We came across this early stage design startup UIPreneur.
Arun Pattnaik who previously designed for big companies like SlideShare and CouponDunia has now turned entrepreneur with his UIPreneur. He’s single-handedly targeting to beat competitors like ShutterStock. Will he? We caught up him to find answers:
Q. What is your startup?
A. UIPreneur (User Interface + Entrepreneur). We are building a database of frequently updated design elements which designers can use in their projects.
Q. How would you describe startup in under 50 words?
A. We build all things creative – PSD elements, icons, mascots, vector graphics, stock photos, HTML/CSS themes, plug-and-play jQuery animations, WordPress/Ghost themes & anything else we can build.
Q. What made you create this startup?
A. I’m a designer & a major challenge I face is getting an organized, curated collection of beautiful UI elements. Of course there are sites like CreativeMarket, GraphicRiver, ThemeForest etc who have beautiful stuff but they are more of a market than a collection. When you pay a per-product price for such elements, it ends up getting expensive. UIPreneur has a simple membership system which allows you to download everything we build for a small annual payment.
Q. How did you finance your business?
A. It’s self-funded for now. Since I’m a designer myself, I think the biggest expense has been covered. One of my friends is helping me with programming the app, and another with sourcing of products.
Q. How many employees do you have?
A. Zero! I have only partners.
Q. What do you think are the growth possibilities for this company?
A. I’m not really bothered about the growth right now. I just want to help people. If I do it right, money will follow.
Q. What is your biggest challenge?
A. Competition. We’re talking about large corporations here who have millions of dollars in revenue. If all goes as planned, we’ll be doing head-to-head with industry giants like Envato, CreativeMarket & even ShutterStock. Who knows?
Q. Other than yours, what is your favorite startup?
A. I have a lot of respect for the Macaw team. I strongly believe that they’re building the future of web design.
Q. What are you working on apart from product?
A. I help other startups on design, that’s how I fund UIPreneur. Apart from that I write at Boy at a Startup and run a few blogs VichitraPedia, BrokenUX and Redesign Concepts
Q. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
A. I’m Arun. I was born in Orissa & have lived across India in the last 5 years. I currently live in Mumbai.
Q. What do you do?
A. I’m a freelance UX consultant. I help startups look & perform better on the web and otherwise.
Q. Why do you do it and who do you do it for?
A. I design because I love to design. Nothing gives me more pleasure than making something prettier than it was before I saw it. Besides, I’m a lazy college dropout who doesn’t know how to write code. What choices do I have?
Q. What do you want out of this experience?
A. UIPreneur is a very ambitious project. I’m expecting to learn a shitload of things about running a startup. I have helped dozens of startups launch successful products but I had never built one of my own. This is my shot.
Q. Is this your first business?
A. Yes and No. I have been a co-founder of a couple of startups (both failed & successful) but this is the first I’m going out on my own.
Q. What is the most challenging obstacle you’ve had to overcome as a founder?
A. For me it was quitting my day job. I know several people who want to jump into entrepreneurship, build something on their own, but are scared to take the leap into the unknown. They keep waiting for a push. Albeit late, I took the jump. I was borderline fired from my job, so that was the ‘push’.
Q. Which three adjectives describe your strengths?
A. Fearless, curious & spontaneous.
Q. Where do you go on a night out?
A. I’m not a party person. I usually watch a good movie or work at nights. On rare occasions I go out with friends & hang out at the beach.
Q. What are the lessons you have learned so far
A. I recently wrote a blog 25 things I learned when I turned 25 about what I have learned in life.
Q. What do you want on your resume in two years?
A. ’Sold his last startup to Google’ would be great! But ‘successful entrepreneur’ should do it too.
Q. If you were to start another business, what might it be?
A. I would build something which lets me travel & make money while travelling.
Q. Do you have a business plan?
A. No. I want to keep the business plan iterative based on what the customers want. We’ll be what the market wants us to be.
Q. Who are your customers?
A. Our product is yet to get into a private beta. So it’s safe to say we have zero customers yet.
Q. Who could be your potential customers for this product?
A. Web Designers, UI designers, front-end developers, design students and even startup founders are our potential customers.
Q. Why do customers think they want it?
A. Our prospect customers (whom we have spoken to) feel that the no per-product pricing is a major selling point. You pay one low yearly price and get unlimited access to everything we produce. That’s a big win for both design agencies and individual designers. Added to that, our items come with a ‘do-whatever-you-want’ license which makes it unbeatable.
Q. What can you do to make sure customers get the best result from your product/service once they become a customer?
A. We want to keep them engaged. I’m personally paying attention to get in touch with every customer and address their concerns first hand.
Q. What are your markets?
A. That’s a difficult question. Everyone who does anything creative on a computer is somewhat a part of the market. You could say we’re working in a multi-trillion dollar market
Q. Who could be your potential competitors for this product?
A. Although there aren’t any direct competitors who provide the exact service we do, companies like Envato, CreativeMarket & even ShutterStock could be considered a competition. And not to forget the hundreds of ‘free PSD’ websites on the internet.
Q. Why is yours better?
A. Because of these reasons:
1. Unlike those sites who focus on one thing, we build all things creative – PSD elements, icons, mascots, vector graphics, stock photos, HTML/CSS themes, plug-and-play jQuery animations, WordPress/Ghost themes & anything else we can build. Even effects/designs from other sites (e.g Pinterest style layout, Facebook app style hidden menu etc).
2. Unlimited downloads. One yearly price. No per-product charges like the competitors. No upsell. No cross-sell. I think this is a major differentiator.
3. Unrestricted usage license. Do whatever you fancy. No hidden charges. Unlike the competitors who have a buttload of restrictions like you can only use it in a single project, you can’t use it commercially etc.
4. Get exactly what you want. Send us screenshots, sketches & URLs of what you want & we’ll try to build it for you. It’s like hiring a design agency for 1/1000th of the price.
5. Request any variation in existing resources & we’ll do it. No charges whatsoever. Unlike competitors who sell the products ‘as is’.
6. Long term, we’ll also be building a desktop app which lets you organize the design elements lying on your computer into categories/projects & sort based on file size, license & type. You can drag files directly into Photoshop, Illustrator, Sketch etc. This can be a game changer if we manage to pull it off.
Q. What has been your most effective marketing tactic or technique?
A. Honesty. I have been talking to a lot of people about what we’ve been offering and why we can’t make something they’d pay more money for. And I can tell they’re loving the honest approach instead of any misleading marketing gimmick.
Q. How do you generate profitable customers for your business? What unusual approaches do you adopt for marketing your products/services?
A. It’s very simple. We try to provide value and the customers love to pay.
Q. How can you make the company better?
A. With collaboration. I encourage other designers who would like to collaborate on this project by selling us their unused designs. There are dozens of beautiful designs which get rejected by clients and lying on computers. If they sell it to us, it’s a win-win for both. Why waste talent? Why waste effort?
Q. What is the plan for the future?
A. I haven’t planned for anything long term yet. Right now the only priority for me is to get the product out there. We’ll keep learning from feedback and improve the product.
Q. How many more people is the startup hiring in the next 6-12 months?
A. I believe in having small, focused teams instead of a higher headcount. Since this is a purely online model, we don’t need many people. If required, we’d take freelance designers on contract.
Q. What are the key metrics for success in the next 6-12 months?
A. Signups. Signups. Signups!
Q. How do you strategically use your time as an entrepreneur? What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs use their time for?
A. Although I don’t consider my time management skills anywhere good, the only advice I’d give entrepreneurs is to work real hard when you have the time. It’s better to give your startup 8 productive hours a day than 16 lazy hours. Stay focused and make weekly milestones.
Q. What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
A. Don’t over calculate the risks. Have faith in yourself. There will be tough times when every part of your body will ask you to quit. During those times, just remember why you started in the first place. Persistence pays.
Q. Which one movie would you recommend entrepreneurs to watch?
A. Iron Man. If you ignore the bells & whistles, you’ll see the story of a dying but extremely resourceful & persistent man who builds a freaking war suit from junk. That’s entrepreneurship.