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A startup founder who sold his company for $3.7 billion says entrepreneurs should stop paying to attention to investors if they want to build a billion-dollar business - here's who they should strive to please instead

Business Insider | May 14, 2018, 11.23PM IST

Jyoti Bansal

Bateman Group

  • Jyoti Bansal sold his app-analytics company AppDynamics to Cisco for $3.7 billion last year.
  • Now he's building another company and paying close attention to what his potential customers have to say as he builds it.
  • Bansal emphasizes that entrepreneurs should spend time getting to know their customers in order to build a successful company.

Jyoti Bansal is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of app-analytics company AppDynamics, which he sold last year to Cisco for $3.7 billion. Now, Bansal is building a software-automation company, Harness.io, and he's carefully considering his earlier success in informing the structuring of his newest venture.

In an interview with Business Insider, Bansal revealed his key piece of advice to entrepreneurs who are set on building billion-dollar businesses.

"Start by finding customers for your business," said Bansal. "You should be able to find 100 potential customers to talk to. The one mistake most founders make is not talking to customers. It's not easy to find those people, but it's 100% worth the effort."

In building both AppDynamics and his current company, Bansal said he reached out to potential customers through cold calls, scouring LinkedIn, and sending out emails.

"To talk to 100 customers, you'll probably need to contact around 1,000 people," Bansal said. "Be scrappy. Find people who can introduce you to them. The only way to know how much potential there is for a company is if you find people whose problems you're able to solve effectively."

Bansal said in Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs are often preoccupied with the advice of their investors over the needs of the customers they're attempting to meet. "It's really important that you get out of that Silicon Valley ecosystem," said Bansal.

In building Harness.io, Bansal said he spends the majority of his time talking to his customers. "I made 150 customer calls personally for Harness.io, even before I decided to launch," he said.

Bansal said he isn't attempting to ride on the success of AppDynamics in building Harness.io.

"Our goal was to stay humble, and the only way to stay humble is to talk to customers," said Bansal. "Customers don't care who you are. If they don't like what you're doing, they'll tell you. Listening to them is what makes a real business."

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