Fresh Grad: The Silicon Valley experience with Sumi – My first product launch

Fresh out of grad school and just a month into my job, I never expected to get the opportunity to pitch our product at one of the nation’s biggest tech conferences. However, that’s exactly where I found myself on an oddly warm Monday morning in San Francisco: TechCrunch Disrupt 2015.  

I didn’t know what to expect- this was my first ever tech conference. Amidst the flurry of activity, I made a beeline for our CleverTap booth, only to be greeted by shots from Nerf guns. Apparently, just my colleagues’ way of saying welcome. I should probably stop here and explain the Nerf guns, and also the bigger picture.

At this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt SF, our company was sponsoring the Startup Battlefield competition, where about 30 semifinalists chosen from 1000+ initial-stage startup applicants would battle it out for the grand prize. This included the highly coveted Disrupt Cup, a cash prize of $50,000, and the chance to get noticed by media, investors, and prospective customers.

So in keeping with the ‘battlefield’ theme, team CleverTap was not just decked out in bold camouflage t-shirts screaming our company’s name; we had a whole arsenal of Nerf guns for visitors to our booth to play with, along with the chance to win an Apple Watch if they tweeted a selfie taken at our booth with #CleverTapDisrupt. This year’s TechCrunch Disrupt may have been special for all the Startup Battlefield semifinalists, but it was equally special to us since this was our first big product release to the US public.

So, over the next three days of the event, we hustled to get our product noticed: roping passers-by in by distributing company stickers, offering brightly-colored CleverTap M&Ms, shooting them (harmlessly, of course) with our Nerf guns, then giving them a quick product demo, listing all of the reasons why they should choose us. CleverTap is your one-stop user analytics and engagement platform. We help you analyze: see what users are doing on your website or mobile app that is meaningful to you/your business and engage: send targeted, personalized notifications to engage with your users based on our analysis.

Team CleverTap at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015!

Team CleverTap at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015!

We aim to provide our customers with what matters: a highly customized experience for their users, real-time user behavior analysis, and an out-of-the-box marketing solution- all for free if they’re not engaging with more than a million customers per month. We believe our platform is worth the price once our customer’s active user base exceeds a million customers every month. Even a complete noob at app or website development can use our platform to successfully reach out to their users!

Back to my experience at TechCrunch Disrupt. It was just pure energy. If there were a prize for team spirit at the event, CleverTap would be the winner, what with us running around with our Nerf guns and being a fun bunch. It was also a unique experience because I learned how to capture attention with a quick, to-the-point pitch conveying how we could help any app or website owner with what they ultimately wanted- to reach their users with what they wanted. Plus, I got to meet a diverse group of people from all over the world and get to know them on a personal level- immense exposure in a very short span. Catching glimpses of Startup Battlefield provided quite the inspirational kick. Who knows, maybe I’ll start my company someday and have the guts to apply for Startup Battlefield!

Here’s the best part ever. While I thought I was generally goofing off, it turns out my colleagues, most of whom are industry veterans (and all around cool people), thought I generally did a solid job pitching our product and keeping our booth going. So much so that they toasted to me at dinner on Wednesday night, once the event finally ended. It felt special to receive that kind of recognition as a complete novice in this industry with not much prior experience. Most of the credit goes to them because I learned how to build a brand by watching them. They also gave me the creative liberty to sell CleverTap my own way, so that I was able to personally connect with people. This has inspired me to push forward in the direction of understanding our customers and giving them the product they need. Product manager, my dream career, doesn’t seem so far off now. All in all, I feel motivated to continue succeeding as Customer Success (how meta is that?) at CleverTap and move that much closer to that dream.


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