Interview With Usman Butt
Describe your product or service:
“We develop and operate a repair shop management software for independent repair stores.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“We believe in providing solutions to modern repair shops through an intelligent and automated software that can cut down on their time considerably and make operating their repair business easier.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“110+ team members, four partners, and two co-founders.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Founder: I always had the idea of doing something of my own to support myself and my family. Working for a salary is good, but I was more interested in creating something for myself and operating my own business. Before I started RepairDesk, I was leading a team of freelance web developers, and before that, I was selling T-shirts in retail after university classes. So, I believe I had the drive to create my own business ... because I saw it as an opportunity to pursue what I really wanted.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“Founder: I started RepairDesk back when I was working with my brother at his repair shop and saw how difficult it was to manage everything. Since I had a small team of web developers on the side working on freelance projects, I decided to use them to create a software that would be helpful for us in repairs, and the idea kind of grew from there. We took part in an incubation program, got in touch with angel investors, and created our product with the help of our core audience. When everything started working in our favor, we kept fine-tuning our service and pretty soon, grew bigger and bigger. It was all the result of long hours of hard work, listening to our customer, smart business decisions, and solid team effort.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“The name "RepairDesk" came to us a bit spontaneously. We were discussing what to call our new software, and we wanted something that was relatable and understandable. Ideas like ‘repair toolbox’ and ‘workbench’ came to mind. Ultimately, we settled on "RepairDesk" for its simplicity, ubiquity, and how it sounded.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“I guess the initial challenge was the amount of work that we put in right in the beginning. My team and I were very dedicated to making this work, and our greatest obstacle was the fact that we were in Pakistan while our customers were in the US. We had to work nights, pulling in more than 12-hour shifts. It also made communicating with customers a major challenge. I remember taking phone calls in the middle of the street in the dead of night because the reception in my area was very poor, and I'd do that for multiple nights in a row. Before we even launched the software, we had put in months of overtime into our project, and it only continued further after we went to market. I am so grateful to the people who were with me along the way and who helped me pursue this dream. Without their hard work, I don't think RepairDesk would be where it is today.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“Our target market is the repair industry, and more specifically, the cell phone and computer repair substrate. We work with our customers in the repair industry who own independent repair shops and businesses to fine-tune and hone our software to their requirements. While our biggest market is the United States, we also operate in other areas in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Our main marketing goal is to promote RepairDesk to our core audience as a one-stop shop for all their repair needs. To that end, we work on a couple of different channels. Our team sends out emails highlighting our special offers, system functions, and other content to existing and potential customers. We also produce content such as blog articles, videos, and podcasts to educate people on how they can run their business better. And we're also working on a new training program that our customers can enroll into and learn how to grow out.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Getting our first 100 customers was a really tough hill to climb. We had an American investor who was running his own cell phone parts business, so we got [to understand] how things worked. However, convincing customers to come onboard was an entirely different ball game, and we had to make that happen ourselves. It all came down to communication and transparency. I was on the phone every night for hours when we first launched talking to people about our software, understanding their needs, and working with them to refine RepairDesk. Then during the day, I'd relay the important points to my team and get working with them to make the software better. Reaching the first 100 customers was a journey of long sleepless nights and grueling working hours, but nothing compared to the joy of reaching that milestone. We knew we were on to something, and we were absolutely over the moon.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“For us, the most important factor is customer approval. Since we work so closely with our customer base, having a satisfying user experience is key. This metric impacts our revenue and overall growth, and ultimately serves as a guide to how we should be operating. To quantify customer approval, we collect reviews from them on various platforms and use [them] to both market ourselves and plot our course of action. Of course, revenue also factors into our business health. Knowing how many customers we've acquired on our various plans helps us pace our growth and come up with different ways to improve conversion. Finally, the metrics we receive from our marketing channels, such as engagement and views on various content, give us a fair idea of how many people we're reaching out to and how receptive they are to what we have to say. Seeing views and engagement grow lets us know that there's a bigger market for what we're putting out, and it ultimately feeds back into the type of content we create and use for marketing purposes.”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“I've read a couple of books that have really inspired me. One of those was ‘No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention’ by Erin Meyer and Reed Hastings. It tells a lot about the kind of mindset you need to have when running a disruptive new business. My business partner also recommended ‘Measure What Matters’ by John Doerr, a great little book about how to optimize your work and set targets for yourself for maximum growth. Wonderful read; I highly recommend it.”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“That would have to be Reid Hoffman's ‘Masters of Scale.’ I love the way he presents various case studies and gives actionable content in his podcast.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“I guess I never really was prepared for how challenging being an entrepreneur would be. I knew it was going to be difficult, but it's not something that you can switch on and off – it's a lifestyle that you're constantly engaged with. I like that feeling of working, reading, talking, and thinking about how I can grow my business, and I've found that you get inspiration and ideas from unlikely places. But, I never thought I'd have to devote myself fully to this, and I'm so glad I did because I enjoy every minute of it; from the moments where I feel like a genius to the times when I thought the world was going to end, It's an amazing ride.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“Oh, I've had plenty of trouble with that in the past! Maintaining a work/life balance as a founder is notoriously difficult since you have to devote so much to what you've created. Thankfully, I've had a family that's been very supportive of my endeavor, and as a result, I try to engage myself with them as much as I can with my time off. My team has also been very proactive in helping me achieve more balance by taking care of key operations. Since I'd worked single-handedly on almost everything before, it was a little awkward to have them take over certain roles, but ultimately, it worked out for the better. Now, with the time that I have, I try to make the most of it by going out on morning runs, making breakfast for my kids, and watching movies with my family.”
How do you stay motivated?
“I have a great team that works with me every day and feeds into my motivation. We've got office workout sessions, social events, and a colorful bunch at RepairDesk that are always great to talk to. I also like to involve myself in discussions and meetups with other entrepreneurs to keep things afresh and build new connections.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Yes, I had to develop several habits to make sure I succeeded. I learned that being organized and vigilant was a necessity. Working to stay on top of everything and trying to look towards growing your business was a serious juggling act that I couldn't have managed if I didn't organize myself. I'm a big fan of having a structured approach to things, and I always plan my day accordingly. It was something I had to pick up early on, and I'm glad I did.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“I'm extremely proud of what I've created in my journey as an entrepreneur – a product that helps people every day and a company that employs some really great people. I never imagined being where I am now at one point in time, and as I've mentioned before, I'm eternally grateful to everyone who has worked with me to make it all happen. RepairDesk isn't just my own personal success — it's the success of my entire team.”
More on RepairDesk
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Usman Butt of RepairDesk that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.