Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
We are Rahul Sharma (CEO) and Shivangi Sharma, the co-founders of the globally acclaimed, service-based app and web development company, Appscrip.
Appscrip is the lovechild of our passion for technology, the constant urge to create mobility solutions, and being a tech solution provider for leading startups. The lack of a specialized provider who could act as a technology partner for startups working on on-demand services, social eCommerce, Fintech, and messaging platforms allowed me to start Appscrip. We identified the common denominator to help the end platform owners save time and money. That way, they could focus on their core product.
Up until today, Appscrip has delivered over 350+ apps/year globally with an in-house team of 150+ developers, at an average of 45 days/app that otherwise would take almost 6-9 months to develop. My company has encouraged women, entrepreneurs, by helping them launch successful businesses across the globe.
We have received several awards and recognitions from Deloitte, Clutch, Good firms and bagged contracts from big names like ForeTees LLC, Byjus, Reliance JIO, Deutsche Bank, Tata Steel, Cairn, Coke, Harvard Medical, etc. With Appscrip generating an average monthly revenue of $2,50,000, we are more than hopeful that our company will see a brighter future ahead as a global technology provider.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Sometimes, when it comes to changing direction, moonlighting is the only option. I (Rahul) was working full-time as an engineer, earning 333 USD per month. The three of us (me and my two friends) started the company in 2011, and we came up with the name 3Embed.
One of my friends was a short-tenured business partner. He left the company after a few months. Over the course of the next three years, we (me and my second partner) continued to minimize overhead to decrease the amount of capital required to run our startup. We relied on our salaries to finance our startup. After three years, we had a team of 15-16 people. My second partner left when we planned on working full-time on my startup. He chose his corporate job over our startup. My wife, Shivangi, came on board with me soon after our marriage. My life partner also became my business partner, and we started Appscrip!
We all know that in the technology sector, the odds of startups leaping from average to outstanding are mostly long. One question kept lurking in our minds- How do we beat the probability of these odds? We hit upon the idea of developing pre-built quality technology solutions. The only way we could beat the probability of those odds was to deliver the solutions in six months at a low cost, requiring low technology/resource overheads from a development standpoint.
Our passion to become the owners of a company that can reframe what winning means can be wrapped up in one word: Appscrip. We took salaries only when Appscrip had sufficient revenues – a process that took three years!
Unlike any standard custom app or web development service, Appscrip aims to build robust business-ready technology solutions. It covers several business niches that can be quickly tailored and deployed based on the clients' requirements. Since small and medium businesses have always struggled with technology, building an app has been a pain point. But we always focused on the bright side.
Today Appscrip has evolved and developed the reputation of being called a Startup for Startups. It has helped several enterprises create business apps based on highly successful and popular products like Tinder, Uber, DoorDash, Amazon, TikTok. This concept is akin to the process of cloning. Our clone products are 100% proprietary software, highly scalable, and customizable to add more functionality as desired.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
When we started to build our product- an application in our case, we catered to one domain. We built an Uber for transportation, so our inspiration was Uber, Ola, Lyft. We designed the UI keeping all the major features of these apps in mind, and we wanted to keep the design user-friendly, seamless, and of course, very similar to these top players. What we did differently there was, we figured out a few features that were missing from the pioneers. So we started building and incorporating those in our application.
For instance, it was not until 2016 that Uber Indianized its payment system and began accepting cash payments. At the time, cash payments were already an important feature of our app software.
We followed the same process when we expanded our domains. Suppose for Flipkart & Amazon clone apps, we analyzed a whole lot of relevant features and worked on a few of them on priority. Prioritizing work had been the key during the initial phases.
The biggest challenge we faced during this was bringing the right people on board. We solved this problem by increasing the quality of our hires.
Career opportunity is still the number one reason people change jobs. So we thought of winning over passive job seekers, and that’s how we ended up building a pipeline of quality candidates - candidates who shared our mutual respect for the tech industry.
The tech stack- initially we started off with Java for iOs and Android, eventually, we moved to Swift and Kotlin. For the backend, we started with PHP, moved to NodeJs and Python. So we aimed to constantly evolve, and this evolution was no less than a challenge. We had to hire the people, train, and most importantly, retain them.
Another challenge was making sure that we develop and maintain a vertical. We can’t afford to have one NodeJs or Python developer, right? We had to build a team for each.
I can’t protect myself entirely from the possibilities of failure, because it is, after all, the stepping stone to success. So I might as well enjoy the ride!
Finally, since we sold clone applications, we had to make sure we had a strong legal team. The codes that we shared were strictly banned from re-selling. That way, we restricted our clients from becoming our direct competitors.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Both Shivangi and I come from a business family, therefore it influenced our endeavors. My father guided me initially on the financial aspects of the business. And since we were a completely bootstrapped start-up, it helped us stay lean and focused. We didn’t believe our start-up needed to go for funding and it always made sense to try and remain bootstrapped as much as possible. So we saved more than expected.
All the revenues were going into funding the company’s expenses like salaries for the employees. We are not especially frugal people and we like to party as much as anyone, but as entrepreneurs, we hardly got time to unwind. And the fact that we were so busy running our own company, prevented us from spending unnecessarily.
Additionally, we learned far too many lessons during the early years of my entrepreneurship. The most important ones are:
Shivangi and I sought out every new opportunity, big and small. We actively asked for advice and took every step to put ourselves out there.
We realized it’s important to appreciate the talents of other people. Nobody runs a business alone, and a good entrepreneur will seek out others with particular talents.
Creativity is a process, not a product. Not every creative idea will be feasible, but the development in technology and other sectors is and will always be heavily driven by the ones who can think of innovative solutions. We learned how to stimulate my brain and tap into various new ideas constructively and productively.
Almost every new undertaking involves some degree of risk, and one won’t find success without taking a chance. We can’t protect ourselves entirely from the possibilities of failure, because it is, after all, the stepping stone to success. So we might as well enjoy the ride
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The road to success is never smooth sailing for any startup. The early startup days were chaotic and resources were limited. We didn't go for funding. So, we put those hundreds of hours we saved into building my business from scratch.
It took me (Rahul) three years to assure myself that I could leave my job to start working full-time at my company. What started as a side hustle turned into a full-time gig that allowed me to leave footprints in every sector from ed-tech to fintech.
There was a time when we used to bid and get projects from Freelancer.com for as low as $200. That's how we acquired my first 10-100 clients. We didn't find the need to allocate more resources other than freelance portals as we wanted to know how to do it right.
While acquiring and working for my first 10-100 clients, we made a lot of mistakes - mistakes that we fixed as and when we moved on to my next 100 clients. We got a bit more organized and the road to success became clearer.
We used to bid for online projects because we were doing it well and doing it fast. Our unending urge to grow got us listed on the top 1000 freelancers in the world in 2011 and 2012. Later we had my old clients refer me back.
Our next step was to set up a website. We were also used to doing digital marketing on our own. We learned it and did it for a long time. We started building web pages around popular business models. That's when we started getting a lot of traffic. And that's when we made our first hire, in 2016. So far, digital marketing worked the best for us, and that's why we’re putting more resources into this channel.
Right now, we follow 5 strategies to attract and retain our clients.
1.) Excellent, efficient client service. We ensure the communication is as transparent and seamless as possible. We have a dedicated salesforce team in place that works in shifts and is available round the clock on Skype and Gmail.
2.) Keeping in touch with our existing customers always did us good. We never miss an opportunity to revert if they have any queries. We use email campaigns as an effective tool for marketing and retention, and also to build positive relationships with the clients.
I can’t emphasize the importance of striking the balance between encouraging existing clients to continue purchasing and acquiring new clients. Our repeat customer rate is 35-40%, and these numbers are the lifeblood of Appscrip.
Besides, innovation is an essential department at Appscrip. We never stop working on our products. There is always a new update coming every month or two. Most of our clients come back for this reason only - to customize/update their apps.
3.) We have worthy competitors, and our customers can always decide to switch over to them. Being appreciative and thankful to our clients have helped us stand out. We often shout out to their reviews and feedback on our social media platforms to show that we value them.
4.) We have built a reliable website that has supported our customer acquisition and retention strategies. All our latest updates about app development are posted daily on all our social networking platforms.
5.) We create separate web pages for all our products, showcasing the features, the UI, and more. This enables the clients to directly see and get an idea of our scope of work, and also keeps us on top of our game in terms of SEO, a traffic source that represents 64% among our acquisition channels.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are doing quite well as Appscrip was ranked among the top Economic Times India’s fastest-growing 2020 Champions and the Financial Time’s ranking of 500 high-growth companies from the Asia-Pacific region.
It has been listed among the TOP mobile app development companies in ALL the major listing sites like CLUTCH, GoodFirms, etc. It has more than 180 employees dedicated to the task of developing mobile apps.
Deloitte Technology, a pre-eminent Technology Awards Program in Asia-pacific, has recognized Appscrip for its sheer dedication in showing how to combine technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and rapid growth.
Appscrip is flourishing even during the hard times and is achieving heights despite being a bootstrap company- a sterling testimony to its being a winner!
As far as the future is concerned, Appscrip is committed to maintaining its dominant position among its competitors by investing in research and development capabilities- one of the main engines of its growth. Tailoring its approach to each market will help its endeavor for global expansion. Appscrip is striving towards sharing its success by launching partner programs in new regions to provide efficient support to customers worldwide. Its existing markets render significant opportunities for future growth.
By investing in technology, infrastructure, and people, it plans on multiplying its share of on-demand businesses, real estate, services marketplace, delivery, transportation, entertainment, dating, and e-commerce markets.
Appscrip looks forward to diversifying investment and taking the equity route (one of the best ways to build wealth). Emerging areas of e-commerce will be given more priority and the product list will be expanded from 50 to over 100. By improving upon technologies like Telematics, AR, and IoT, we aim to modernize the entire gamut of business.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
At first, I was just inspired to solve difficult technological problems. I barely cared about creating an impact. Now, what inspires me is the impact we, as a team at Appscrip, create with our services and products.
I also can’t emphasize enough how important it is to talk about everything that bleeds into innovation, especially when your goal is accelerating businesses.
Culture is the central pillar of every company. At Appscrip, what inspires us (me and my team) to create an impact is our mission: helping businesses achieve their vision.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
At our company Appscrip, we use Trello as the go-to project and product management tool. We were looking for a tool where the learning curve is smooth, and the UI is simple to understand. Trello meets both these requirements.
It’s a web-based application that allows collaborative tracking of projects in real-time, allowing the team to monitor tasks from different locations. Its subtask feature comes in handy, helping the team create subtasks with a parent task. The result gives a very clear-cut picture of what steps need to be completed to fix a particular problem.
We also use Jira, an issue tracking and project management tool that allows our team to collaborate transparently.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The E-Myth (Entrepreneurial Myth) by Michael E. Gerber. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how to get a startup to run without the owner or why a business can never be a big business. It taught us how to work on our startup and not in it.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini and Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap And Others Don't by Jim Collins have also influenced us the most.
Shivangi's favorite The psychology of persuasion tells you how to get people to comply with you and allow them to do more stuff. Another masterpiece Good to Great reveals how a set of elite companies made the leap from “good” to “great,” and how these companies sustained those results for a long time.
We also listen to Equity by TechCrunch, Traction, and AI Today podcasts, mostly while running or driving. The Equity Podcast helps us stay in the know with the latest business news. Traction sheds light on brilliant and odd ways startup founders found success. AI Today helps us come up with the right AI strategy for our products.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Get inspired by the possibility of change. Have a taste for taking risks. Have a clear vision of what your future should be. Start developing the ability to hire confident, young people who believe in your vision. How to convince other people to sign on to your vision is what most entrepreneurs struggle with.
Tell the right people about your vision and then pick up the torch, and start walking towards your goal from there. On the way, learn from others’ failures.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Appscrip is committed to bettering the way we serve our clients. Our expansion isn’t just about opening new offices, adding new partners, or hiring talent. We are expanding the solutions, simplifying business startups with our pre-built software solutions.
We have launched our services in Mohali (Punjab), adding to our global footprint of 3 offices (Bangalore, Surat, and Georgia, the USA). We are also looking at the possibility of opening more offices in Goa and NorthEast India. So, we are always on the lookout for people who possess skills and intelligence with an equal amount of humility.
Where can we go to learn more?
We keep upping our game across the various silos of businesses by launching products. You can visit our website to learn more about our pre-built software solutions.
You can also visit our blog to keep up with the technology trends. We keep sharing tech business ideas with our subscribers.
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