Last week, Clew made a few rounds on Twitter, and a few folks were interested in learning more about Clew and how we got here. There was a lot of overlap, so I’ve consolidated some of my answers here.

Where did the idea for Clew come from?

I designed the first version of Clew in 2018 - a lot of the ideas were seeded from personal experiences and observing how teams I worked with collaborated. During summer internships, I spent time learning as much as I could on how different teams worked and communicated; all that helped me visualize what Clew needed to be.

clew 2018

It is also the case that other products I built and worked on in the past sparked an interest in search tech and consumer products, which lead me to focus on Clew full-time.

How did you get a co-founder?

Haishan and I went to university together. We met at our university accelerator and have since built three products together.

What were the initial days like?

Mostly just heads-down building.

When you’re young and don’t have much of a track record it’s harder to get people to believe in your ideas. You need to focus on what matters and keep attempting to build a better product every-single-day.

I’ve seen Clew consistently improve and grow over the last two years as we learned to love the process and focused on ourselves. It’s one of the most rewarding thing I’ve learned from all this. To be honest, I believe it’s the best way to operate in the startup space.

What state was Clew in when you applied to YC?

clew first ph

This is what we applied to YC with; Clew OG ProductHunt launch. We had big ideas, but we had little time and few resources back then, so we stripped it down to just one feature and built that. It allowed us to launch something, get some traction in terms of users and paying customers. It helped us survive.

How did the product grow there and after?

We landed a few paid customers, learned a lot about the types of people who wanted to use and pay for what we offered. That all helped us raise capital to focus on building the product we envisioned all along. Today we’re all-in on making Clew the best-in-class tool for all your work.

What’s the team size now, and what is Clew’s next milestone?

We’re an enterprise of two. I design and build the product, Haishan does growth and sales, and we both do a million other things to fill in the gaps.

The next milestone will be launching 2.0 and hiring our first team member.

How has your role evolved at Clew from the idea stage to the present?

When you’re a founder, you end up doing a lot, and the work keeps evolving.

My days switch between working on the backend, designing the frontend and landing pages, talking to users, writing documentation, fundraising, and the list goes on. I can’t think of a linear set of roles I’ve evolved through, and I don’ think that’s true for most founders either; you do anything that’s needed to keep things moving forward and get better at prioritizing.

What’s it like building Clew?

I could go on all day about this, but for now, here’s the birds-eye-view I copied and pasted from a previous reply. I do hope to write more in-depth on the design and development of SAAS products in the future.

Clew is a neat piece of software that does quite a lot under the hood. Here’s a quick outline of the various components that make up Clew:

Integration service; a single abstraction for utilizing data across integrations like Google Drive, Dropbox, GitHub, Figma, etc. It’s a serverless application written in PHP that can simultaneously search across dozens of integrations in seconds, milliseconds if you consider the caching layer that accounts for external latencies. The API even listens for updates on any resource it has access to; these can be used for consolidating notifications on the frontend.

A frontend based on a blazing fast progressive web application (PWA) written in Next JS and deployed to serverless with CloudFront distributions close to all our core users. Almost all pages on Clew score a 100% performance score on Lighthouse.

A REST backend that serves graph-like content among other resources and can manage, authorize, tag and keep track of any content. It facilitates a central repository for all your work—data from all your tools, in one place, in one unified, consistent and reliable API.

All of this is continuously deployed such that I could go from saving code on my local desktop to fully deployed in a few minutes, with no human intervention. Almost all of the deployment environment is specified in code and deployed using several custom docker images.

Hindsight is 20/20

Founders grow with their startups and you can only connect the dots so clearly looking back. Every startup goes through it’s own journey of ups, downs and sideways. If I could leave you with anything it’s that you should be kind to yourself as you go through this journey. If anything because it’ll be the best environment for you to do the work of your life, and that’s the best gift you can give yourself and your startup.

Thanks for the interest in my work! Thanks to Manas for most of the questions! :)