Its been 5 years since we started – but it still feels like we only started yesterday. Its been an awesome roller-coaster ride for Josh Software, the lows always leading to new highs!
Its no coincidence that our rebranded logo and website have been launched on the 5 year anniversary – this is a new start for us, where we plan to take the company to the next level. They say that if you can survive the first 1000 days of your business, you are good to go but after 2000 days, you better know where you are going next! Indeed its true.
Starting from scratch
Sethu and I started Josh 5 years ago without any planning, direction and funds – just with our passion and enthusiasm. These two virtues are still strong within us and along the way we have also picked up some wisdom, grey hair and lot more knowledge of accounts and finance than we could have ever dreamt of.
We are proud of the fact that the first employee we hired, Shailesh Patil, is still with us and plays a key role at Josh. This stands testament to the fact that we did take the company forward in the right direction. From a 4 person team in 2007, we are today a 29 person strong team.
Does one need a lot of money to start a services company?
Strangely, no! Starting a services company requires more hard-work than funds. As a services company, reputation is very important to generate revenue. So, the hardest part of a services company is solving the chicken-and-egg problem of getting the first project with no reputation. We did suffer some backlash on this – as people asked about our history, stability and scale.
We put our heads down and worked hard on whatever work we got – an 18 hour a day schedule was not new to us. What kept us going you ask? We knew that every hour and every minute of work that we did for Josh, was generating more revenue for us! So, keep going – don’t look back.
Did we ever fear about future work coming our way? What if projects dried up?
They don’t! When one door closes, another one opens. What is important is to keep focus and keep your eyes and ears open for those opportunities that knock. Believe me – they do knock, sometimes very softly :)
Should you take on all the work that comes your way – ‘at any cost’?
Never! Keep a focus on what you like to do. If you like what you work on, you dont get bored, you do a better job and you make more money! If you say ‘Yes’ to everything, the skull-dredgery will kick in and sooner or later you will be fed up, frustrated and upset.
First steps.. soul-searching and keeping focus!
We found that Ruby on Rails gave us the most satisfaction – to learn and to earn. It also helped us complete work faster, concentrate on the application logic and not the structure and syntax of the language. Thank You Ruby! After a few months of soul-searching, trying to see if we should focus on technology or some industry domain, as hard-core techies and programmeers, Sethu and I decided to do what we do best – code, code and code some more.
We focused our company as a technology company dedicated only on Ruby and Rails – and we steadfastly refused any other work. Considering the early years when we need the money, this risk paid off. A lot of people contacted us because we were a company focussed only on Ruby On Rails! This was around the time Satish Talim came on board and has become an integral part of the company.
We did get our chances of making a quick buck – Staff augmentation, consulting chain work, training and system administration. Luckily, we kept our focus and grew as a Ruby development company.
We did get offers to work on Java, PHP, C. Though it was tempting, we chose to reject this work and focus only on Ruby.
Financial ups and downs
No business is without its host of financial problems. Its equally important to know the non-technical part of a business. I take a lot of pride when I meet the people who told Sethu and me that “Techies cannot do business – you need management and sound financial background to do business”. They are not wrong entirely – in these last 5 years, we both learnt a lot about acccounts, finances, taxation and tax planning. We learnt how to read a Profit & Loss Statement and interpret a Balance Sheet.
A funny incident I do remember early on was when we did not know about levying taxes in the invoices and ‘split’ the tax with our client!! We have moved a long way from there but every day has something new for us to learn.
We did hit our financial lows in Sept’10 – very close to the 1000 day mark. We took a high interest loan from the bank which squeezed us dry but got us back from the brink! After that, there was no looking back! The spark had become a flame.
5 years and counting…
Today, our company position is strong – financially and technically. Touchwood! We now look at projects from an innovative point of view, the techncial challenge involved and sometimes bootstrap another innovative startup! There have been a few cases, where we have even worked for free – because it was a good social cause or the idea was simply awesome.
We now pay a lot more attention to opensource activities – contributing on open-source projects, bringing the Ruby Community together, organizing meetups, conferences and even drink-ups!
- We organize Open Source Friday which is a community event every Friday evening.
- We help in organizing (and sponsoring) Ruby Conf India.
- We have sponsored Yahuda Katz for his Rails.app
- We are now teaching Ruby to the blind – a very exhilarating and satifying experience.
- We have a book to our name now – Ruby and MongoDB Web Development guide.
Where do we go from here?
Only one way – global. The next few years, we do plan to expand in “Ruby Pockets”. These are small independent startups that we can bootstrap financially and technically. They are run and managed by a small group of passionate programmers.
We shall also have a stronger cricket team, continue our annual Goa binge, participate and talk in conferences across the globe and most importantly ‘innovate’.