“Being absolutely sure about your target segment is key to finding your top metrics while building a startup. Once your target segment is locked, be sure to invest in a dedicated tracking tool to get access to insightful data that’ll lead your way.“ - GoSats’s Mohammed Roshan
Mistakes are an unavoidable part of building a startup. However, objective tracking helps you overcome them and it is key to see them as an opportunity to learn from. If you’re quick to learn, analyze and course-correct, there is no stopping you. Roshan’s successful journey in building the coolest on-ramp for Bitcoin in India through GoSats is proof of that.
From discovering and being consumed by bitcoin in 2014 to pioneering India’s first cryptocurrency called Saffron Coin, Roshan has been an early Bitcoin adopter and an enthusiast. With a passion to bring mainstream adoption to the crypto space, he co-founded GoSats with his younger sister, Roshni Aslam in August 2020. After completing their cohort journey with our team at Accel Atoms, the brother-sister duo plans to double down on all things learnt from the program to scale their company and maximize reach.
Roshan and I sat virtually to discuss in detail about the overall journey of GoSats and how they have been tracking their progress as they build their business.
I am from a technical background and was a bit wary about the whole craze about Bitcoin. However, after going through the Github CodeBase, I realized that cryptocurrency is really big and something that we cannot fathom right now. After a couple of months of reading about the crypto space, I knew that I wanted to dedicate my career to this. Roshni, my sister, comes from a traditional finance background, with experience of working in one of UAE’s largest banks and with a crypto hedge fund. Partnering with her on this venture created a good synergy.
The idea of GoSats came to play somewhere during the mid-Covid times. Cryptocurrency exchanges had done a great job in getting more people into the crypto community, but I felt something was still lacking, because to me, exchange was never the answer to the mass adoption of crypto. Consequently, I started figuring out ways to achieve this - that’s when the whole idea of cashbacks, rewards and payments came to me.
Considering that people love to shop, this was a bigger market to tap into. Also, because people in India love receiving cashbacks on their investment, the idea of earning free bitcoin cashback made absolute sense.
When we started early last year, we got a lot of things wrong. We didn't know what to track. One of the biggest challenges is to figure out who your users are. We had early sign-ups and single-time log-ins and people posting on Twitter applauding us for coming up with a brilliant idea and how they need something like this in India. So, initially, we thought that people within the crypto ecosystem are our user base, but we were wrong, because the same people weren't coming back on the platform or making transactions.
At this point, we realized that crypto people don’t necessarily shop, whereas our main target was to get users who would shop, spend and save. So, we started focusing all our efforts into that aspect and gradually started growing. We decided to bring newbies onto our platform and become the on-ramp for bitcoin in India. Infact, many Indians got their first bitcoin through our platform. Again, customer retention was another vital metric that we started keeping a tab on, early into the business.
I was really fortunate to come across a detailed video on KPI by one of the popular startup accelerators. I feel a lot of early stage founders make a common mistake of using Google Analytics as a metric tracking tool, because it fails to provide certain key insights. We didn’t take any risk and signed up for Mixpanel from the very start.
GMV (gross merchandise revenue) has been our north star metric. We were certain that we needed proof of the fact that people wanted to use GoSats for spending and had to ensure there was enough volume on the platform. When we started tracking, we could see a monthly GMV of 20,000 to 30,000 INR. Our goal was to up this by at least twenty times in the coming months. In the following few months we started doing 30-50 lakhs in GMV, which currently even crossed 1 crore. It feels great to see the growth from 20,000 INR to the stage that we’re at present.
So, growing 20% month-on-month was our target to ideally touch another major aspect, i.e., the product-market fit (PMF).
Not sure if this is a good thing, but I personally track them more often than not. Mixpanel is always open on my safari tab; everytime I’m on my laptop I take out a few minutes to check progress. I love it - it’s just amazing when you do something and there are graphs to show you outputs on a daily basis - it is hard not to get addicted.
However, considering that the target is to grow our metric by 5% every week, we do have a weekly review process in place where we get on call with our marketing team.
Our business being primarily dependent on cashback cards and getting paid from brands, initially we were unaware of the difference between revenue and net revenue. So, in terms of metrics, we made a few changes and learnt that what we’re earning is the net revenue - something that we don’t need to share. So, this part of revenue tracking gave us indication that something was definitely working because we were actually making profits, aside from the marketing expense. Also, to find ways to club our card product into normal shopping vouchers, we added different sorts of verticals into our GMV.
Well, definitely! When we started off, our Mixpanel dashboard only had 4 reports. Today, however, we have around 20 ongoing metric reports on the tracker tool. It helps a great deal when your metrics keep evolving enabling you to track every corner of your business activities. For instance, even when we rolled out our bitcoin-cash back rewards card to users, we tracked everything - from the number of people that signed up to those who haven’t activated their KYC. Doing this helped us communicate better with individual users.
We always tracked customer retention, but after chatting with the Accel Atoms team, we started tracking daily retention. We were clueless about D1 (DAU), D7 (WAU) and D30 (MAU). That’s where Accel partner Manasi came in and helped us get acquainted with these vital user engagement metrics to measure why people are opening and using our app. Even tracking the user’s brand-specific activity was also rewarding, in the sense that we could build our UI in a way that showcases mostly used brands upfront. So, yes, the tracking metrics will only keep evolving as we grow further.
The first crucial step is to invest in a proper tracking tool like Mixpanel, CleverTap or Amplitude because precise tracking demands precise data.
Identifying your correct target segment is equally important. We had made the mistake of assuming certain things in the beginning and ended up losing a couple of months due to that. Only when you understand your target segment, can you identify your top metrics. I believe in setting weekly goals for these metrics that compound into something larger in the future. That way it is easier to keep track of it.
The last piece of advice is not to be too harsh on yourself if something doesn’t work. Startup is all about running growth experiments to see what’s working, until you reach Series A. From then on, you keep doubling down and growing from that channel.
It is very important to start with a lean method in the beginning - identify the right target market and build what they are seeking. We earlier got carried away by what we thought we could best deliver. It so happened because our extreme passion for all things crypto had overshadowed the need to strategize company building tactics. It is important to realize that building a company is not just about passion, because everybody has great ideas, but the execution makes all the difference.
So, if I were to start afresh, I’d definitely not get too overwhelmed with passion for the product, at least in the early days.
Anybody who is planning to start or has just set sail for an entrepreneurial journey, should definitely be a part of an accelerator program. It is life changing, to say the least. Particularly in India, Atoms is a great initiative and Accel needs no introduction, really.
This founder-support program helps young entrepreneurs gain the much-needed edge to become big. The way that the entire program has been structured - the people make you feel very at-home - be it your peers or Accel partners. The thing with most us Indian founders is that we tend to be very flashy with amazing ideas, but we lack polish. That’s where Accel does a great job. The team grooms and polishes you, ensuring that you have an edge that is required to succeed in the real world.