LoginRadius: Three Things Any SaaS Startup Will Want To Hear – with Rakesh Soni

Have you ever gone to a web site that let you log in using your Facebook or Twitter or Amazon account?

Rakesh Soni is a co-founder of LoginRadius, which makes software that enables other sites to add that social login functionality.

I invited him to tell you his story and there are three areas that I think you’ll be especially interested in.

1) How he got his BIG idea. If you don’t have a hit idea, you’ll really want to hear that.

2) How he got anyone to even notice his software existed, let alone use it.

3) And I’ll ask him to reveal his revenue, but we’ll see if he’s willing to talk about that.

Watch the FULL program


About Rakesh Soni

Rakesh Soni is a co-founder of LoginRadius, a Saas that provides social infrastructure to help businesses grow through the power of social media.

Raw transcript


Mixergy’s audio transcription is done by Speechpad

Andrew: Hey there freedom fighters. Have you ever gone to a website that let you log-in using your Facebook, Twitter or Amazon account? Well, today’s guest, he builds software that allows you to do that. Rakesh Soni is the co-founder of Login Radius. They make software that enables websites to add that social log-in functionality that you see all over the internet. I invited him here to tell the story of how he built that business.

My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart. And there are three things I think that will be especially interesting to you my viewer. The first is how he got his big idea. If you don’t have a hit idea or know someone who’s looking for a business idea check out how he used a lab to come with his business idea.

The second, we’re going to talk about how he got anyone to even notice that his software existed let alone use it. If you’re building software or building a company and you’re struggling to get people to come to your site or to your business pay attention to that.

And the third thing is I’m going to ask him about his revenues. And I see a smile coming up on his face we’ll see if he’ll tell his revenues in this interview. Finally, before we officially start, I want to thank Scott. He, of course, is the founder of Walker Corporate Law. He is the start-ups entrepreneur, excuse me, the start-ups lawyer. And I’ll talk about him and Walker Corporate Law later. Rakesh, or you prefer to go by your last name, Soni, thanks for being here.

Rakesh: Thank you for having me. I’m real excited.

Andrew: So we’ve got a lot of business stuff to talk about but let’s jump into just to your life by hearing where it started. Where were you born?

Rakesh: I was born in a small village in Northern India.

Andrew: OK.

Rakesh: In the middle of the desert.

Andrew: In the middle of the desert?

Rakesh: Yeah. We didn’t have anything [??] So that’s where I’m coming from.

Andrew: So. You didn’t have a laptop, I guess, growing up. Did you have a computer?

Rakesh: No. We didn’t have any computer in our village.

Andrew: Unbelievable. Now you’re running a software company.

Rakesh: I know. [laughs]

Andrew: Can you give me an example of what, like, what’s a typical day like? Something, I know you’re in San Francisco now. I’m in San Francisco today. Can you describe a typical day back when you were five years old to give us a since of the difference between where you are now and where you were then?

Rakesh: When I was a kid it was more routine I’d say. Going to school, homework and stuff, spending time with friends. But one of the important things I used to do even when I was a kid was reading the newspaper.

Andrew: Really?

Rakesh: I was able to kind of see what’s going on. There were a lot of things that I couldn’t understand at that time but I would, like, there were a lot of questions I would ask of myself like, “What is this, what is that?,” So, curiosity was a big piece.

Andrew: What kind of things did you read about?

Rakesh: I don’t know, like, normally technology but in general like the culture of, you know, the whole world and, like, just getting general knowledge and what’s happening sort of thing.

Andrew: And, Soni, did it make you want to be a different person or certain kind of person or be in a different part of the world when you were reading all these stories?

Rakesh: A little bit. I was born in a very small village tribe so I couldn’t see anything else but the village and maybe nearby towns so I was definitely ready to, just to see what’s out there. I didn’t really understand that time much about the countries, or different civilizations or this and that. But, yeah, I was really curious to [??].

Andrew: I used to read about business people all the time in the paper and I remember, what’s the guy’s name? There’s so many people, Larry Ellison was someone who I was especially into. I would read his stories about how he would just dream up his business, sell his software. Even though it was buggy he would get his customers to buy it and then he would improve it and I think he would even sell them the improvements.

And I used to blow away reports who wrote about him but I thought, “That’s a life for me.” The idea of just creating companies out of thin air. Dealing mistakes by just accepting them and growing them instead of being afraid of them. Did you have a person like that who you were reading up on?

Rakesh: Not a lot but I’m pretty impressed by entrepreneurs like Bill Gates who are definitely making big changes [??] but they are now devoting their life to philanthropic work. Ah, see, that piece is very exciting to me.

Andrew: Really? Even as a kid you wanted to do that?

Rakesh: [??] making more money but my way is more like making money and then moving toward that social, working for some social cause.

Andrew: And at 14 you met your current co-founder.

Rakesh: Yes.

Andrew: How did you guys meet?

Rakesh: So my family [??] me from my small village to New York City because we didn’t have school after grade eight.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Rakesh: So I was in grade nine. I had to go leave my family and when I was in grade nine we met in the same school.

Andrew: You mean you had to go to a different city, and stay overnight in that city by yourself, then go to school?

Rakesh: It wasn’t overnight- I was living there.

Andrew: But, sorry, I don’t understand, how did it work?

Rakesh: My family moved to this city where my brother was living- he was like six to seven years older than me- so the two of us were used to live there and going to school. We did all the stuff by ourselves.

Andrew: What was it about this friend that got you to hit it off?

Rakesh: That’s where I meet Deepak and now we get along really well. There was kind of a same energy in terms of curiosity and exploring things.

Andrew: What do you mean? How could you tell back then? What were you guys curious about?

Rakesh: I don’t know. Maybe I didn’t think too much, but back then when you meet people you can feel that frequency. You start being very comfortable and you start to, you know, talking or hanging out. That’s what happened to the 2 of us and we became very good friends.

Andrew: I see. What was your family like? Did they encourage entrepreneurship?

Rakesh: Yes, my family did, actually. Most of my family has been in some sort of small business, so my family does support entrepreneurship.

Andrew: So, what kind of businesses for example?

Rakesh: My family has been more into the jewelry business.

Andrew In the what?

Rakesh: Jewelry business.

Andrew: Oh, jewelry. Okay.

Rakesh: Most of the family does some jewelry stuff.

Andrew: Okay. So I said at the top of the interview that you got your idea by through something called a lab. Nia [sp] concepts. What is that?

Rakesh: Nia, the co-founder, was more into innovation, so we asked ourselves, “What are we going to do?” We set up this Nia concept as a company. Nia is actually the Hindi word for “new”. The idea was “new concept”, so we’d work on some new concepts. All that is in a lab, so we said let’s bring in some new ideas and go with the alpha-beta product and see which one gets picked up. Logiris [sp] was the 3rd one. The 1st 2 didn’t do well, so this is the one that stuck.

Andrew: What was the 1st of the three ideas?

Rakesh: First was a search engine we launched to help find the best price in the market. Whether it be online shops, auction sites, or classified sites.

Andrew: I see.

Rakesh: If you had an iPhone, we could tell you where the best one is available.

Andrew: What did you do? Scrape other sites?

Rakesh: No, we put those guys on hold because this was doing much better. There was a bigger market of opportunity for this one.

Andrew: I see, so you never really fully pursued that idea because LogIn Radius just took off.

Rakesh: Yes.

Andrew: Okay.

Rakesh: We launched a little bit, but then we just put that one on hold while working on this one.

Andrew: How much time did you spend developing that search engine?

Rakesh: We spent, I think, four-five months of time.

Andrew: Four-five months and you also launched LogIn Radius? Or was it 1 after the other?

Rakesh: We launched that one last because we had this issue of using NDH [sp] band, people not signing up- you know, that sort of thing. That’s when we came up with the idea for LogIn Radius. Using our own website and then realizing at the time expertise costs and maintenance cost to build it. Then we said, “Why don’t we launch it for everybody?” Because everyone must be facing the same problem.

Andrew: So you launched it for your search engine because you wanted people to register?

Rakesh: Yeah. Our own search engine, which we decided could be used by everybody.

Andrew: I see. What about the 2nd idea? So the 1st idea was the search engine that basically searched multiple sites and allowed people to find the best price for a product on all those sites. What’s the 2nd idea?

Rakesh: In the 2nd idea, we were working on what we called “iFolio”. It was about social networking where we treated companies as an entity where they can engage with the users so companies can build their profiles there. The user can engage the company on their log profile.

Andrew: Kind of like what happens on Facebook now.

Rakesh: It is sort of like it, but there were a few ideas within that one.

Andrew: And how much time did you spend on that?

Rakesh: We spent a couple of months on that, too.

Andrew: Okay. So was it easy to stop paying attention to an idea that you spent 4 months on and then another idea that you spent 2 months developing? Or was it tough to say, “No, those aren’t the right ones for us?”

Rakesh: …It was very tough at the beginning because you have like a huge energy. You say you can run like three companies together. As you learn more you realize you need to be more focused and then you have to make some hard decisions.

Andrew: What forced you to make that hard decision?

Rakesh: Because there were limited hours I can work. With the community resources I had. I wasn’t able to build my best for none of these products so I need to focus on one where I can do my best.

Andrew: Did it come to a head on any one day where you and your co-founders said, “We can’t do this any more. We’re not just keeping up.”

Rakesh: Yeah. There was a moment like those where a couple of weeks period there was so much arguing going on.

Andrew: What was that like for you guys? What would bring up an argument?

Rakesh: Well, the argument would bring up some days bad blood was behind it. For example, I’d bring up some point and then my co-founder doesn’t agree. Then a discussion would start and some fooling around and then somebody would note that we need to some testing or experiment or somebody’s opinion.

Andrew: I see. But was it a situation where you said to him, “Hey, you’re not getting enough done.” Or he said to you, “You’re not getting enough done.” And that made you say, “Alright. We have a problem here we have to deal with.” Sorry, go ahead.

Rakesh: More like on a personal level, my co-founder and me was really good. We never had a situation where we were like none of us were doing enough, but it wasn’t that issue. It was more like too much work load and we were kind of multiple objections instead of one, kind of causing some issues.

Andrew: I see. And so the first idea was to use that search engine. Second idea we understand is… I’m sorry it slipped my mind. What was that second idea?

Rakesh: [??]

Andrew: Oh, right. Social network for companies where they could connect with their fans. And then the third idea was a tool that you built for yourself that would allow people to login to your site, that would allow them to do it with their Facebook account or their Twitter account. And that’s the one that you pursued. What made you say that that is the right one? How did you know?

Rakesh: The biggest challenge when we launched this search engine we were putting more of a [??} and bring traffic over to the website.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Rakesh: We realized that people weren’t signing up. They weren’t engaging with us though we were getting good feedback from more users but still the percentage conversion was very low.

Andrew: Okay.

Rakesh: Like kind of bad on one end and we were like hitting the wall. It was like we weren’t getting anywhere as we realized this is a huge problem [??] had the same problem as the user that I need to spend some time and create an account [??] and I can’t remember another one.

Andrew: How did you get people to come to your sites back then? Most people had a hard time with that.

Rakesh: With the search engine or with the LoginRadius?

Andrew: You said the search engine and the social network businesses. You spent so much time getting people to come to your site, and it was disappointing that they wouldn’t engage. So you needed a way for them to easily register, and I’m wondering how does a guy with a new business get so much traffic to the site that it becomes a problem to figure out how to keep them there.

Rakesh: It wasn’t so much traffic. You could say there were 100 visitors coming to us and only five signing up. Why aren’t the 95 signing up?

Andrew: Alright.

Rakesh: A thousand every day. Only 50 guys are signing up which is not enough. We need 100 guys [??].

Andrew: How did you get the 100 guys to come to your site?

Rakesh: Well, the number for that was more around, say… We kind of advertised ourselves more of classified websites. We reached out to [??] and different groups out there, like Yahoo Groups and there are tons of groups out there. So we were doing more [??] marketing than spending money at that time.

Andrew: Gotcha.

Rakesh: That’s how we were bringing traffic to the site.

Andrew: You told April Dkyman in the pre-interview that you knew that there were other people that had this problem. How did you know that other people had this problem?

Rakesh: Because I was having the same problem to when I go to tons of other websites and I could tell this could be a big problem. When I see the same problem for a website [??] I saw the scale of the problem, and I saw tons and tons of websites out there. They must be facing the same problem.

Andrew: I see.

Rakesh: So that’s when I realized there is a big market behind this problem.

Andrew: I see. Okay. So it wasn’t any deliberate market research, it was just an awareness of yourself as an entepreneur. You had this problem, then you reflected on yourself as a user of other people’s businesses and you said, “Well I have that problem on their site too. I can’t be the only one, there’s a hole here.”

Rakesh: Yes, there wasn’t any exact data available in the market. We found that yes there is a problem going around and a lot of companies have been trying to solve this problem for many years by using [inaudible] and they are still not coming up with a concrete solution.

Andrew: How did you know though that people couldn’t just use Twitter and Facebook and set it up for themselves instead of using you? I’m looking on your site right now and when I login I see sign in with Facebook, sign in with Twitter, sign in with Yahoo, sign in with Google +, sign in with Amazon, sign in with LinkedIn, that’s pretty cool.

Sign in with Live, with Vkontakte, login with Personna, with WordPress, with FourSquare, with AOL, login with email. So, how did you know that people would want all these different login options and that they wouldn’t just be satisfied quickly building with either Twitter or Facebook or both?

Rakesh: The reason was that when you look at any of these big clusters of, say, Facebook has now one billion users or LinkedIn has 42 million users. When you look at, say, a random 100 people not everybody has Facebook, not everybody preferred LinkedIn everywhere, not everyone preferred Gmail.

There are different segments of users who prefer different social networks. That’s where the website owners need to realize that only 35 percent of the users are preferring Facebook then do I want to lose the 65 percent of them. No, that means I need to offer more of them. Based on his target audience the website owners need to choose what social networks are going to be the best choice.

Andrew: We’re not talking about deep market research, its awareness. You said you’d made a little bit of market research, what was that?

Rakesh: It was more because we are young entrepreneurs with pretty much no money so you can’t really conduct big research. We did research in terms of reading articles and what other people are saying and we were seeing these sorts of issues that people are asking on Treacher and different forums. That’s where we starting filling in that there’s a problem.

Andrew: You build it, how long does it take you to get your first customer?

Rakesh: Probably less than a week I would say.

Andrew: Less than a week? Cool. How did the first customer find you?

Rakesh: We launch it right? We all have our own blogs and we start leaving it on the forums here and there and that’s when people start coming to us. They start signing up and implementing it…

Andrew: Again, it’s very manual marketing, linking from wherever you can find.

Rakesh: Yeah, initially it was pretty manual and then we started reaching out to bloggers and different communities and people start writing about us as well.

Andrew: Did you start charging right from the start?

Rakesh: No. We kept it free for the first year till the end of 2012.

Andrew: And you told people you were going to start charging, or did you not even mention it at first?

Rakesh: Yes. We mentioned that we would be charging down the line. The reason we kept it for free is like we wanted to realize that this product is free to the market. We wanted to understand the market; we wanted to just focus on the product so that we can build something amazing that can grow significantly.

Andrew: I’m looking for the data that I have to see where your traffic is coming from and it looks like TechCrunch still sends you a good amount of traffic, right.

Rakesh: Yeah, probably yes.

Andrew: From an article that was written how long ago?

Rakesh: July, I think. Somewhere in July?

Andrew: Now we’re in almost November?

Rakesh: Yeah, that’s amazing actually.

Andrew: It is. We’re talking about a top ten referrer for you. How did you get bloggers to write about you?

Rakesh: We started reaching out to those guys and trying to explain what we do. Most of the bloggers, they write about something when they see that it is valuable to their audience. They started realizing obviously that this is good thing they wanted to share among their readers.

Andrew: Did you email them? Did you have a process? Because you don’t look like someone who has a lot of experience in PR. I’m looking at your background, you were an engineer before this, and you co-founded another business NeoWeb. Before that there’s no P.R. really. How did you know how to do it? Most people are dying to get bloggers to write about them.

Rakesh: Like, a couple of things you need to understand, when you reach out to these blogger is, like, how you can tell a story, which is easy for their readers.

Andrew: OK.

Rakesh: It may look very exciting, amazing from my end, but how would a blogger gonna see it, so can you tell a story in a way the blogger’s will be impressed in the sense that it could be very useful for their readers. They will love to learn about it, and then, yea, that best way would be reaching out and if you more time out, I would say build some relationship with those bloggers maybe on twitter or writing comments on those sites creating more articulates.

Andrew: But you didn’t have time to do that, right?

Rakesh: We didn’t, really.

Andrew: You just e-mailed into the tips e-mail address.

Rakesh: Yes and…

Andrew: And what was the angle that you took that would be useful for them?

Rakesh: In my work case, we were selling more on the traction side that is a a huge problem in the market, and you see that traction that means people are loving us, you know.

Andrew: I see that you have so much traction and so they should write about you?

Rakesh: Yes.

Andrew: What about in the beginning, when you didn’t have traction?

Rakesh: Well, in that time, the conversion was, lastly, writing two or three hundred bloggers for two or three writing.

Andrew: Okay.

Rakesh: Like today would be say 15 or 20.

Andrew: And those early articles what was the hook that got them interested?

Rakesh: It was more about, a lot, for that time people who I contacted were like the start-up bloggers, bloggers who write about the start-ups.

Andrew: I see.

Rakesh: So that was, that was the key, you know, contacting those right bloggers.

Andrew: I see.

Rakesh: The ones with the small ones.

Andrew: And you happen to have a product that, also, fits in with people who read blogs about start-ups, because they are all start-ups themselves, so they could use this software.

Rakesh: Yes.

Andrew: Here is another thing that I see, when I look at your traffic. You get a lot of traffic from WordPress.org. Why?

Rakesh: So we loan the plug-in for WordPress, and…

Andrew: I see.

Rakesh: …[??] 50 million sites, and our solution is a really good fit with any WordPress blogs, whether it’s a sharing or commenting or signing up on WordPress, so people… WordPress community actually loves us so.

Andrew: I see. I didn’t know that.

Rakesh: Yeah. [Laughs].

Andrew: Yeah, I didn’t realize there was a plug-in, that makes sense. What about Nancy Rose? She sends you a lot of traffic.

Rakesh: What is N-C Rose?

Andrew: [Laughs}. I have no idea, oh, wait let’s see. It’s a a website about raise the child you’ve got not the one you want that’s the name of her book.

Rakesh: Oh, maybe…

Andrew: …Maybe she just uses you

Rakesh: Yeah, I don’t know.

Andrew: Oh, that’s cool. All right, she was their number two referrer, apparently. All right, so I’ve got a sense of, of how you were building, how you knew you were on the right track, when you started charging that first week do you remember how many orders you got?

Rakesh: Actually, we, we, we, started with a lot of customers, who wanted to pay us.

Andrew: Really?

Rakesh: Because they said, “you are building a good product, can we donate?” We say, “we are not taking any donations.” Can we pay you guys, then we say, “No, we can’t take payment. We are coming up with some premium features, then you can start paying us”, and then were customers who said, “we don’t use the free products, but we like this, what you’ve built.”

Andrew: They don’t use free products.

Rakesh: Yeah, they were like we want to pay you, we want to make sure you guys are reliable, that you guys bring enough support, and this and that, so there were a lot already to pay us, actually.

Andrew: Interesting that something about dealing with business people, that they do want the company to succeeded,and they don’t mind paying you in order to keep that, your company going.

Rakesh: Yeah, Yeah like free is good, but when you look at these kinds of businesses, they, actually, prefer to pay, and they understand that you are, also, running a business, and you have a cost, and if they can support us initially, they are [??] [??]. It’s pretty standard.

Andrew: And so when you started charging what features were charging for considering that you already had a free version that allowed people to login, at the time, with I think it was five Social Networks.

Rakesh: Yeah, the key element of charging was the volume our website has 10,000 users, then they have to pay, so we made free plan up to 5,000 users and after that they have to pay.

Andrew: I see.

Rakesh: Because the cost is on the separate end to who we see load, like tons and tons of people are logging in there are more several calls to us….[ss]…

Andrew: Tell us about the first month or the first order do you remember that first order coming through, do you remember celebrating it?

Rakesh: Yes, but it didn’t go well, actually. [Laughs].

Andrew: What happened?

Rakesh: So we kind of sold to this particular guy, he was from Italy, and things went very well, but then he was asking some features, which weren’t available that time, so finally we need to refund him.

Andrew: Oh really. So he signed up and the first customer you needed to give a refund to?

Rakesh: Yea.

Andrew: Okay.

Rakesh: So we were like, ooh. We need to build this feature, so another person start working on that [??] and then, you know…

Andrew: You told April in the pre-interview that one of your challenges is figuring out what to build, because customers keep asking for different things.

Rakesh: Yeah.

Andrew: How do you know what to build when they ask you for so much?

Rakesh: Yea, this was a big challenge in our work [??] because we are dealing with tons of social platforms and each of them have different features, you know, which you can integrate and these guys are asking you need this one. And now we are dealing with different segments of the business – ecommerce vs. bloggers vs. news and media vs. [??].

Each of them are different requirement when it comes to social network integration. So, it was very tough; it was more like [??], you know, understanding how much [??] impact our business. That’s how we prioritize them. This is the higher priority because it will affect 90% of the market.

Andrew: How can you tell what is going to affect 90 percent of the market?

Rakesh: For example, take a social logo feature we decided to launch, lets take VKontakte which is Russian Facebook. We saw that tons of traffic was coming from Russia and Facebook wasn’t popular over there, and so it truly wasn’t popular. Popular was the VKontakte.

So you want to convert those users; we need to launch VKontakte, right? So that’s were we [??] need to understand what is going on in the market, what’s going on over and, you know, and there is more discussions and logic, you know, what is the best deal.

Andrew: I see. Was there one feature that you added that you are kicking yourself for now?

Rakesh: Integrating?

Andrew: Yea. That you’re saying, “Why did we even add this feature?”

Rakesh: Not really.

Andrew: Okay. Because you’re so careful about what you say yes to?

Rakesh: Yeah, maybe, plus, maybe that time it was irrelevant, but down the line it becomes relevant. So I don’t feel that we did something wrong in that end.

Andrew: When I look at your website right now, I see your logo and right next to it, it says “we’re hiring.” That’s prime real estate on your site dedicated to getting people to know that you’re hiring. How big of an issue is talent acquisition for you?

Rakesh: Oh, it is the biggest one.

Andrew: Why, do you think?

Rakesh: The reason, they’re skilled people but those guys come from a very corporate culture, where, I’m going to call them robots. They follow pre- defined everything vs. if you move into a style of culture where you’re building a company, you’re figuring out pretty much everything. You’re doing experiments on everything, you’re currently [??] everyday. And people don’t fit well in that. That’s the first challenge.

Andrew: I see.

Rakesh: And the second challenge is, like, people need to kind of… First of all, they don’t adopt this environment. And second is they are not trained in that fashion neither by universities nor by their employers to be able to think smartly, to think out of box. So you can find a lot of skills, but that skill doesn’t contribute to build the company then the thinking piece comes onto the founders and we guys have limited brain and time and resources.

We can’t build the company by ourselves, we need amazing team, you know. Who can help us to figure out alot of items. So, I think you find that those are individuals is a big deal

Andrew: That’s not happening, that’s not an issue for you here in San Francisco, though, right? That was an issue when you were launching, and I guess you were in India, right?

Rakesh: No, when I launched, I was in Edmonton, actually, in Canada.

Andrew: Oh, okay, right. That’s the home base. So…

Rakesh: I’m from India, so I decided to open one office over there to keep my costs down and acquiring talent is very easy over there.

Andrew: It’s easier in India?

Rakesh: Yeah.

Andrew: And do you find more robots in Canada or India?

Rakesh: I would say everywhere.

Andew: Everywhere?

Rakesh: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m surprised that in the tech community that you’re still finding people who can’t think creatively, who can’t think like start-up entrepreneurs?

Rakesh: Well, like San Francisco area, that’s really good. But the start-up culture is quite new in the sense that it’s just probably less than eight or ten years outside, say, San Francisco or New York area. These two cities…A couple more of CDs. It has been for 20 years or so, but when you look at something else it’s not that common.

Andrew: Let’s go back to what I asked at the top of the interview, which is how you even got anyone to notice that your software existed. Here’s what I’m saying. First of all, it’s a big enough problem that people are searching for it specifically in Google. They’re searching for things like free social login, how do you social login to wow, what is this, social login plug-in. They’re looking for how to social login work.

They’re doing searches for this because they’re anxious to use Twitter and Facebook and so on to login. So that’s one way for people to notice you.

The second way is when people see a website uses your software to enable their users to login often, but not always, but often there’s a link back to your site that says “This social login is powered by Login Radius,” right?

Rakesh: Yeah. That’s the free…

Andrew: That’s the free version. And that’s the situation with Nancy Rose [SP], I think she uses your free version, and so all of her users as her book becomes popular want to login, see that it goes to your site to login, uses your tool to login, and they find out about it. I think that’s what’s happening there.

So that’s the second big thing. What’s the third? What”s another big reason why people are coming to your site and discovering that the software even exists?

Rakesh: [??] CMS communities, right?

Andrew: Ah. Yes.

Rakesh: They’re a big one [??] 50 million sites and do like ten million sites. There are tons and tons of [??] that are already there, and they start seeing us there, I think.

Andrew: Gotcha. Okay. And then there was also the bloggers who were writing about you to an audience. That’s a good thing. Tech Crunch is a really good example of it. They did really well for you. Alright.

Let me do a quick plug here for Scott. I want to thank him. I shouldn’t say, “Let me do a quick plug.” It’s become kind of my catch phrase around ads, but no one wants a quick plug, not this kind of plug. What I should say instead is I want to thank Scott because, not only is he a sponsor here, but he’s a sponsor… Look, I want to try something new.

Instead of doing these regular ads, I want to just find a way in the interview to mention you. He said, “Yeah, go for it. I talk to entrepreneurs. You talk to entrepreneurs. We’re all willing to experiment. So, Andrew, experiment.” So I’m experimenting, and now I’m in the middle of the interview. Hopefully, people enough for watching it will be worth Scott’s while.

I’m going to tell you that if you’re looking for a lawyer and you’re an entrepreneur, Scott Edward Walker is the guy that you should be talking to. Go to WalkerCorporateLaw and check him out. Here is what you’ll see when you go there. This, I’m just doing because he asked that I can use the software. This is his website.

Here are all of the people who have used him and talk about him and work with him and know him. I’ve known him for years, and I’m happy for you to go there. Oh, this is from a different interview. Let’s go back to this. Walker Corporate Law.

Now that you’re in San Francisco, do you know Scott?

Rakesh: Now I know. yes.

Andrew: Now because of me. It worked, Scott, one new customer. I don’t even know if you’ll sign up, but one great entrepreneur who knows about you.

Rakesh: Exactly.

Andrew: Don’t you think, Soni, that the fact that I’m talking to top entrepreneurs and in the interview I mention Scott’s name, I wonder if it’s valuable enough for him to buy this ad just to reach the one person who I’m interviewing because every single person who I’ve interviewed now knows Scott Edward Walker. The audience may or may not know, but the person I’m interviewing definitely knows.

Rakesh: Of course, I will be telling other people.

Andrew: Right. And the top entrepreneurs are hearing it. Alright. Back to your story. You’re continuing with this thing. It seems like this is a really good business in the sense that people want to pay you because they want to keep you around. It’s a tool that they actually need.

It’s a tool that embeds you in their site, so it’s not easy to just wake up in the morning and say, “I’m going to experiment with getting rid of this Login Radius.” You can’t do that because you have to think, “What do I do with all of these people who are logging in?”

So you’re embedded. It’s tight. It grows because SaaS companies who have all of this going for them will continue to grow revenue. Why raise money when you have all of this?

Rakesh: Why raise money?

Andrew: Yeah. You were boot strapping. You were doing well. Money was coming in. Customers were happy. Why raise venture funding or, I don’t know, any kind of funding. Why raise any outside funding?

Rakesh: The reason to raise money is that we want to grow faster. [??] is big. At the same time we want to grow faster now. And nobody else can come behind and reach you.

Andrew: I see.

Rakesh: So you need to kind of capture the market as soon as possible plus you need to keep no one waiting. So [??] revenue from our customers. So we need money for that, and we need to expand our team.

Andrew: How many people, how many websites were using your software at the time that you raised money?

Rakesh: Right now, there are 80,000 websites…[??]

Andrew: What about back when you raised money?

Rakesh: When we raised money? We actually haven’t fully started raising money.

Andrew: Oh, you haven’t yet? So you’re still bootstrapped?

Rakesh: Yeah, but now we’re raising money.

Andrew: Oh, get out. How many people on the team now?

Rakesh: Fifteen people in India and seven people here in Canada.

Andrew: Okay. So over…

Rakesh: adding people in Canada now.

Andrew: Sorry?

Rakesh: We’re adding more people in Canada.

Andrew: More people in Canada.

Rakesh: We’ll be adding maybe a few more here in San Francisco.

Andrew: So, you got to this level without raising any outside funding? Totally bootstrapped, profitable, and you keep plowing the money back into business.

Rakesh: Yes.

Andrew: Wow. What kind of revenues are you guys doing now?

Rakesh: I cannot share that. [laughs]

Andrew: [laughs]. Don’t you think that if you’re talking to investors, that they’re already talking behind your back, because that’s what they tend to do?

Rakesh: What’s that?

Andrew: Do you think the investors are talking behind your back about your revenue, because that’s what investors seem to do?

Rakesh: Yeah, they talk about revenue too, but they also talk about a lot of other items.

Andrew: I see. What are the big questions they are asking you?

Rakesh: In terms of metrics and what they look for, and they try to see the market size. They try to see the trend, what is the [traction] trend right now. Could it be the big company or not? Would be at least a million dollar company or not. That’s a pretty standard [??] by we see.

Andrew: I see. Is it safe to say that your revenues are now over a million a year?

Rakesh: [Laughs]. I can’t comment on that.

Andrew: You can’t say that. Safe to say over…

Rakesh: We are doing pretty well, because we are a private company, right.

Andrew: Can you say if it’s over 500,000 a year? It’s got to be that, right?

Rakesh: I can’t comment on that.

Andrew: You can’t even say that.

Rakesh: But we are making, we are making good money that we are paying all our bills and expanding.

Andrew: OK.

Rakesh: Yeah.

Andrew: [Laughs]. 80,000 websites still have you. Can you say how many of those sites pay?

Rakesh: Not really.

Andrew: Okay. I don’t want to push you to say anything you don’t want to say. I want to know what you feel comfortable saying, but I don’t want to get you to a place where you’re regretting that you even met me, because frankly it helps our audience get a sense of how big you are, but it’s not life or death for the audience. It is very, it is life or death for you if you reveal something that you’re not happy with.

Rakesh: We will be revealing these items, but I think we need establish ourselves a little bit more in the market, before we start sharing these sort of numbers with our fellow entrepreneurs

Andrew: Okay.

Rakesh: Yeah.

Andrew: How do your parents now feel? The ones who watched you grow up in that middle of nowhere India that place where you grew up?

Rakesh: My family is proud of me, actually.

Andrew: Yeah.

Rakesh: Wow, that’s a good thing. Yeah.

Andrew: Have you found relatives out of nowhere find you on FaceBook and then hit you up for loans?

Rakesh: Not really. I was well connected to my relatives. Yeah. [Laughs].

Andrew: [Laughs]. I see. All right. I guess I’ve got everything. Let me see anything at all that I missed. I guess the one thing that we should just talk on, talk about is I know how proud you are of two things, the people, the jobs you’ve been creating, and the customers that you’ve been impacting. Talk about the jobs knowing that there are over 20 people now who are depending on you, who are working for you. How does that feel?

Rakesh: Oh, I think that’s the best thing, that’s the best achievement in my life so far. I was working full-time as an engineer at my job. Instead of looking for a job, I decided to create a job, so I not only created a job for myself, but I was successfully able to create 20 more jobs. And those 20 jobs truly effect another 20 others so that’s pretty good you know.

Andrew: And all their lives are now…

Rakesh: …Bringing effect on 40 people that’s, that’s a good one.

Male Interviewer: Yeah. What about customers? Do you have a specially exciting customer story?

Rakesh: Yeah.

Andrew: Which one?

Rakesh: What was the last thing you said?

Andrew: Do you have, Do you have an exceptionally exciting customer story someone who used your site?

Rakesh: Oh, there are tons and tons of them. [Laughs]

Andrew: How about the hotel booking platform? I see a bunch of things in my notes here that we can talk about, but there is one hotel platform that was having trouble with their API. They didn’t know… [??]… Excuse me, with the social API’s out there, and they came to you.

Rakesh: You have the easytobook.com is a hotel booking playform. I think there were a 100,000 hotels connected to that.

Andrew: Okay.

Rakesh: It probably had, they had 1,000,000’s of users, so they were struggling to figure out this user [??] man, and they were having issues with people who weren’t kind of completing checkout, and they wanted implement this social piece, but they were having problem in terms of understanding them and implementing it and maintaining it that’s where they came to us.

There were team of, I think, 65 people so instead of kind of teaching them in-house they decided to go with a lower radius, and we helped them out running in a few days.

Andrew: Cool.

Rakesh: Yeah.

Andrew: All right, the website is loginradius.com if people want to check this out, and thank you for doing this interview.

Rakesh: Thanks a lot of having me. I really enjoyed it.

Andrew: Me, too. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, guys.

Sponsors I mentioned

Walker Corporate Law – Scott Edward Walker is the lawyer entrepreneurs turn to when they want to raise money or sell their companies, but if you’re just getting started, his firm will help you launch properly. Watch this video to learn about him.

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  • http://process.st/ Process Street

    Great interview and interesting product, amazing to see how someone who grew up with no computer in their village can go to running a software company! Interesting product too.

  • Arie at Mixergy

    Yes! Thanks for checking out the interview :)

  • Kyle Patrick McCrary

    $1) Reach out and build relationships with the right bloggers, through twitter or emails, etc.
    $2) Businesses WANT to pay you for your services, to secure that you are reliable and will have good support.
    $3) Get an amazing team with skills that you need and can use.

  • JDwilliams21

    A lot of respect goes out to Rakesh Soni…. great interview.