Tanuj Parikh
Tanuj Parikh

I'm the Senior Director of Business Operations at Estimote. Previously: GroupMe, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and Kiva. I love the Knicks.

Tanuj Parikh

Tanuj Parikh


I'm the Senior Director of Business Operations at Estimote. Previously: GroupMe, the NYC Economic Development Corporation, and Kiva. I love the Knicks.

A model of success: San Antonio Spurs

@netw3rk (one of the best writers I follow) in Grantland today, talking about the unrelenting and sustained success of the San Antonio Spurs, year after year:

"The Spurs are a machine — a whirl of interchangeable parts that slices up opposing teams with an efficiency bordering on contempt…The machine has flooded the marketplace of our attention with wins at such a rate as to devalue the very concept of a Spurs victory in our minds. And this is why the Spurs are perceived as boring."

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Ethics: big versus small

At Estimote, our products are attractive to both small startups and large corporations alike. We’re fortunate to receive inbound interest from companies of all sizes in all industries. It’s not surprising that sometimes we’re asked to provide our products – hardware and software – for free. What is surprising is the source of those requests. Far more big, publicly traded, multinational companies ask us to “donate” a $99 dev kit than bootstrapped startups eating ramen three times a day to keep the servers on.

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New adventures

I’m joining Estimote to help Steve Cheney build out the U.S. team. I’ll be working with him on the company’s business development and operations.

Beyond the really large opportunity to join a leader in the emerging bluetooth low energy / contextual computing space, working with Steve again was a big attraction. As was the chance to be part of the really strong team Jakub and Lukasz are building. 

Much more to come…but for now, happy new year!

Develop a sense of product

It’s cliche to say that employees at early stage startups wear many hats - but it’s also true. Particularly for “business people” who need to justify their presence beyond making decks and building models. One surefire way to do this is to contribute to product design.

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Don’t buy a flower, throw fireballs

Making persuasive and effective pitch decks is an art, not a science. There are many tactical considerations - text density, copy, graphics, visual design - but it’s crucial to start by defining a compelling message. Your BD/marketing/sales collateral needs to tell a story, a narrative that inspires potential partners/customers. Show them the heights that you can help them achieve.

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Onwards

After 2+ years, I’m leaving GroupMe. Each of the past 807 days has been a blast. Getting to work on a fantastic product - one I used before I joined and one I’ll be using long after I go - was humbling, challenging and fulfilling. But more importantly, working with the team Steve & Jared built has been an absolute pleasure. They’re all off-the-charts amazing. I’m going to miss them.

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Don’t make these a key part of your business model

My last post talked about seeking opportunities in areas in which a given industry’s incumbents deliberately let confusion and opaque experiences fester. The operative word there is deliberately. Entrepreneurs tackling these opportunities should remember that. Incumbents know they’re providing a poor experience, they just don’t care. So if you think you’re going to innovate in that space by partnering with an incumbent, think again. 

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Incumbents rely on confusion

About 3 weeks ago I had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. By far the worst part of the entire process has been the flood of bills, EOB’s (explanation of benefits), and insurance and provider claims hitting my postal mailbox - because why would any actor in the healthcare system use email in 2013? - almost every two days since the operation. I am drowning in a confusing deluge of paperwork.

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Lessons learned building GroupMe’s API business

So your engineers are building an API and it’s your job to get people to use it. This isn’t a Field of Dreams situation: just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come. It’s your job in business development to spur adoption of your company’s API, and like any good BD effort, that requires research, planning and good old fashioned execution. Over my 2+ years at GroupMe and a few iterations of our API, I’ve had my share of success and setbacks. I’ve codified some of the main learnings below; hopefully they’re a useful guide to those of you just getting started with API partnerships.

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It’s all relative

Today I learned that a high profile NYC consumer startup had a lot fewer active users than I would have guessed. In fact, fewer than I think most active observers of the NYC tech scene would guess. Their positive PR and buzz* create an outsized halo of success and mask how hard it actually is to acquire users, not to mention keep them.

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