Editor’s note: Bizosys Technologies, launched in January 2009 in Bangalore, India, is an award winning, India-based software engineering company that has developed several tools that are available free to use online or as open-source software with downloadable source code. One of the most significant tools is HSearch, a real-time Big Data search engine for Hadoop. In this interview, Sridhar Dhulipala, co-founder and director – solutions, discusses his company’s tools and also shares lessons learned in the software development journey. This article is brought to SandHill readers in partnership with ProductNation.
SandHill.com: What was your vision; what inspired you to launch Bizosys?
Sridhar Dhulipala: Bizosys was born out of a question and not out of a smart business plan. The question we had was: how can one simplify software development? This translated into an engineering quest where Bizosys founders were consumed in research for the first two years, entirely self-funded, thanks to the low capex model afforded by cloud infrastructure.
The three co-founders at Bizosys met during their careers at Infosys in Bangalore and decided to start Bizosys. Bizosys is self-funded and has had no sustained mentor in a formal sense — but a mentor would surely have helped from a go-to-market perspective.
We now provide IT services for enterprise and SMBs, mostly around Big Data, search and analytics, IT performance engineering, new application development targeting existing on-premises deployments or cloud architecture, addressing existing application technology stacks or emerging NoSQL technologies such as Hadoop.
Our tools are now accessed by users from over 100 countries globally. In the longer run, evangelizing our products and having vibrant user communities is a desirable goal.
SandHill.com: Is there a story behind your company name?
Sridhar Dhulipala: The idea behind Bizosys is “business operating system.” As our quest was about simplifying software development, the application of this was to develop a business operating system that is easy to build, robust, scalable and especially intended for frequently changing, rapid deploy, long tail of applications.
SandHill.com: Please describe the tools your company has developed.
Sridhar Dhulipala: Bizosys has developed several tools that are available free to use online or as open-source software with downloadable source code. 10Screens is an online high-fidelity prototyping and requirements collaboration tool for remote teams. It’s free and has close to 4,000 registered users spanning more than 120 countries. HSearch is our open-source Big Data search engine with real-time capabilities on Hadoop and it has had over 2,200 downloads by users in more than 80 countries. It includes a kids-safe search engine for YouTube videos. 1line is a server-side backend.
They are ready to install and use as shrink-wrapped, off-the-shelf software. They are also available as frameworks that are compiled with custom applications. As a third option, we offer our products and frameworks as a service via robust APIs. Our tools are backed by email support today.
SandHill.com: How do these tools provide business value for your customers?
Sridhar Dhulipala: For our clients the business value is in our ability to deliver applications rapidly with quality at desirable performance levels. In addition, the architecture is highly scalable and provides elasticity in sync with application usage growth.
Bizosys products are set up to run as ready-to-use services that are designed to run on commodity-class machines on a modular architecture. This unchains application dependency on the frameworks and tools as these can be independently improved. The Bizosys Service layer covers the gamut of application server-side capabilities to user access control, storage, search, logging and monitoring and many other value additions such as CDN.
SandHill.com: Please describe one of your company’s lessons learned and where it occurred in the time line of your product development.
Sridhar Dhulipala: Before I share our lessons learned, it is important to clarify that it is an ongoing journey, still at the meandering stage like a river, which continues to offer several lessons. One significant lesson happened when Bizosys shifted attention from internal product development to the outward market with a technology-driven solution.
We expected to be welcomed by an enthusiastic market, maybe with a “wow” on their faces. The anticlimax that followed was a real lesson. When we got over the surprise and disappointment, and enquired further, we heard “So what?” or a more polite “Nice.”
We realized that technology just for the sake of it doesn’t make a serious discussion topic. Technology needs to address a business premise — a customer’s burning problem or their new goal. Developing a product, even with decades of experience behind it, will still remain as assumptions, and a product needs to be pursued with a real need in mind.
SandHill.com: Did your company change direction at some point during product development? If so, please describe what led up to the change.
Sridhar Dhulipala: Continuing from the previous point about building a truly great product in a lab, an uncut diamond, its facets to be uncovered, Bizosys took the step to share it with the world instead of letting it gather dust. HSearch was released under Apache License in 2010 after its benchmarking at Intel’s Innovation Labs (report on Intel site). We released 10Screens as a free online product after scaling down the entire SaaS-based offering to the 37Signals Freemium model.
The second step we took was to pull aside some of the core commercial value solutions and convert them to services that are available via REST API calls. Bizosys also filed a patent with the USPTO on some solution ideas, which is at an advanced stage pending grant.
Today, Bizosys is engaged with clients in the United States and India including a product company catering to pharma research and oil and gas exploration with a need to search across multiple petabytes of data (70+Pb). These engagements involve a mix of consulting and development around technology on a project basis.
SandHill.com: What challenges have you encountered in recruiting/hiring/retaining the right talent?
Sridhar Dhulipala: Especially when hiring fresh software engineers, since we consider imagination, passion coupled with aptitude, with skill as a given, it is a challenge to assess a candidate objectively, in a fair manner, and to determine that indeed we are getting the right person on board.
SandHill.com: How did you get your first customer?
Sridhar Dhulipala: The first customer was a referral from another software services company. Here the customer in question had a stiff requirement to deliver a working prototype of a new product concept built from scratch in two weeks to show to investors in the United States. Naturally, with our ready-to-use backend, it meant only coding for UI and some logic. It was doable for Bizosys, where others wouldn’t take it up. The initial pattern of early customers of Bizosys represented this situation. The client had a burning problem or a demanding situation on hand; after trying available options, they had nothing to lose by trying Bizosys, a new player on the scene bringing fresh thinking to the table.
SandHill.com: Who is your personal software company or software executive role model?
Sridhar Dhulipala: Ray Ozzie. While he was chief software architect at Microsoft, he remarked, “I love software because if you can imagine it, you can build it.” At Bizosys, irrespective of its successes and failures, every day of our work reflects this statement. We strongly believe there is a solution and we need to find it.
SandHill.com: If you could go back and do it all over again, from the time you first began your position with your company, what would you do differently the second time around?
Sridhar Dhulipala: Perhaps picked one solution that had a broad market potential and stuck to it for at least a couple of years to drive home its value, in the hope that success would have come faster.
SandHill.com: What is the best advice you ever received?
Sridhar Dhulipala: B2B and enterprise sales require heavy lifting for a technology company, and it is important to pick a beachhead with a specific solution for a specific industry. With the horizontal capability such as Big Data, taking this advice forward, we are considering a beachhead in financial and media industries where there is a visible explosion of data and content.
SandHill.com: What are the trends you’re observing from discussions with your customers or potential customers?
Sridhar Dhulipala: Like the famous Parkinsons law that states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,” it seems as more data is available and more processing power is available, people still want their information even faster. The interesting trend observed from our conversations is about how business managers want to get their analytics-based reports even faster than what they were used to previously and are comfortable with real time, predictive and other such prefixes. I have covered this in more detail in my blog.
SandHill.com: What is the most recent success that your company / employees achieved that caused you to celebrate it together?
Sridhar Dhulipala: Recently, India’s leading IT industry body, NASSCOM awarded Bizosys as one of the Top 10 “Made in India” Software Product Companies for our work on HSearch.
SandHill.com: What do the next 12 months hold for your company?
Sridhar Dhulipala: In the space of Big Data, Bizosys will focus on taking a repeatable solution that addresses IT issues of scale, performance and cost-effectiveness, targeting the business unit level in large enterprises or the CTO level in the SMB segment. The entry strategy is to combine consulting with development where it involves a significant portion of pre-built pieces, especially Bizosys products and tools. Bizosys is in the process of creating collateral, hiring external sales for lead generation and expanding its top-line revenue multifold.
SandHill.com: What’s your top advice for first-time entrepreneurs or startup CEOs?
Sridhar Dhulipala: Perhaps the most important and most feasible thing for first-time entrepreneurs to do is to combine their skill in a subject or a market that they have depth in with imagination and passion for the venture — the goal — and persevere. Secondly, it helps to realize goals faster if one validates the premise of value in the target market.
Sridhar Dhulipala is co-founder and director – solutions at Bizosys Technologies and comes from an industrial design background. He conceptualizes solutions that deliver new experiences around Bizosys-developed technology for information access, online advertising, etc. Earlier, at Infosys, he founded and led the UI design practice and contributed to its software engineering research activities in the area of requirements management. Bizosys hosts all of its open-source software contributions at https://github.com/bizosys.
Kathleen Goolsby is managing editor of SandHill.com.