Not many have thought about opening up firms before entering college and even fewer have succeeded in this ambitious endeavor. One such instance is Actonate, a software development firm delving into a wide array of services. Actonate was the brainchild of one Shoaib Merchant, while he was still in school. Jubin Mehta from YourStory.in caught up with the young gun to get more information on Actonate.When did you start Actonate?
Actonate officially started on 1st Feb, 2010, though we were working as a NO Name company since Dec, 2009. But if I go back in time, the concept of Actonate was conceived in our brains the day our team started programming.
Why did you start Actonate?
I started syshacks.com back in 2007, and the people who were there with me joined Infybit and later we realized that we had potential to start our own venture, and even though we thought it to be a bit farfetched, it was the best thing we have done.
Tell us more about Actonate.
Actonate is projected to be a large scale software company which is involving itself in sectors like Web Design & Development, Software, Branding & Research.
We just started as a small group of website developers and now are looking for a huge market ahead, spreading through multiple sectors.
Our vision is to change the face of the Indian software industry and make sure we meet international standards.
Also, we maintain a friendly work environment at Actonatewhere everybody works as a team. We are more about friends than work partners which creates a better chemistry amongst us.
What is your revenue model?
Our revenue model is pretty simple right now- we are working as a service provider company and till things get settled and we have a permanent revenue flow we are operating on a project basis.
We plan to make things partly product based in the future too, and we have aspirations to enter the hardware sector too.
In this highly competitive area, how do you plan to gain momentum?
We have always focused a lot on three things and have made sure to achieve it at any cost- Quality, Commitment and Client Satisfaction. Actually it’s more about Personal satisfaction; we don’t rest till we and the client are sure that we are pleased about what we have made.We don’t like grumpy faces to leave at the end of the project. We like them to leave with a wide smile.
We make sure of an upper hand by keeping our team always updated of the latest technologies, there are in-house training sessions that make us reach higher heights and challenge ourselves.
Give us an idea about your target market.
Considering our two major areas of work, Web Development & Software systems, for the former we plan to target the International market and already have the workforce for it. We are working on a plan targeted to be achieved by the end of Q3.
Plus, we have team members and associates working with us from different countries so it will not be tough to achieve it.
For Software Systems we are going a little slow, we are developing our first large scale project and we are taking measures to make sure it’s the finest in the market. That’s what the extra effort is for.We are carefully stepping forward; we don’t want to compromise quality for speed and haste of growth.
Our main focus for this year is to build proper foundations for each sector of work.
What is your outreach model?
We don’t want to limit ourselves to a zone or niche, we want to take up challenging projects and when we talk about the Internet, the whole world is a stage.We want to take up projects which push our creativity to its maximum.
We have spent almost nothing on marketing right now but still have our hands full. I guess our work is pretty good but by this year’s end we plan for a small Internet advertising campaign and we probably will be doing some physical advertising next year.
What are the challenges that Actonate faces?
I personally believe that there is no point in doing anything without an element of challenge involved.
We are a student-cum-professionals based startup and therefore the main challenges are time management, but we have always delivered before our deadline, on the biggest platform available i.e. the Internet.
R&D is one sector that we are finding a challenge at the moment.
Some might think we are too young for this, and has been a stumbling block in certain projects. But I would like the readers to know that our strength is that we just love what we do!
Did you fundraise your startup? If not, are you looking at now?
We started as a zero investment company, and haven’t had any requirement for any funds so far.The smaller requirements sometimes are met by our families who have been very supportive.
Our business model is designed in such a way that in a matter of time, our service level industry will be funding the product level industry we wish to build. Though, we may require an investment few years down the line for establishing our centers in multiple cities.But we want to earn it through making a mark, not through benefits.
Tell us a bit about your team and hiring plans if any.
We are about 15 right now, with almost everybody performing multiple roles in the company.Our team mainly consists of under grad and post grad students, and also professionals with good experience in this field.Our team has always been from all over India and even abroad.
We have officials working in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, and in countries like US, UK, Kuwait and Australia.
Having people from different backgrounds, with different expertise is important for expansion. Distance is not a factor; our co-ordination is evident in our work.Yes, we are looking for team expansion and anyone interested can drop in a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell us about the strategic partnerships that helped you scale.
Action Engineers, a well-established Instrumentation company based in Vadodara, has always stood by us.Another company that has really helped us grow is Brewberrys Hospitality PvtLtd,their Managing Director Mr. Ankur Gupta has taken deep interest in us and has provided us with a lot of opportunities.
We are currently in the process of starting a graphics designing subsidiary company Inkstant, in partnership with them.
Let us in on your expansion plans.
From what we started with, we have come far and we don’t want to stop. We are starting to enter Brand Development using Internet and Social Media, and have good leads in it.
We are also in a process of globalizing our web design and development services so we can address a much larger market.As I mentioned earlier about Inkstant, this unit will help us gain more momentum in the market and will serve as a good revenue source for the company.
And considering our long term plans, we are aiming to come up with multiple centers across India, including an R&D Center in Bangalore in coming years.
What kind of support are you looking at from YourStory.in readers?
I think Yourstory.in is a brilliant platform for young entrepreneurs and startups, and is doing a very good job. So it is an honor to be talked about on this website. We want to make our mark on the readers, and prove that Actonate is a force to reckon with.
Some wait for others to initiate, but we don’t wait; we act and if you want to create your imaginations, then we will more than happy to do it for you.