The IT and Software industry is one of the most thriving sectors as the futuristic transformative technologies are bracing up to upscale to the next level. Many aspirants dream of starting their own IT company, hoping to become the next Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, or Steve Jobs. But the bitter truth is that according to the latest 2022 statistics, 63% of startups fail in the IT sector. A newbie entrepreneur has to tackle a diverse set of challenges before they can expect to generate desired results and start extracting profit.
GoodFirms Leaders Roundtable is a sequence of podcast discussions the company will have with top global business leaders, corporate heads, and industry experts to help startups accomplish their goals with valuable advice and insights.
In this podcast discussion, we have the opportunity and pleasure to interact with Mitul Makadia, Founder and Director of Maruti TechLabs.
Mitul laid the foundation of Maruti TechLabs in 2009 with a single project for a USA-based client. Since then, he has been leading the company forward to provide an extensive range of high-quality services like artificial intelligence, bot development, analytics, and product engineering, enabling businesses to streamline and simplify their processes and tasks. The company has built two unique products; WOTNOT, a bot-making platform, and Alertly, a personalized slack bot for JIRA.
The key highlights of this podcast discussion include:
- Why are IT & Software Development Startups gaining more popularity?
- Critical challenges and obstacles faced by a software development startup
- Tips and tricks on getting the first offshore client
- Creating viable marketing strategies with limited funds
After listening to this podcast discussion, you will gain knowledge on
- A step-by-step approach on how to start your own IT startup
- How to overcome the challenges of starting a new software development firm
- What does the future hold for transformative technologies like AI, AR, VR, and chatbot development
- The right approach to conducting research, generating ideas, and its appropriate execution.
Seeing the amount of hyperspecialization new buyers are demanding, it wouldn’t be long to see the number of software development companies reaching 1 million by 2027, according to a few reports. Why is starting a software development startup becoming more and more popular?
The Covid 19 pandemic has led to tremendous unpredictability and uncertainty in recent years. But, the IT industry has thrived and flourished despite adverse circumstances, offering more and better opportunities. It is expected to experience faster growth in the years to come.
Well, there are various reasons why IT and software development companies are gaining more prominence as startups.
Opportunity to Exhibit Your Idea- You get a viable opportunity to exhibit your idea and transform it into an innovative product. If you read the success stories of popular startups, you will note that most of the notable IT startups have ventured with their exclusive software products. For instance, Microsoft started its journey with computer programming and then launched the operating system, which became its flagship product.
Enhanced Revenue Generation- The market has witnessed a massive leap in revenue generation in the IT industry and software development. According to Statista reports, IT services in the US generated $380.76 billion in 2021, which is expected to increase to $560.96 billion by 2027. So, why not unleash this advantage of taking your business to the next level?
Opportunity to Work With the Latest Technologies- Starting your own IT firm provides you a viable opportunity to use the latest technologies while working on diverse projects. Today, digital transformation is scaling to new heights enabling developers to learn something new with constant change and improvements.
Mitul hinted in this podcast that more and more organizations are searching online for firms that can create customized apps or products. So building a software product development company is gaining traction.
What are software development firms' most significant pain points and obstacles, and how can they be overcome?
A startup may encounter various challenges and pain points, such as lacking a strategic business plan, budget limitations, fierce competition from prominent players, hesitancy in taking risks, inability to win customers’ trust, and many more.
As Steve Jobs once pointed out, “Sometimes when you strive to make an innovation, you will make mistakes. You must admit them quickly and improve upon other innovations.”
Within software development firms, companies often take a one size fits all approach. This can turn out to be detrimental in the long run. Hence, it is imperative to figure out your niche & your core competencies(it can be anything - product innovation, quality customer service, technology, etc.) & then have your business strategy based on that.
Ensure that you help your client see success and guide them in picking the right solutions and approaches for their product. You don't want to be there just as a vendor following instructions. Your job is to ensure that the client succeeds from a technical perspective. Ultimately, their success is your success.
Also, I think that a software company needs to distinguish itself from its competitors to survive the cutthroat competition. But differentiating yourself solely on features or engagement models is now difficult, regardless of whether you're in the services industry or have a SaaS-based product.
If we concentrate on providing the best service possible to our clients, partners, employees, and contractors, everything else will take care of itself. Of course, we maintain tabs on the state of the industry as a whole and the changing dynamics. To continue in the game, I would advise aiming to make all efforts to ensure your customers succeed. Once you do that - you too will succeed.
Can you discuss with our audience your research approach when you have a new software idea and how you get it from your hive to the world and execute it flawlessly?
We came across a significant challenge where daily calls overwhelmed their limited customer support staff, resulting in lengthy wait times and higher operating costs. Poor customer experience resulted in a bad brand image and a significant loss for the company.
We, therefore, developed a chatbot platform - WotNot to solve this problematic issue, and today more than 3000 businesses across the world are relying on this platform for their customer interactions.
Established IT firms spend a lot of money on marketing, but what other marketing tactics can help organizations that are just starting out and have limited funds?
We tried and tested a lot of things. But the following low-cost strategies stuck & have helped us get to where we are today:
- SEO & Content Marketing: The wonders content marketing can do for your SEO is incomparable. High-quality content drives 3x more leads than paid advertising! You get to decide the keywords you want to rank on, consistently attract new traffic, and drive conversion on the website.
- Customer Reviews: Collect customer reviews that give the much-needed credibility, legitimacy, and customer trust that your company needs and enhance your organic growth.
- Customer Interviews: Customer Interviews are beneficial for getting direct insights. These interviews can be repurposed into snippets & used across your owned media channels to gain reach & trust simultaneously. Also, they are a great way to identify tracks of growth.
- Get listed on listicles: Try to get listed on the highest-ranking listicles around your services because this is where your customer goes for recommendations & has higher chances of conversions.
- CRO Tools: Companies are in the constant loop of turning visitors into leads, leads into customers, and customers into paying customers. Adopt tools like popups and sticky bars to give a push in a leaky sales funnel.
- Referral Marketing: The lifetime value of a referred customer is higher than a non-referred one, and companies with a referral program experience a higher revenue than the ones that don’t. By incentivizing referrals, you're building a solid user base.
Not only for a development company but for any new business, gaining the first client is critical. For all the aspiring young entrepreneurs, could you tell us how you landed your first client and what lessons did you take away from that first assignment that helped you succeed?
I laid the foundation of Maruti Techlabs in 2009 after getting a single project from a US-based client. I would say that getting your first trusted genuine client is very crucial to kick-start your journey. A few startups land up easily, while most companies have to wait to strike their first deal. Most startups anticipate getting an offshore client is a hard nut to crack. But I want to assure you that finding clients in a strange new area is not impossible.
You can follow the viable tips to strengthen the trust and relationship with the client. These are-
- You must ensure that client acquisition and your value proposition are in lockstep. This provides a mutual fit as the client has the right partner, and you have the right client. It paves the way for a successful partnership.
- Secondly, establish an effective internal and external governance process.
- You must also manage the potential commercial and legal risk and be transparent with your clients. This will ensure that both parties are on the same page.
- You must obtain sufficient knowledge and insight into outsourcing, define an outsourcing strategy with clear goals and objectives and establish KPIs for both transition and steady state.
- Treating your offshore clients as if they are from your home market will only frustrate you. Treat them like other human beings with unique perspectives, challenges, and struggles; you will find them easier to talk to and understand.
- Always ensure to help the client pick the right fit instead of what seems obvious & easy to accomplish & deliver at that point in time.
What unexplored opportunities do you see as we move towards next-generation technologies like AR/VR or Chatbot Development?
If we talk about chatbots, the most exciting unexplored opportunity would be plugging in chatbots with Computer vision and NLP models to drive business decisions.
Chatbots have many other use cases as well. In recent years, healthcare companies and medical organizations have been opting for state-of-the-art, AI-powered chatbots to help them provide the best possible service to patients and customers.
A Whatsapp chatbot can help with Symptom Assessment, Booking Appointments, Update on Lab Reports, Daily Health Tips, Medicine Reminders, Addressing FAQs, and Mental Health Counseling.
The automated workflow has streamlined customer engagement and enhanced employee productivity, resulting in improved business outcomes.
As a founder, what is that one lesson you wish you had known before starting your own company which you want other future entrepreneurs to know?
There are a couple of things I wish I knew before starting Maruti Techlabs. I want to share this with future entrepreneurs.
First, please ensure that you are marketing your product or service hand in hand with the focus on engineering. You should aim to streamline and simplify your product and make it customer-centric. It helps to improve customer satisfaction and retention.
Do not underestimate your potential by assuming that you cannot aim big and accomplish your dream. You need to adopt a watertight process approach for everything.
To know more about this podcast, you can listen here.
Every startup will have its struggle. But, to overcome the struggle, you need to plan your progress, learn from your mistakes, prioritize customers, and equip yourself to sustain under any circumstances. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, was once a co-owner of a company Traf-O-Data, that failed badly.
IT and software development startups will continue to make their inception in the upcoming years. A few may survive the battle of harsh existence to embark on their exciting and innovative journey unveiling new technologies and concepts and taking digital transformation to the next level.
Businesses are augmenting customer experience through AI-powered chatbots, which have automated all interactions and mitigated waiting times. Also, business processes have been streamlined and simplified, all thanks to next-generation software applications.
About Leaders Roundtable
Leaders Roundtable is an initiative taken by GoodFirms to address the key issues and pain points faced by young budding entrepreneurs. In this campaign, we talk with top industry leaders and CEOs of successful IT companies urging them to share their experiences with young aspiring entrepreneurs.
If you want to enroll your company name, please email [email protected].