Building a Startup in the Market’s Crucible
FEBRUARY 17, 2023
Most tech start-ups die upon conception and even more vanish after a year or so. Of course, building a tech startup is always a risky venture, but the most common reason they fail is that they run out of funding before even making a buck. With the fall of hyped start-up giants like WeWork and other e-commerce titans this past few years, the pandemic, and the looming recession, start-up funding just seem to dry up all over the world.
So, in 2020, at the peak of the lockdowns brought about by Covid-19, the ragtag group of founders who built the market insights startup Agile Data Solutions Inc. (ADSI) was clear on their strategy: build a start-up that was immediately put to the test in the market, making it immediately vulnerable to its behemoth competitors.
“The common route of a start-up goes like this: the creation of a novel idea to disrupt the market, then fill-up with investor money to quickly ‘purchase’ growth at the expense of profitability and short-term business sense, then upon reaching critical mass re-adjust commercial conditions to extract as much value from the market,” says Jason Gaguan, one of ADSI’s founders.
“That kind of model, though logically sound, is very much risky because of two things: one, by ‘burning’ money to fuel growth, a company may not be able to find its real product market fit and is simply growing because it is giving away a service at an unsustainable discount; and two, it is not often that you could ‘burn’ money buck per buck versus the time-tested, institutionalized competition you are trying to destroy,” Gaguan adds.
True to their strategy of putting their company to the test early in the game, ADSI went into the market in 2020, fighting the traditional industry giants Nielsen and Kantar with very little capital, fueling their growth with their own profits. Soon after, the company launched the first version of its mobile app, Hustle PH, its data gathering arm, working to dent the market’s current duopoly.
“In the beginning, there were offers to fund our initial growth, and though tempting, we had to decline. We wanted to prove that we could survive in the market without ‘buying’ our growth, and more importantly, we created a product that adds real value. We built a sustainable business model and ran with it. If we cannot make a profit now with our product and model, how can we be sure we can make money after 1,000X growth? Putting ourselves in the market, without the added cushion of money to burn, has carved our products and services into what the market needs and, above all, what they are ready to pay for,” Gaguan comments on their growth strategy.
In its three-year run, Agile Data Solutions Inc., powered by their data gathering platform, Hustle PH, has now grown to serve multiple Fortune 500 companies, including multinational FMCGs, telecommunication companies, banks, and other technology companies, while maintaining a 70% operational profitability margin.
“I must admit that we could have grown faster with more initial investments, but we had absolute confidence that we were agile enough in adapting our products and services to the current needs of our customers. The fear of closing shop because of limited resources has continuously made us humble — a very new experience to us,” Gaguan jests, “Nothing makes you focus on your customers more than knowing they are not buying your services.”
In honor of its second anniversary, Agile Data Solutions Inc. celebrated its milestone with their loyal customers in Seda Hotel BGC last February 16, 2023, thanking them for their continuous support.
“Our customers have been part of our journey and growth, and as we continue to exponentially grow with our updated technologies in 2023, we are excited to learn more about our customers’ needs and how we can support them this year.”
Agile Data Solutions Inc. launches its new Hustle PH app on March 1, 2023. Their nationwide expansion will cater to half-a-million Filipinos in their database, resulting in thousands of customer profiles and millions of customer data points.