Tale of Anand Jain's Pigeon Fighting Startup
On May 30, founder of CleverTap, Anand Jain took to Twitter to share an interesting story about a startup he founded while bootstrapping Burrp. Anand, Chief Executive Officer of CleverTap, a customer engagement and retention platform, moved back to India from the US in 2006 to lead a restaurant review and posting of a startup called Burrp. Jain said that in childhood in Ahmedabad, he moved to Mumbai as it was the launch city for Burrp. “I will go to Ahmedabad over the end of the week to meet the family,” he said.
When he returned from America, with passing days he observed the problems pigeons face everywhere in the area. “On rooftops, ledges, outdoor air conditioner units, cars, window grills, balconies (if you had that luxury in Mumbai)” Jain wrote on Twitter. “It’s not that pigeons had suddenly appeared in India. It was me who felt sudden annoyance from these flying rats.”
Being an entrepreneur, he is always ready to find solutions and possess extreme problem-solving skills. Jain looked into the problems of pigeons. However, he wasn’t getting any solutions. “You could import bird spikes from the US at Rs 700 a running foot but that would end up being too expensive,” he wrote.
He further shared “In Mumbai, I noticed bird spikes in high-end places like the JW Marriot or The Taj Mahal Hotel.” Probably, it was too costly for them and they didn’t cover the whole property with it, just some exclusive parts of their property.
Here comes the “newly minted entrepreneur” into the picture, who thought he would solve this problem. “Remember, I had moved back to start up Burrp! I will *also* manufacture bird spikes. cough cough.” He further wrote.
“The US-produced spikes had metal spikes coordinated on a plastic casing. Consider 3-inch spikes distending out of a foot ruler,” he said. “My version would be plastic through and through because that would make it easier to manufacture.”
Jain contributed a handsome aggregate to get the die designed (found an automated expert) and fabricated. “I had 100% certainty, and 0% experience,” he said. “Then we sent the spec to be made into a die. It came back a couple of months later. It was good looking and weighed probably 300 kgs.”
“I am detail-oriented and got the brand name BirdGuard into the die." The primary step was done. As per Jain’s view, the next step was to look at the different ways in which he can manufacture the spike out of the die. “So, I found some plastic manufacturing factories who would take on jobs on an 8-hour shift. One could rent these for 8,6 or 24-hour shifts. They’d load your die, your plastic granules and start the injection mould,” Jain wrote.
The CleverTap CEO further said he never knew about the various kinds of plastic material, or that they came in granules. “So that research happened. Found out there are so many varieties- SAN, ABS, PC, etc. and each has a specific characteristic. Some brittle, in colour, can be added, etc.”
Jain tested. He purchased 5 sacks every one of 4-5 varieties and went through the 8- hour shift creating the yield for each sort. “Put the underlying pieces in the 45- degree temperature to see if they’d simply melt away or sustain the shape. Boiled some pieces to see what happens,” he wrote, adding he finally settled on PC and ABC. “ABS is flexible and good if you need to twist the piece and can be produced in multiple colours. PC (Polycarbonate) is very brittle but transparent.”
Simply one more reminder that Jain returned to India to begin Burrp and the work was on that project too. The further inquiry was how to package and sell it?
“Taking inspiration from my previous experience of selling soap door to door and also asking around family/ friends if anyone wanted this,” he shared. Jain tasted achievement, getting orders from industrial facilities, temples, some business structures, shopping centres, he roped in a companion to assist with the installations.
“I would climb gutter ducts, dangle from the terraces of buildings, climb out on ledges to install the bird spikes. Some of my sample installations in the pictures. We sometimes used Araldite, drilling holes, or just zip ties to hold the thing together. Here’s the logo of Avian Roofing- which is what I called the business,” Jain wrote.
In July, Jain’s companion left die on the balcony while off on a 6-week vacation to Europe. “The rains totally rusted the die, and it became unusable. Started 2006- ended 2007. We had a literal monopoly at the time. No one- PCI, Hi-care or anyone was doing this at the time,” he said.
Jain’s organisation completed 50 installations all over Mumbai and Ahmedabad. “For those, I sold the bird spike at Rs. 70 a running foot," he wrote, adding it was multiple times less expensive than the imported adaptation. It costs him Rs. 22/ piece to make.
This is the tale of Jain Anand's startup which he ran until Burrp came into the mainstream.