Start with a Free Product to Validate a B2B Business? It’s Possible


After the success of YouSendIt (now Hightail), Ranjith Kumaran and Mehdi Ait Oufkir co-founded PunchTab, a loyalty and engagement platform for brands, agencies, blogs and businesses.

When it came time to validate PunchTab, Ranjith and Mehdi decided to focus on distribution before monetization. Although they could have easily launched with a paid model, the co-founders decided to test whether they could attract users by launching with just a free tool.

The decision paid off. Hundreds of website owners started using PunchTab and talking about the platform. Ranjith and Mehdi were able to capture loads of valuable feedback on product usage, feature requests, unmet needs and perceived value.

By starting free, the PunchTab founders were able to gain visibility, prove product usefulness and, ultimately, scale into a working business model. Managing a high-trafficked application also helped them establish credibility with business users. The service was fast and reliable; it could handle their business needs.

Although starting free may not be possible for all B2B companies, PunchTab was able to get a lot of valuable feedback by simply opening the gates.