In an interview with Techstory.in, Amit Ranjan talks about the future of SlideShare, creating world class products, life as an entrepreneur and gives lessons to prep for the entrepreneurial journey.
About the future of SlideShare
After its acquisition by Linkedin, SlideShare and Linkedin continue to work together for deeper product, technology and organizational process integration. The two sides remain independent and continue to take advantages of each other strengths.
In December 2013, SlideShare revamped its site offering more of a visual spin on the homepage, including larger images. The content that is uploaded on Linkedin is now available on SlideShare. Amit and his team are working towards creating newer features that appeal to the audiences of both Linkedin and SlideShare.
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” ] The acquisition, the way I see it was a logical step in the evolution of the company. The evolution of SlideShare has always been center stage. After five years of starting up, in 2012 when the LinkedIn opportunity came by, we saw the possibility of having more resources through a large company to grow SlideShare. And we went with it.[/box]
25% to 30% of SlideShare’s traffic comes from mobiles. Amit believes that most product companies today are talking about a mobile revolution but are still trying to solve the mobile mystery. Companies are trying to figure out what metrics work for mobiles and what the equation looks like for products that are present both on mobiles and on desktops.
SlideShare has been primarily being used for content created on desktop. SlideShare is currently dealing with the challenge of moving their desktop content onto mobiles.
About Creating world class products
In the world of today where technology is changing with the speed of light, the threat does not come from competition trying to provide the same services as you. The real threat comes from upcoming products that might completely wipe out and leave your product obsolete. In such a world, creating world class products is a necessity.
In the area of consumer internet, the confluence of great design, product management and engineering create a compelling user experience. The biggest mistakes startup founders do is to fall in love with their own product. One should be aware and willing to look at different perspectives. There is no option but to constantly iterate your product.Everything needs to be measured. Being metric focused and using metrics to build your product features help is creating a valuable product for the users.
Along with building a good product a clear understanding of marketing, virality and go to market strategies is a must.
About being an entrepreneur
[box type=”shadow” align=”alignright” ] Startups are all about managing failure, risks and uncertainty. As an individual, I have come a long way in managing all this. This is the most important thing entrepreneurship have given me [/box]
The biggest challenge a company faces, specially in India is putting together an A Team , holding it together and keeping the team inspired. The recruitment challenge has haunted startup CEOs for ages now. Startup CEOs are nothing but glorified recruiters. A large part of their jobs is to build an A team. However, Amit believes that as entrepreneurs, we are problem solvers. That is the instinct that drives all startups and that is how one should look at the people challenge as well.
Companies can try to work out the people problem by having processes which help in smoothly running any team. Once the right processes are in place, it is a matter of figuring our the bottleneck and trying to creatively solve this bottleneck.
Amit believes that India still lacks the environment to create world class products and having a presence in the USA helps depending on the type of product you are trying to build. If you are building an ecommerce site that caters to the Indian audiences then you don’t need to have presence in the USA. However, if you are building a product for the global audiences, having presence in the USA definitely helps.
Startup lessons from SlideShare
- Organizational DNA matters more than ideas, markets and competition.
- Darwin’s theory perfectly applies to startups – “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent,but the ones most responsive to change.”
- Put Technology first – Guy Kawasaki’s formula for valuing companies – Add $500,000 for every engineer in the company. Subtract $250,000 for every (overpaid) MBA onboard.
- Speed now. Scale later. Speed is your secret weapon.
- Learn to manage failure, risk and ambiguity. OR you are dead.
SlideShare is a Web 2.0 based slide hosting service where users can upload files privately or publicly in various formats. Slide decks can then be viewed on the site itself, on hand held devices or embedded on other sites. Launched on October 4, 2006, the website is considered to be similar to YouTube, but for slideshows.
The website gets an estimated 58 million unique visitors a month, and has about 16 million registered users. SlideShare was voted among the World’s Top 10 tools for education & e-learning in 2010.Some of the notable users of SlideShare include The White House, NASA, World Economic Forum, State of Utah, O’Reilly Media, Hewlett Packard and IBM.
In 2012, the company was acquired by Linked in a $118.75 Million deal. SlideShare like most other product companies is in a continuous state of innovation to cater to the changing times.