Today, we had an in-depth and very interesting interview with Mr. ‘Sriram Manoharan'; Founder of Contus at Tamil Nadu – India.
“Contus” is a leading mobile app development company
Below is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. Manoharan
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Contus is a leading mobile app development company which offers varied mobile application development solutions in all the major smartphone platforms like iOS, Android and Windows. We also offer web application and e-Commerce solutions. Our firm is known for developing worthy, timely, cost-effective applications globally.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
Contus was found in 2008 as a small start-up and now it has spread across two places Chennai, India and San Jose, U.S.A. It was found with minimal staff but now there are almost 200 employees in various departments of our firm. We currently have 5+ years of experience, 140+ developers dealing with 40+ countries and 20 million users benefitted through our successful mobile and web products.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Business model of Contus is 4Ds. We have this as the 4Ds of our development viz., Discover, Design, Develop, and Deliver. We discover the needs, requirements and work out a plan and design it before developing the app and delivering it. We also have a testing and maintenance team for pre-delivering and post-delivering support.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
I along with six of my friends started Contus as a startup which is now a 5+ years old mobile application development company. It was my aim since college days to be an entrepreneur thus I along with my other friends Balasubramaniyam, Balamurugan, Dinesh kumar, Prakash, Thiaghu, Amal Raj started this firm.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
Our firm differs in three ways from other counterparts viz.,
(i) We deliver services on all the three platforms namely iOS, Android, Windows while many offer in one or two category alone.
(ii) We offer cost-effective, fully customized and timely solutions.
(iii) We are into e-Commerce and Web products development also thus we offer multiple products for diverse needs unlike other out and out app developers.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
After 5 years into mobile app development alongside web and e-Commerce solutions our milestones include
(i) Mob eCommerce – a product of ours ranked no. 1 in Top 10 eCommerce Startups
(ii) Contus was awarded as one of the Top 10 SMEs in India by Google & FICCI
(iii) CII and NASSCOM membership attained.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
There are a lot of mobile app development companies out there both start-ups and well established ones. Every company has their own pluses and minuses. We strive to be unique in order to stand apart and lead the race. It’s our innovative and unique ideas in mobile app development that makes us stand apart in the race and take a competitive advantage over them.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
Obstacles were our stepping stones to success. There were many obstacles right from building hiring issues to employee hiring, client negotiating but with my expertise team of friends and employees we easily came over those and are marching towards success, we may face more obstacles in future too (in unknown forms) but our past experiences made us stronger than ever.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
One of the major aspect in our firm is mobile app development and although many seem to know and claim that they know A-Z of mobile application development there are always few things which are known only to the people in the field for instance there is a myth that iOS apps are easy to develop however that is an absolute myth. Similarly other key aspects are about how an app should be developed professionally, how much of testing is necessary, et.al.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Our success primarily will be through mobile application development, although we are expecting laurels from our other products too. We are expecting further success since we have crossed major hurdles that a start-up does in the past five years, we have had our obstacles, struggles. Now that we came past all these and are constantly achieving we expect success now.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
After success in our lead mobile app development field, we may concentrate further on our other fields like web application development, e-Commerce solutions. As of now we have plans and ideas in expanding these field and march towards success in these. Instead of adding more fields, we want to be in number UNO position for these fields, we will work for it.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
At 2008, smartphones and mobile apps were booming. There weren’t much mobile app developers or even as many smartphones as there are now. I and my friends being tech-savvy people have had passion for all these new booming technology and we thought about giving it a try and the result is what you see today.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
I have learnt success is not a cake walk so is entrepreneurship. Being a CEO wasn’t a bed of roses; instead it was mostly of thorns. I learned patience, perseverance and situation management skills through the various impediments that crossed our way in the past few years. Many employees joined us, few left. We expanded our office it was all a mixed emotions that thought me a lot more than I can possibly explain.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Rather than claiming in as the biggest problem, I would like to rephrase it as a big challenge. That’s how I, my managerial colleagues and employees see them. Since mobile app development is an unpredictable field the challenge can be in any form. It can be new OS version or an improved API kit or even who knows a new OS for smart phones might pop up and I might need new developers to design and develop them.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
The major benefit for our user/customer is our timeliness. We deliver timely product to our clients who in turn deliver it on time to their users. Apart from that we are known for providing budget friendly and worthy solutions of every kind in mobile app development. Furthermore, users are benefited because of our talented and friendly after-sales support team.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We are spread across all social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Additionally we now and then get featured in various newspapers both online and offline. Moreover we also have certain trustworthy clients and customers retained who refer us to their circle of friends and acquaintances. Thus our networking circle improves day by day.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Currently we are servicing 40+ countries’ users and we have clients from these countries who reach us to these users. Our target customers include the ones from rest of the countries. Majorly our clients are the ones who deliver apps to the major platforms across the globe. We target more global customers presently.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Mostly the new customers come seeing our social media presence, referrals by our current clients, word of mouth and our press releases. Generally the new customers will be interested in trying us for our innovative apps that we have done so far. All the apps we have provided were innovative and diverse thus various customers from different walks will be interested in us.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
Customers and clients have given high recommendations both in the reviews and ratings as well as in LinkedIn, FB recommendations. One of the sample recommendations: “Creative, on schedule and on budget. Not task is too small or too large.” says Stephan B., CEO at Web Presence Architects, Washington D.C
20. How are you going to scale?
We have recently improved our infrastructure and moved to a larger campus. We further are planning scaling by adding more clients, customers, users across various nations and also in delivering more products per quarter. We also strive in improving the quality even further to get more awards and laurels.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
The biggest thing many customers ask is for globalization, although we are globalizing with clients we have our real-time office at only two points namely India and U.S.A. We further wish to have more offices in other countries were we have our major clients from. Since, that is what our clients expect from us these days.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
As we mentioned, we do plan to internationalize in near future, since we are expanding in terms of employees, clients and services thus internationalization is the logical next step in our success ladder. We are hoping forward for the right opportunity. We as of now don’t have concrete plans but we do hope to have in near future.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We are planning to go as far as our efforts and talents take us. Of course, opportunity and luck are other key factors. We don’t have a limit for achievement. At Contus, we strive towards perfection and keep striving. Sky is our limit. We won’t rest even after our goal is reached. If we reach the top still we will strive to maintain it and achieve more.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
As we are expanding further and further, we are indeed planning to hire more work forces. We suggest the applicants to check with the careers section of our website to know about the possible vacancies and requirements. We hire passionate, persistent and enthusiastic people who are innovative and creative too.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
We are self-sustained firm and we hope to continue the same in future. We do hope that we would make it to one the self-sustained firms that made to high levels with no funding or sponsors. We are happy and proud this way. We do believe in our employees’ talents and strength than sponsors because till now we have worked all this out by our Contus Team alone.
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Have a dream and follow it. That’s the short success story of Contus. We 7 people started from scratch and we reached this position is 5 years. Forget basic needs and luxury for a while. Concentrate hard and be strong. Overcome obstacles with light heart and a cool thinking. Be innovative because only innovation stands apart.
27. Finally, do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
tart-Ups.Co is a nice venture and we are impressed by the way it has put lots of useful information on their site. This is one of the most useful websites in the recent times. The questionnaire also had a lot of important and precise questions that every user needs to know from an entrepreneur.