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Ankit is an IIT Bombay alumnus and founder & CEO at Linckup. Prior to Linckup, Ankit co-founded an EdTech startup in 2019, an AI-driven English Learning App. He has experience of working at a global analytics firm as well. He is on a mission to enable and empower Indian MSMEs through technology.

CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR STARTUP? WHAT IS THE PROBLEM YOU ARE TRYING TO SOLVE?

We’re building a vernacular networking app for Indian MSMEs. Linckup is a vernacular business networking app for 65M + MSMEs. The problem we are trying to solve is the lack of an effective and trusted way to find manufacturers and traders (MSME) in India. Our solution is an internet product that allows MSME to find, connect and network with verified businesses in an effective and transparent way.  Indian MSME is highly disorganized and very unstructured. Technology will enable MSMEs to boost their growth and considering their good share of 30% to our national GDP, the whole Indian economy will see a positive impact.

WHAT WAS THE MOTIVATION FOR THIS STARTUP? WHEN DID YOU COME UP WITH IT ?

This is actually my second startup, I co-founded an English learning app prior to this.

I come from Gujarat and most of my family is in the MSME domain. My uncle actually told me about the plethora of problems he faces in their business on a daily basis and I found those problems very fundamental. So I did my research and started this company with a team of 4 people in Sept’19.

HOW ARE YOU SOLVING THIS PROBLEM ?

We’re the first-ever business networking app in India. Any business owner can sign up easily using their mobile number. They can search for other businesses in their domain, post any requirement or queries, and directly call the concerned person. This makes communication and trade between businesses much more efficient and brings with it limitless business opportunities 

BRIEFLY DESCRIBE THE JOURNEY SO FAR,  FINDING CO-FOUNDERS, SEED FUNDING, CHALLENGES, SUCCESS IN DEPLOYING YOUR PRODUCT

After I did my masters from IIT Bombay, I worked in the analytics field for 4-5months. After that, I found my first startup in EdTechand then moved on to this idea. One of the key challenges I faced was building my team. I believe that team is the most important aspect of making the startup successful.“The team you build is the company you build” 

I knew Akshat Jain since 2016, we met at an entrepreneurship event in college and he has also led two tech startups before this. He could understand the necessity of this since  His father’s business also falls under MSME and that made him a perfect fit for a cofounder. Finding the right people was a challenge but we got through.

The other challenge we faced was dealing with different domains in MSMEs. Communicating with people and businesses, understanding their problems is quite difficult and very different from what we experience as a part of college teams.

The biggest roadblock was reaching our first 1000 users and those first 2-3 months determined our ability to sustain this platform, communicate and lead.

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPANSION PLANS? OR DO YOU PLAN TO EXIT THE COMPANY (TO JOIN MBA ETC.) ?

I have a long term plan for the company. We launched the app in Dec 2019. We acquired users through word-of-mouth initially and getting initial user-feedback was the key. Our major focus has always been tracking user retention. At this stage, we feel that we have a product that is showing early signs of product-market-fit. We were recently shortlisted for Ycombinator and we are really looking forward to that experience. Our vision is “To build an effective and trustworthy ecosystem for MSMEs”

ARE FACTORS LIKE PRECIOUS PORS, CPI, ETC. OR THE GRADUATION COLLEGE IMPORTANT IN THE STARTUP WORLD ?

Not really, your college may help you get some attention from VCs but what ultimately matters is your idea, passion and most importantly perseverance.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR A GUY WHO IS AT THE SAME CROSSROADS AS WERE YOU BACK AT THE TIME OF QUITTING YOUR JOB AND STARTING-UP ?

My case was a bit different. I was clear that I wanted to start a tech company. I took up a corporate job to save up some corporate money for myself. Having said that I regret not starting up in college. So my advice is this- If someone is in their college and wants to work on an idea then start right away. Don’t wait till you graduate. These opportunities and this time will never come again. Just work on something you’re passionate about and everything will work out.