“In the future, we’ll see a lot less people coming from India to work here (the US) and a lot more starting their own ventures back home,” says Rahul Jain, who co-founded Appurify, a mobile application testing firm. The two-year-old start-up was snapped up by Google Inc in June this year for an undisclosed sum. On his part, Jain followed the herd. He came to the US at the University of Michigan; went on to work for Zynga, a gaming company; got together with two colleagues to start his own firm; sold out; and became a millionaire.
However, there end the similarities with entrepreneurs of Indian origin who follow a similar path. After selling out to Google, the 27-year-old has now turned into an angel investor. He has already invested in four US-based start-upsand is closing in on the fifth one. His future plans include becoming a stakeholder in the booming start-up ecosystem in India by forming a pool of funds and an entity on the lines of Angel List of the US.
“In India, earlier we saw mostly service-oriented companies but the trend is changing now. Firms are trying to solve lots of different kind of problems.” Jain added that good companies are coming up especially in the areas of analytics, cloud and mobility.
While at Zynga, Jain and his colleagues – Jay Srinivasan and Manish Lachwani – realised that all the applications being developed at the company had to be manually tested for bugs across multiple devices. The trio decided to automate the “tedious” process and that is how Appurify was born. The start-up raised early-stage funding of $1.75 million from Google Ventures, the venture capital investment arm of Google Inc along with a few others. Google Ventures later invested $4.5 million in it before acquiring it completely.
“They were checking us out by investing in the seed round,” says Jain. Android, Google’s free mobile operating system, didn’t have a testing and a debugging solution because of which a lot of developers found it hard to build apps on Android. In fact, days before the acquisition was announced, Apple Inc chief Tim Cook had said that Android’s fragmented presence across multiple devices makes it a “toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities.” Appurify helps solve that issue to a great extent by integrating with the application development and maintenance cycle.
Jain says he can’t disclose the sum which Google paid for the company. He is currently director of engineering at Sidecar, a ride-sharing company. Jain claims Sidecar pioneered the concept much before Uber, the famous taxi-hailing service, started it through Uber X offering. Jain, who grew up in Kanpur and is the son of a government contractor, says his family initially didn’t understand what he was up to. “It was very risky, there was some pushback.” However, eventually they came around as most families of entrepreneurs do.
Jain now invests anywhere between $10,000 (Rs 6 lakh) and $25,000 (Rs 15 lakh) in start-ups operating in the field of Big Data and marketing.
The company is currently studying contests parking tickets in court rooms on behalf of clients and keeps 25 per cent of the returns when successful. Jain is equally excited about the start-ups in India.
“Silicon Valley is a different world altogether, but let’s not forget that it is 50 years old. India will take time, but it is slowly getting there,” he says.