How winning the Golden Kitty for Best Developer Tool of the Year helped DhiWise's founder prove himself and his product to VCs.
Would you be surprised to know that even though DhiWise
won the Golden Kitty Award
for Best Developer Tool of the Year in 2021, it didn’t crack the top 10 products on its initial day of launch?
Fortunately, DhiWise founder Vishal Virani
adamantly does not believe in vanity metrics. Instead, he says he’s focused on solving problems for developers and building a community to support them. That consumer-focused attitude seems to be working. DhiWise went on to accumulate a 5-star rating on Product Hunt and secure a Golden Kitty Award
, snowballing into funding and a $32M valuation for the company.
“There’s life before the Golden Kitty and after the Golden Kitty,” Vishal told me.
Before the Golden Kitty
“I always used to introduce myself as ‘ex of my ex,’” started Vishal. “I'm not ex-Google, not ex-Flipkart, or ex-Amazon. I started my company directly after graduation, based in Surat, [India]. It’s not a city known for IT companies. It was quite tough for me. My entire family is in farming, so I’m the first one to hold an engineering degree.”
Vishal and his co-founder bootstrapped the IT company and scaled it from two people to 150, serving clients across more than 24 countries.
The idea for DhiWise came while working on project after project for the company’s clients. While the developers were busy automating tools and workflows for consumers and businesses, 60% of their own work was repetitive, mundane, and manual. So the team started research on building solutions for developers in October of 2020 and soon developed an MVP. That MVP became DhiWise, which launched as a “ProCode” platform delivering production-ready code for web and mobile apps.
After the Golden Kitty
For Vishal, the discrepancy between his own background and the background of traditional venture-backed founders has been distinctly felt, but that all changed when DhiWise had market validation and a Golden Kitty Award
“I’m specifically mentioning how Product Hunt has played a very vital role in our life because in the investment world, there is a kind of a thesis to invest,” explained Vishal. “VCs invest in the founders who are from good colleges, like Stanford or Harvard graduates. I don't have a product background.”
Winning a Golden Kitty Award helped direct eyes away from titles and onto DhiWise’s future. It also helped the makers demonstrate market validation, which was crucial for fundraising at the time. DhiWise was part of a small group of burgeoning programming automation companies. Though the space has grown more crowded since, and products like Github’s Copilot accelerated movement in the space, DhiWise had a lot to prove as a category-creating business.
Vishal pulled up the deck he used to pitch investors and shared his screen, pointing out the slide with Product Hunt’s badges. “We were the first company in India I think who got the Developer Tool of the Year award,” he said. “All of a sudden everything changed. And believe me, when we were pitching the idea, lots of VCs asked me about what kind of traction we got. They go on Product Hunt and check all the comments. The Product Hunt community users had already created that kind of a trust. So that's how we are able to close our seed fund in January, directly after the Golden Kitty Awards.”
Within two or three months, DhiWise also got accepted into an accelerator program. By August, it closed a $7M Series A led by Accel and Together Fund.
“Every day we look at that kitty, like ‘Yes you changed the entire story of DhiWise,” Vishal shared.
In August of 2022, DhiWise launched an iteration of its product, DhiWise 2.0
Vishal wrote on the launch page: “Today, we are super excited to launch the new version of DhiWise—the easiest and fastest way to build powerful Flutter 3.0 and React apps ranging from basic to advanced ones without compromising on code quality and developer experience.”
DhiWise received over 700 sign-ups in just two days, which Vishal said was more than 2x what the company received from media coverage of the startup in a popular tech publication. Vishal plans to keep sharing DhiWise’s journey with the community and leveraging Product Hunt’s new Product Hubs
to highlight the product’s growth and trajectory.
“The users that we got from Product Hunt stay on the platform. They share their suggestions. I check all of the feedback. [With Product Hubs], we are able to say ‘Now we have version 2.0 and in a year, we developed this many features.’ Users can see we are actively building our product and even if they are not ready to use the product now, they might later when they see the progress. It gives us a really good stage.”
DhiWise’s community is now 40,000 strong and has processed more than half a million Figma to code translations. The team’s goal in 2023 is to grow the community to 200,000 developers, 100% organically. As I mentioned earlier, Vishal isn’t concerned with vanity metrics. He’s a community-driven founder, and that means he makes himself available to support other developers, who in return often support back and hopefully eventually join the DhiWise community.
As far as product goals, DhiWise wants to make it possible to use the platform at any point in time in the development process.
“Ultimately right now, none of the tools can be used in ongoing applications. Let's say you have a mobile application and someone wants to use any no code, low code platform in the ongoing application. It's not possible, but DhiWise is going to solve that particular problem. We are solving that problem with the legacy code as well. The focus is creating quality code that can be consumed by anyone in the world to solve the repetitive and abundant task problem.”