Their name is synonymous to who they are - a software technology company that aims to help clients operate their businesses more efficiently and stay Ahead in their industries through the innovative use of technology.Set up in India in 2009, they are headquartered in Noida, India and have a Sales Office in New Jersey, USA. With a small team of 50, which includes 45 technical personnel, they are a full spectrum offshore development company that offers scalable software outsourcing solutions.
CEO Vikas Kaushik takes YourStory.in through his journey of developing hundreds of mobile apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry devices for clients across North America, Europe and other parts of the world.
Vikas, please tell us a little about yourself and the founding team at TechAhead.
I am the CEO and co-founder of TechAhead. The other two co-founders Manoj and Jitin, head Technology and Marketing respectively at TechAhead. All three of us have years of experience and a strong foundation in the industry.
I started my career as a Java Developer, from where I progressed rapidly to play a leading role in an IT Certification product based start-up - Whizlabs. Prior to starting up TechAhead, I gained over a decade of industry experience, which included a stint at BrickRed Technologies as Vice President - Delivery.
Manoj has over 12 years' technical experience with global organizations such as HP and CISCO in Project Management and System Design & Development. Jitin started his entrepreneurial journey over a decade ago by founding a web development company. He also led the flagship Java product line at Whizlabs, which was ranked one of the top six innovative start-ups by NASSCOM, and has worked in key Sales and Marketing roles at Quasar Media, BrickRed Technologies and Times Jobs.
How did you personally enter app development? Was it a conscious decision or something that happened?
To quote Edison, “We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.” We entered the app development market by chance, but we would not have seen the success that we have if we weren’t equipped for it.
Every successful enterprise has three key ingredients at its core – talent, opportunity and preparation. When we got an opportunity to enter the Mobile Development space, we already had the first two. It was our hard work and commitment towards meeting client expectations that enabled us to take this forward and achieve success.
How do you see the current app-space in India?
At present, India has around 30 million internet activated mobile phone connections, and this is expected to reach 237 million by 2015. Mobile app statistics estimate that there are over 100 million apps being downloaded every month in India. So clearly, its boom time in the app development space and we expect to see a mobile revolution in the country over the next 3-5 years.
Several factors will further fuel this growth. For instance, there is a proposal by some state governments to distribute Tabs to school children. If this does happen, it will be a real game changer in education apps. There are similar opportunities in Healthcare, E-commerce and gaming, among others.
Tell me about your clients. What was the first project the company finished successfully?
We have clients from all over the world. Our very first client was based out of the USA. It was an absolutely new relationship, and she gave us the project purely based on intuition. We were committed to ensuring that her expectations were met. This meant that our team had to work around the clock, literally on 24-hour shifts until the project was complete, but the effort was well worth it. From that point forward, there was no looking back. Gradually, we built a reputation in the market through referrals and our business contacts.
What are your views on the Windows platform? How do you see it catching up?
Windows 8 will be everywhere, given that Microsoft still holds a major market share in the PC segment. Moreover, since Windows 8 Tablets will be based on the ARM processor it can compete with some of the highly promoted features of the iPad such as slimness, extended battery life and overall design appeal. In addition, it will run on several different desktops and portable PCs, making it a tough competitor.
The availability of high quality apps is a big selling point for any device, and since most developers already write for the Windows platform, one can presume that they would consider writing new ones for Windows 8, further fuelling consumer interest in these devices.
While Windows 8 has everything that it requires to succeed, we will have to wait and watch how well it is executed.
So how do you hunt for projects? What is your marketing model?
Being in the service industry, we understand that customer satisfaction is the best marketing tool. Most of our projects come through word of mouth and references. Besides nurturing contacts that we made during our prior experience in the industry, we focus on building client relationships. As a result around 50% of our revenue comes from repeat business, and we add on approximately 4-5 new clients every month through references.
You develop apps only for clients for now. But do you plan to have your own line of apps as well? What are your expansion plans?
Yes, as part of our future corporate social responsibility goals, we do have plans for developing our own line of apps that will have a social focus and be relevant for a larger section of society.
We plan to set up offices in the US and European markets in the coming financial year. In addition, we have initiated the process of finding suitable strategic partners who can help us reach to the next level.
Looking back at your journey, any vital tips for budding entrepreneurs?
While we were fortunate to have opportunity come our way, our journey has not been an easy one. In India, entrepreneurship is still not rated as high as it is in the west. Like many other startups, we have faced bottlenecks due to lack of availability of infrastructure and financing. In the early days, we were turned down by two incubation centers when we approached them for infrastructural assistance just because we were not a product based company. Raising finance was also difficult as loans to the services sector were extremely hard to procure.
If the Government or large corporates were to set up funds for services sector startups, it would give a great impetus to entrepreneurship, and there would be a significant increase in employment with more skilled jobs being created.
Until this happens, my advice to other startups would be to remain cash positive at all times. We are a zero debt company, and this has helped us survive without bearing the burden of repayments and interest.
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