It was sometime last month that Apps for Chennai contest winners were declared. Four young entrepreneurs who made the winning app called Find A Kadai , sat grinning, and that picture was splashed across a major newspaper in the country.
This app specialises in finding little-heard-of tuck shops around Chennai. While this in itself seems pretty impressive (a why-didn’t-anyone-else-think-of-this-before moment), wait till you hear what the parent company does.
Find A Kadai is part of Hasura, a platform that helps build web and mobile apps really fast. This, in turn, is part of a bigger start-up, called 34 Cross, which was founded by Rajoshi Ghosh and Tanmai Gopal.
“34 Cross (the first office location) is two years old. And we built a technology called Hasura, which helps you build web and mobile apps really fast,” explains Rajoshi, sitting in their cosy office in Alwarpet, a largely upmarket residential area of Chennai. It has the feel of a typical start-up — white board, strewn papers and laptops on the table, team intently listening to a speaker. “The reason we built Find A Kadai was to see how quickly we could build an app on Hasura. It’s not a drag-and-drop interface. It is basically for developers, where hard engineering problems are pre-solved for you,” continues the co-founder.
How it began
It all began when Rajoshi, a graduate from National University of Singapore and Tanmai, a graduate of IIT Madras, decided to do something on their own. “We wanted to deliver home-cooked meals to people in Chennai, made on demand. So we sat down to build an app for that,” explains Tanmai, “We got a bunch of interns to work on it. When we started, I was offended at how bad software engineering in web development was! We then built a tool for our interns to work on, and they went from not having programmed their entire lives to setting up a production quality site in two months. We were super impressed and knew we were on to something.”
That’s how the idea for Hasura (of which only a demo version is available now) came about.
What it’s all about
While building the ecommerce was when they realised how broken the web development process was. “You’re always reinventing the wheel. If you think of all these highly-paid amazing engineers, literally all of them are trying to solve the same problem in their own domain. They are little issues, and there’s so much waste of time and money! Our value proposition at Hasura is to say, “Hey, you don’t need to hire 20 developers; hire one in which most of your stuff is already built. Go about building businesses; spend your money on getting customers or whatever you do,” says Rajoshi, laughing heartily.
Every app that is built needs a database, and a search feature. Then there’s the log-in feature for customers and file uploads. “If you think about it, most apps will have these functionalities. These are harder engineering problems. So when you build applications, you don’t get into this too much, you just put tools together. Say suddenly on a festive weekend, a lot of people hit your website and it crashes. These problems are pre-solved for you. These are like little blocks at the back-end which are so core that it doesn’t matter whether you’re building an e-commerce site or FaK. Everybody can build stuff and these fundamentals are taken care of,” she adds.
They’re already working with a few clients like Choose my Bike and a few others. We also do some work for TI cycles, and work with stealth mode start-ups. “Basically, we offer a mix of good technology and good design. They get powerful websites,” Rajoshi adds.
Right now, Rajoshi says, they’re bootstrapped. And they’re not raising funds because they offer services. “We build stuff and people pay us to build their stuff. So for us, even going forward, we don’t want to be the typical valuation company. Yes, Hasura has enormous potential, and we do plan to raise funding from a couple of angels. But after April, if things go well, we should not be requiring external funding.”