Rohit Singal is man with many designations. He is a radiologists, MBBS and most importantly an entrepreneur. I would like to address him as an entrepreneur because he has done something which shows he has got entrepreneur skills.
Rohit singhal is a founder of Sourcebits, an app company in Bangalore in 2006. You must be wondering what a doctor has to do with technology and mobile apps well he is a man of talents . His app became successful in a very lesser period of time. Currently his company has become a king of software products in espousing through its existence what a software product company is by execution. He is successfully running his software product company without any experience in business before. He managed to execute his heart advice rather than going for any other way.
How did a radiologists turned into a mobile entrepreneur. What’s the story behind all this?
In India, how you go to medical school is you usually do MBBS and then you do post-graduation (MD). So, when I was doing MBBS, my dad got me a computer and I was really hooked onto it, but I never even thought that I would be in computers. That was just a hobby, and I had to pursue my medical career. After finishing my MBBS from Government College in Haryana, I got MD in Ramaiah Memorial Hospital in Bangalore. They had the requirement for this communication system software, which big companies like Siemens and other big companies were selling at quite a good amount of money. I offered them this software for $100,000. They got convinced and brought it from me. I got that money, and I was enjoying work in this field quite a lot, so I thought why not make a company out of it. When I passed out, I started the company.
How old was he when he started up?
I was 30.
What is the story behind choosing Sourcebits as a company name?
It is a combination of two words – Source + bits. Bits is the lowest denominator in coding, and you can source bits from us, that is why the name.
Sourcebits is one of the very few VC-funded services companies in India.
With my medical background we didn’t have any contacts in this field when we started out. So when we always made a product, first it was on Mac, then it got very popular, a lot of people were interested and gave us consulting work. Similarly on mobile also, we developed a product which sold quite well and we made a million dollars. Then consulting work followed after that. We continue to have our product and services direction, and since India has a benefit of scale, we can hire quality talent in a quick span of time. So we are utilizing both to pursue forward our strategy.
How come he managed to set up the company?
I didn’t have any coding background. All I was looking for was gut feel, and how much the other person is passionate about what I want to do and whether he aligns with it. Based on that gut feel, I use to hire people and maybe those people are also quite different from the normal crowd because the normal crowd would go to the established companies. The kind of people I hired were looking for something different which is not normal, so they never go to the established companies. There are always these kind of people but they would not have that kind of typical experience or academics which you would look for in a corporate environment.
Where did he recruit people from?
I hired people mostly while going to the forums and looking at the activity. Today there is Quora.com where most of the coding talent comes from, and there are similar forums where most of the design talent comes. If you go frequently to such forums, and understand them, then you would know which people are right for your staWhat is the customer split between India and the US?
Mostly our business is in the US. Over 95% of the business is in the US and in India maybe we have four or five customers.
Was it challenging to sell within the US, while he is predominantly based out of India?
We don’t have any sales people and we don’t go out and sell. All our customers approach us through our website and they give us business. This list includes Intel, SAP, and US Military, and other such big enterprise customers. But, I focused on building a brand which is design-led engineering, and which is different from all the other services firms. All the other services firms in India are focused on doing the back-end work, not particularly focusing on the user experience or how the user would consume the content that they developed, whereas we are extremely focused on that and engineering is second to the design. We are very design-led, and that was quite unique and it is still not very much there in India, so people approach us for that.
Is he looking up to any design entrepreneurs?
Obviously, Steve Jobs! And, also of late, there are some of the companies that have come up. There is a company called Path, and another one Flipboard. There is a company by the name Square. If you look at the products that they have done, they have redefined user interfaces and design. Even if you look at their Twitter page, the amount of interaction that they have managed to build on single page is just amazing. You can click on the link and watch the images and videos on the same page! Even the timeline feature in Facebook. I know some people like it and some people don’t, but I think Mark Zuckerberg is doing awesome work. I mean having earned so of much money and still keeping a strong hold on the organization that he has built from scratch. He is right up there.
What else he would like to share with the readers?
In India whatever you see, let us say we talk about the interface of Bangalore. My last visit to US has only happened last year, before which I have never been out of India. So when I saw San Francisco, how it is designed and how all the blocks work together, it is amazing. We in India design everything based out of necessity. Okay, today we need a bridge here, let us make one. Today we need a restaurant here, let us start one here. Rather than thinking from a long-term perspective. I think in India there are just two well-designed cities: one is Chandigarh and another Bhubaneshwar. Chandigarh still remains a very well-designed city. So, fundamentally we don’t give importance to design. Even if you go restaurants here, there is no design sense. So as an Indian, I really want that we start focusing more on design. Technology is not a challenge anymore. So we should have schools that are focusing only on design, not just for technology or computers but for everything.