After 9 years in business, with dealings in outsourcing services, IIT Madras and College of Engineering (Pune) alumni, Ashwin Ramasamy and Visalam Ramakrishnan took things to the next level with ContractIQ. As former employees of large Indian and International oursourcing firms, they have served over 300 startups and a handful of F500s in web, mobile and enterprise tech space.Describing their start up motivation, Ashwin says, “I had this on my mind for a long time, getting the finances, logistics etc in place took some time." His venture ContractIQ is developed around the ‘App economy’ explosion where he says several developers and agencies are seeing a boom. However this sudden growth in the app space also means that there is very little flow of credible information which is required in finding the right app developers. Google might throw up some names but most might show up on the strength of their SEO which takes time and money to do. Also a Google search is not indicative of real world skills or acumen.
The options that remain are word of mouth, LinkedIn and Facebook which are also not very scalable. After all Ashwin says “Not everyone can deliver an absolute verdict on who is good and who is not. Context matters, which is why most networks are not built to factor”.
Not everyone can evaluate an App development agency and ContractIQ employs a range of methods to ensure that their procedures are airtight. Offline methods include calling the developers, screening them and profiling them. This is also where ContractIQ enters the scene. They are vying to be your first destination when you seek an app developer. Ashwin says “ContractIQ has the infrastructure with online and offline facts about agencies. ContractIQ is an online platform where startups post quick recommendations on agencies that they trust, for their peers to discover and work with. Built on top of LinkedIn, the recommendations are broadcast within ContractIQ and optionally, to the network of the recommenders in LinkedIn. Progressively, we shall release tools that allow startups to reach out to such recommenders, to help with the evaluation of service providers.”
Ashwin states “We have, so far validated about 50 agencies from 10 countries and helped curate over 20 high value product outsourcing transactions. In each transaction, we helped the startups evaluate the agencies on about 25 aspects that matter to a startup and in all the cases, agencies with 90% or above score on these parameters won the deals. In this process we have spoken to over 70 startups around the world”
From interviewing startups to applying the Net promoter score with Servqual metrics, they even find out why customers are loyal, using a multi pronged questionnaire. The details are metricised with feedback on a monthly basis which is the IQ score ™ for App developers.
The site instructs that “You could access the product as a ‘buyer’ through the home page. By clicking on ‘Find/Recommend Agency’ you’d be able to recommend an agency and through a form on the top menu, you’d be able to ask ContractIQ for more recommendations, beyond what's on the feed and the pre-curated list that ContractIQ has built.”Their revenue streams flow from access fees for recommended agencies and commissions after the right matches are made. Ashwin spoke about what he hopes to do saying “We will start charging subscriptions for data that agencies want to put in and insights they want to take out.”
His belief is that “If you can build credibility insights, you could build various applications on top”. He adds “Beyond discovery of agencies, we would progressively bring insights based on a variety of data & the wisdom of the crowd to vendor evaluation and outsourcing execution.”
The founding team behind ContractIQ has over 10 years of experience with startups, mid-market and enterprise outsourcing in the US, Europe and India both as a buyer and seller of web, mobile and enterprise tech services. They have built services’ businesses from scratch and scaled front-line sales and delivery teams.
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