3 Mistakes we made in our 3 year journey
Marmeto is 3 years old today. 3 years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. 3 years of building a strong core, a strong team. 3 years of earning our client’s trust. But more importantly, 3 years of failing, learning, and growing in the process.
3 first time founders started “Marmeto” a tech company in 2017. We didn’t have any formal knowledge or background in business. Each one of us had tiny college startup stints, but that spark never turned into a burning fire. On our journey here, we’ve handled a lot of expected and unexpected challenges. And note that we say “handled” because, in business, one cannot make every decision with absolute certainty. Sometimes, you just roll the dice and wait for the double sixes.
With the ETPower Icons award this year and pages after pages talking about us in Magazines like Silicon India, we’ve sure come a long way, with our share of mistakes.
It’s not how we make mistakes, but how we correct them that defines us.
So here are the 3 mistakes that we made (one may even call them failures), that helped us grow faster and stronger!
1.Planning & Prioritizing
In the early days of Marmeto, our growth was very accelerated. Thanks to our niche within a very short span on time we grew from 5 to 25 clients. This exponential growth meant that we needed to grow and build a bigger team and FAST! However, since we were on a bootstrapped model, we always found ourselves caught in the chicken and egg situation. Did we have enough projections to add another team member? Or can we pull through with what we have by pushing our limits? We worked on one Shopify project after the other till we were experts in it! However, our growth was ad hoc.
Don’t get us wrong, we did plan. (We can boast of creating over 3000 spreadsheets!) But our plans couldn’t always successfully adapt to the changing situation or new occurrences.
Those who are victorious plan effectively and change decisively. They are like a great river that maintains its course but adjusts its flow. - Sun Tzu
Do you agree? We did too. But when you’re riding the wave, there comes a time when the difference between a “decisive change” and as our old friend Darwin calls it “responsive to change” can become blurry. We were extremely adaptable in our process of accommodating all client needs, but we failed to account for its impact and plan the next step accordingly.
What we learnt eventually though, is that it’s okay to be responsive. But that the larger you grow your team, the bigger the domino effect on your team members. At some point, one needs to choose “plan” over “push” and stick to the systems or processes in place. That is how one transitions from a “Startup” to a “Company”.
In the process of planning more often that people like to accept, it’s the priority that dictates its effectiveness. Take Pareto’s principle for instance - 20% of the input accounts for 80% of the output. This isn’t only limited to tasks and action plans! It’s pretty much the reality of business. 20% of your clients will drive 80% of your growth. 20% of your team members will drive 80% of the workload and so on and so forth. Let’s not take the numbers very literally, but you get the gist. In an attempt to want to serve all our clients quality work, for a long period of time, we failed to prioritize. Even though our intentions were pure, this led to a chaotic workplace. When priorities aren’t made clear, deadlines are missed.
In an industry like ours, where every problem has a quotient of urgency attached to it, we learnt that it is imperative to not just plan, but to prioritize every aspect of our workflow!
2. Scaling up with a lack of Training processes.
In early 2019, we set up shop in a new location. This was a very calculated decision, we scouted cities for location, factored in the cost of resources and came down to a decision. We started the hiring and onboarding the process and one after the other, before we knew it we had 15 new team members. We had a brand new huge office space (enough to accommodate double the number of people). In our initial days we’d made the mistake of not hiring a professional for recruitment purposes, but we corrected that here as we had one team member dedicated round the clock to this hiring process.
What we underestimated though, was the importance of everything that followed the hiring task. Onboarding, training, mentoring in the very first month of a new team member joining us has the biggest impact on their mindset and retention. Most important though, was the learning that a new physical location meant, an addition to the leadership team. Someone who would be responsible for managing all the new team members, while making them a part of our older team in Bangalore, whilst setting up processes and structures in the new setup!
Additionally, apart from one experienced team member who moved to the new location, there weren’t any other On-the-job training processes set for the new team members to understand and adapt to the Marmeto culture. Needless to say, by the end of the year, we’d realised our mistake and decided to close operations in the new location.
Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together. - James Cash Penney
We’re in the scaling up mode again, and this time we’re trying to keep it constant & consistent by setting up what we lacked the first time around :)
3. Not Marketing Our Accomplishments
We brought our A-game to the table every single day. We had the solutions, we had the drive to implement them and we kept in touch with our clients through their Marmeto journey. However, once the project was over, that was it. In an attempt to serve more and more clients, to continue with our steady growth rate, all our client relationships had turned extremely transactional. Once we gave them a very good website, we had no other touchpoint for our long list of esteemed clients!
Let’s not even get into the instant feedback and client testimonials that never saw the light of day!
People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic. - Seth Godin
We created customised solutions for clients that would have made for some interesting case studies, but we didn’t venture into any marketing efforts until very recently, because it didn’t seem as ROI driven as hunting for new clients! Only when our client roster crossed the double digits did we realise how many opportunities we’d lost that would have come our way, had we marketed ourselves effectively or even touched base with our ex-clients every once in a while!
And as we write this blog, and send out an email and post on social media platforms today, we’ve learnt yet again!
We like solving problems. We want to build solutions. In the past 3 years, we’ve worked with over 200+ customers doing just that and going out of the way to deliver what was needed. That’s one thing we’ve definitely done right. So how much do these mistakes matter in the bigger picture? They matter a lot. Because they’re not just a constant reminder of our learnings but also a reminder of the fact that only once you experiment & fail can you learn & grow. Running a startup involves taking new risks and exploring new avenues from time to time. And as we keep learning and navigating, we cannot thank our clients who trust and believe in us. At our core, we’re still a bunch of college kids who get a kick out of hustling 16 hours a day. A customer’s testimonial on a job well done still acts as our Gatorade fuelling us through the week. However, we’ve grown enough to understand the responsibility of a team and the need for a work-life balance. As we move ahead in this journey, we will make more mistakes. In fact, we NEED to make more mistakes! Mistakes are how we learn.
The only thing that we strive to keep doing, is serving you’ll to the best of our ability!