With the advent of the cellular world, there is an increasing need for a platform that assesses a 360 degree scope of mobility in various facets of lives. The execution of mobility solutions calls for a build of capability and strategy to synthesize many different components including devices, networks, applications and their services as well as the middleware. Endeavour does just that.
Rahul Aggarwal, Managing Director of Endeavour – The Mobility Company, is also the chief founder of the organization. Driven by his passion to explore the nuances of mobile technology, today we have a company that not only endeavours to but also acts upon the same.
gets up-close with the man himself for a bout of corporate tete-a-tete.
- Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Endeavour: Reducing the TTM (time to market) for mobile apps
Founded in 2002, Endeavour-The Mobility Company, is CMMI Level 3 assessed company, providing niche services on mobile consulting, technology and outsourcing.
With a customer base spanning across verticals like healthcare, banking, consumer applications, mobile media provisioning, nonprofit – health care, mobile messaging, and supply chain, the company specializes in three distinct areas:
– Mobile Opportunity Assessment – Enabling Enterprises build mobility vision, strategy, short, medium, long term roadmap for the organization
– Mobile Software Development – Develop applications on all the mobile platforms; Apple, RIMM, Microsoft, Google, Motorola Symbol, Nokia Symbian, Samsung, Brew, Java.
– Endeavour Quality Assurance Labs (EQuAL) – A state of the art mobile testing labs at Endeavour equipped with 300 devices; ability to test mobile applications on variety of networks, platforms and devices.
Today, Endeavour’s clientele includes several Fortune 500 companies who are looking to leverage mobility for branding, internal operations, KM initiatives etc. The company has projected two times growth in the past few years and now enjoys its position as the select mobility partner of some of the large Fortune 500 enterprises.
Endeavour is also working with Technology Product companies and enabling mobile technology innovations by becoming partner to new ideas.
Since the smart phone proliferation has been rapid, organizations need to go through the painful change process to keep pace with the same. Endeavour foresees this as the major challenge and has taken the lead in building a platform which covers the benefits of mobile web as well as native mobile application, using which the organizations can have the flexibility to create mobile applications with minimum coding thereby significantly reducing the time to market. The platform supports multiple mobile platforms and we will continue to strengthen this platform by adding more advanced features and platforms/devices as they are launched.
- Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
I graduated in 1999 from IIT Kanpur with a degree in Chemical Engineering and joined Hindustan Lever Ltd. (HLL, the Indian subsidiary of Unilever plc) which was considered the top job on campus. In HLL, I started off as a management trainee and having worked in various functions and locations in Europe and India. In early 2001 I took up an assignment as Production Manager of a plant, manufacturing detergent bars in Madhya Pradesh. Towards the end of 2002, I moved to Mumbai and was charged with the responsibility for product development of the leading dish wash brand in India.
While working as a Production Manager, I found myself dealing principally with issues on man management. While the job offered significant responsibility but it was not all I wanted to do through my life. The job also posed significant challenges related to real-time, on-the-go data collection and dissemination which lead me to think about smarter ways to handle such situations.
It lead me to grapple with the challenge of exploring technology solutions which could facilitate this process and lead me to the realm of mobile technology. Mobile technology was still at its nascent stages during those days but the seed was sown and it didn’t take too long to set-up Endeavour Software Technologies, a company, focused on providing enterprise solutions on Mobile Devices.
Today at Endeavour, I am responsible for giving overall direction and strategic vision to the organization, monitoring overall growth of the organization by ensuring continual improvement and building stakeholders’ confidence.
List of Optional Questions :-
- How did the idea for your business come about?
I had experienced the difficulty of accessing business information while on the move. At the plant, if I had to determine a process parameter while on my rounds, I had to either go to the control room or call someone there to report the information. Although, the entire process was automated, access to information was only at particular locations. Vinay, who at Lattice Technologies was doing some work on mobile handheld data solutions and thought data mobility solutions offered an interesting opportunity.
Palm, the leading mobile handheld, for enterprise applications, was selling for Rs 6000/-. Costs of mobile hand sets were going down and penetration was low. And the benefit of providing enterprise information on the move would be high. We thought this would be a good area to work.
On 15th January, 2002, we started off Endeavour Software Technologies at Bangalore with a combined initial investment of Rs 3 lakhs. Endeavour was to provide solutions for data mobility allowing information to be accessed by hand held devices. We rented an office with four computers. Those were humble times. A house for an office, limited means and nothing but our own faith in Endeavour to live on. Nothing of significance has ever been achieved without the pain of birth. With the IT industry in the doldrums, still recovering from the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and with companies folding up, we decided to hedge our risks and continue in our current jobs. We wanted the firm to reach a certain stage before we joined in full time.
- How important have good employees been to your success?
A good team is a great asset
Endeavour has managed to develop and retain a good team despite the pressures of attrition in the IT services industry. Our strategy of precluding the city colleges, and recruiting from a relatively obscure university, ensured that the employees had lower monetary aspiration levels. Further, given our small town background, the employees preferred to stay together and were less inclined to job hopping. This has been a key success factor for Endeavour as it has permitted us to venture into specialized areas quickly building a significant knowledge base.
- What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Industry knowledge is invaluable: Empirical observation is that over 70% of entrepreneurial ventures are inspired from previous experience and the Endeavour case supports that. So do your ground work before you decide what you want to do and gather enough information about the industry you want to get into
Choice of the industry is vital: Look for sectors which are growing and with low competition to start with which gives room to learn, improve the operations and keep the cost of mistakes low.
The early bird gets the worm! (especially in the IT services industry): Do not go by the buzz word alone. While the IT industry is a high growth industry, the low entry barriers and high margins imply that the growth of firms offering a particular service is rapid. This leads to competition intensifying in a short time. Thus the honeymoon period of low competition and high margins, is limited and it is vital for firms to make the opportunity window.
- If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Adaptable and flexible – yet focused
- What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Start your new venture not for money or power, but for making a change and leaving a legacy: The Endeavour team members had plush jobs and good careers, yet we chose to drop those and start up on their own. The motivation to do so, was not money, was not power. I wanted to do something that would leave a mark and make a significant difference.
- How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
Endeavour’s first product was a sales force automation (SFA) tool. However, we were unable to sell this. With the initial lukewarm response to the product and hamstrung by lack of management, we decided to abandon the product. This is in contrast to the 3M team led by Andy Wong, who persisted with the privacy screen project despite failures. This persistence was driven by a firm belief that the product had a future. In case of Endeavour, the SFA product did have a future. However, given the multiple opportunities available, we felt that we would be better rewarded focusing on services that had a ready demand. For us, given our expertise in the domain and our presence in a rapidly growing market, the payoff for our time was greater when we catered to ready demand rather than having to create demand.
Hence, persistence with an idea is closely linked to the opportunity cost of time.
- How many hours do you work a day on average?
Number of hours spent is not a representation of the value you are adding to the organization. What matters is the quality of time you spend.
- What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
To run the ship on remote from 2002 – mid 2004
Endeavour Technologies operated from early 2002 till mid 2004 under remote supervision and got a complete full time management team from mid 2005. Along with the other founders, I chose this route to de-risk my position. The act was led primarily due to the downturn in the IT services industry following 9/11. However, lack of a full time management cost Endeavour on the following fronts:
- Slow sales in the mobility sector and no long term clients
- Lack of product options to complement services
Thus the exploitation of the early mover advantage was limited. This turned out to be the most significant failing. We should have joined in earlier. While we have grown well, we missed a lot of opportunities and could have been in a larger position by now.