All posts by Mohit Mamoria

Why we raised our prices from $4 to $9 per month?

Recently, we got a lot of things done in Gaurilla based on the feedback we got from Early Bird users. And after four months into the public beta phase, we raised our prices from $4 per month to $9 per month.

Yes, we kind of came out as jerks to a lot of you but, there’s a reason that made it the best decision for our company and for our paying users.

NOTE: For those of you, who signed up when the price was $4, you’ll still be paying $4 only (if you subscribe to the paid plan post your trial period). Nothing evil with you, as promised. It is for our new users that this new prices will take effect.

Why did we do it?

Well, there are a few reasons.

Reason #1. It acts as a filter.

We used to have flocks of new users every week earlier. After the price raise, we saw a drop of around 20% in new sign-ups. But we are happy. We are a small company and supporting huge number of new customers with getting their accounts set up was a huge task for us. And often, we saw that a lot of people used their accounts actively only in the free trial period. When I contacted them to understand what made them not to switch to paid plan and if we could do anything about it, I often got something like this in response:

“Gaurilla is awesome. I mean, really awesome. I have recommended it to a lot of my friends too. But my requirements are not that large. If you could have a free plan with limited features, it would have been great.”

That’s what we didn’t want. Serving an app for free would have made us evil – we might have sold the data to some analytics company, we might have started showing ads, we have spilled “Gaurilla” branding over everything, we might have done some really ugly stuff that we never wanted to do.

Of course, we never had a free plan (only 30-day free trial), raising our prices made the filter work better by only attracting people who would find real value in the app. And as stated on the website, we give away discount coupons (ranging from 10% to 25% discount) to our active users through Twitter. Just ask for one.

Reason #2. Competing on price isn’t called competing.

You offer your product for 50% less than your competitors and people prefer you over them. Victory! Well, no.

Competing on price is never a good option. Your competition can offer a cheaper plan overnight and you’re screwed. Tightly. Anything that can be overpowered overnight isn’t an advantage. Or competition, so to speak.

We started with the cheaper price than most of our competitors but only because we were new. We wanted a lot of people to see our product, use it and give us feedback. We kept the price low to keep the barrier minimum during our first few months, until the product became more mature, which now it is.

Reason #3. Higher costs

With new features (like Basket) and the way Gaurilla is evolving, the running cost has gone up. And we are a bootstrapped company too (that is, no big guy with huge piles of cash behind us). We keep running the company by the money that our loyal customers pay us happily in exchange of the value they extract out from Gaurilla.

So, we had to raise our prices a little to make sure that we don’t run out of cash quickly and that we keep running to serve our customers for a long time. Nothing gives us more pleasure more than seeing our happy customers. Heaven!

Takeaway

We have came a long way since we started out to build an app that should be must-have for every small and medium business. We had our assumption in the beginning and we had our fair share of lessons.

The most important lesson that we learnt in our journey thus far is that competing on price is not a competition. Once the lesson was ingrained in our minds deeply, we shifted our focus from a-lot-of-users-paying-low-fees to if-not-a-lot-then-some-users-finding-the-app-very-valuable. This simple shift in the focus made us work toward increasing the value of the product (and not just by decreasing the prices).

Our early birdies will still be on our $4 plan but new prices apply to all the new users hence forward. New users can ping us on Twitter (@Owlgrin) to get some discount coupons, though. :)

300

Three wait-for-it Hundred

Can you see a glowing smile on my face? No? Now? Yes this one!

I am very happy and proud to announce that now Gaurilla manages business of more than 300 businesses all over the world. 327, to be precise (at the time of writing this blog post).

I won’t brag a lot about the milestone but this definitely calls for an announcement as we have crossed the milestone in less than 4 weeks of public beta launch. Truth be told, when launching, I wasn’t expecting for Gaurilla to go viral. We were expecting around 100 users till Christmas 2013 but I guess, Santa Claus had different plans for Owlgrin.

Not only this, we even crossed 300 mark for Owlgrin Fans on Facebook. If you haven’t liked us yet on Facebook, why not do it now? Did you see the cover picture of the page?

Now, a little more news about mini-happenings at Owlgrin:

My latest and most-detailed interview

Durofy interviewed me and by far this is my most detailed interview. I speak about Owlgrin, Gaurilla, Efox SoftBytes, Startups and more.

You can read the complete interview on their website: http://www.durofy.com/interview-with-mohit-mamoria-founder-owlgrin/

BeautifulPixels features Gaurilla

People from BeautifulPixels stumbled upon Gaurilla and they featured it on their website. They also wrote an in-depth review about it.

The thing that made our day was that the guy reviewing it was from a commerce background and had already used (and tired) of Tally. However, we aren’t trying to replace Tally but someone saying that Gaurilla is a threat to Tally definitely makes our day.

You can read the complete review on their website: https://beautifulpixels.com/web/gaurilla-wants-make-accountancy-awesome/

#ShutUP! campaign

Owlgrin has also launched a social campaign called ShutUP! to encourage people to stop making excuses and start doing things instead.

You can read the announcement of the campaign in this post: http://owlgrin.com/2013/12/shut-up/

Time at Owlgrin had never been so exciting! To keep feeling the excitement with us or to just stay updated, you can Like Us on Facebook (http://facebook.com/Owlgrin), Follow Us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/Owlgrin), Circle us on Google+ (http://google.com/+Owlgrin) or can do all of the three. ;)

Shut UP!

No no no! Don’t get me wrong. I ain’t being rude. Well, in one sense, I am. But in a good way. Bear with me and I’ll explain you what I mean.

I am a big believer of executing plans at this very moment. I mean – now! Because, well.. isn’t ‘now’ all that we have really? If you want to travel, go book a ticket now. Yes, that kind of execution. I don’t like putting off things for tomorrow. If you really want to reap rewards of something, you have to go through the reality that precedes the rewards.

I know you had some really awesome plans for 2013 in December last year. Didn’t you? If you say No, you are lying. We all had. Let’s take a minute and review the state of those plans today – a year later.

If you have done what you wanted to do, well you deserve a hug from Santa Claus this Christmas. And if he doesn’t come to hug you, tweet me once and I will come to hug you dressed as Santa. ;)

But, if you aren’t the one deserving a hug from Santa, let’s try to get it next year. What do you say?

So, as 2013 is about to get over, let’s decide this one thing – let’s ShutUP! No no, not just our mouths but our excuses too. At least for this year. Let’s shut up and get to doing things rather than just planning about them. We spent the whole of 2013 planning and thinking. We kept thinking, “I want to have that car” or “I want to have that house” or even nerds like me thought “I want to lose weight”.

Let’s stop making excuses and get to doing things. And I too will go out and join a gym now. Let’s stop “I want…” this year and instead do something so that we can sing “I did…” next year, the same time. And often, as you must be knowing, it doesn’t take much, just a start.

To get you a little more excited, Owlgrin is starting a campaign to push you to do something this year. After all a hug from Santa deserves some effort. With the ShutUP! campaign, let’s stop making excuses and start doing things. Let’s shut up the part of brain that is responsible for telling us to put things off till tomorrow. Let’s shut up our ears to the people who say that our plan isn’t possible. Let’s shut up the little frightened guy inside us that makes us weak when we are about to make big decisions.

Let’s shut up and start up! Let’s be doers this year.

And by ‘start up’, I mean to start doing things. It is not necessary for you to start a company to get a Santa Hug. Or, if you want to really start up, this year is good to fire your boss too.

And then probably you did something this year too. Maybe small, maybe big. And no matter how big or small, if you did something, the effort more often than not, does deserve a reward.

Because you weren’t one of those who kept talking. You ShutUP and you StartedUP. Perhaps it was starting taking up the guitar classes, perhaps it was finally getting that excursion into your schedule and going ahead with, or perhaps it was asking out the girl of your dreams. :)

Whatever it was, that you think you did this year and are thankful to yourself that for once you did shut the excuses and gave it a try, we want to hear from you! And… we’ll look forward to send you a reward, because know it or not, you have been an inspiration. :)  

All you have to do, is tell us how you ShutUP (the excuses and the talking) and StartedUp (with the real thing), as a comment on this Facebook update – https://www.facebook.com/owlgrin/posts/330687153736186.

Three lucky commenters get free Tees, Mugs and more! Note that to qualify for winning the “Doer Goodies” you have to press the like button on our page so that we can stay in touch with you. :)

So comment here right away – https://www.facebook.com/owlgrin/posts/330687153736186 and tell us your #ShutUpAndStartUp story! We look forward to hearing from you. :)

Gaurilla’s Dashboard – “Blocks”

Let me declare this, once and for all: I am very excited about Gaurilla!

We are still a few days away from the public beta launch of the product but I am so excited that I couldn’t hold myself back from showing off a sneak-peek of the product to all of you – Gaurilla’s Dashboard.

When I showed it to early-users they got super-excited, so I am sharing this publicly so that anyone who still wants to join us on this wonderful journey, can.

This is an actual screenshot of the new revolutionary dashboard we are working on. We call it – Blocks. Dashboard is made up of little pieces called Blocks. Although they are fixed for the public beta version but we are working to make them configurable and customisable. Just be prepared for the awesomeness to blow your mind away.

Note: Most of the portion below this line is taken from the Guide and gives a walkthrough in Dashboard.

We tried to create the dashboard by putting all the numbers and stats one might find useful in a single place. We, ourselves, use Gaurilla to manage our businesses and this dashboard helps us make some decisions quickly.

“Today” Block

On the top left corner, there’s a block showing today’s date. We have found ourselves and others struggling to recall date, so, always having it in front of your eyes save a second in every 10 minutes.

Tip: Keep dashboard open when not working as it contains all the important bits of information.

“Clients” Block

In block, adjacent to date, you will be shown the number of clients you are dealing with. We have found in our researches that the urge to move this number high, results in business growth. With Gaurilla, we not only want you to manage efficiently, but also want to see you grow.

And in the same pursuit, we have the next block – Streak!

“Streak” Block

Generally, a streak is the duration of continuous activity. In case of Gaurilla, the streak tells the number of continuous days you invoiced your clients. Now, there are two numbers – one is the ‘longest streak’ you ever had and another is the ‘current streak’.

Tip: Keep increasing your streak as your streak tells you how good your business is going. Work to invoice at least one client every day. There’s nothing more hurting than seeing your streak going from 43 to 0. So, do not let a day go by without creating an invoice.

“Create” Block

The fourth block is the first action you can take from the dashboard – to create an invoice. Click on it to get straight to the business and send a beautifl invoice to your client.

“Nerd Stats” Block

The big graph shows the stats any business owner should be interested in – how much money you have earned, spent and left. Nothing fancy, just what you want, right on your dashboard.

Also, there are three variants of the graph, which can be switched between from the top-right corner of the graph. Month’s graph shows you how much you made in the current month, Year’s graph shows the stats for current financial year and Overall shows the stats from eternity to eternity (see how you progressed over years).

Tip: For quick decisions, refer the Month’s view, to track progress refer Year’s view and to track growth refer Overall’s view.

Other Blocks

Adjacent to graph and below “Guide” block, there are the two ways to get in touch with us – Ask for help when you think you are stuck or Report a bug if you find something broken. We don’t break your experience by taking you to another page for contacting us, it all happens right from your dashboard.

Mega Tip: You need us? We are always just a click away from you. Head over to dashboard and tell us how may we help you. :)

“Awesome” Block

And on the lower right corner there sits a gentle message reminding you how awesome you are.


We all are pretty excited to bring this product to you. Let me tell you, there might will be several thing broken in it, so, feel free to get in touch with us regarding the same. Feedback of any kind is more than welcome.

Let’s make a better product, together!

 

For what you’ll become

As a founder of a startup, I don’t have a dedicated hiring team to get the great people on team. And the biggest challenge in hiring someone is to gauge what they’ll become in future.

The ugly truth is, very few people are “perfect” to be hired  immediately (and those handful of people are already working at their dream place). But the bright side is that many of these “not-yet-perfect” people have potential to be “future-perfect” people.

Sometimes, people I meet/interview are exceptional – just perfect. They know everything to get the shit done. Meeting these people feels like meeting my soulmate – breeze blows, smile bursts out on face and everything looks so dreamy. It happens, no doubt, but not usually.

Most of times, I meet people, who aren’t perfect at that particular moment, but they show the signs of having an untapped potential and being one of the “asset” to the company. These people just want a perfect role and right opportunity.

How about giving Steve Jobs the role of baseball player? Or Sachin Tendulkar the role of singer?

Some people need the right opportunity and a right role to turn into asset from human. And as the guy who has the responsibility to build a perfect team to take Owlgrin forward, I need to analyse people and offer what role would suit them. I have had instances when someone who’ve applied for developer’s job was offered other roles like content writing, but they couldn’t take up that role as their parents thought, it wasn’t “worth doing”.

Also, I have met people who’ve done no-so-great work. But this doesn’t mean that they were not-so-great people. It’s just that they were given not-so-great opportunities. A lot of great people are stuck in not-so-great places – places, where just the money is good.

I love taking risks. Even with people. It feels great to pick out great people stuck in not-so-great places and give them opportunities to bloom.

There are only a few things that make me happier than seeing someone doing great work and being happy, which they couldn’t be at their previous place.

Gaurilla Tech Stack

I am always curious what technologies companies are using and the reason behind choosing those technologies – just can’t help it but googling for hours until I reach to a satisfactory answer. I always thought Facebook just uses PHP, but when I stumbled upon this slide-deck, I understood other technologies that work along with PHP and let us stay connected with friends 24×7.

I am sure, there are other curious minds out there too. Like you. Yes, you are one of them, that’s why you are reading this post. Whenever, we see some cool application working, our first intuition is to get to know what’s running under the hood. As a web developer, my first action is to open developer tools whenever I see any such thing.

So, today, I am officially listing out the technology stack we are using for Gaurilla. Besides quenching curiosity, it will also serve as a guide to people willing to work at Owlgrin to evaluate themselves.

Language: PHP

Most part of the application is written in PHP. I know it is the most hated language in the industry because of the inconsistency in it.

For example: “to” versus 2: ascii2ebcdic, bin2hex, deg2rad, strtolower, strtotime

Just google “php sucks” and you’ll know what I am saying. But at the same time, everyone knows working in PHP. Or, most of them. It is super-easy to get started with PHP. And sometimes, this super-easiness made people to use it in the wrong way. It is so easy to use the language that people mostly use it wrong way. By ‘wrong’, I mean mixing HTML with PHP.

But still, you can quickly find people who’ve experience working in the language and it becomes easy to make them quickly pick up on a project. Also, the steady improvement in the language made it better. Version 5.3 introduced some amazing features like closures and namespaces while version 5.4 introduced traits and shorter array syntax.

Modern PHP is not HTML and PHP logic mixed together into a pile of “code” (please note the sarcasm) that smells.

Tools like Composer and frameworks like Laravel have given a new life to the language that is hated as much as IE is hated by web designers.

Backend Framework: Laravel

“If you are not using any framework, you’ll eventually end up creating one.”

Yes, we could write everything from scratch but why reinvent wheel? Laravel is the awesomest framework I have used. Created by Taylor Otwell, this framework not only lets you get things done quickly, but it makes you use the best practices, making you a better developer overall (I, personally, never knew about Dependency Injection before Laravel). With laravel, you can’t write a smelly code (as easily as plain old PHP!).

Laravel is just a collection of composer packages and there are thousands other available on Packagist. Composer to PHP is what cheat codes are to games. You want something? Before building it, just search a package and there are high chances you’ll find one.

Besides this, even if you are a beginner, getting up to speed with Laravel is easy because of so many resources out there. Including the amazing documentation.

There’s no reason to not use Laravel.

Database: MySQL

We use MySQL, a lot, for the same reason that it is easy to find people knowing MySQL. But thanks to Laravel, that we are not stuck with this choice. Once we will feel that there’s some better choice out there, we can simply change Laravel’s config and voila!

Frontend Framework: AngularJS

We have built Gaurilla as a API driven app. Backend serves as a stateless API and the front-end app is the one which handles all the logic of managing state and communicating with the API.

We wanted the experience of user to be first-class. He should get best feedback for his action in the interface and AngularJS made it quite simple for us with it’s two-way data binding.

It was a tough choice to choose between EmberJS and AngularJS, but due to poor reputation of Ember at that particular time, we chose to bet on Angular and I guess, we are happy to use it. Angular also keeps different parts of the app decoupled and uses the concept of Dependency Injection (just like Laravel). This one thing was the key-deciding factor. ;) (Sorry Ember!)

However, finding Angular developers was the task that went in vain, and we ourselves had to invest time and resources to learn this framework. But now, when we are done, we are happy that we did.

The Glue

Although these are the major tools that we are using, there are other small pieces which acts as glue and fills out the gap. We are using other tools like Memcached for caching, Amazon’s Web Services for hosting and queuing, Mandrill for sending emails among others.

Using these amazing technologies, we were able to build Gaurilla quickly and intelligently. These also helped us in keeping the project very loosely coupled, so, scaling and managing won’t be a problem. Ever!

With great powers, comes great responsibilities.

If you are someone who is thinking of building a huge app, and decided to choose some great tools, I would like to remind you just one thing, “With great powers, comes great responsibilities.”

I hope, you enjoyed peeking under the hood cape of Gaurilla. If you want to work on these amazing technologies with us, we are always hiring! Simply shoot us an email at careers[at]owlgrin[dot]com telling how you can add value to the company and let’s get talking. :)

 

Failure Quote

Ishant failed. So what?

Well, yesterday (October 19, 2013) was a tough day for Indian Cricket. And every soul in the country put the blame on Ishant Sharma. Soon after the match ended, Ishant Sharma was trending on Twitter.

Disclaimer: I am not a cricket expert and this is not a cricket article.

I am, by no means, a cricket expert. I do not have knowledge of his current form or what-so-ever. I was just surprised by the fact that whole country singled out one guy for the loss. It began an interesting thought – Are we, as a country, ready for failures?

I am an entrepreneur and most of my thoughts revolve around startups and entrepreneurship. Sorry for that. (please note the sarcasm ;) ). We all understand that startups have higher chances of failing. When we expect a huge company to emerge out of India, are we ready to embrace the failures? I, personally, feel that failure is a way to improve ourselves. I recently, wrote an article about embracing Risk and Failure for YourStory.

You can read the complete article here: http://yourstory.in/2013/10/embracing-risk-failure/

For a budding entrepreneur, I’d like to remind what Big B always says, “Seekhna band toh jeetna band!” (Stop learning and you’ll stop winning.)

As I quote in the article, “For a budding entrepreneur, I’d like to remind what Big B always says, ‘Seekhna band toh jeetna band!’ (Stop learning and you’ll stop winning.),” I don’t mind India losing a match. This loss will teach a lesson to either Mr Captain Cool or Ishant Sharma. No matter who does it and improves himself, it would be good for India, the country, at the end of the day.

Life is a journey, not a destination

Also, in the article, I quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey, not a destination,” as a gentle reminder that one loss doesn’t matter much. Our blue boys have enjoyed every moment while practicing for the match (specially after that huge chase in previous match) and so they did while playing. It is the journey that matters and should be cherished.

I respect the patriotic anger behind the conclusion of the game, but let’s not single out one guy. Let’s accept the failure, improve ourselves and beat crush the opponent in the next game. :)

You can read the full article about embracing Risk and Failure here: http://yourstory.in/2013/10/embracing-risk-failure/

Hello World …finally!

First things first. Sorry!

I know, “Hello World” should be the first thing but in the case of Owlgrin’s website, it was the last thing that is happening. And I am sorry about it.

I got a lot of questions regarding the website of Owlgrin in last couple of months, like, “when it will be live?”, “when the owl will grin?” and the most funny one – “you really think you can raise fund with that ‘coming soon’ page?”

So, today’s the day, the owl finally grins. For last 3 months, we were so busy building Gaurilla that we kept this website at the bottom on the priority list.

But then I observed that as we are getting some identity in startup and VC community, people want to know more about us. But we closed a lot of conversations even before they began. People who came to our website to know about Owlgrin found nothing. Not even contact information (so, lame of us!). And they left to return never.

Since that moment of realisation, I moved up the development of this website a little above on the my todo list.

I didn’t want a perfect, sparkling and overhauling website to start conversations. I wanted something to be out there replacing that lame ‘Grinning Soon’ page. So, here it is. (Thank god, WordPress exists!)

So, here’s the purpose of this website – “to have conversations!”

Let’s start one in the comments below. :)