The journey of setting up a company wasn’t new to Vishal Virani and Rahul Singhala. For them,is the second time around. This time, they took with them some inspiration and a whole lot of courage.
This Surat-based startup wants to leverage the power of community for user acquisition, growth, retention, and ultimately, monetisation. With a low-key launch about six months ago, it now has a community, which is 2000-member strong, who use the platform to convert designs into code for mobile and web applications.
Its next step—to take this number to nearly 45,000-50,000 people and have an active user base of 200,000 users by the end of the year with an emphasis on community. To do this, the two co-founders are looking outwards to the success of communities like.
Vishal is clear about leaning heavily on product-led growth rather than performance marketing. “It is easy to replicate the features that a product has, but it’s not easy to build that habit-forming or sticky factor of a product,” he says.
DhiWise caught the eye of investors, who were impressed with its product, and raised $7 million in a Series A round led by Accel in August last year. The round also saw participation from Together Fund, India Quotient, and founders of Fleetx, Rocketlane, and WebEngage.
With the success of four developer-focused unicorns in India–Postman, Hasura, H20, and BrowserStack—and 11 other devtool startups having raised over $10 million in cumulative funding so far, investors expect a boom in this space in India.
So far, developer-focused companies raised approximately $51 billion in 2021, of which India accounted for less than 2%, according to Stellaris Venture Partners.
Of, for and by developers
DhiWise is open for use on Discord—an online voice, video, and text communication service. Within this, the company has set up servers that are for different purposes. For instance, one of the channels would be to share curated content that would benefit developers and give them a chance to learn additional skills like React and Flutter.
This will be supplemented with more channels that list jobs available to a brainstorming channel, where those within the community can give feedback or receive validation on their ideas, perhaps even clarify doubts in their process, among others.
Many of DhiWise’s users are from across the world. While about 60% of its users are from India and the US primarily, it also counts users from Europe and beyond. These users also hold jobs in large multinational companies like Google, Morgan Stanley, Accenture, and Siemens, besides some large startups like Flipkart.
Developers have long relied on the internet to acquire skills or get real-time feedback on their work. Take, for instance, a subreddit on Reddit called r/web_design, where developers can chat about all things related to their work. At the moment, the subreddit has nearly 1.5 million users.
“Even if one developer refers us to 10 members, we will get a huge number just from the community. So, that’s how in 2024, we can achieve very aggressive numbers on our user base without spending anything,” says Vishal.
DhiWise also plans to take it one step further beyond referrals. It has plans to conduct related events to keep and onboard more people in its community. This includes extending invites to star developers and conducting ‘ask me anything’ sessions, which would give them some one-on-one time to learn from the best.
Doubling down on community-building efforts
Those who are interested can sign up on DhiWise. But to Vishal, active users in the community would be counted as part of its ecosystem. This is why of the 200,000 users it is looking to add to its platform, it expects about 20%-25% of them to be active users. According to him, these users will be crucial in helping it grow exponentially in 2024.
For those who join the DhiWise community directly without signing up on its platform, the startup targets to convert at least 5,000 members to users this year. “This year, we are going to run multiple experiments around it (community). So, we have a very low target for community-to-user-driven conversion. But next year, the community will be key to getting multiple users on the DhiWise platform,” says Vishal.
Vishal and his team are hopeful that the DhiWise community will be the go-to place for developers to hang out, learn, and have fun, so they would get habituated to the product.
To do this, it has plans to show the range of DhiWise’s features and capabilities across its digital community, including its community channels and the highlights section.
This is in a bid to make the space a two-way street—where users of DhiWise could join the digital community and those from the community have an entry to try the firm’s products.
To date, it has spent little on marketing and does not have a sales team specifically focused on bringing in product users or community members.
It relies on organic growth through search engine optimisation, social media posts, using content, and most importantly, developers’ referral efforts.
Its 60-member strong team is looking to add 20 more by the end of the year.
What’s next for DhiWise?
DhiWise is currently in the pre-revenue stage and has made its platform free for any developer to sign up and use all the features of its product, which is in the beta stage.
It is also looking to target startups, especially those in Series A and Series B stages, and small businesses with at least 50 developers in their team to use its platform.
“Once users get a clear 10X ROI (return on investment) from the product… we start monetising then,” says Vishal. “For example, let’s say we reach a point where we are saving the efforts of three developers’ work or helping three developers do the work of six developers. We would easily save $150,000 for any company. And for that, if we charge $15,000… it is nothing for them.”
It would take about a year for DhiWise to introduce pricing as per its current plans, post which it might look at raising funds for aggressive marketing, user growth, and scaling.
(The copy was updated to correct details on the startup’s Series A funding round.)