Hachi is a “meta-connector” that looks through all of your social networks to find the smartest way to reach anyone you want to. It taps into LinkedIn, Facebook, Outlook, Gmail, IMs, your smartphone, etc. When you want to connect with someone (for any reason) it will figure out the best connectors.
Hachi is founded by Rachna Singh. She’s been in the technology industry for 10 years. Prior to Hachi, she was part of the core business team at SocialTwist (a Silicon Valley startup) that took the product from 0 to 1 Billion widget views, and single-handedly signed up paying customers like Disney and Bertelsman, while the product was pre-alpha. An entrepreneur at heart, she started 2 profitable ventures during her teens: one involved hand-made greeting cards (ran it for 2 years), and the other one was custom apparel (ran it for 3 years).
The alpha was launched in March 2011. Hachi is based in Bangalore, India. Rachna will be presenting the company at Startup Festival.
Here’s a video explaining Hachi in more detail:
NextMontreal: What opportunity did you see in the market that made you decide to start Hachi?
Rachna: This was actually our problem, and that’s how we started out with this idea. When we first had this idea, we spoke with a diverse set of people about it. The more we spoke, the more we realized that it’s not just our problem, but many people feel the need for a smart solution. Moreover, there were a few groups of people who told us that they’d even pay for a smart solution like this. All those were encouraging signs for us to start building a prototype to validate further, and things have been rolling on from thereon.
NextMontreal: How is Hachi funded?
Rachna: Currently bootstrapped.
NextMontreal: What’s the competition like in the space?
Rachna: There are a few startups that are trying to solve similar problems.
NextMontreal: When Hachi is showing you connections to a person, does it help you understand which is the best one? In your example video you point out that the guy trying to reach Rob at Disney should go through a mutual FB friend; but how would the guy know that Rob went to college with the mutual friend? Does he have to dig through their profiles, or does Hachi intelligently describe the closeness of the relationship?
Rachna: It is not just about being able to connect with someone, but also about being able to do so smartly. Hachi finds you the smartest way of connecting with a given person, based on intelligence about you and your social circle.
NextMontreal: How do you plan on making money?
Rachna: This is not just a cool service we are building, there’s real money in connecting people. And we are also experimenting with a few models for monetization, for which we are observing positive signs.
NextMontreal: What’s your #1 challenge at this point?
Rachna: We are at a stage where our users have strongly validated that it’s a real problem we are solving. And they have given us a good idea of what needs to be done, so now we want to expand the team and execute on that fast.
NextMontreal: What’s your #1 piece of advice for other startups?
Rachna: More than 1…
- Speak 1-1 with your early users. It takes effort/time but totally worth it. It’ll provide meaningful insights that survey or analytics will not be able to give at a very early stage.
- Release early! It takes a braveheart to put out a half-baked product but it’s important to release early – get feedback, iterate and come close to something real users want.
- Competition can distract. While you should keep an eye on them, your time is better spent listening to users, and working on their feedback.
NextMontreal: What is the startup scene like in India? Do you see your location in India as a positive, negative, or neutral in comparison to other startup hotspots like the Valley?
Rachna: I moved back to India after being in Silicon Valley for 7 years. I was amazed to see the vibrant startup scene in India. Though entrepreneurship has always been there in India, but there weren’t many technology (product) startups earlier. I hear that today there are 2500 startups just in Bangalore! There’s a lot of VC money as well. While we still have lots to do in terms of having a Silicon Valley style support system for early stage startups, but the journey has started!
Having spent the last few months here, I am confident that you can build product companies addressing global markets, out of India. There’s a high calibre and high energy workforce! A large number of Indians with global experience are returning to start companies in India – bringing back the best of experiences and learnings from around the world. Besides, my network of connections back in the Valley also helps with the right guidance, mentorship, and on the business front. So, we are actually at a great spot where we are leveraging the best of different worlds.