We speak with Pushkar Gaikwad, CEO, and head at Aeroleads, an email finder software company that has accelerated its road to success over the past couple of years.
Pushkar brings vast experience in email-finding software and has managed to develop innovative software that can help you reach out to your ideal clients in a matter of seconds.
Tell us a bit about your background and your journey to getting here?
"Just like most of the population in Banglore, I have a background in software engineering. Again, nothing extraordinary, but back in college, I got hooked on software marketing, and it kind of just worked out."
"AeroLeads is not my first startup. I have built a couple of other products in the past. Some did well; some didn't. I believe I'm an accidental entrepreneur. I don't have an entrepreneurial background. It was more about doing what I loved and enjoyed doing, and the rest just fell in place."
"Aeroleads was born from the needs of the products I created where I realized that building is easy, but selling is not. So Aeroleads was designed to sell the other products but ended up being a hero product by itself."
Having started in 2016, Aeroleads had a slow start trying to figure out its market and target audience. However, Mr. Gaikwad acknowledged the importance of feedback that has played a crucial role in developing the product and helped refine Aeroleads.
What's your target audience, and who are your clients?
"Aeroleads is pretty horizontal software. Absolutely anyone and everyone can use it. We have a few solopreneurs to small business organizations that are using Aeroleads."
"But if you'd ask me who is our ideal client, I'd have to say it is small to medium size businesses. They are the ones that conduct outreach regularly and are looking for a solution that we offer."
Considering the fierce competition out there (like Skrap, Snov.io, Lusha), what would you say is the USP of Aeroleads?
"It's a very crowded market, every two weeks; I find another tool that is doing something like this. I have even stopped maintaining a competitor list. There is a lot of overlapping. It is a very old industry, and there are probably 30-40 tools providing the same service in the market."
"We focus on developing our product and giving a better service to our clients. Our USP would probably be the Chrome plugin with a lot of custom features which I believe we are the only one doing it in the market."
"It is a paid plugin that only premium subscribers can use, which is packed with features and benefits that help you add a lot of data at a swift pace."
"We are adding our own Gmail addon, which will get launched pretty soon. So that's an integration we are looking forward to."
How has the pandemic affected your business, and how has the growth trajectory been for Aeroleads?
"I think we are fortunate that we have not been affected much by the pandemic. However, since we are selling sales software and because our clients have been affected by the pandemic, it has cut down on their sales. Which has, in turn, affected our business."
"Our clients in the travel and tourism industry suffered the most. There have been instances when we were about to sign a contract with a large company, but the pandemic forced us to postpone it."
Working remotely is never easy. So how do you come up with new ideas?
"It's been a learning curve and new experience for me as well. I have worked remotely in the past and with people from different parts of the world."
"I had some idea about the pros and cons of working remotely. It's just that the pandemic magnified the whole situation. However, I would say that the remote team is a little more productive than the conventional team."
"I think one problem we face in remote work is effective communication. Second, there is a considerable gap when onboarding new employees.
Working from an office, you build chemistry with the employee, which is a miss in remote work. In addition, it’s challenging to understand your employees' strengths and weaknesses."
Going into 2022, what is the growth strategy for Aeroleads?
"We have some great plans for 2022. We have some big features that we are going to be launching soon. We have already launched a few of them; they were soft launches, so we didn't speak much about them."
"We want to add more features that will make it easier for our clients to reach their audience with the click of a button. We never really invested in sales or marketing, so now we want to focus on marketing to help us accelerate our growth."
What excites you about your job?
"I have a love for software and technology. I don't do it for the money. There was a time when I used to make no money from my products. But, I always loved working on new technology, and that is what excites me the most about my job."
"When you run a successful business, the dopamine hit that you get when you see results is what charges me to put in the effort and do more."
"Targets, ambitions, goals, growth is all that drives me to excel at my role. But, on the flip side, if you're not getting any results, it could go downhill really quickly."
What is the biggest challenge that you face in today's world?
"I think challenges depend on the phase of business you are in. We are in the growth phase of the business, so attracting the right people is the biggest challenge for us right now."
"People say you don't want to be the smartest person in the room. So, I like to work with people who are smarter than me. But unfortunately, smart people have many options in the market. So it becomes a challenge to recruit the right people."
"The next challenge would be to maintain growth throughout the year. Some many unforeseen circumstances and challenges come during the year."
"You realize some targets might not have been practical. So it's a challenge to ensure that your team is always working to its full potential."
What would be your message to all the startup entrepreneurs out there?
"Well, if you want to build a startup, go for it. There is never a right time to start your business. It is a learning experience. I started from my college days, so I believe I have learned, and I have come a long way in my life."
"I have matured a lot, learned a lot, but I believe that having a startup, you can learn a lot that you wouldn't learn otherwise working a 9-5 job. The younger the better, you have to be more responsible as you get old."
Well, that was quite an interview with Pushkar. We are glad for this opportunity and wish Aeroleads the best for its future success.