The demand for digital transformation has fueled the need for building business apps. No-code platforms give business users the freedom to create solutions that solve their unique business needs and help them automate regular business tasks. Recently, Gautam Nimmagadda, Quixy’s Founder and CEO, had a conversation with Harichandan Arakali, Forbes India.
This is the edited transcript of that podcast.
Hi, whenever you’re listening to us, I hope you’re staying safe and doing well. Welcome to Forbes India, the daily tech conversation where we bring you insights from tech entrepreneurs, CXO, and investors from around the world whose work has a bearing on India. I’m Harichandan Arakali your host. My guest today is Gautam Nimmagadda, founder and CEO of Quixy, a no-code software development cloud platform provider in Hyderabad. The concept and even some of the tech has been around from as far back as when Visual Basic programming language was introduced some 30 years ago, Gautam says. Cloud computing, and the needs of a post-pandemic world, are moving the idea from geeks to business users is more.
Hari: Welcome to this podcast, and thank you for making time for this. To start with, could you tell us briefly about your work, a snapshot, and how you came to start Quixy?
Gautam: Thank you, Hari, for having me on the show. And allowing me to talk about Quixy and introduce no-code to people who follow your podcast. Quixy is a no-code business application platform where we allow users (Citizen developers), who are non-tech people, to build software without knowing how to code or even know the fundamentals of software engineering.
We are trying to make the process of building business applications as simple as creating PowerPoint presentations or being able to use the spreadsheet.
Hari: How did you think about starting a company focusing on low code? What was something that triggered this idea in your mind? Was it a sort of natural evolution of your work in tech? Tell us a bit about that.
Gautam: I love this question. I have been, my undergrad, grad, and then post-grad, in the tech world, for a period of my career from 2013 to 2019. Until I started Quixy, we were in the service business, though we had products. I used to head by this company, and we had a couple of products that required a lot of customization. Every time we went to a new customer, whether service business or product business, we would go and try to understand the customers’ needs to the best of our abilities. We then come back and make those changes or build those solutions for them and go back to them and show them. And, the team used to put their heart and soul into the work.
When we go back, the customer would look at it and say, “Hey, but this is not what I wanted”. And that used to break our hearts. One, because we always wanted to make customers happy and delighted. It was becoming insanely tough to delight a customer, we were at best making the customer happy, but most of the time, we were complying with the contract. When we dug deep into what was causing this problem, the customer understands their business needs, and when they explain their business needs, a lot of it gets lost in translation when it goes to the intricacies. The overall aspect is brought forth. However, the intricacies of the finer aspects of the problem are lost in the translation. And they do not end up with a solution at the end of the day.
That is one of the reasons; the second reason is the whole process itself takes a lot of time when you are building a fairly complex solution. During this period, the objectives change, so as the customer needs; what the customer needed six months back is no longer the need when looking at the solution.
The third challenge that we observed was that the customer does not necessarily elicit all the requirements when explaining the problem. They sometimes tend to forget, not think of a particular scenario when they explain those requirements. But only when they see the solution in action, do they realize that there are other scenarios and cases that we need to handle. In summary, these are the three major issues that we have seen.
When we dug a little deeper, we realized all of this is because the customer is not able to participate in the software development. This kind of saying that, hey, I need this, and somebody else who does not know the problem enough is actually getting in. And, the process of building a solution is itself taking a lot of time. This is where we thought if we are able to bring the customer closer to software development, maybe even participate and actually build solutions. And, if we are also able to make the turnaround time faster then, we will be able to solve these major problems. And eventually, we’ll be able to delight the customers with these in mind. That’s what triggered us to build a no-code platform to solve these specific problems.
Hari: My sense is that the idea, concept, and even some of these tools have been around for some time. I guess, maybe even 10 odd years or more, but, various things seem to be making them much more popular and relevant today. Maybe you could give us a snapshot of that evolution and also give a sense of the capabilities of today’s low-code platforms.
Gautam: Absolutely, so not just ten years, in fact, the thought, maybe it was not called low-code or no-code, but the idea of being able to visually program or visually be able to do stuff has been there for decades. A classic example would be a visual basic. When it was introduced in the late nineties, it kind of changed the programming where many people now who found it hard to program were able to participate in VP programming. It kind of sped up the process of building software, but eventually. So that’s one aspect. Over these years, low code and no-code platforms have been evolving to an extent. They always had limits, and these limits have been continuously being broken year after year. The platforms’ capabilities are getting much deeper and much wider, so much so that now you can build pretty complex, fairly complex solutions on top of a no-code platform or a low-code platform.
We’ve seen a particularly high interest in low code and no-code over the last two to three years. The reason I think the pandemic kind of triggered that or acted as a catalyst. Where it alerts the no-code platforms or the low-code platforms to be able to get much higher attention. Because of the speed at which they’re able to deliver solutions. And when the pandemic hit, people needed to quickly make changes and how work is done. One, obviously, there is the infrastructure required to be able to work remotely. That was quickly ensured in the initial days of the pandemic, but once the lockdowns had eased out and people needed to get things done, but still being able to work remotely, that’s where the need for no-code low-code platforms like Quixy came out. What used to be on paper or email, or come what may, all of these unstructured processes needed to be brought into a much wider and a single unifying platform where all these processes can be automated.
And, let’s say, field force or manufacturing plants to the backend office, and then eventually all of that culminating into a digital management system. Over the last two to three years, I think maybe, mostly two years, this kind of has put the no-code and low-code market onto the spotlight.
Hari: Give us some examples of the most popular types of applications that companies are putting together, using Quixy or, in general, using such platforms. I had a quick look at your website, and I saw that there are a fairly large number of departments in terms of horizontals and also a large number of vertical industries that you’re catering to. Tell us about the most popular ways in which your customers are using Quixy.
Gautam: I’ll first tell you the set of industries, some commonly used solutions in these industries. One would be manufacturing, where we have customers who are using Quixy to be able to build their customized procurement solution. Which then kind of flows into their inventory management, pre-production planning, production management, and then dispatch management, and then their post-sales service, that’s the whole cycle in a manufacturing plant. The solution has been built on top of Quixy. And this has not been done for one plant, but it has been done for multiple manufacturing customers of ours. Because we see a repeat pattern where the customers require a very customized solution that they need for their unique processes in their particular industry. There are some standardized processes, but there are a whole lot of unique processes for their particular organization, and Quixy has enabled them to be able to bring out solutions.
And some other examples would also be banking; where we’ve seen for a bank other than the core banking solutions, there are a whole lot of operations that a bank does to be able to win their customer, service them better, and be able to collect dues on time and manage their teams better. An example would be an insurance solution that was built on top of Quixy. Wherein, from getting a lead to actually taking them through the whole process of getting a quote and then negotiation, and then finally issuing the insurance policy and then renewals. The whole process was built on top of Quixy. Similarly, with loan management. And the same bank also did an internal set of solutions for their IT asset management, IT incident management, and even, in fact, inventory management.
If you go through that list, there are a whole lot of examples of how each organization from a different industry adopted a platform like ours in solving their unique needs.
Hari: You already talked about how it became much more relevant in the context of the pandemic because it made it easier for people to build the apps that they needed when in-person collaboration was difficult, and much of this work has to be done online. Tell us a bit more about the benefits at the organizational lev l. What are the high-level benefits that your customers are seeing? And also, at the end-user level, in what ways do low-code platforms help people?
Gautam: Before I get to the no-code platform, at the core of digitalization or digitalization & automation is to allow a business to be able to do its business better, service its customers better and, also engage with its stakeholders better, right? That is what digitalization or automation helps the business to do. While it does that, the process of, or the whole method of digitalization and automation itself, has become complex with the extent of digitalization that organizations are aiming to. Now, what a no-code platform does is to be able to simplify this process of digitalization and automation. It democratizes the business knowledge that is there and allows more people to participate and build these solutions, which therefore results in a higher level of automation and digitization.
And therefore, we see increased efficiency cost savings for an organization which means that they’ll be able to service their customers better. The cost optimization is better. And they’re able to engage with multiple stakeholders, whether it is vendors, partners, customers, and most importantly, employees, in a much better manner. Now, from an end-user perspective in a business, the cognitive overhead in terms of being able to manage a lot of these processes that are done offline is now being simplified with a no-code platform where a lot of these processes are being automated digitized. It makes it much simpler for the end-users who are part of those processes, who do not have to remember to do a certain thing at a certain point in time and get ABC approvals or do something; if C approval is not, then what is the next step to do? All of that is being automated digitized. It relieves the cognitive overhead from the end-users and allows them to focus on what’s more important.
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Hari: Today, an increasing level of this work is happening on the cloud. Is it mean Quixy itself is a cloud-based platform. I saw that you have a subscription mod l. So, I guess this has evolved to the level where companies can now do this on the cloud.
Gautam: Absolutely. The technology itself has evolved significantly over the last few years where solutions are built on the cloud, they’re published on a cloud, and they’re consumed cloud. The ability to build solutions at a breakneck speed is happening on the cloud, and the solutions, once published, will be available in real-time to end-users.
Hari: In that context, give us maybe a couple of micro case studies, if you will. I saw you have quite a few success stories that you have published on your website. Take us through a couple of those, the ones that you’re really proud of.
Gautam: One example would be a seafood processing company. They started off Quixy for one of the very, very specific required solutions. They basically get raw seafood from the farmers. They procure seafood from the farmers, and they take the seafood through the various processors in their unit to be able to clean, then value adds, weigh them, ensure that they’re packaged well for being able to export and all of this while ensuring that every person who is working on the seafood is maintaining the highest level of hygiene and standards. And their productivity is measured in terms of how much quantity of seafood food is being processed by them. They started off with a small solution where they were they wanted to do the cleaning process to be automated using Quixy.
Eventually, now they’re using it for their entire value chain. So much so that they, in fact even replaced, their existing E R P because they found Quixy to be much more flexible, agile, and meeting their requirements better. From procurement of seafood from the farmer going through the whole process in the units, they were paying the wages to the labor at the units based upon the productivity, maintaining the health, hygiene, and quality, while going through this process eventually packaging them, dispatching them in container trailers based on the POs that they’re receiving from their customers from across the world. Eventually, all of these costs and revenue they’re making flow back into their iconic system.
Hari: From a CIO’s or a CTO’s perspective, what would you say would be the implications of the adoption and popularity of low code and no-code platforms? What do you think, how do you think these rules will change? And these teams will change the core CIO teams, and the core CTO teams will be freer to pursue much more, I don’t know, product innovation and so on. What do you think is going to happen here?
Gautam: I fully subscribe to the trend where the CIOs and CTOs are embracing no-code platforms. Initially, we thought they would be more apprehensive where they look at it as competing or infringing their scope of work. We’ve noticed that CIOs and CTOs are embracing no code low-code platforms and making their teams much more productive. One, they’re able to deliver value to their stakeholders, relevant in the case of CIOs and CTOs much faster and with much higher quality. Now they’re able to allow the business users to be able to participate in the development of solutions. And they’re able to deliver these solutions at a rapid clip. On the other hand, with all of these loads freed up from their shoulders onto a platform like Quixy. They’re, in fact, like you mentioned, focused on something much more futuristic or much bigger goals. And they’ve started looking at these operational issues are going away, and they started looking at a much bigger picture for the organization into the future.
Hari: You founded the company in 2019, and at what point did you find that there was a strong uptake of the Quixy product/platform? And, at that point, what kind of problems were you able to solve for your customers because of which that uptake became really strong?
Gautam: I founded the company in October 2019, and we started selling in February 2020. Then immediately, pandemics basically took over the world, and we had to rework how we were approaching the market, both in terms of our marketing and sales methods. We did that, and we started getting paid customers from mid of 2020. Then slowly, our concept of delivering complex solutions on a platform where it is very easy to build began to get more and more adoption. The problems, the common pattern that we saw, across all our customers was that if we can deliver or if they’re able to build a solution of fairly complex nature at a much, much faster pace with the quality of the solution is very high, which means very little rework is needed. They usually try it out for one solution, and they see that it is indeed possible. It is not Hulu magic. Every customer of ours started with some solution or even one solution and then expanded it into 10, 20, 30 solutions. We saw that it grew significantly in 2021. And we anticipate that to continue to happen in 2022 and the years coming.
Hari: Give us a sense of a couple of product innovations that you are really proud of, and you think it helps Quixy to stand out from the competition.
Gautam: One thing we’ve done is we’ve focused a lot on user experience, and we did not budge when a lot of competitors have made low code a method of achieving complex solutions. We stuck to our guns. We always believed that we have to provide a no-code method. The whole point was to bring business users into the fold; the moment you bring in low code, whatever little code, it essentially makes it a pro developer scenario. By building solutions and a very intuitive user interface where we can allow business users to still build complex solutions, we stand out. That’s a clear edge that we have over our competition.
Hari: What are the big challenges in the way of broader adoption of these kinds of platforms? Even at the industry level, not necessarily at the quick sea level, what are the main challenges today?
Gautam: So, one, I think the understanding that complex solutions can be built on these platforms at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of time. That belief we know that it is a fact and for people to start believing that it is actually possible and take the time I think that is in process. We are continuing to see that more and more business leaders tech leaders are beginning to believe that low code, no code platforms, in fact, deliver significantly high value. It’s not just marketing, but it is being seen in practice. So that is currently a little bit of a challenge that we are facing, but we are continuing to see that getting better much faster.
Hari: Okay. At Quixy itself, give us a snapshot of your scale of operations, any funding so far, and your important investors. And, maybe you could also tell us about the next big steps for you in the next 12 to 18 months.
Gautam: We are in terms of team size; we are about 120+ now. We’ve been growing at a rapid clip. We are fully booting strap. Our focus is to be able to deliver solutions to make large enterprises. That’s our target market. And we’ve been from the customer mix we have about 40 to 50% coming out from India. And the rest of the customers are from various parts of the world. In fact, actually, I think we have customers on every continent except Antarctica. It’s been a very interesting journey, and we are continuing to see more and more interest from countries that we’ve never thought of. We would service so early on, which kind of shows the advent of no-code and the knowledge of no-code going across the world.
12 to 18 months what we see ourselves is, we are already considered among one of them as a good, no-code platform in the market now. And we believe that we will be able to compete with the top guns. We’ve already done that. We’ve come competed with top guns on a whole lot of prospects and turned out to be on the favorable side. We will continue to do that. We will be a force to reckon with over the next 2018 months.
Hari: I’m just curious these days. A lot of founders have taken funding very early now, especially in the SaaS sector, where the playbook has kind of become very standard. So, there is no dearth of investors or money. What’s behind your philosophy of staying bootstrapped. I mean, I would imagine the combination of your technology and SaaS sector would maybe already make you operationally profitable, but tell us a bit more about why you are choosing to stay bootstrapped as well?
Gautam: Primarily two reasons, one we fundamentally want to be financially very frugal. Have that discipline in the initial days of the organization. Fortunately, we’ve been able to do that with the kind of traction that we’ve gotten. We did not require any external funding. Number two would be we are doing a whole lot of experimentation in terms of where we want to get into in terms of geography and what in that we want to target? We are slightly different from a typical SaaS play where there is one product, and that product is aimed at a particular horizontal, a particular vertical. We are at all horizontals, all verticals. There is a lot of experimentation that continues into our daily operations as we keep getting smarter. The platform plays slightly longer when you compare it as against a typical product.
Hari: Excellent. Uh, very interesting conversation, Gautam. Thank you again for making time for this. And I definitely hope to keep the conversation going.
Gautam: Thank you so much, Hari. It was a pleasure speaking with you.
Hari: That was Gautam Nimmagadda. That’s it for this conversation; you can find all our podcasts at Forbes, india.com, and on your favorite podcast apps. I’m Hari Arakali. Thank you for listening.
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