Who are you, and what is your background?
I grew up in India and studied computer science, and then went into business consulting for three years. I went to the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford, and eventually moved into entrepreneurship. As of now I run a tech startup in Madrid called Taggito, where we build products and services around near field communication technology.
What is near field communication?
Near field communication technology makes life easier and more convenient for consumers around the world by making it simpler to make transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a touch.
What are your thoughts on starting a company in Madrid?
A lot of people tend to compare the United States and Madrid, and I think that is a wrong comparison. Here a lot of startups are self-funded for a long time. You will also find that the costs are extremely low when compared to U.S. tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Chicago. There is often a lower burn rate, which is great. However, there are fewer of good mentors and investors here. So it is a bit of a trade off.
Tell us a bit more about your startup, Taggito.
Taggito has two business lines. The first is an ecommerce store that sells NFC hardware, and the second is the services line where we develop applications and solutions focused around NFC. Right now, for example, we are working on an application that takes offline interactions online using social media.
What challenges have you faced?
The first challenge is the ecosystem. I feel that the startup ecosystem in Europe is weaker than the United States. A startup needs is a way to get quick feedback to see if the product works, if a team works, if it can get funded – that seems more difficult in Europe.
Also, even though todays entrepreneurial world seems to be a very online world, it’s pretty dependent on offline connections and networks. I have learned that you have to put yourself out there to be successful
NFC, specifically, is a very niche market and it is growing steadily, but it can be tough to get investors, and clients to get behind an NFC startup.
Are there any entrepreneurs you look up to?
I quite like Jason Fried.
If you look up to a mentor you see their persona, but you don’t really see what they are all about. He was very accessible when I was in Chicago.
I’m put his philosophies into Taggito. Recently, I have been cutting out a lot of our products functionality – Trying to simplify as much as possible.
What’s next for Taggito?
I am optimistic. In a year or two we want to be more international. We want to have partners and clients in most of the major countries around the world. That is the biggest thing on my mind.
It takes a lot of focus. It is difficult to become an international company if you do a lot of things. We’re extremely specific about choosing our partners. The quality of your partners are important because it is easy to have someone copy your idea, or misrepresent your brand.
Do you have any advice for other startups?
The biggest thing is to go and talk to your customers. They will give you feedback. Build something small, see what they say, and get back to work. Think of your early customers as partners.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs have a bit of an ego. Many think they know what people want and build it without asking them. Figure out what people want, and then go out and build it.