Assam is gradually becoming a technological hub. With ongoing advancement, many sectors in Assam, including the business sector, now rely on these tech solutions to improve the quality of their products and services. Traditional business owners and sceptics who are not quick to jump on this tech train will be left behind. One company, in particular, blazing a trail in the new technological era in Assam is TechVariable. Founded in 2015 by three talented engineers, TechVariable is a technology company that provides high-end software to businesses to bridge the huge digital gap.
Before now, Assam played catch up to other Indian states when it came to digital innovations in business. The city lacked a thriving technological ecosystem that would enable businesses to grow and compete favourably with their rivals across the globe. According to co-founder Nilotpal Boruah, TechVariable’s task was already cut out for them. It was a mission to bridge that gap and make Assam a part of the ongoing tech revolution.
“The vision is simple”, says Nilotpal. “TechVariable aims to boost the IT ecosystem of Northeast India and to create a platform that enables at least a few, if not many, to come back to Assam and work closer to home”. He believes that businesses that are locally founded, and also employ local workers, can compete with other businesses globally. So, if you are a startup owner seeking a technological edge over your rivals, TechVariable might be what you need to gain that edge.
Sharing how the trio came together to embark on the entrepreneurial journey, Nilotpal says, “I resigned from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) just before completion of two years. Ever since my engineering days, I had plans to pursue Masters in Mechanical Engineering. I received three invitations from Universities in Sweden, Finland and Iceland with scholarships. I was supposed to leave in the fall of 2015, which means I had 4-5 months of free time until I left for Europe. Those days most of my batchmates were either preparing for public services exams, GATE or something else. As time went by and there were just a couple of months before I left, I started getting apprehensive of my decision. Looking back on what influenced me to drop my plan for masters and how I stayed back in Guwahati without having a proper plan of action, I think it was my love for the city and the realisation from personal encounters that a majority of the Assamese diaspora working outside the state wished to come back to their home sooner or later. During my time in TCS, Delhi but I could see that there was a huge population (starting from freshers to top positions in MNCs) working outside the state and almost everyone realised how much Assam was lagging in terms of IT and job opportunities. Without much consideration of the pros and cons, I called Utpal (batchmate from Assam Engineering College and colleague from TCS), who was still in TCS, Mumbai, to check if he might be interested in starting some venture in Assam. He was quite excited about the idea and told me to make some plans so that he could resign and return in a few months.”
“Back in 2015, the Internet scenario was still horrible, and as such, I used to sit at a desktop in a coaching centre to research about startup culture and how to start one. A month or two later, I met Ratnadeep, who had just finished his MTech and returned to Assam, and joined in that same coaching institute as a faculty. A couple of months later, Ratnadeep and I started TechVariable from our 2BHK apartment in Guwahati. It was not until March 2016 that we decided to set up an office, and Utpal joined our Chandmari office full-time somewhere around June,” he adds.
The mode of operation of this venture with various businesses is pretty straightforward. Their work includes providing high-end technological solutions in the form of product development to working with businesses and organisations on a long term basis with their team of engineers working as part of the business’ offshore tech team. Ever since they launched, this is what they have sought to do; provide solutions that make life easy for everyone; businesses and people. The group has watched its clientele grow exponentially over the years.
From small-holder businesses to large organisations, Nilotpal takes pride in what they have achieved this far. “We have worked with clients from the United States of America, Europe, South East Asia, Australia, and India. Some of our notable clients are KPISOFT, Samkhya, Director Intel, Medpiper, PLM365 and Network Travels. Also, North East India’s oldest and biggest private travel and tourism firm was our first client and we are proud to still be working with them even after 5 years. We are currently redesigning the mobile application, creating an additional app for iOS devices and we will also be adding an artificial intelligence-powered conversational Chatbot in the mobile apps,” he adds.
There are several things that this entrepreneur believes sets their venture apart from the rest within the tech industry. “We help startups and corporations to bring their tech products to market 2x faster. We are a full-stack development studio for enterprise web applications as well as mobile apps and we have our team of project managers in different domains who have vast experience in developing a range of products optimized for time to market within an affordable budget.
“We are specialised in AI and machine learning technologies and have delivered on some pretty challenging projects as well,” he notes. For this tech company, delivering a product is not enough, the aim is to deliver quicker than expected to gain market acceptance and a competitive edge.
Startups generally experience a few challenges within the first few years of operation. TechVariable was no different. Nilotpal recounts how these challenges refined them and gave them the zeal to push harder. “Building a professional network was quite challenging for me. Maybe because I had just a couple of years of experience in the industry and my alumni network of Assam Engineering College was not so strong compared to that of IITs, BITS and NITs. It was quite difficult to access new professional contacts and opportunities and to connect with people who could challenge me and encourage me to push myself to the edge. The peer to peer learnings from startup meetups and the startup ecosystem as a whole is something that Assam still lacks. Recommendations and referrals are hard to come by without a solid network,” he says.
When asked if he believes in community entrepreneurship, he, without any second thought, says, “Yes, I certainly believe in a model where we form partnerships with fellow entrepreneurs. It’s like growing your ‘Karma’, to be successful in business one needs to have goodwill and eagerness to help others. I feel lucky to have found some great people from Assam in Bangalore who has helped us in our journey. Dilip Bharatee Sir has been a great mentor to me, including our business partners Rupam and Rajiv, and many seniors from AEC and Jorhat Engineering College. Many well-wishers in the USA have supported us in one way or another and kept us motivated to pursue our journey. No startup company is self-sufficient in terms of expertise or resources, it is paramount to build trust with one another and grow together.”
Many businesses are going through a rough phase due to the pandemic. However, the TechVariable team has been coping well with the situation. “We handled the first wave of Covid-19 relatively fine. We did not lose any client during the last financial year and our team grew by almost 200%. The revenue didn’t dip below the previous years. It’s not a strategy that worked, what helped was the dedication and ownership shown by every employee to make sure that the projects continued smoothly. What we need to do during the current insurgence of the 2nd wave of the pandemic is to make sure we have a steady sales pipeline and to ensure our ongoing clients’ deliverables. We are currently in a scale-up phase and will soon be visiting our regional engineering colleges for on-campus recruitment. It’s always helpful to work from the office, especially training freshly passed out graduates,” Nilotpal mentions.
With its nationwide acceptance so far, these co-founders have specific plans for future expansion. As Nilotpal reveals, there are some big steps the company hopes to take in the coming years. “The plan for the immediate future is to make sure that we pivot to being an end-to-end product development and consultancy company for tech startups. Previously, our services were just development and deployment. But this year, we have included services like product planning and interaction designing (user interface-user experience designs).
“Now, that our range of services also includes product planning, which is conceptualisation and documentation, UI-UX designing, custom development and product engineering, we should be able to grow our revenue by 500% from what we had achieved last year. We also intend to have an international expansion into the USA in the next few years.”