Friday, January 13, 2012

Entrepreneur Interview - Permeative Technologies - iPhone & Android Development Company

MandE: Thank you Basavaraj of Permeative. Thanks for accepting our invite to be on the interview of entrepreneur series that we have.

It would be great if you could begin with introducing yourself and then briefly talk about the company that you are running. 

Basavaraj: I studied engineering at BIET Davanagere and then joined Tata Elexsi as a fresher and then moved to Sling Media in the domain which I always looking for. In SlingMedia I got opportunity to work on iPhone SlingPlayer (Video player) and saw power lying underneath the iPhone (in 2007) - and just thought of opening a company around it. In March 2008 We opened the company – iAppsSoftwares (another name), and in Nov 2008 registered it as Permeative and it has been more than 3 years right now since when we began operating.

MandE: Could you tell us what about Permeative?

Basavaraj: Permeative started as an iPhone application development company and now we call it as Mobile application development company as diversified our portfolio to Android and Windows Phone 7. In 2008, the only powerful platform was iPhone, so we started with that. Right now we have small team on Android and Windows 7 and we are looking to start on Samsung BADA as well. 

MandE: Could you tell us how the journey has been in the last 3 years - March 08 to now, which is now almost four years?

Basavaraj: Our story has been with many ups and downs. We started off well without raising money from anybody and we grew organically. We ploughed back what we had earned, purchased some machines, infrastructure, hired some people. Within 6 – 8 months we grew pretty well that we moved into a new office with a rich infrastructure. Our growth was so good that Investors themselves began approaching us – big investors. We had even moved to an advance stage with one big investor but due to some of conditions, we didn’t sign up and complete the funding. Following this we had slump primarily due to the period of transformation we were expecting.
Then in 2010, we began the journey again. We actually wanted to grow in multiple domains, but we looked into too many domains and this affected us. The focus was lost during this phase. In 2011, we founders split. I was able to focus on this one thing and we are going well now. Our revenue has grown seven folds and we have closed most of our debts. We are getting profits and it is much better now.

MandE: When you started off what was it that you envision that you would be doing with Permeative. Is there any vision that you started your journey with?

Basavaraj: When I started of Permeative, there is no vision in terms of product, but I had a good vision in terms of services. It was the first thought that came to me. Now, my strategy has changed from looking at services to products and I have a lot of ideas to purse built by my years of experience here.

MandE: These are more transactional in nature - when you say that you are moving from services to product. What initiated the change from services to product? 

Basavaraj: The First is the revenue, second is growth and third is the risk factors.

In 2008, we were starting off and didn’t have any source of revenue. We needed money, and we were fine with small revenue. In services the revenue generally grows linearly over the period as you add in more people. But in products its more an exponential growth – and that is what is expected from the products.

If we look at the growth angle between services and products; the services company would grow in terms of the number of people but, in terms of revenue it wouldn’t be very attractive – the exponential growth wouldn’t be seen.

Coming to the Risk factors; in 2008, we weren’t in a stage to take risks. Product development and launch is more risky than a services launch. We didn’t know much about creating the right product, analyzing, and marketing strategies. Today we understand the complete game about the product development – how to bring it into the market, what the user expects; so we are expecting an exponential growth by focusing on products. 

MandE: In 2008, you would be an early entrant into I-phone app, or mobile app development space on I-phone.   How did you spot this opportunity?

Basavaraj: It was the passion of opening a company, which is what I would attribute it to. Since college days, I was always intending to start my own shop.
I wanted to start my own company - I had no clue how I had to go about doing this. My family also doesn’t have a background in business; I had no idea how to neither do business nor start one, how to make it successful, or even where to start.When I moved to Bangalore and began working, I didn’t find an opportunity where I could start something,

In 2007, when iPhone was launched and I was working at Sling Media – I got the chance to work on iPhone. We cracked it, and using hacking methods we developed SlingPlayer application. I saw the power underneath, I thought that in future, the whole system would move on to such devices. This thought struck me in 2007, the power of the iPhone at that point was equivalent to the power of my home PC processor. I was amazed and also grew confident that this would be the future, and this is where I could start something. I could sense that huge number of projects would start on this platform and most of the things would move from desktops to mobiles.

With this thought, I began speaking with a lot of friends who would be willing to start and finally started the company.

MandE: Once you began your journey, in terms of the services itself, how was the first reaction from the market who were the first customers? How did you acquire them?

Basavaraj: We began with freelancing which was the primary source of the services projects for us at that time. There were many freelancing projects to begin with – there were very few developers around the world who used to take up some of the most challenging and complex tasks on the iPhone app development. This created good credibility in the freelancing market and slowly we moved to direct company related services and develop some enterprise applications, music etc. We expanded our portfolio across many categories.

In this year 2011 we don’t have any freelancing projects. We deal directly with the projects which companies offer, and many of these are on enterprise applications.

MandE: When you say enterprise application you are contacting the company directly and working on the project that they have. How do you work in such domains, Is it the outsourcing model or....?

Basavaraj: We work on two models the first one is one in which we send some of our people to their office and they could take care of all the management, architecting etc. The other model is they outsource the complete project. We completely consider the end product as the deliverable and deliver it to the product. 

MandE: So, that was the services wing of what you are doing now right? In the Products wing, what kind of the products or domains are they generally in? How were your products classified?

Basavaraj:  Our product are mainly into productivity, education ,music and games. These are four main categories which we have been successful, we have product in categories like navigation, health care and other things, but they are not as successful.

MandE: If somebody is to start a company today, what would you say is essential? In the domain of mobile market itself? What would you say is an important factor they should remember?

Basavaraj: For anybody want to start accompany, any domain is the good. Any domain you can begin the journey, as if now  the market is very attractive - in the whole Indian history ,this is the first time there is a very positive mood in terms of starting company by entrepreneurs. First thing, look for good partners with good understanding and complementing partners. That is the first most important thing. People are more important than what domain or what technology you would be getting into or what product you are going to build. People are the most important.

MandE: You got to the subject of people; so, let me ask you, how you select your people now? Or the journey in selection of peoples itself, from the point you started to now?

Basavaraj: Instead of the journey I feel its better to talk about how I intend to do it in the future.

While starting off, I didn’t find a good person who could give me a company; it was not too sought after at that time.  The environment for entrepreneurship is changing in India, and now it’s easy to find people. Straight from the college too, there are a lot of people who are interested in going ahead and starting off companies. This is good news!

While choosing particular person as a partner, you should look at complementing characteristics in the person.  Suppose you are a technical person   doesn’t look at another person also to be a technical person.  I mean, when you have option to choose or when we have an option to find a guy find somebody and complementing you people as a partner - if you already have a team of two-three guys all technical and have already started then don’t worry about it. Like suppose you are a technical guy find somebody who is good in marketing, who understand that or if you go into services, go for operational guy, who can take care of operations.

Complimenting characteristics is better than similar characteristics. If we have similar characteristics then ego problem will start at early stages of company - this leads to breaking up. Better you go with one of complimenting characteristics. 

MandE: While you are discussing about people to form your team with, I did mention about marketing. The domain you are operating is almost a flooded market. So how important is marketing in the mobile space as such? Not just I-phone space and mobile space – there are tons of applications who do you make yourself visible there?

Basavaraj: We look at the market as 2 types – services and products, the strategy we adopt is pretty similar.
Say for example, in mobile technology take a specific usage domain and master it. Work so well that, when people look at the work you have done, they realize you are a master of that technology and you would be their automatic choice. You need to stand out of the crowd through the work you do.
Go to great depth in the domain of your choice – Ex If you don’t know games, leave it, if you don’t know music, leave it. If you understand productivity apps well, just go to the depths and get perfect in that.
Then people definitely, who are in productivity, who wants some applications in productivity, they will come to you. As you begin refining your domain, the expertise will improve and you could definitely showcase better apps to the world.  Go to the depths in a domain in some category and rather than spreading yourself everywhere. 

 MandE: Ok, coming back to the other factors that we probably began with – some of the mistakes you have done. From your experience, what are the three most glaring mistakes you that you have done  in the journey?

Basavaraj: First thing is a choosing a partners. Don’t compromise while choosing partners, if you don’t get a good partner you don’t look at something compromising and start with, we should really get one who is really interested in it. This is first one and very important.

The second thing is when you want to scale it up, after some time definitely you would look to scale it up. If you are not able to do it yourself, definitely go for funding. Funding should be encouraged and then only company can really begin to grow - you could then scale up in terms of services and in terms of products and services for both - funding is very important. We rejected this.

MandE: If you are going to highlight what are the three biggest achievement of with the journey of entrepreneurship what would say?

Basavaraj: The first biggest achievement is starting a company  when nobody was there in the space absolutely the first starting a company  in India in iPhone at a time when everybody was thinking that mobile applications was a business with 5% margin and the 95% carriers would take. Apple changed the complete game. Before apple announced all these things, we identified and started this is the first and great achievement. Of course we didn’t leverage this start which we got by preempting the trend.

Second is big investors identified us amongst thousands of companies across the globe and came forward to invest.

And the third one is in spite of having lots of ups and lows and after splitting the company, we came back very well. Now our revenues have increased much higher. Our current revenue is much higher than last year when number of people was more than double of what we have today.

MandE: What is the vision from Permeative for the next one year?

Basavaraj: I still look at Permeative as a service based company itself. For services firm the challenge is mainly in scaling rather than technology. I want to scale into different domains like windows phone 7, and most scaling in iPhone and of course getting the bigger clients with some in the Fortune 500 companies list - atleast 5-6 companies if I am able to. That would be a big achievement for us.

MandE: What is your message for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Basavaraj: Don’t look at the business opportunity cost – will you earn money or not?  What happens in the future? If you can’t do it will you get a job?. If you open the company and you failed in sustaining the  company, even then you have better experience than your counterpart who only worked in companies. You will be 10 years ahead of other guys working in the company. Don’t need worry, go ahead, do something, achieve something. Put in your whole hearted effort – day and night, and achieve something. And choose some good partner and try to make it larger with every attempt. That’s it.

MandE: Thank you Basavaraj, for taking time out to this interview, thank you once again.


  1. Very inspiring one. Good initiative to get what Indian Entrepreneurs doing and how they approach to current market and problem solving.

    Last Message to other Entrepreneurs is the key...!!!

  2. Truly inspiring.. I get a strong message on choosing appropriate partner as key criteria for success as per Basavraj's comments.

  3. Passion is the word for this man to achieve great heights.

  4. Very good Basavaraj. Inspirational interview. All the best for your venture.

  5. This is one of the powerful and good post.I like your blog effort.This is one of the brilliant post.
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  6. Good post ! Having such a cool tips, you did such a great job! thank you so much!

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