Over the course of the semester, Startup Shell will be rolling out a number of interviews with some of the most recent ventures accepted into Shell.
What is hotglue?
hotglue is a software application that "allows developers to more easily integrate customer data into B2B applications ." For example, if a company was building an accounting software, they have to take all the data the customer gives them and successfully provide them with the service.
What differentiates hotglue from competitors is in their more flexible platform and that they are a "developer focused tool". Other products within the market are also simple, but typically don’t offer the granularity that hotglue does. hotglue beats the competition by catering to the developer who doesn't want to spend time with their data integration. By using hotglue software, developers can maximize their efficiency and focus on the software they are more interested in.
Meet the Co-Founders
Hassan Syyid is a Computer Science major at the University of Maryland and is the technical founder of hotglue. Syyid has experience in professional software development after building a product that moderates server performance in high school.
David Molot is a marketing and information systems double major at the University of Maryland and is the non technical co-founder of hotglue. Molot has experience in professional social media marketing and was involved in a number of business competitions in high school.
How did the founders meet?
Hassan and David met through the University of Maryland Honors Program. At the time, David was the roommate of Hassan's best friend and was asked to start hotglue in March of 2020.
How did you come up with the idea?
Hassan was interning at a startup that built accounting software. As the startup onboarded new customer data through QuickBooks, they realized that custom data could not be translated properly. To fix this problem, the startup developer team wrote special code to handle the circumstance, but this was only temporary. If the startup were to continue onboarding new customers, it needed to be able to handle all kinds of data formats. However, the process to fix this issue is expensive and would hinder the progress of the startup.
From this issue, the startup's CTO expressed his wish for a product that would automatically fix this problem for him so he could focus on developing the accounting software. Intern Hassan Syyid saw this as an opportunity to create that exact product.
Explain some of hotglue's process of going from an idea to a business?
With the goal of fixing the custom data issue, Hassan built a prototype that reflected a simple solution. This prototype helped the accounting software by writing scripts before the data was loaded to the product, ensuring that there was no problem inside the accounting software. When he presented the product to the CTO, he was met with a good response that he was going in the right direction. However, the CTO explained that it would need to have more features for it to be usable.
Therefore, Hassan continued iterating on the product. During this process, he wrote an article explaining his approach to the data integration. His article received overwhelmingly positive feedback from readers, so Hassan made the leap to turn his small prototype in to a true business. He partnered with David who could offer him business insight and they have been working ever since to make hotglue stick.
What are some obstacles you've had to face as a venture and how have you overcome them?
hotglue has faced many obstacles, as many startups do in their beginning stages. Molot defined that they've had to learn how to network in a space where they don’t have many connections and get customers in order to gain the connections they need to take hotglue off the ground.
Right now, the biggest obstacle that hotglue is facing is customer acquisition. Since they have just recently brought their product to market and they are just two college kids, it's hard to gain the necessary connections to present their product. Molot is currently working hard to bring in new customers through cold calls and email campaigns.
However, Syyid explained it best,
"The road to entrepreneurship is having to do the hard stuff with very little resources."
Regardless of the obstacles, Molot and Syyid are committed to their venture. This spring, they are taking a gap semester to solely focus on hotglue.
Did you use bootstrapping or fundraising? What resources were helpful for hotglue?
hotglue has been strictly applying a bootstrapping model. hotglue uses their revenue to cover expenses. In addition, they are currently utilizing many of the resources provided by Startup Shell, including the space.
How has the coronavirus impacted hotglue?
For many businesses, COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on their growth as a company, but not for hotglue. Since the beginning of the pandemic, hotglue has been hustling to bring their product to market and the pandemic has only helped them. The flexibility of online classes have allowed the two co-founders to dedicate more focus on hotglue than in a normal semester. In fact, the pandemic has given them the freedom to have contact phone calls and meetings that they would not normally be able to.
What is the overall goal of hotglue?
"The vision for hotglue is quite optimistic and grand" - David Molot
Molot and Syyid have high hopes and goals for hotglue to become an industry standard product. The data integration market is huge and they believe that with the adaptability of their product could make them a worthy contender within the space.
To reach this goal, Molot and Syyid plan to start with smaller companies and grow. By having the smaller companies adapt their software and acquire more customers, hotglue looks to corner the market.
Do you have any advice for people trying to start their own businesses?
David responded, “You’re going to feel like you’re making mistakes everyday, I feel like I make mistakes everyday, but there’s no avoiding that so why not now? I’d rather make the mistake now than in a year when it’s much more important and learn now ... What do you have to lose?”
Hassan brought up the initial question that many entrepreneurs face, which is "do we commit fully or do we continue with what we have now?" He answered that the hotglue team has ''always chosen to do more" even when facing rejection.
Hassan offered their experience with Y Combinator as a supplement. After receiving an interview with YC, they were told that they could not be taken on for the time being. However, they were reassured that they were headed in the right direction and that they should reapply in the summer. After faced with this rejection, it only made Syyid more motivated to "go and put everything [they] have into it."
Hassan advises that just as this experience, although you may be faced with rejection, you should always keep working towards your goals.
Why did you join Startup Shell?
When Hassan and David were looking to build hotglue, they wanted to join a community that would provide them with some resources and expertise in a wide range of areas. After looking through the clubs at the University of Maryland, they decided to go with Startup Shell. They found Shell unique in its ability to gather like minded individuals who were excited about startups, learning, and helping each other.
For those interested in trying out or using hotglue, users can get 10 free credits for signing up. Each credit equals a 1000 rows of data which leads to 10,000 free rows of data. If you use more than 10 credits, each new credit is equivalent to only $1.
$1 == 1 credit == 1,000 rows of data
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