Beginning of Ruby Software
Joyce, Co-Founder of Ruby Software did his engineering from Mysore and moved to Bangalore to work with Tata Elxsi and then worked with Creative Technologies (Singapore) in the 1990s for 8 years. He completed his PG in Software Engineering from National University of Singapore. He left Creative and Co-Founded a company dealing with human genome and created a platform. The idea was to solve research problems for the research institutes. It was a novel idea at that point in time but the .com bust made it unviable to hold on for sometime without having funds and hence they sold this product to National University of Singapore and had an exit. Joyce came back to the corporate life and ran an Engineering division for a company called Brunswick (US MNC) in Singapore. They acquired a company called Navman in New Zealand, he spent three years in New Zealand. He came back to India in 2007 and joined RevenueMed. He ran the entire applications development services and his team have built a number of Ruby on Rails applications, they were one of the early adopters of this technology. He decided to spin off the captive division as a separate company – Ruby Software. They found good demand for Ruby on Rails Engineering Services in the market. They also figured out that there were not many players providing these services.
To go out in the market, they analysed and found out that the startups would be the best bets for them to target as they are the ones who need an MVP to go out faster in the market. Rails platform provides a number of features and will be able to help the startups achieve this.
Joyce says that they had very limited funds and hence felt that he would not be able to spend so much of money in Marketing. He also figured out that the Ruby community was very small and well connected. He figured out that the best way to reach the users would be through the communities. He began attending Ruby Conferences in the US and got to meet a few startups there. He also began talking with the organizers there and sought speaking assignments and got those slots. He went in and spoke on the different types of applications that Rails platform can deliver and in turn communicated the depth of the knowledge they had. This excited the audience and they began getting connected with him and he started getting orders. He also got connected with the startup village in Atlanta, US where they present and run seminars and engage with the startups out there.
First Customer for Services
They published blogs and learning videos to evangelise the platform. This got them popular and an enquiry came from the Ruby group. The company had questions on their capability since they did not have any prior experience. They demonstrated what they did for RevenueMed and that got the prospect interested. The prospect was building an auction site and that was not a complicated project to build from an business perspective, They got the deal because they were able to demonstrate the capabilities of the Rails platform and showed a lot of maturity with the platform. The prospect felt that Ruby Software could fulfil their needs and gave them the go ahead.
Trigger to product
Joyce is a strong believer of performance management. He believed that the by aligning company goals with individual goals, periodic assessment of the employee’s performance along with timely feed-back and support/training will help individuals to achieve their goals and their by contributing towards the success of the company. He was looking for a tool to do it for his internal purposes. He had a team of 25 people. He could not find any tools for his size of the organization. He found vendors were pushing core HR systems but he could not find any player in the PMS space. He took the process that they were doing with XL sheets and developed a software because they were a technology company and did not want to do it manually. They began using it internally and modified it based on the internal user feedback. When he began talking about a few other people about this software , they said that they were facing a similar problem in their organization with XL sheets. Joyce says that this is when he realized that it is valuable for other companies also. He spoke to RevenueMed and they were also interested as they did not have a PMS. The software matured with the feedback from RevenueMed and this evolved as a product. This got them into one of the product conclaves in Bangalore.
First customer for the PMS product
This was a 50 member software services company based out of Bangalore. They were using XL sheets and were struggling with the performance management process. There was no tracking, no reporting because they were doing the entire process manually. Joyce showed how Ruby Software used it and the benefits that came out of the in-house implementation and got the deal. They reached out to the CEO and to the HR Head and evangelized about the tool and showed them how the performance management landscape has changed over the years and how relevant it is in the market today. He spoke about how the software development methodology has evolved from that of a waterfall model to an iterative model of delivery. He spoke about how evaluation of the employees have not changed. The evaluation still happens once in six months or once in twelve months instead of this happening in an agile model. He also modelled how evaluating even a small team of 50 people on paper will be time consuming and making the prospect understand the benefits became easy. They offered a 30 day trial and learnt the unique processes and commonalities of the company during the demo.
As of now, they have kept the reach of the prospects within their physical proximity as they are evolving the product. They are contacting owners of people in the Techno Park nearby and get appointments through their sales team and meet the CEOs. They use cold calling as a main method to reach out to these prospects.
Joyce’s Advice to early stage entrepreneurs
Do not assume that the features you think will solve the problems will actually be true for your customers. You have to design your systems so that it is flexible enough to accommodate changes based on the feedback. You and your team must be convinced that this product solves a business problem because no one can sell the product if they don’t believe it.
Ruby Software today
Ruby Software has 50 members with 5 customers for the evolving product. They have an active set of customers for their services division. They have been selected to showcase their product at Nasscom Product Conclave Cochin 2015.. They are bootstrapped from RevenueMed