CoderKube success story where Irshad Danawala and Adnan Pothiawala went from 0 to 50 developers in under 4 years using freelancing marketplaces like PPH
But before we get into the success story of CoderKube, let me share some background.
Irshad Danawala is an ex-IBMer in Pune with almost a decade long experience right from being a developer to managing a relatively large team of developers in IBM. He was looking to quit the job before software development becomes a dead-end job.
He landed on BizTips and got in touch with me on Facebook. Looking at my surname, he asked if I was from his hometown. As rightly guessed, we were. As we interacted, we realized our fathers were buddies though we never met in our childhood.
The interaction between us stopped, but he continues to follow my blog.
One day I shared my moving from Kolkata to Surat. He was following my blog and so messaged to let me know that he also moved from Pune to Surat.
We first met in Surat and became buddies. He was in the process of trying businesses, but I suggested him to consider client services business. Had similar plans but with my suggestions, it became a conviction to try it out.
The Start of CoderKube
Adnan wasn’t working but was mainly freelancing from the college days, but Irshad was at 6-figure take-home salary per month. The quit can’t be easy. It wasn’t for me either, and I can relate to it.
He read my blog and many other bloggers to re-affirm he is doing the right thing.
What we may see is, two Surat-based young IT graduates decided not to do a job and do something on their own.
But when you are in the job and know the competitive landscape of the IT industry, it takes real courage to take that final step of saying goodbye to the job.
But what was important is they realized the risk they were about to take, with available resources on hand, the start was going to be a bumpy ride.
I figured out that I will be doing a tech startup, but at the same time, pressure to continue doing a job for slightly longer was always trolling the mind.
The need to kick start CoderKube wasn’t easy, but it is worth it.
How They Managed Everything Initially?
They started with two developers in a small shop in Surat. The only view I knew they had was. In our Kachchi language, he had the view
Developers ji salary nikri vine.
Which meant he wanted to get the work that pays off the developers’ salary.
Once you are working for the business, without trying to make money out of it, it can see stupendous growth, and this is what we see in case of CoderKube.
The view has always been to hire more people and get work so we can pay off the salary. Profits will come later.
In 4th year celebrations, they have a strength of 50 people.
And remember, both the founders are poles apart. They differ in the view completely, but when it comes to clients and deliverable, they are always on the same page.
Moreover, the critical aspect of being able to partner and work for four years means, they complement each other.
Since we had very little capital we had to be very selective and sensible about our start-up cost and expenses, says Adnan.
Each one of them did multi-tasking. It included coding, designing, sales, accounting, client support, new recruitments, and lot more. Alongside, competing with their overseas competitors who were already established brands.
The Key Reason for the Success of CoderKube
The most important aspect is to look at what worked for CoderKube to starting with three developers to building a team of 50+.
1. The CoderKube Team
While Irshad and Adnan focus on business growth, Moin is the business development manager. He joined the team in the third year of operation to scale up.
One of the main reasons why CoderKube managed a stupendous growth is – they not only focus on building a team but also the right mindset within the group to share responsibility.
Getting a new partner in the form of Moin in the third year of operation shows the view of the founders, which is to scale up the business.
Similarly, they hired team leaders and project manager, but they also gave them the freedom to perform with guidelines set by them.
2. Cutting Edge Service to Win Long-term Clients
While everyone was busy creating attractive websites, there was less attention to after-sales support and services.
Mobile responsive designs were a big thing which proved to be a differentiator for us, according to Moin.
Moin said IT agencies invest less in providing value to clients to convert them into long-term clients. It helps CoderKube stand out.
Amateur designers and developers will acquire clients, do some coding, paste some graphics here and there, earning a low margin. They’d literally do everything in a website to win clients. I realized that we won’t play a cheap price game with clients. Hence, we introduced premium services. We hired the right people who are ready to go the extra mile with quality.
3. Minimal Marketing Cost
CodeKube focused on the minimalistic marketing approach. With a focus on optimizing their services and try to build client-base with word of mouth, they started with PPH as the primary source of clients and excelled in it.
They have more than 2000 clients only on PPH. Top-rated, highest earnings, and yet their response time to clients is outstanding.
As a result, they completed hundreds of projects. The company is expanding rapidly. Still, the focus is primarily on the services and less on the marketing aspect.
4. Slashing the Competition with Quality
With thousands of individuals starting on being a freelancer, CoderKube had to level up their game. They will never be able to win clients solely quoting lower. Time and again I say how to get the price out of the equation on freelancing marketplaces like Upwork.
So they are playing on the quality which not only works for individual freelancers like me but even for a company as big as 50 employees as well.
Moreover, they also moved on to other freelancing sites like Upwork as well.
Their mission and vision is “no compromise in quality.” With that mantra, everyone is bound to go very far. Some may do it sooner, whereas, for others, it may take time.
5. Ready to Experiment
CoderKube now offers a wide variety of services ranging from Web design to web development in Joomla, Magento, WordPress, iPhone app development, android app development, WordPress, and SEO.
Alongside, CoderKube opened an international business space in Dubai. It happens when you are keen to experiment. Not only in terms of technology but also experimenting with the new GEOs. Making a Surat-based IT company went from domestic to international.
I have been yelling to all my blog readers that everyone should be ready to experiment, especially in your twenties. People look to settle, but it is the time to unsettle.
6. Hire first Projects Later
Many IT services company look for clients first and then want to hire. CoderKube’s approach, as know is different. They hire first and then look for projects in the expertise of the developer.
So they didn’t go ahead and started bidding for Magento projects first. They hired an experienced Magento developer before taking on the first project. You may think they do it now, but I have seen them doing it from the initial days of inception.
It works well because that way you aren’t delaying the delivery of clients from day one. The main reason they managed 2100 positive reviews on PPH alone and not even a single bad one.
Once you don’t miss the deadlines, you aren’t getting a bad review for sure.
7. Growth Mindset
I was in the 4-year celebrations, and I still see the same growth mindset among the founders is the key to high growth.
They are always looking for partners or business development executives or a champion who can independently get the company moving forward. Even they hinted me with a similar position, but I am more interested in being an individual freelancer than working from 9 to 5. I suggested them to start a blog or a YouTube Channel.
The critical aspect is, they have the mindset of growth but more importantly, a fast-growing one. As long as the risks and mitigating them, it is incredible thinking.
Some of the critical achievements of CoderKube that are worth mentioning are:
- No 1 Web Development Company in PeoplePerHour and still going strong and among the top 5.
- Upwork Top Rated with almost 300+ Clients.
- Clutch Top Rated Web Development Company
- Working for some of the significant clients including Chelsea FC.
And they have a target to reach 100 employees by April 2020.
Essential Lessons I Learn from the Success Story of CoderKube
The reason I am sharing the story here is to learn something out of it. Many people think those who started a decade ago as a freelancer have an advantage of reviews and clients. CoderKube busts that myth. They have risen in the competitive landscape of WordPress and Magento and going the niche route. Moreover, from the freelancing marketplace and PeoplePerHour. It was easy, but if you ask them, it was worth the effort.
So the couple of lessons I can learn from CoderKube are:
1. Convert Disadvantage to Advantage
Saying no to a seven-figure salary from an IBM can be challenging. Still, focusing on the positive side of it and using the experience to manage large teams in job to your advantage is quite an achievement.
2. Building Long-term Partnerships
Partnerships work when you bring something different to the table. With Adnan and Irshad and now for Moin – things are always getting something different to the table. It is not the case where two developers or a developer and designer partner to work together.
The client services business isn’t something one can consider doing all alone if one wants to grow beyond a team of few. Irshad knew it right from the start. Managing a large team needs manpower.
Even adding partners in the process is to boost growth. Again, taking on partners that have team management experience helps.