Saurabh Jain, Gaurang Sinha and Rishi Agarwal, Founders, ThinkingSpace Technologies Pvt. Ltd.Team YS
The trio says “All of us founders are classmates from college. After having worked for almost a year in our respective campus-placed jobs in large, typical Indian services companies, we decided to quit and start on our own.
The timing seemed right and we felt that we needed to build a true consumer focused products company in India along with it being a terrific place to work for people and a company that focused on building great software products equivalent in quality to those available internationally.”
They are software designers who are making great strides nationally and abroad. They state “We design products targeted at both - the Indian as well as an international audience. So far, 2500+ people in India and abroad have used our event management products and 1500+ TV and Film professionals are using I’m in TV - a social-business networking application that we wrote for our clients in the UK.”
”For some of our products, we charge our users per event and for others, a monthly charge.
Hence if a particular user is not satisfied with our products, they can simply not renew their subscription.”
”One thing that we are extremely serious about – is keeping things fair and transparent. For both our users and us. So you will not see any setup charges or long term binding agreements. We are confident that we write brilliant software which will make our users come back to us every time – instead of tying them up.”
”We also provide product engineering services – in which we hand-hold our clients from the initial ideation phase to the planning, development and final implementation. We hate the way some companies just code the software, ship it and disappear. We spend a lot of time and effort post sales – making sure that the clients are using our software properly and they are not facing any issues. We believe we provide awesome customer care service in India – something that we ourselves feel is missing in many, many places. (And I am confident all our clients can vouch for this)”
Their growth hinges on the software products that they develop, and they confirm this saying “At this point of time, we have a couple of products that are more or less within the same space. Our plan is to consolidate all of them into one marketable product and then concentrate on it completely. This would allow us to focus our efforts into building one world class product rather than many small, disparate products.”
Entrepreneurship was not simply a monetary decision; their creative sides yearned for the freedom that only the self-employed enjoy. “We all felt restricted at a regular 9-to-5 job on more levels than one. Creativity being one of them. No doubt a regular job is safer and your bank balance will always appreciate every month – but with that, it also brings about a limit on how quickly you can grow. Being entrepreneurs, we have learnt and seen so many different things that we wouldn’t have been to otherwise. Besides, being young, the risk of failure was minimal and our folks at home were all supportive and even gung-ho about it” states the trio.
They had no easy task whilst trying to make their mark. The software market is competitive, and as new entrepreneurs their hands were full. They recalled their initial working days saying “The biggest challenge would be shipping the first product. That was even worse than trying to get the company registered (and that was pretty bad). The three of us hadn’t worked together much – and writing our first product was like trying to build a car with completely non-matching, parts. However, perseverance paid off and we learnt from our mistakes. The product took twice as long to build – but since then, we have been able to be pretty accurate with our delivery estimates.”
Their biggest learning lesson was of course waiting in the wings. Fresh off their ordeal the trio says “This was something that happened recently. As an entrepreneur, you tend to get optimistic on the smallest of things and in the goodness of people and think that everything will work out fine in the end. The same thing happened with us. We were to undertake a project for a particular client – and we even signed the contract. We were to receive our first payments soon – and assuming that the project would definitely materialize (we had after all, signed a contract) we went ahead and made some large investments for the project.”
”Eventually, the project never came and we learnt that contracts in India mean nothing.
The large investments we made – hit us really badly and the following months were extremely difficult – almost resulting in us having to close shop. The lesson that we learnt from this was to be very careful with the clients you are dealing with and if the deal feels the least bit dicey, to wait it out till the money is safely in the bank.”
ThinkingSpace Technologies started off with just Rs. 10,000 each from their savings and their personal computers. The total seed capital to get the internet, electricity bill, etc. was Rs. 30,000 /-. From their humble beginnings they have grown from 3 to 7 employees in Jan this year and more than doubled their strength in just fifteen months of operation.
Their numerous achievements have been chronicled at: http://thinkingspacetech.wordpress.com/activeciti-reviews/
They are especially proud of a few and mentioned them saying “Notable amongst them were being featured in Mashable and KillerStartups – two very prominent websites writing about technology startups. One of our products was also listed in the top 9 event planning tools on the Internet by EventsAuthority (a prominent event management advice website).
We also finished #84 out of 600+ startups in India in the TATA NEN Hottest Startups Awards and were recently invited to demo our application at the Summer edition of HeadStart 2009.”
Even before their entrepreneurial effort, the trio was making a name for themselves albeit on a more individual level. “Back in college, Gaurang and me (Saurabh) won the Microsoft Imagine Cup in India. The Imagine Cup is an annual software design invitational competition and we beat more than 5000 students in India to represent the country in Yokohama, Japan. The thrill of beating students from the more coveted institutes like the IITs, the PICTs and the COEPs is something that we will cherish all our lives.”
”Both of us also won two state level game design contests while in the third year of college for a foosball game that we had developed in C++. We will always cherish that too as we spent 10 sleepless nights developing the game which paid great dividends later on. (The cash prizes were substantial for college students at that time J)”
Their entrepreneurial accomplishments have been fuelled by “The belief that we can get where we want to and the knowledge that it generally takes 3 – 5 years to get there in India. Also, success stories of other founders and startups making it big is very motivating. We have all read and loved “Founders at Work” and also “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” and these stories never fail to inspire you no matter how many times you read them.”
The coming year has enormous significance to ThinkingSpace Technologies. The trio explains “We have made some important decisions this year which we hope will pay off in 2010. Hence, we intend to have strong, positive cash flow in 2010. This will aid in expanding the team and trying out some new things that we have been aching to try out for the want of funds. The team size may grow to around 10 – 12 people.”
The combined entrepreneurship of these three entrepreneurs has fuelled the success of a company; and their wisdom may inspire others, they advised “I think that the best way to find out if your business idea actually works is to just go out and do it. Many people spend a lot of time contemplating and evaluating risks and as such never get to the stage of starting up.”
“There is generally a stigma associated with failure in India – but that too is at an all time low with plenty of jobs available – even at this time. So if you have an idea and think that it is worth pursuing, you should go all out and do it. At worst, your idea will fail and you’ll get another job. But on the bright side, you would have undertaken an awesome journey – not possible in any other job and learnt loads of things in the process.”
Yourstory cheers on ThinkingSpace Technologies while wishing for bigger and better from our featured trio of entrepreneurs.