Bill Gates founded Microsoft after dropping out from college, and as he spent many nights in noisy hotels, he often thought to himself, “Did I leave Harvard for this?” This scene, chronicled alongside the initial days of what was to become the world’s largest computer technology corporation in the documentary
Pirates of the Silicon Valley, inspired Sreelaj John to set up a firm to help aspiring entrepreneurs realise their dreams.
All of these culminated in iDuple — The Startup Garage, which provides IT support and solutions, including web invoices, online document managers, live business chats, support helpdesks, email campaigners etc, with the ultimate aim of minimising the time required by new entrepreneurs to market their products and services.
To raise the funds to strike out on his own, John took up freelance and consultancy work part-time while working with ABN-AMRO Bank in Amsterdam. Though he had the requisite amount to start off, he was sceptical about his skills as an entrepreneur. “I am very careful about handing money and did everything on my own. But, as time passed, I gained in confidence and started taking risks,” he says.
And the mistakes John made along the way did little to deter him from his venture. “Once you realise a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore as you change it at once. There are certain things I would not like to repeat, and the only way I can be wise enough to know that is by making a mistake,” he says.
And once begun, entrepreneurship is addictive. “I, and all the entrepreneurs I know, can talk about the experience, the sense of achievement, the glamour and the challenges. Once you have tasted it, it is hard to let go,” he says.
The Startup Garage offers aspiring entrepreneurs services that enable them to enhance their efficiency as well as image. John, a computer engineer, boasts of the cost-effectiveness — up to 60 per cent lower than their competitors — of their solutions. “We use Cloud computing at the backend, which gives us an enormous cost advantage. This has enabled us to pass on lower entry-levels prices to our customers,” he says.
The business model of The Startup Garage is atypical, though based on the ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) model. The usual SaaS subscription implies that the customer pays a fixed rent every month, regardless of the usage of the applications. The model at The Startup Garage is more evolved. “We don’t charge customers just for keeping the applications open. Our pricing system is based on transactions. If the customers have not or forgot to use the applications, we do not charge them,” John says.
The Startup Garage was a dream project for John as well as the rest of his team. Set up in 2009, the company, which works with reusable architecture, now has eight employees. John is now seeking external funding, while the company is working on an enterprise-class version of its existing products.
This aim received a boost when the Hindustan Times featured iDuple as a “fundable company”, following a presentation at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.
Yourstory.in applauds John’s efforts towards iDuple and wishes him luck towards his vision for the year ahead — to help others make their dreams come true, while simultaneously expanding the products offered by The Startup Garage to aid in this direction.