Mumbai-based Ambab provides Service-as-a-Product to Startups
We have been covering cloud and cloud-related offerings on Pluggd.in from time to time. Most of those cloud applications require that you have a technical team with expertise in application development and deployment. This Mumbai-based startup, Ambab Infotech, provides services that would help you build an ecommerce store without any technical expertise.
Service-as-a-Product, or SaaP, shortly, is different from the SaaS model in that you get a dedicated infrastructure, database, and dedicated software, with complete control over code and data, in a standard, quick, easy, and scalable implementation with flexibility of payment.
Not only does Ambab design, develop, and design your online store, but also helps in marketing, promotions, product management, and analytics. They have some standard processes specific to one of the four packages they have for different kinds of startups.
I believe that is an interesting approach taken by Ambab. Most ecommerce stores have common features: product catalogues, shopping carts, checkouts, social sign-ons, etc. What differs is the layout, the design, the UX. Having a common ready-made solution for the backend, with little tweaks, and a new UX should be easy to work with, and provide a fast enough solution to their customers.
Ambab was started by Bhavik Jhaveri, in 2007. CraftsVilla.com, dealsandyou.com, Fetise, OyHoy.com are a few popular names in the ecommerce industry that have employed Ambab’s offerings to set up their applications.
Here is a detailed conversation with Jhaveri, on Ambab’s offerings, and the journey so far:
PI: Ambab is about designing and developing webpages, webapps, and mobile apps for ecommerce companies. How is this different from an outsourcing company?
BJ: Ambab is different in its philosophy of working. We don’t source projects, We partner with teams. We help startups/ wannabes/ offline retailers use our knowledge, expertise and services in an affordable and measurable way. Affordable is because we have low setup fees with easy monthly installment options. Measurable because we educate startups about lean methodologies and provide structured startup life-cycle driven service delivery model.
PI: What does SaaP really mean? How is it different from SaaS?
BJ: All SaaS offerings come with an inherited domain expertise and major standard business processes integrated. The best part of SaaS is you don’t need to buy it, you can just subscribe and use it. Hence you save on your CAPEX and pay as you go as OPEX.
SaaS is not an answer to what startups need. Every startup is unique and needs to build their story uniquely, and is yet to validate and prove their business. They don’t just need a standard package, but what they need is complete control to build unique things, to pivot business based on learning, control of data, infrastructure and only when they can control it they can build it.
And hence we came up with a unique offering SaaP (Service-as-a-Product) wherein we tried to cover best of both worlds. It has a standard, quick, easy monthly implementation / payment mode, and at the same time the startup has complete control and ownership of data/ software.
PI: How did it all start? How long have you been in business?
BJ: Ambab was established by me in 2007 with a vision to be technology back-office for all size companies. We started our business by building solutions of enterprise level to ecommerce store to a basic 5 pages website. We have worked with small SMEs to large Multinationals like Pidilite, Zee, Nokia etc. There was nothing unique about Ambab apart from our core team of engineers and our belief in each other and our Vision.
PI: Five years is a long time. How has the journey been so far?
BJ: It was an evening of December 2009, just as a normal course of business day a duo team referred by some distant friend walked into our office with a vision to build something really big in eCommerce. They had just left their jobs and were high on energy to build a good technology platform. We took 3 months to make their dream project Wanamo.com (now dealsandyou.com) to go live. Though we hardly earned out of it but for some reason complete team including me were feeling very nice about it and felt more satisfaction than any other large size projects that we ever did.
In our journey from 2010 till today 2012 our team including me got into a great learning curve. We got acquainted to some of the best technologies, practices and teams in industry We strategically got partnered with multiple Large size startups including Smile Group’s COE which enabled (DealsandYou, FashionandYou, Bestylish), than Fetise and recently Craftsvilla.
PI: What technologies do you use for development? Do you get suggestions from clients on the technology stack or do you have a preset technology stack that you use?
BJ: We are unleashing the power of Open Source (Php, Mysql, Linux, Apache, Nginx, Solr, Sphinx etc.), enterprise technologies and cloud to offer best of all worlds and deliver highly scalable, custom solutions in predefined packages. We are open to suggestions and would love to learn and build solutions basis client’s available technology stack.
PI: Do you also incorporate business logic in the solutions you provide?
BJ: That’s our USP and that’s SaaP for you. It’s 100% customizable. It predominantly comes with all major integrations of business processes, taxation, logistics, analytic etc. But any further implementations or customization are completely possible.
PI: How much control does the client have on the codebase/deployment instances/databases once you’ve set them up for them?
BJ: If they go for installment model, they get the complete control of system as soon as they finish their 18 installments. Till than they have to use our cost effective and highly experiences retainer resource to make any customization. They can own it any time by paying complete installments at any time during the 18 months tenure.
PI: Do you provide support post-installation, for the life of the product? If yes, do you have an yearly subscription?
BJ: Yes, we are here to support businesses and we do give them offsite free support for bug tracking etc for complete product life. Not only that once they take the handover of product, we also support the businesses by giving enough training to their new team.
PI: How do you make it possible to go live in 10 working days, as you say on your site?
BJ: Power of open source and our expertise of skill levels allows us to have delivery time been cut short to as low as 10 working days for our standard packages. But it again purely depends on UI approvals, business readiness and data planning etc where most of the time it is the customer themselves who might need some extra time to plan. We have a process of “Go Live Checklist” to businesses as soon as they signup with us, which helps them understand what would be needed at which stage of project and helps them be info ready as and when needed. If our consumers follow our checklist process we assure to deliver in 10 working days.
PI: You have a vast range of offerings from applications to servers and cloud-based storage and big data analysis.
BJ: Yes. We have a complete team in-house and right partners to offer this complete bouquet of services. Not only do we provide this Enterprise Services but also offer Business Support Services like Content Writing, Data Uploading, Marketing Agency, Social Jockey, Warehousing, innovative Packaging and last mile delivery(through multiple partners) all on Retainer basis. We also help startup in roping in right partners for other services that we don’t offer at specially discounted prices.
PI: How big is the team now?
BJ: We are 10 mavericks right now with diverse skills. Some of the members of our team like Srinivas Putta (UI/ UX lead) and Mounish Ambaliya (Engineering – Lead) have been working with me from past 7 year that is even before we started Ambab.
PI: Any more info/details you would like to share.
BJ: We are hiring and we are looking at like minded partners across the country. Partners who can help us take our Mission to every single City, Town and Village of our country. We want to enable as many startups as we can and we believe No Idea should be shelved just because they do not have enough resources.
We also have a Technology Incubation where we would be sponsoring every month one underprivileged startup or exceptional Idea with technology and resources. For any further information about partnering and starting up with us readers can get in touch with me directly at bhj [at] ambab [dot ] com.
Sevice-as-a-Product is a new trend that is picking up. It can really come in handy for startups with not enough technical expertise, or not enough manpower, to setup and host a working application at low costs and smaller timeframes. Also, many startups in the ecommerce domain, require relatively more technical work in the beginning, and once set up, not enough to maintain it forward. An offering like Ambab’s could turn out to be better than hiring a couple of freelancers to do the initial job.
What is your opinion? Would you like to outsource your development/deployment part to someone or completely do it yourself? If you are a startup and did it yourself already, do you feel this could have helped? Let us know in the comments.