Interview With Prasoon Shrivastava
Describe your product or service:
“Zepth is a construction management software that enables owners and contractors to complete high-quality projects on schedule and under budget.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Zepth’s core purpose is to empower organizations to achieve their goals efficiently. Our key guiding principles are as follows:
Innovation: Remain at the forefront of the industry, paving the way to make new strides in the world of construction and project management.
Transparency: Facilitate complete transparency between all stakeholders in the construction ecosystem.
Reliability: Be the most reliable and dependable project management software, driven purely by the best interest of the industry.
Curiosity: Continue to operate with the spirit of curiosity and exploration to break new ground in the world of tech, architecture, and construction.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
“We are a bootstrapped company.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“We have a close-knit team headed by our CEO and founder Prasoon Shrivastava. Our core marketing and tech team have been with us since our inception. We also have a technology development team comprising developers, testers, analysts, UI/UX designers, as well as a sales development team and several consulting agencies that aid our efforts.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“As an architect, I founded Zepth to address the widespread inefficiencies and communication lapses across the construction industry. Historically, the construction industry has been very slow to adopt new technologies and digital tools, which has led to information being fragmented as it passes project managers, designers, contractors, and other stakeholders. A huge percentage of the industry is still using excel spreadsheets to track important data like cost and risk.
Zepth, in its early days, was created purely to help my own team work through some of these challenges we were facing with a specific project. The team was struggling to keep track of costs through spreadsheets, so I began building a system to facilitate construction costs and documentation.
When the pandemic hit and every industry was in turmoil, I was faced with a choice: I could either scale up or scale down my efforts towards digital integration. Of course, I chose to double down. Over the coming months, we worked to expand the platform, building modules to streamline all aspects of the construction process, including financials, quality and safety, document management, analytics, and even video conferencing. The whole process was a learning curve for my team, as building digital platforms is not typically part of an architect’s core expertise. We are consistently revising our product based on feedback we hear from our customers and colleagues and [are] working to tackle new challenges that are arising.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“We were looking for a simple and memorable name that was intriguing and easy to pronounce.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“I have been an entrepreneur all my life; the only person I’ve ever worked under is my father. He has been my biggest inspiration, and I have proudly inherited the values of hard work, passion, and integrity from him.”
Did you encounter any roadblocks when launching your startup? If so, what were they and what did you do to solve them?
“The startup journey is full of roadblocks, and the team who is able to overcome those challenges will always move forward. The biggest challenge is that the future is uncertain; you have to take one step at a time and have faith that the future will unfold in your favor.
While the pandemic has accelerated the construction industry’s digital transformation, it has also been an operational nightmare for product development and customer acquisition.
The only way to solve our problems was to listen to the customer and offer best-in-class service. Our discussions with customers helped us set the roadmap for new products and features based on market needs.”
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“We target mid-to-large scale construction projects, with an enhanced focus in the Americas and the Middle East.
We had a choice to either pursue a market where we would compete with big brands (such as the USA, Middle East, etc.) or pursue markets where we would have to create a category (such as India, Southeast Asia, etc.). Building a category requires heavy spending and takes longer to see returns. Since we are a bootstrapped company and we are confident that our high-quality project can take on the competition, for the short term, we chose to pursue the more competitive markets.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“We have a strong digital marketing strategy across various channels. We learn from each channel’s performance in order to keep improving our strategy. We also focus on sharing our knowledge and building a community.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“Our first ten customers were acquired because they believed in our founder even more than the product. Subsequently, it has been a combination of word-of-mouth and great B2B sales efforts, showcasing the value that Zepth brings to the table.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Our most important performance indicator is whether our customers are happy. We offer great support and training programs to ensure that none of our users find our tool difficult to use or overwhelming. If our customer is subscribing to our platform for their future projects, then we know that they are happy.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“Currently, I am reading ‘Mastering the VC Game’ by Jeffrey Bussang and ‘DEATH’ by Sadhguru.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“We use Atlassian development and collaboration tools for product development and Hubspot for sales management.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“Remaining in your comfort zone is detrimental to your success. I’ve learned that as an entrepreneur, you have to keep challenging the status quo, which means that sometimes you will fail.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“It is not easy to achieve the work/life balance, and I know I could do better! I find balance through my personal time at the gym every morning and through quality time spent with family and friends every couple of weeks.”
What is a strategy you use to stay productive and focused?
“I read and listen about other people’s journeys, which brings me great inspiration. I also carry out objective reviews of our performance and always try to fine-tune our product through our learnings.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Being persistent and disciplined are two important habits that have helped me.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“My first assignment was for a small, 2400-square-foot residential villa in 2002. I was a young architect with zero experience, and the client hired me in good faith to be his architect. I made over 100 site visits during the construction process as I did not want to fail my client. It is important to ensure that you deliver to your customer even if you have to go out of [your] way to make them happy.”
More on Zepth
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Prasoon Shrivastava of Zepth that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.