Weekly Startup Profiles > Tekriti Software
|How many friends have you recently made online? Ever wondered how you share photos, videos and the latest gossip with one click? Here's a company that's working in the background making social networking and virtual communities a reality.|
Community software and media publishing tools for enterprises.
Feb 5, 2007: Just two days before Tekriti Software's second birthday, Ashish writes in his blog, 'Money doesn't give the kick', on his blog. "There has to be a higher purpose for creating companies than the acquisition of wealth for any entrepreneur."
May be that is why Ashish, a successful software engineer at Microsoft, Redmond, where he was involved with the development of different products like Microsoft Commerce Server and Microsoft Windows codenamed Longhorn, decided return to India and start his own company.
Born out of a collaboration of three partners, two-year old Tekriti Software provides offshore development expertise and project management capabilities to overseas clients.
Ask him about the original catalyst for his company and he makes it clear: "Entrepreneurship is something I always wanted to do. I had decided that we will start a company ever since I made up my mind to come back to India."
So what exactly was the tipping point? "When we got in touch with a gentleman called Marc Canter, an authority in the social software and co-founder of MacroMind which later became MacroMedia, a very well respected company," he responds.
Ashish and his partners initially started working with him as freelancers, and got intrigued by the newly developing space of social networking and online community building. They decided that they wanted to go all the way "and establish an enterprise of our own which will establish expertise in those areas," he continues.
Software services is hardly an open field. How does a new company establish itself? Ashish gives two ways: Identifying your niche and moving fast. "When we started Tekriti, we had not decided what domain we will be focusing or what exactly will we be building a year from then. What we knew was that we will be using technology to help our customers and add value to them."
It wasn't long before Tekriti found its foothold. "Community building and media publishing process. That was going to be our niche. In 2005, many people were just talking about using software for community based businesses," explained Ashish.
So Tekriti targeted traditional media companies, traditional brick and mortar companies who wanted to reach out to audiences, and other newer companies who wanted to reach out to their audience to deliver their message. These companies wanted to use community, but lacked the skills in house to develop their sites.
They targeted a second group of companies as well: "We started identifying businesses that make sense with India. We got into partnership or joint venture with a few companies and phased into marketing. We became responsible for the marketing and technology sectors of the company and set up a unit to take care of those areas." Ashish gives example of a business-to-business travel portal that they created where they went beyond just targeting customers and moved to the retailers or travel agents, whom they gave a better commission. "We explored new areas and implemented new strategies."
What about competition? Ashish calmly explains, "Initially, in India, there were few players in this niche and very little competition. We did have some competition from some US companies, but we glided over them due to our cost advantage. Now in 2007, many companies have come up in this domain, but we have an early mover advantage."
Tekriti used yet another unique approach to target customers. One is through contacts gained out of their Microsoft and Infosys work experience and another was through blogs. "In my blogs I targeted two kinds of people: clients and potential employees. Many people read and followed up on my write ups and later got in touch with me as we found a match of ideas and common thought plane to either work as client customer or colleagues. Because of this, initially we had more business than we can execute upon."
This was one start-up that did not have an issue with finances. "We didn't need a huge capital start-up capital." They just needed a few lakhs in the beginning to sustain themselves, which they invested out of their own savings. "Because of our business model of advance payments, we had profits from the first month itself. Our profit margin was less initially but we managed."
The biggest start-up problem Ashish faced at Tekriti was to create a good team. He recounts this incident: "On one of my abroad trips a little after having started Tekriti, I met a Director of Technology of a big software company on the flight. After introducing ourselves to each other, the first question he asked me was "So, are you having trouble retaining people?". My answer was "No, we are having trouble hiring people" and that was a very true statement then." The right 'combination' that Ashish looked for in employees was missing.
Ashish found his team by providing technologists with the opportunity to do something different and get a chance to be known for it. "We gave them much more than a maintenance project. We gave them a challenge and enough flexibility to meet that challenge."
Today Tekriti has 60 employees.
Ashish was always careful about his entrepreneurship dreams. "After the 2001 IT bubble burst, I decided to delay my plans and went to Microsoft to work." But even there he knew that creating just a pure software services company is something he never wanted to do. "The idea was never to create an Infosys; that wasn't our business model in today's scenario."
Over the past two years Tekriti has developed a deeper understanding for technologies and their collaboration with business processes. This combined with focus on community software helped Tekriti carve out a niche. Apart from the manpower problem, Tekriti has had smooth sailing.
"We've made a lot of progress considering we didn't have much experience in this sector. Now we know that the team will stand by us. Now it's time to accelerate," he says. Today Tekriti is diversifying in terms of domain, and has also started creating new products, some of which are underway.
Ashish says biggest dilemma is about the motivating his employees less confident team members. "There is this small percentage of people that are not always implicitly motivated. You need to work harder on them to keep them motivated. This manpower issue keeps me awake," he signs off.
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