BetaGlide: Make your app work across all devices
Starting up your own venture has become quite the rage these days. Especially, here in IIT Kharagpur, with every passing batch, more and more people are getting ready to take the leap. So in order to inspire all the aspiring entrepreneurs in campus and beyond, we decided to talk to the guy from Kharagpur with the million dollar startup. We are talking about none other than Amritanshu Anand, co-founder of Betaglide, a powerful, reliable and easy to use tool to assist mobile application developers and testers to test their app over the cloud using real devices and real testers/users. Luckily for us, Amritanshu was in campus for the past few days, and in this candid chat, he shares with us his saga of building this company from its foundations.
Q:What motivated you to become an entrepreneur in a place like IIT, where the current trend is being absorbed into high profile jobs?
A: Although I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur, my ambitions got strengthened in IIT. I met a few alumni who were already entrepreneurs at one of the convocations, and was pretty impressed. I made up my mind that I would become an entrepreneur. However my scheme was cut short by the fact that I didn’t have much of an idea about starting up. So I joined the Entrepreneurship Cell of IIT Kharagpur, and received a lot of guidance from the other members.
Q:Describe the genesis of Betaglide.
A: In my first 2 years at IIT, I dabbled in managing events and innovating, but it wasn’t very fruitful. In the third year, I noticed a problem plaguing all app developers, that their apps weren’t being tested in a real world scenario. This led to the inception of Crowdbeans, where we had a set of testers in our campus, checking apps for bugs and other performance issues. Following this we would send our feedback to the app developers.
However, after some time, we felt that this process was highly unprofessional, so my co-founder Anshul (Shingle) and I developed a cloud based app testing platform called Betaglide, with its USP being device fragmentation. We entered TATA FirstDot.in, a startup competition and we came in the Top 20. This gave us the confidence to move on. After that we competed in MIT GSL (Global Startup Labs) and we won it. This enhanced our confidence by leaps and bounds. Several investors at NASSCOM 10000 and Little iLabs liked our idea and we were invited by T-Labs to come to Bangalore, to work on our startup full-time. Later this year, in the Rice Business Plan Competition we won the Mercury Tech Fund Investment prize worth 1 million USD.
Q: We all know that starting up is not easy. What were the obstacles you faced in this inspiring journey of yours?
A: Well, in a place like IIT, in my opinion, there is always a lot of pressure on you to perform. When I first took the plunge, there was academic stress and peer pressure on me. Also when T-Labs called me to Bangalore, I was in a dilemma for a long period of time, because I knew there was no coming back to the same old life at Kharagpur. I was also a placement coordinator, and with my resume, I could have landed a fairly plush job at a consulting or financial firm. I faced a little antagonism at first, but my parents were pretty cool about it later. In the initial stages another major problem was the lack of funds and this was pretty discouraging. The attitude towards student startups in India is always condescending. Investors feel that a student startup will last only for their college tenure and hence they are hesitant to invest in it. This is what we endeavour to change with our venture. Another low was when a competitor of ours launched the same product we had been working on for 5 months. Suddenly, we were back to square one, and completely disheartened. But we had the persistence and determination to move on.
Q: How is a day in the life of an entrepreneur?
A: There’s a lot of fun incorporated with work while working in a startup. We have an immense amount of freedom to work and innovate, in contrast to a 9 to 5 job. Sometimes I go to the office at 4pm and we work till 3 in the morning. We have no weekdays or weekends, everyday’s just the same. However with our growing family of employees, we have disciplined ourselves much more, and that is showing in our work. Another great aspect of working in a startup is the amount of travel. One day I’m on business in Bangalore, and the next I’m sunbathing in Goa. But all the time, wherever I go, my mind is fixated on my goal and how to accomplish my targets. The most satisfying thing in being an entrepreneur is not the money, its the fact that your company is creating jobs and value.
Q: How has the IIT experience assisted you in your startup?
A: IIT Kharagpur has always played a crucial role in my startup and this whole voyage has been of paramount importance to me. I would sincerely like to thank the director, Dr. P.P. Chakraborty and the professors here who have never failed to assist me in any way. They allowed me to drop out of college to pursue my dreams. Also, another vote of thanks goes to the IIT alumni network, who have helped me beyond my expectations, in terms of guidance, networking and even funding. The Entrepreneurship Cell helped me come into contact with several like minded people which enhanced my idea and develop it into its full fledged form. After our initiative, IIT Kharagpur has introduced the credit system, wherein students can finish their course in 3 and a half years. It feels good to see that we had a role to play in this regard.
Q: You have been to the USA and seen the startup culture there. How different is it from the startup ecosystem here?
A: The USA is a frontrunner in startup culture, especially in tech-startups where there is a lot of competition and innovation. Any global product has to be in Silicon Valley. In fact, whatever technology is released in America, takes at least three months to reach India, because over there everyone is using cutting edge technology. Also another advantage in the US is that it is much easier to raise funds there, because normally, US investors take your idea into consideration instead of other factors like work experience, revenue generation and returns.
Q: Where do you see Betaglide in two or three years from now?
A: We have been playing in major markets in the USA and India. In the near future, we would like to expand to Europe and Southeast Asia. Also, we have set ourselves an achievable target of reaching out to nearly 20,000 app developers. As for long term aims, we want to expand our domain in terms of moving on to wearables, automobiles,television and consequentially the Internet of Things (IoT).
Q: Do you have a message for our readers?
A: Don’t startup because you think its cool to do it. It seems easy on paper, but trust me, there will be times when you will just want to quit everything and go back to your routine life again. So, do it only if you have the acumen and capability to run a company, the persistence and determination to get up if you fall, and the confidence to fulfill your dreams.