Learn about Entrepreneurship from the Creator of Hiver

Niraj Ranjan Rout Interview - Author Illustration

Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you started Hiver?

I am a programmer, who worked with large teams over a period of 8 years before coming on to the idea for starting Hiver. Everywhere I worked, I faced multiple problems with collaborating over email. While email was really “sticky”, and people loved using email, it was extremely inefficient assigning tasks and tracking them over email.
We started Hiver to make it simple, efficient and enjoyable to collaborate over email. Hiver currently helps thousands of companies globally to handle their customer support and sales right from Gmail.

Could you explain what Hiver is and what can it be used for?

Hiver turns your Gmail into a simple, powerful customer support and sales management tool. It helps you easily manage shared email accounts like support@mycompany.com or sales@mycompany.com by keeping track of queries, and assigning emails as tasks to your team-mates.

Obviously, the end result of your work is out there for everyone to see, but it’s probably safe to say that’s the outcome of lots of behind the scenes work?

Absolutely. It has taken us a few years to build a high-quality product that solves real user problems, and which users can’t live without once they start using it. We have gone through multiple iterations on the product and UI/UX to come to what you see now on hiverhq.com. It has involved a lot of brutal assessment and examination of what we think users need, and how they use our product.

Niraj Ranjan Rout Interview - Hiver Logo

What do you think the most important part of building your brand was, in retrospect?

Getting covered by the top technology blogs has been a big help, and we work consistently on making sure that people who write about areas relevant to our customers know about Hiver, like it and write about it. This gives us a consistent, endless stream of users who voluntarily try out our product, and ultimately pay for it.

Is there a secret to your success you’d like to share?

I think a success comes from just showing up every day, working hard and questioning your assumptions. The last one is really important, as I think almost all of us start with wrong assumptions about how the product should be built, or how it should be marketed. Unless we dedicate a lot of effort into validating our assumptions, it’s very easy to go down the wrong path.

What’s your favorite misconception people tend to have about email marketing?

That it’s easy – you’ll send out an email, and hordes of people will come to your site and buy stuff. Doesn’t happen that way. Your audience needs a lot of nurturing, over a long period of time, before some of them will start paying you.

Niraj Ranjan Rout Interview - Hiver Website Screenshot

How do you maintain good relations with your audience/customer base?

By making sure every email or notification we send out is useful to them. There’s nothing more obnoxious than an overt sales pitch sent to your email/blog audience. We make sure we only send out stuff they’ll find genuinely helpful. No compromise on that.
Thanks to our customer base, we stay in touch with a lot of our active users one-to-one and seek their feedback on every new thing we build. It’s amazing how much our users have helped us refine our product and positioning.

What are your top three plugins, the ones you can’t live without?

  1. Hiver, of course. We can’t run our customer support, sales or marketing without it. Talk about eating your own dog food 🙂
  2. Lazarus – Has saved my life a few times.
  3. Momentum

Which social media sites do you consider the most important?

Twitter is awesome because it has helped us reach out to customers and bloggers alike. Quora, if it qualifies as a social media site, is great too.

Niraj Ranjan Rout Interview - Hiver Book - Quick Guide to Google Apps

If you could get one message back to yourself when you were starting out, what would you tell yourself?

I’d tell myself to always make sure to never put our product in a small market niche, even if that means a great product-market fit.

Name the place you’d most like to visit, but haven’t been able to, yet?

I’d love to visit Leh-Ladakh in India, up in the Himalayas. It has breath-taking scenery, a lot of which looks like it’s not from this planet.

Photos ©: Hiver

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