We Built A $40K/Month AI Face Recognition Based Attendance Software [From India]

Published: November 20th, 2021
Ankit Tanna
Founder, Truein
from Pune, Maharashtra, India
started April 2017
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi, I’m Ankit Tanna, the founder at Truein. Truein is a Face recognition-based attendance solution.

Truein is designed to address attendance use cases for contractual and distributed staff. The solution brings transparency to the attendance process and boosts the productivity of the workforce.

We are currently at 40,000 USD MRR.



What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I’d like to call myself a product engineer with an entrepreneurial DNA. Before venturing into a startup business, I worked for over a decade with large software companies in India, Singapore, and the USA.

Think for the long term but keep an eye on intermediate small milestones. A deep understanding of your target market and customer profiles will help in keeping your product roadmap in the right direction.

Truein is my second startup, which we started about 4 years back. My first startup was into the ride-sharing space. We soon realized there was a lack of clarity in ride-sharing regulations in India at that time. We decided to exit and got an opportunity to sell it to an automobile giant in India. It was a humble exit but still gave me cash in hand to kick start my next venture.

During that time, I used to visit many enterprise customers and meet Admin and HR leaders. During discussions, I came to know about pain areas in attendance management for contractual staff and the remotely deployed staff. There were much temporary & frequently changing staff, and one of the common problems was to register them for attendance. Sometimes workers directly reported at the site and it was a tedious and error-prone process to keep their onboarding and attendance in sync across multiple locations.

Existing attendance solutions were usually relying on Fingerprint biometric to capture attendance. Due to the nature of business, many workers’ fingerprints were faded, and their attendance was registered manually. Solutions also lacked controls and transparency in attendance policies, which in turn affected workforce productivity. There was also a lack of employee experience. I dug down into the problem and realized there is an opportunity to address this globally. We leveraged AI and Face recognition technology and started building Truein.


Take us through the process of building the MVP.

There were multiple iterations we went through before we reached product-market fit. While we had clarity on the larger problem statement, the actual solution we built in cooperation with our early customers from the construction industries. The majority of their staff were hired on direct contract or via other sub-contracting agencies. Project sites were changing as well based on the duration of the project. Due to this, the ideal solution also required full portability in attendance.

Our focus was to first address the primary use case around attendance capturing, basic policies, and muster reports. We launched the product within a few months and the early user interface was very basic and unattractive.

There were multiple iterations we went through before we reached product-market fit. In the first year, we used to visit customers in person on the site for feedback and at times we ended up fixing code right at their office for the issues they reported.

One of the biggest pieces of feedback we got from customers was the need for offline support in the app, especially for remote site use cases.


Describe the process of launching the business.

We didn’t do any formal launch. Before we started any promotions and marketing, our objective was to onboard the first 5 customers and out of those at least 1 should be a known brand.

Attendance and worker productivity is still unsolved problem for organizations with a low and medium skill workforce. Our primary focus is enterprise customers. Our pricing is pay per user.

We hustled to acquire those early customers. The primary channels were my network and via cold calling. While we were going all out to acquire customers, I was always focused on getting the right customer as per our Ideal customer profile. This is important to ensure product development in the right direction. We did multiple customer interviews and ran surveys to derive ICP and also to validate our hypothesis around the solution we were building.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

We started working on SEO and content, however realized that building organic traffic was taking longer than we anticipated, so we started paid channels. Google Ads worked quite well for us and generated good inquiries. For the kind of solution we offer, overall awareness and Google search traffic was limited.

So we targeted our ads more around existing broad keywords like Biometric Attendance system, Online attendance management solution, Contractual staff management, etc. This did generate inquiries but we had to qualify them by doing a short phone call before we scheduled an actual demo meeting. We also nurtured those leads by running more educational content like the following:

We also explored a partnership with resellers and similar companies, however, that didn’t take off either. Primarily because awareness of the solution was still not there. Customers had a lot of queries and objections, which resellers weren’t able to address, as there was a learning curve for them as well.

After acquiring the first few customers, we started email drip campaigns which serve as one of the primary channels for us.

We use this primarily to run educational content to nurture leads, which we have acquired through ads. We also run retargeting campaigns on Emails, for leads generated via LinkedIn.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

We are at an early growth stage and exploring new geography. GTM in every new region requires you to go through a few experiments. Our customer acquisition cost varies based on that. However, overall for every $1 of ad spent we generate about $2 revenue.

We are a team of 20 people. We follow a hybrid model when it comes to working from the office vs working from home. While most of the days in the week we work from home, everyone comes to the office at least on Friday. Most team activities and sessions are planned for Friday.


Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Starting a business is a lifelong journey of learning and growth. For me, coming from a tech background, I had quite a learning curve on the sales and marketing side. When we were building the product, I was a bit too reluctant to start pitching to prospective customers without a working demo. Also, during sales meetings I used to focus a lot on explaining the product features rather than extracting customers’ problems.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Like most other startups, we rely on quite a few tools for various business functions.

For the sales and marketing side, Hubspot is used as a CRM, Woodpecker for Email campaigns. We also built lead scoring and a few other automation to stitch marketing and sales functions smoothly.

For Customer support and ticketing, we use Freshdesk.

On the Product development and Engineering front, we use Asana, Mailgun, Google workspace, Canva, Bitbucket, Jenkins, and other dev-ops tools.

Other tools like Hellosign for contract management and G-Chat as the primary medium for team communication.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

The first book I picked up before starting up was The Art of Start by Guy Kawasaki. Lots of basics I learned from that.

Other books which helped me learn various aspects of business are

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Think for the long term but keep an eye on intermediate small milestones. A deep understanding of your target market and customer profiles will help in keeping your product roadmap in the right direction.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are currently looking to hire a content writer, product marketer, and senior front-end developer. If you know someone who might be interested in these roles, then please ask them to write to us at [email protected].

Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about us on our website and various other social media channels

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!