"The world is flat, Raghu," said Rohith Bhat, the founder of the Robosoft.
Most of us startup folk woke up to the news of Robosoft's INR 22 Cr from Kalaari Capital. It got great coverage in the media. But our thoughts went back to the entrepreneur who believed in starting an IT company in Udupi. Our thoughts went back to the man who provided many hundreds of jobs to the people in a town like Udupi so they could do top class work without having to leave their hometown.
One would think, if he could achieve so much from Udupi, imagine what he could have done in a Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore. But I asked him the same, he says, "I think in today's day and age, it doesn't matter where you are, if you're doing good work. If you've got good talent and you're focused on building something great, then it really doesn't matter where you're from." And they sure have been doing some good work. Since 1996, Robosoft has been in the IT services space, as an 'Mac OS only' development company, and was an Apple certified developer, one of eight companies in the world.
"Also, I'm from Udupi," he added, coyly.
The bet on mobility
In 2008, when Apple launched it's app store, Robosoft chose to place it's bet on the mobile app's space. Rohith shared, "Apple shared the iPhone SDK with us a few months before it's launch, and they asked us if we'd like to build apps for this platform. We said, 'why not'. The coding wasn't very different to what we were already doing on the Mac OS, so we tried our hand at it. At the time of the launch of the app store, we had already had 5 apps on the app store. While there were clients' apps, we saw phenomenal traction and growth in the first few months itself. From then on, there was no looking back for us. This was an opportunity of a lifetime."
Having seen the success with mobility on their clients' apps, Robosoft decided to spin off a subsidiary, Global Delight, which solely built iOS and Android apps. Rohith said, "We worked on the audio, photo, video space, because we had talent and expertise in the area. We also focused on games, as we had been doing that for a while as well." Rohith shared that distribution for these apps was never a problem in the early days - "now there are too many apps. Distribution is not the problem, marketing is."
This the reason being the fund raise. He said, " half of the funds will be used to scale and market our products, and the other half will be used to strengthen our services offering. We raised the funding now because of the opportunity. Furthermore, the product division was running on the money that we got from our services work. We want to give it it's own wings"
A world class, small town company
There is a common misconception that running a startup from small towns isn't expensive and Rohith qipped, "Yes, basic needs and cost of living might be lesser, but a MacBook cost's the same in Udupi or Bangalore."
Rohith also shared that there is no shortage of good talent in the area. He said, "In a 50 km radius, we have as many as 22 engineering colleges, including ones like Manipal. To us, the guys who come from here are good enough and they get molded to our company very quickly. Talent has never been a problem for us."
We concluded our conversation with Rohith by asking him what this journey meant to him. He said, "Firstly, I hope people realize that you don't need to go to a metro to build a world class company. Secondly, it is a company built by normal human beings; success can be built without having big university names as well. And finally, this journey wouldn't have been possible without the people who believed in it and it will be worthwhile if they're rewarded for the belief at the end of it."
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