Why Crownit is in Technology 9 Labs’ anti-portfolio
The experience with CrownIt gave Technology 9 Labs its financial model—equity and not cash, says co-founder Fahad Moti Khan
Our journey as a start-up studio started with Crownit in 2014. We were still trying to put together our business model. We were an IT services company till then and the core team was disillusioned and did not want to work on suffocating corporate projects with little scope for creativity. We wanted to work with passionate founders and new ideas despite revenue risks.
Crownit started as Gold VIP, a B2B2C model, and later pivoted to a full-blown consumer application. Sameer Grover, the CEO, was known to me through some common friends and I loved his passion as an entrepreneur. His ability to adapt and his perseverance were well known to those who worked with him. Consumer applications are tricky and even the best ideas can fall flat with bad execution. A good technology product is at the core of a B2C rollout, especially a new concept like Crownit, where Sameer was trying to create a gamified O2O platform.
Sameer understood that and reached out to us to help build the first version of the application for Crownit. We worked on a shoestring budget. Whenever the quantum of work would increase, Sameer would acknowledge that, thank us and often get an envelope with some cash as a token of appreciation for our effort. It was a sweet ritual.
We had the option of taking equity instead of cash, but we declined. Within months of launch, Crownit became hot property and received funding from a handful of top investors, including Accel and Helion. The valuation saw a massive jump.
The experience gave us the financial model for our studio where our compensation today is largely equity and not cash. We did not want to miss out on the upside from another story we’ve helped build. Since then, we’ve gone on to help launch over a dozen startups where we hold respectable equity.
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