Saravana Kumar is the Founder and CEO of Document360, a Software as a Service (SaaS) online knowledge base product. Document360 is part of Kovai.co — a successful multi-product software company with 200+ employees and over $10m annual revenue. Kovai.co has been recently accredited with the prestigious award “Bootstrapped SaaS Startup of the year” by SaaSBoomi.
Where did the idea for Document 360 come from?
For three years, my company struggled to maintain a good knowledge base. Initially, we were using a knowledge base provided by a customer support tool and we spent most of our time working around the functional challenges. We looked for alternatives and even considered building one, but we did not act on it at the time.
When we did find a few products, we realized that the market is dominated by customer support vendors who paid little attention to creating a knowledge base. They were missing trivial, but crucial things like version control and auditing. Several crucial features were missing and if they existed at all, they were consistently lacking in granularity.
Later, we moved to products that focused purely on knowledge base creation and maintenance, only to realize that they didn’t scale well. In the end, we started working on our software with features such as thoughtful category management, version control, powerful real-time search, file/media manager, backup/restore, clean UI/UX, scalable hosting, etc.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts around 4:30 am. I have picked up some good habits like eating at the right time and getting regular exercise. I keep my days well organized at the office to make sure I can go home at 7 pm every day. Once a week, I spend some quality time with friends and Sundays are complete off-days for me. Maintaining personal and professional discipline is very important for me to be productive. I always adhere to my routine.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I believe Necessity is the mother of all Inventions. Every day you encounter situations where things can be done differently. According to Kunal Shah’s Delta 4 theory, if efficiency scoring, mathematically represented as Δ (Delta) is greater than or equal to 4, it will turn out to be a good idea. For example, WhatsApp replaced both — text messaging and calling (local and international), thus considered at least 4x better than its predecessors.
The product — Document360, we believe it’s at least 4x better than the solutions that we have currently in the market.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The combination of the SaaS (Software as a Service) model with modern cloud technologies is super exciting for me. It enables us to build super complicated SaaS solutions seamlessly. It is due to this trend that we built such a world-class product (Document360) within a span of 3 years.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
The routine of rising early. Starting your day ahead of others helps you to be efficient in your daily tasks. Doing this used to be a necessity in the beginning but a habit now. The three uninterrupted hours I get in the morning is the time where I feel most productive. The rest of my day is controlled by meetings and addressing day-to-day challenges.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient and persistent.
This is one challenge I see with the new millennial generation — they want things to happen fast. Believe me, when I say this, there is no overnight success story unless you win a lottery. Good things may take time to happen, but as long as you stay consistent with your efforts, they are achievable.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m an introvert 🙂
I’m an extremely quiet person and generally hesitant to speak in any group conversation. Friends from my non-business circle think it’s impossible to run a company with such characteristics. But the reality is different. To run a successful company, all you need is to be a good listener and take informed decisions.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Consistency and persistence are two of the greatest recipes for success. There is a popular quote by Bruce Lee and it goes — “I’m worried about someone who has practiced one step 10000 times, not someone who practiced 10000 different steps”. You might have noticed that top sports personalities follow their practice and exercise routines consistently as if they are still in the initial stages of their career. I think that’s what made them successful.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being frugal and focused.
We are a bootstrapped company without any external investors. The company is managed and scaled based on the revenue we generate from our customers. From the very start, we have followed a simple strategy. We ensure that we have enough backup capital to run the company for at least 2 years. Every business decision, be it a new product idea, new office, hiring, marketing, etc. is taken in alignment with this strategy.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Failures are an integral part of any entrepreneurial journey. It drives you to push your limits. One of our notable failures is our failed product ideas. However, we don’t see them as failures and instead learn from them. As a result, we are more competent now in choosing new product ideas.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
“Your family should know” – this idea has been in my mind for a long time. I believe this is a common problem. There will be a sole person who manages finances in every household and typically nobody else will have any idea on that matter. Personally, I have seen a few real incidents where families struggled when something unfortunate happened.
The idea here is to build a SaaS solution around it, where centralized access to critical information is enabled for the family. The solution can offer support like notifications about their insurance renewal, giving access to key family members, etc.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A nice family meal in a local pub.
In my opinion, success comes from big things and happiness comes from small things. Spending time with your family and discussing school, football, and F1 with kids are a few things I consider priceless.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I’ll say Microsoft OneNote.
This is one app where I spend the majority of my time. I capture all my to-do lists, ideas, notes, etc. there. I have over 10 years of content in my OneNote. It’s such a flexible tool — you can slice and dice it in whatever way works for you. A lot of people probably wouldn’t know this — OneNote is the mother of all the modern note-taking SaaS businesses.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I highly recommend ‘Traction’ by Gino Wickman. This is one book that has influenced my company. At one point, we noticed that even though we have a strong process to build products, we lack resources to run the company. Wickman’s EOS (Entrepreneurial Operation System) methodology has changed the scenario for our company since its implementation.
What is your favorite quote?
Richard Branson once said — “You take care of your people and they take care of your business.”
This is a very relevant line to go by, especially considering today’s scenario. I have a decade-long experience managing a lot of people in my multi-product business. Your people are your biggest asset and they are indeed a blessing.
- Failures shouldn’t bring you down, rather they should be an excuse to keep trying.
- Grow your business with a people-first mindset.
- A clear direction is extremely important in order to be efficient with your tasks.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.