Talent discovery is an ever-present problem in the world of startups. On the one hand, job providers have a hard time finding the right talent for their ongoing projects and on the other hand, talented job seekers need the right avenue to showcase their proof of work and get the attention of the job providers.
Recognizing this gap, Riten Debnath has built Fueler.io, a platform which helps individuals build a portfolio to showcase their skills that, in turn, helps them connect with potential job providers. These individuals can use Fueler.io to create a log or proof of all their work in a single place to validate their personal brand superfast.
Fueler has recently accounted for more than 10,000 proof of works on the platform, with 15,000 registered members and 30,000 people in the community. In an exclusive conversation with ProdWrks, Riten shared the inspiring story behind how he built Fueler.io.
The Genesis of Fueler.io
Before starting Fueler.io, Riten was deeply immersed in the startup landscape, working closely with founders as a freelancer and consultant. It was during this period that he observed the critical challenge of identifying high-impact individuals for ongoing projects.
Hence, Riten envisioned Fueler to disrupt the norm by creating a democratic and equal ground for talents. As markets become flooded with talent, Riten says that companies are now seeking individuals who are already skilled, eliminating the need for extensive training.
Here, he emphasizes the importance of ‘proof of work’, which serves as the bridge between learning and earning. Fueler enables knowledge workers, such as writers, designers, developers, and marketers, to showcase their proof of work and build custom portfolios of their work super easily and fast
Talking about finding product-market fit (PMF) of Fueler, Riten pointed out that “Fueler is not there yet”. He says Fueler is at the pre-PMF stage. The beginning of Fueler.io was not a calculated move born from market research or a strategic business plan. It emerged organically from the experiences of its founder, a freelancer seeking a streamlined way to manage a diverse portfolio.
Fueler.io's Unique Value Proposition
From LinkedIn’s project showcase feature to various writing platforms like Medium and Substack, there are numerous spaces where individuals can display their work. However, these platforms often treat portfolios as mere features, lacking a dedicated focus.
Fueler.io takes a distinct approach. Explaining which, Riten said, “At Fueler, we keep proof of work at the center of attention, above everything. Proof of Work is the MVP. We want to give it special attention and build everything around that. It’s like having a place where projects are not just pieces of content on a webpage but are the main reason people visit.”
Fueler also has a B2B offering called ‘Fueler for brands’ which aims to bridge the gap between talented individuals and companies.
The North Star Metric of Fueler
When asked about how Riten anticipates the success of fueler, he said the number of proof of works shared on the platform will determine it. Hence, it is their north star metric.
The number of proof of works also inspires other creators to contribute more.
As the repository of proof of work grows, so does the efficiency of the entire platform. In this vision, the conversation revolves around proof of work.
The Challenges Along the Way
The journey of building Fueler.io, like any startup, has been riddled with challenges.
Aside from the ongoing struggle for clarity, Riten says Fueler also encountered the usual challenges like—team dynamics, managing growth, and the never-ending battle for resources. These challenges, though daunting, were not unique to the team.
But, the team at Fueler has recognized that the key to solving this challenge lies in communication with the users – open, honest, and direct communication.
Feedback Mechanism at Fueler
At Fueler, collaborating with their users and incorporating their feedback has always been a priority. To ensure they meet their users’ needs effectively, they engage with them at various stages of their product development cycle.
Pre-Launch Feedback: Before introducing any new feature, the team proactively reaches out to the users. They seek to understand their expectations, desires, and pain points. Their goal is to develop features that directly address their users’ specific challenges and enhance their overall experience.
Post-Launch Feedback: Once a feature is launched, the team continues to seek feedback, focusing on how the new addition is working for users. Detailed monitoring of user activity patterns and frequency helps identify power users within the community. These active users become the team’s primary focus, allowing them to understand their behavior and preferences deeply.
Riten says they have received a lot of criticism for Fueler, which have proved to be the secret ingredient for their growth.
How is User Feedback Implemented in Fueler?
Consistency in feedback is the bedrock upon which Fueler make developments. When users encounter challenges or struggle within the platform, the team dives deep into understanding the core issues. Is there a way to simplify a process? Can they create a feature that streamlines user journeys? These questions fuel their brainstorming sessions, driving them to devise solutions that directly address user pain points.
However, the process isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. “Every time, it works differently. It is not the same as we are a startup right now. We need to have a lot of processes. But, more than the process, we go with A/B testing with different approaches sometimes. Based on that, we decide, again, we follow up on those.”
Being a startup with limited resources, Fueler.io has learned the art of focused decision-making.
With limited resources at hand, the qualitative approach to feedback holds paramount importance for Fueler.io.
Community- A Digital Auditorium
Fueler’s community members have been a driving force for feedback. Their insights and feedback fuel the team’s progress, enabling them to create a platform that empowers knowledge workers worldwide.
While talking about community, Riten said, “I see our community more as an auditorium where we invite people, give them a seat, and they will sit there and have a good time there. So the way I see the community is, it’s a chance to build together with them.”
His approach centers on delivering consumer surplus—providing the community with value that surpasses expectations.
Recognizing that some individuals might be reserved in group settings, they take their community game to another level by having one-on-one interactions.
Looking forward, he anticipates the potential of in-person gatherings. He believes these face-to-face interactions hold the true magic of community building and is enthusiastic about witnessing the community thrive both in the digital realm and in real-world connections.
The Journey Ahead
The awareness around proof of work right now is low. Hence, one of the core goals of Riten is creating massive awareness around the concept of ‘proof of work.’
Fueler.io’s vision isn’t just about becoming another platform; it’s about becoming an indispensable ingredient in the recipe of life.
Furthermore, Fueler.io’s future roadmap includes harnessing the power of LinkedIn, a platform known for its professional network. “LinkedIn is something we are looking forward to using more often. Build our whole community there where we help content writers, marketers around the world to create value for them.”
On the product front, Fueler.io is gearing up to increase engagements. “We are going to implement gamification and algorithms in the platform. So that it eventually increases engagement.”
Fueler’s long-term plan also involves creating an open-source collaboration platform. Here, brands and knowledge workers are invited to come together. This collaborative ecosystem will redefine how work is recognized, valued, and appreciated.
Entrepreneurial Wisdom for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Our conversation with Riten ended with invaluable lessons learned from navigating the wild journey of building a startup. These insights are not just reflections; they are guiding principles for aspiring entrepreneurs venturing into the world of product development and leadership.
1. Cultivate the Habit of Reading:
Entrepreneurship isn’t just about execution; it’s also about constant learning and growth. Reading isn’t a passive activity; it’s akin to sharpening your axe. Your mind needs continuous nourishment and stimulation. Reading has the power to change perspectives, enhance communication, and add value to others’ lives.
2. Build Your Online Presence:
In the digital age, your online presence is your gateway to the world. Invest time in building a strong online distribution network. Building an audience online not only amplifies your reach but also connects you with diverse perspectives and ideas.
3. Practice Detachment from your Product:
As an entrepreneur, detachment from your product is important. Falling in love with your product is natural, but it can cloud your judgment. Regularly practice a zero mindset – clear your mind and approach each day as if you’re starting from scratch. This mental reset sharpens your focus, allowing you to evaluate your product objectively.