invites with our website link to all of them through Gmail (thank you Google!) and the best part, we received over 300 registrations on our platform that day. We knew we were up to something.
EXCLUSIVE: Founder’s advice to budding entrepreneurs
There’s a saying, “dream and dream big”. Sadly, not all big dreams are achieved. Yet, in the process of dreaming big, you achieve things which you had never thought of. Today you might dream of buying a Ferrari and eventually, you may not get one. But, you will definitely be able to buy a Mercedes – I bet you on that. So dream.
Provide some statistics like revenues or clients acquisitions etc
Currently, TheLister has over 12,000+ verified businesses partnered with us across categories like Real Estate, Events & Wedding, Architecture & Home Decor, Legal, Hardware, Technology, Advertising, Finance & many more. We are also clocking in 5 digit page views with a customer retention rate of 88% on a monthly average. Source: WorthofWeb