Focus on full product development and build scalable platforms
Mahavir Chand (Co Founder of GoDB Tech) started the company in 2000 along with Ravi Kiran and Rajaraman. Mahavir comes in with a finance background and went to Satyam to manage www.walletwatch.com (the biggest finance portal of those days) and Raja & Ravi has lots of product management experience in the US for more than five years when they were working with Calsoft. They decided to build product -Finvest ( finance portal with advanced content management features out of box). The first year was easy because of the dotcom boom as all Horizontal portal wanted finance channel and Stock brokers also wanted a Finance portal for their online trading for which they had a ASP model(Application service provider now as SAAS). Sales just happened and company was profitable in first year itself.
Mahavir recollects that they realized how difficult sales was when the financial market went down in 2001. They tried repurposing Financial content management technology as enterprise content management system to establish a revenue stream but the corporates they were selling to were focussed on implementing core enterprise applications and were not ready for web technology and hence that initiative did not take off that well.
Luckily, during the Dotcom boom, Intel had shown interest in the company/platform provided initial funding. During the dotcom crash Intel gave the insight to focus on emerging technology (Devices) and gave them freedom to build a platform which is the current mobility platform – GoDB . None of the founders had a sales background and they went and met all possible companies and did not get any breakthrough. After some analysis, they realized that they had to focus on a few industries only and chose Insurance and FMCG. There were many issues at that point in time in selling the mobility solution (Cost of hardware – 30K, monthly GPRS cost -600/month, connectivity issues) hence corporates were reluctant to invest in mobility.
They got their first break with Unilever who adopted it for around 5000 users. Post successful deployment at Unilever, revenue started flowing. With each deployment GoDB understood practical issues that the sales team and the distributors of the FMCG/Insurance giant faced and began developing additional features to suit the client and began talking about these key features to the other prospects and began getting lots of interests. The founders understood that there was a need for offline computing as connectivity issues was there in rural markets which all consumer brands want to penetrate. The market was filled with traditional web applications,but the market lacked one. The team envisioned that mobility adoption will pick up in the market and will reach mainstream in the next few years and focused on building the product inspite of the lukewarm response. They began developing every aspect of the product with extensive market feedback. Every feature that they built was taken to the market, validated and the subsequent features were built only based on the market demanding those features.
They have seen multiple CIOs at all their major customers, where they keep changing other IT systems in their company, but the consistent thing that all CIOs wanted to retain is the GoDB platform because of the tremendous business benefit it was generating for their company.
Mahavir’s advice to startup founders –
1)If you are building a product when the market is not ready or down, try getting some funding so that you will be able to focus on full product development. In the absence of funding, there will be an urgency to close deals and hence you will not be able to focus on full-fledged product development.
2) Enterprise products will go through lots of iterations and adoption will take time. Hence focus on one or two industries initially and then replicate it other industries.Within the Industry focus on Leaders/Innovators to start with.
3)Enterprise products have to stand test of time, hence look at Architecture which are scalable and adaptable to technology changes. (Mahavir proudly says that the 85% of the architecture of the product developed in 2004 is still the same and the add-ons now are only new mobile OS)
GoDB Tech (www.godbtech.com) has 100 plus employees and have around 300 out of the top 1000 blue chip customers in India. They have been chosen in the CIO choice awards for enterprise mobility services for 2012 and 2013. With the worldwide smartphone boom and huge demand for enterprise mobility solution, They are now expanding to US, ME and APAC regions