Suhail Abidi, Founder, Tinystep
is the founder of Tinystep, India’s largest parenting network. He did his B.Tech in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Later he went to pursue an MBA from Stanford GSB on a 100% scholarship. After graduating from GSB in 2013, Suhail founded and was the CEO of SiliconPrime, a Silicon Valley based technology company. Within a year, he successfully scaled the company from a Stanford dorm room to offices in 3 countries - US, India and Vietnam. Towards the end of 2014, Suhail decided to move back to India; growing start-up ecosystem, higher standards of living, friends and family were some of the contributing factors.
based out of Koramangala, Bangalore, serves a very fundamental need of parents, especially the moms; the need to connect, ask and share with other parents going through the same phase of life. Tinystep aspires to be the much-needed vertical social network around parenting; connecting parents, doctors and other providers not just in India but all over the world.
In an interaction with Anil Mascarenhas
, Suhail Abidi says, “We are creating a vertical social network around parenting, where parents can connect, ask and share with each other and other parenting service providers.”
Flipkart has just invested in your company. Could you give us the details.
We raised an undisclosed amount in our seed round from Flipkart. This will be used to develop the product, enhance user experience and strengthen the team. The funding will also be utilized to further accelerate the company’s already impressive growth and its user engagement. Silicon Valley has given us Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more awesome social products, Tinystep can be a tiny gift from India. Flipkart is helping us with the required guidance to continue our excelling growth.
Explain to us your business model. What inspired you to start Tinystep?
Tinystep springs from a very basic yet striking observation. A close friend and his wife had just had a kid, finally starting a lovely family of their own. Owing to the fact that we now live in a fast paced society and family dynamics having changed, I noticed my friend struggling. The struggle was primarily for information and advice on the most basic keynotes of raising a child. Upon further observation with more friends and extended family, I realised there was something right there to do; a market completely untapped yet totally necessary.
We are creating a vertical social network around parenting, where parents can connect, ask and share with each other and other parenting service providers. Tinystep is primarily an app. We are right now available on the android platform.
Is there a fee?
No, we do not charge any fee. Our primary aim is to build a strong community of parents that are well connected and well informed. As future plans, we will look into options that will possibly include - Booking services providers through the app, buying child care products, booking appointments and online consultations. We would also consider educational institutional look ups, kids event organizers. This is of course, a tentative plan with respect to future plans.
Who is your target audience?
Our target audience is any parent, expecting parent or anyone in the planning stage of becoming parents.
What are the opportunities and challenges in this business?
Tinystep falls into the category of an untapped market. With society's modernization, good parenting is still a highly essential element in our lives - this fact coupled with an online platform that gives you access to unlimited information where geography knows no bounds would be our most compelling point and biggest opportunity.
The Challenges of the app lies in educating our potential user. Following a beaten road is obviously easy, but paving a new path is that much of a bigger challenge.
The most critical of those challenges lies in understanding our user – of course, every startup does need to understand their user for a successful product. With tinystep, there is no ideal user. The app caters to parents from indescribably different cultural backgrounds, traditional practices, different levels of experience and completely different requirements as well.
Cite some interesting anecdotes or experience your customers have had.
Most recently, we've had users using the app as a medium through which they can organise meet ups to discuss parenting over brunch or so. We couldn't be more thrilled. The idea to build a productive interactive parent community is definitely taking shape. Coincidentally, we're also developing a feature on the app to facilitate the same.
Few users have also tried selling their used baby goods.
We've also had Doctors connecting with each other either through their practices/profiles.
How big is your team? How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
We have a talented team of 20 members. We do not believe we have competitors in the very niche market we are in. We are a social platform with the purpose of building a highly interactive and productive parent community. Seamless communication, collaboration and support are key factors.
What is your vision for your company?
My vision is to build the largest parent community by having a network of families from all over the world. Provide the best possible services to these families, focus being on connecting parents with like minded parents and directly to doctors. We do this through our forum, auto-groups for chat and numerous social and health related features.
How would you describe your style of functioning?
We believe in a completely open system of working. Transparency is the key. There is no hierarchy as such; we sort of fall into a parallel form of working when it comes to responsibility and work load. Everyone is encouraged to speak out and raise alarms if help is needed, while the rest do tend to swoop in and help when needed.
What are some of the biggest lessons that have impacted the way you work?
I have definitely learnt different things from different parts of my life so far. The concept of team culture is something I carry with me dearly. Taking lessons from the people I’ve worked with, I realize a startup thrives on team culture. To constantly push for creating and endorsing a vibrant, productive work culture would be the biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far that most certainly has an impact on the way I work.
Your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
My biggest advice would simply be this - “Keep your advisors close, Your users even closer.”
What was your most memorable experience as an entrepreneur?
I can’t pinpoint to a single incident that would be the most memorable. But I must say, every single day I am absolutely blown away by the splendid ideas, concepts my team comes up with and the beautiful manner in which it gets implemented.
Is there anything you enjoy more than being an entrepreneur?
I’ve dabbled into writing a bit. But being an entrepreneur would always be something I enjoy the most. As a writer, a thought process starts kicking in and writing is sort of an inspiration.
What is your greatest fear as an entrepreneur?
As the product continues to grow, my biggest fear would be losing touch with our users. Making sure the direction we’re going at still caters to our most basic user of the app.