Founder at Lawbot and at Boss as a Service.
Manasvini is a product person at heart. She started out as a lawyer, working mostly on transactional and corporate law, and along the way, learned to code and made the jump into tech. She works on Lawbot, which automates the review of legal contracts, and her main side project is Boss as a Service, which addresses her other interest – productivity. As a self taught developer, over the years, she has launched other products; some have succeeded and some, she’s shut down. She thinks of herself as a “maker”, because that’s what she really likes to do – create new and useful things.
What does diversity mean to you?
Diversity means creating an atmosphere where people from different backgrounds feel welcome, at home, and at ease to contribute their best. Creating an environment where people from all backgrounds can thrive only leads to a positive net return for their employers and the tech world as a whole. Putting up barriers to entry, treating them differently (consciously or unconsciously), and holding them to different standards results in depriving the industry in general, of talent. Diversity is not a far-off ideal – it’s an absolute necessity we should all be prioritising.
What inspired you to start your current journey?
I love making things, the process of creation, solving problems and learning new things. Entrepreneurship offers me the chance to do all of this every single day.
What is your advice to a young person starting their career or entrepreneurial journey?
If you’re getting into entrepreneurship, this is what I’d say to you:
1. It’s going to be a LOT of fun, but it’s not going to be easy.
Entrepreneurship is so glamourised that until you’re in the thick of it, you don’t realize how the day to day life of a founder looks.
Of course, it’s fun, you get to make things, solve problems. It’s very satisfying to create something people use, get value out of, and pay for.
But the day to day is not easy – it can even be a grind. Maybe worse than any job, because you never get to switch off and say “I’ve done my work for the day.” There’s always more to be done. Your todo list is endless. Your bug list replenishes itself mysteriously, no matter how many you squish. You need to learn to balance work and other parts of life quickly. It’s easy to get carried away, and end up burnt out and disillusioned.
2. It’s going to take longer than you think. You should be ready for that.
When I made the leap, I was naive enough to confidently expect Tech Crunch coverage in a few months (at maximum). Well, of course, that didn’t happen. I think the new Open Startup movement (example, example, example), which didn’t exist when I got started, helps new entrepreneurs get a realistic picture of what they can expect. The most important takeaway is probably, don’t expect to succeed with your first (or second) product. It takes longer than you think to create a successful, revenue positive, sustainable product.
Sure, there are wunderkinds who get it right on the first try. But you know what? Statistically speaking, that’s not going to be you. Or me.
Have realistic expectations and goals set. Don’t expect instant success. Don’t quit your job unless your project is already ramen profitable. If you plan to quit and live off your savings, make sure you have enough to support yourself for twice the time you think it’s going to take. Follow the Open Startup movement to get an idea of what other people are achieving on what timeline, and double that, assuming you don’t already have an existing audience.
3. You need a support network.
Founding a startup is lonely, frighteningly so. Every customer quitting feels like the drums of doom beating for your startup, and every new sign up feels like one step closer to the magic land of product market fit. Unless you have people supporting you, people you can talk to and discuss how this emotional roller-coaster feels on a daily basis, it’s almost impossible to get through this. Make sure your family is on board, and try to find communities of like minded people for support. Some online groups to find support are: Leap (for women), WIP Women (mostly for women), Indie Hackers, WIP Chat.
4. You might need to train yourself to think differently.
If you’re jumping into entrepreneurship from other disciplines, you probably carry along with you the mental models and ways of thinking you acquired from there. As a lawyer, my training has always been to be risk averse, to think of all possible ways things could go wrong, in order to address them before they do. As an entrepreneur, I quickly found that thinking of the ways things could go wrong before getting started would probably be the best way to drive myself insane, and not get started at all.
5. Cut yourself some slack
It’s easy to get sucked in to the startup culture, which makes you think everyone around you is constantly raising millions, getting featured in Tech Crunch, and making big exits, but comparing your success to theirs is toxic. Compete against yourself, celebrate small wins, and keep moving.It probably sounds like I’m down on entrepreneurship, but I’m not — I love making products, and I absolutely love entrepreneurship. But I know entrepreneurship is not what most people think it is, what I initially imagined it would be. If new entrepreneurs or people looking to get into entrepreneurship had a better idea of what it really entailed, we can spend less time in navigating it and more time making stuff.