Secret Eastern Gem of Technology: India

On pursuit of becoming the new Silicon Valley of the world.

Setting foot on Indian soil was an exciting adventure. When planning the journey to the large urban sites of India, it gave a special feeling: Imagine a picture in your mind of the one of the world’s largest economies, yet with many unknowns. What do cities look like, what does the food taste like, what are the habits of people? How is business life over there? Can Indians deliver the quality we assume appropriate in the West?  

A two-week trip with exceptional experiences gave us lots of answers as first-timers. Immediately after we drove away from the airport we noticed how different this world was. Cars chaotically clot together like cattle of sheep, they drive in unordered patterns and never stop horning. Although seemingly chaotic, the Indians were amazingly calm and gave us the confidence that this was daily practice: some sort of ordered chaos. We saw many ‘unfortunate’ people, as the Indians call them, living on the streets. Dirty and unfinished buildings, fruit markets full of flies and people moving through a maze of even more people.

In the taxi we discussed what the development companies would look like, would it be a solid business process to outsource our engineering heart to the East? Upfront we were repeatedly warned for cooperation with Indian companies. People spoke to us on a variety of problems with Indians, like difficult communication, missed deadlines and sometimes even bad quality. 

During our first meetings in Ahmedabad we were surprised by the large teams of Indian developers, though often working without much office space. Most of the companies received us with a warm welcome and showed portfolios with professional Apps. Built for mostly US and European clients, their work showed passion and perseverance. The Apps worked well but they sometimes lacked esthetic beauty and pixel perfectness. Something that is in our eyes vital for the success of Apps.

Heading on to Hyderabad and Bangalore we were amazed by the difference with Ahmedabad. The traditional centers had similarly full, dirty and old roads. However, following the highway from the airport to the ‘high tech’ city was like driving through a new, modern and beautiful business district in the West. It actually reminded us of our trip to Silicon Valley. Huge modern buildings of Google, Microsoft and Infosys marked the landscape. We visited companies varying in size from 50 to more than 10.000 FTE, all focusing on the mobile App development industry.

Our goal was to find a good development partner in India. How advanced is India in the App development space? How well does the outsourcing model work?

Indeed, India taught us much. We are more than convinced that India is far ahead in developing mobile technology. The supply of educated and capable developers is limitless. We also visited several universities. The professors told us that half of the students attending university in India, study IT. Next to having many job opportunities, students are inspired by the possibility to work on something big. People are aware of the responsibility they hold, working on projects for some of the largest multinationals in the world. All of the companies we visited build Apps for big clients in the West. Projects range from complex mobile ERP solutions for Banking, to effective solutions for the Healthcare industry. The backend quality is very high. We were shown Mobile Enterprise Apps that aren’t built in the Netherlands yet. This provided us many new ideas and inspiration. We now were convinced that offshoring App development to India works, and were excited to enter the next phase in starting Applified.  

We think that the criticism we heard before going to India were not true. There even is an amazing potential in India that still needs to be uncovered. Thousands of great App developers, and experienced companies producing Apps with dedicated passion. However, India is living a different reality. It’s important for us to realize that designing Apps from that reality is difficult when not being precisely instructed with what’s expected. Therefore our lesson learned, and advice, is: be absolutely specific about what you expect from companies in India, and use local design talent. Enjoy their expertise and quality to build the best Apps, because they are amazingly capable, experienced, helpful, and faster than you think!

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