[Startup Bharat] Started as a WhatsApp group, this PaaS startup now has an MRR of $8,500
We are all used to depending on lag-free, light applications on our phones that have not only made our lives convenient, but have opened new doors for many. But rarely do we think about the mastermind of developers who spend many hours programming and testing the apps. The whole process can be made more efficient and less time-consuming if it was automated. With this idea of helping developers and tech enthusiasts get their work done swiftly, Indore-based BuildPan was founded in January 2019.
The Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) startup serves as a Continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) tool for developers, and uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) based tools to automate the process of building applications.
Additionally, BuildPan is also a blockchain-based marketplace, connecting freelancers with agencies or professionals. Thus, serving a wide spectrum of the target audience that includes startups, co-working spaces, mobile application development companies, and freelancers.
Vaibhav Tiwari, Product Manager at Indore-based IT firm Linkites Infotech, and its CTO Virendra Chouhan, had developed around a hundred mobile applications during their tenure. However, they experience a constant challenge between the client and developer — in installing the app, performing quality assurance testing, and deploying it remotely. This is when they decided to develop a platform to automate the whole process of application development, making it simpler to deliver a quality product and increase productivity.
Vaibhav onboarded his friend from business school, Sonal Dandotiya, to join the team and manage its finances. In 2019, Vaibhav also onboarded Shantanu Sharma, his junior from college to join the founding team.
“At the same time, developers started approaching us to get freelancing work. They were looking for a place where they could showcase their skills. We started a WhatsApp group of around 170 people to help connect freelancers with clients,” Shantanu says.
What began as a WhatsApp group soon started getting traction, and is now a community of more than 2,200 freelancers and businesses.
The team had initially invested Rs 30 lakh while starting up. BuildPan has also raised funding by HNIs based in India, Japan, and the US, closing its seed round at Rs 64 lakh.
Meet the team
Sonal is the Co-founder and CFO at BuildPan. An MBA with more than a decade of experience with companies including HDFC Bank and Capegemini, Sonal manages the finance at BuildPan, besides helping in the marketing collaterals.
Co-founder and CEO Vaibhav, 31, is a Software Engineer and MBA. With more than eight years of experience, he looks after investor relations, marketing and social media at BuildPan. Virendra, 38, is a Software Engineer with more than 12 years of experience in developing Android and iOS applications. He is the CTO and manages the tech issues at BuildPan.
Co-founder and COO Shantanu, 24, is a Mechanical Engineer and has previously worked at Unilever and Coffee Day Beverages as the Assistant Manager. He currently looks after the marketing, sales, and customer acquisition at BuildPan.
Besides the four co-founders, BuildPan has three full-time developers and a marketing specialist.
Ecosystem in itself
Initially starting as a CI/CD platform, BuildPan is now an ecosystem in itself, with four service offerings.
Firstly, the CI/CD (or mobile app development platform) is open to all developers. Here, users can come up with their own repository or project (stored in GitHub or Bitbucket), connecting it with BuildPan’s platform.
“From here, the developer can start building their applications in the form of build, test and can directly deploy the apps on our platform on the respective app stores,” Shantanu says.
While the initial 100 minutes are free, BuildPan charges after that, on a per-minute basis, with plans starting from as low as $5 for 100 minutes of build time. It charges $7 for 200 minutes of build time. Enterprise plans can be customised. The CI/CD platform allows teams to work remotely on cloud servers, marking the process transparent and secure.
Its second offering is the freelancing platform. A freelancer can enrol on the platform and access the projects posted by clients. They then select the project of their expertise and bid on it. Clients, after checking all the bidders’ profiles, select the one who is most suitable for the project. Clients can also shortlist freelancers based on their time proximity, time zone, skill set, and budget requirements. Posting of projects by clients is available for free of cost. Freelancers, on the other hand, have to pay $20 for every 40 connections, or $40 for 80 connects.
Thirdly, BuildPan offers a Builder. It is a drag-and-drop tool where one can build apps, select various features, and get billed accordingly. “This custom feature is to empower non-tech people and allow them to develop their own apps,” Shantanu says.
Finally, BuildPan Analytics is a tool used to monetise user behaviour and for the statistical study of mobile apps. “It is different from other analytics as it provides real-time screenshots and the amount of time a user has spent on a particular screen, thus, providing a clear vision to the owner of the app,” he adds. This feature can be customised, and is charged accordingly.
BuildPan caters to companies from the US, including Relibit and Shiraali, Japanese companies including Elrise Corp, and Kitaku Taxi App. In India, its client includes L&T. The startup has also collaborated with WeWork and MyHq.
BuildPan is currently at $8,500 MRR, and the founders hope to achieve $11,100 by June, this year. It has more than 1,630 registered freelancers and 556 clients on its platform. Its marketplace has more than 1,000 projects listed with deals worth $8,500 made until March 31.
Fighting the pandemic
BuildPan is thus, a marketplace for all IT needs where technical solutions can be made available remotely, from the safety of one’s house. Additionally, BuildPan is soon going to host a global virtual event for IT, reorganising the sector virtually. The startup is also offering its platform to all co-working spaces. It recently collaborated with MyHq and WeWork, allowing its users to use the platform from the comfort of their homes.
“We have noticed exponential growth in terms of MRR, even during the tough times of COVID-19, we got a growth of average 250x compared to the preceding month,” Shantanu says.
Its CI/CD platform has seen 160x growth in the last two months. More than 560 projects were registered on the platform, and a total of around 14,000 minutes were spent building on the platform, in March itself. In the first week of the lockdown that was declared on March 25, BuildPan recorded 760-plus registrations.
Statista expects apps to generate an overall revenue of over $935 billion worldwide by 2023. This year, revenue is expected to reach $581.9 billion. According to Hyperlink Infosystem’s ‘Indian App Development Industry Report 2020,’ mobile apps are predicted to generate an overall revenue of $935.2 billion by 2023.
BuildPan competes with the likes of Canadian mobile app testing startup BuddyBuild, which was acquired by Apple Inc in 2018, and Testflight, which was again acquired by Apple Inc.
“They only support iOS development whereas BuildPan provides support to both iOS and Android development,” Shantanu adds.
Additionally, the startup is also working on BuildPan Pay, a payment platform for freelancers. “We have already received about 1000 plus enquiries for this,” he adds. BuildPan’s funding has enough runway for the coming six to eight months. After which, the startup will go for pre-Series A funding round.
Edited by Kanishk Singh