(Two) Too cool years of Moolya

Moolya’s success so far

On December 13, 2010, Moolya was incorporated. We had a garage setup from bootstrapping. When we started Moolya there were no such customers standing in a queue to give us work but our capital was not money but the skills we had, the courage to pursue a dream, belief in building a team and the conviction we have on what we can accomplish as a team. What else can I say when I negotiated with HDFC Bank to reduce the deposit money to start a bank account in the name of a company? I finally got the minimum balance to maintain in-office bank account to 10,000 Indian Rupees. That is – USD 185. The reason for me to negotiate it to 10,000 is because if it was any bigger money, it was a burden and there was nothing happening to suggest we can maintain 10,000 in the bank. That is how we started. In less than 2 years, we are aiming at getting close to a million USD dollars of revenue this financial year. You read that correct, 1 million US Dollars of revenue this financial year – FY12-13. We have in our sight, the possibility to multiply this in FY 13-14.

The previous paragraph is just an indicator of our success so far because money is a by-product of what we have done and what we will do. The success of Moolya is not about how rich the company has become in 2 years, of course, it does matter but we could have made more money if we were willing to sacrifice our vision and the purpose of why we started this company. Of course, we are a business and we need to make a lot of money to operate and do things bigger but not at the cost of what got us here. It is money for growth and not growth for money, in simple terms. What got us here is our vision and our vision is strong and big enough that we don’t need to bother about money because achieving the vision would bring us money.

Isn’t it fantastic, dear testers, a bunch of passionate testers from Bangalore who used to meet every weekend to discuss and practice testing just got together and said, “Let’s do it!” could actually get this far? It is. Moolya’s success so far should ideally have been a big reminder to large IT services companies in India to focus on better testing value but the good news is – they don’t see us as a threat yet because their vision and objectives are probably different than our ours and our vision is testing and providing value. We wish they change their vision to testing lest the people who could do that for them might be on their journey towards Moolya.

Ability to challenge and yet not be thrown out (or not bother)

We stand for good testing that is intellectual. We have politely disagreed with a large multi-billion company on their approach to testing which we felt promotes lack of intellectualism whilst showing them what good testing could do to them. We were their 22nd vendor for testing and there are some very large, large and medium-size IT services companies working with them but none so far have disagreed to their approach to testing. This is Moolya’s success. We challenged a bunch of giants on what they claim on their website as their expertise (testing) and yet not be thrown out because we did so. We are being admired!

Would that admiration mean more to business? Usually, it does. If not, the (best) worst case, people admiring us join us, making our team stronger than before 😛 Any which way, we win.

Ability to demonstrate expertise and help customers win

While this has happened, there are customers who want to let us do what we claim to be good at and what they get by doing so? Flipkart recently launched the Flyte ebook reader app. I met the Product Owner and Director of Engineering. They had to say that this was one of their smoothest release and they loved working with us. They have since renewed our contracts. Same with our other customers, too. We have more in the kitty coming up. Choosing to work with customers who can let us do what we are good at will be more important to us. We will never work with any customer who says, “I got money so better listen to me”. Good testing is not about just listening to what the customer says, it is to offer information that can help them change what they want to say.

We are working with Cogknit, a startup for a year right now. They have a great appreciation for what Moolya has done to them. They recently got their first big paying customer and they recognized and acknowledged our support to get there from bootstrapping. You could ask them if they would go to any other company for testing, no matter how much-discounted price anyone can offer, they would not. Look at how confident we speak on behalf of our customers publicly.

We had a bunch of customer visits this year to our office. All of them got attracted to our energy, passion for testing, skills and leadership. Yes, we looked into their eyes when they said this.

Some customers don’t yet want the world to know we work for them. We appreciate that. We hope to come out of the dark in 2013 🙂 (Are you listening?)

Cruising through The James Bach Test

I have been a student of James Bach and Michael Bolton and I know how they would evaluate a test lab and its work. We had an opportunity to hire James Bach to Moolya and bring him over to India. James didn’t know how we were doing so he was wondering if we would be able to pay him. As a matter of fact, he was pleasantly surprised we did. We probably are the first Indian services company to directly hire him. The last time he was hired was by Hewlett Packard to go to teach at the company they had outsourced to.

He was here for about two weeks and visited Moolya and spent time with our testers. He had and has great appreciation for the work we do. I stayed out of the way to let testers in Moolya directly speak with James. Not to my surprise, they spoke and stood up to scrutiny. We showed James as much work we could show from most of our projects. He said he was blown away with what we are doing and the kind of testers we have.  Here is one particular test that I didn’t recognize was a test when it happened. We told him how many people we have let go off so far and he seemed to be like “Wow! That definitely tells me how serious Moolya is about the kind of testing you want to do for your customers”. Not just that, he looked into our work and got some of his colleagues curious about coming over to India or working with us. Here is a tweet from James you’d be interested to see (re-tweet): I’d heard of Moolya. I helped inspire Moolya. But I actually saw Moolya today– It’s the gritty reboot of Indian software testing. Wow.

Our testers and our cult

We do let go off people from time to time. That’s a strong message internally to that working for Moolya means you are working towards becoming a leader, fundoo tester, those who would change the world and also earn a good living. I know the panic some people got when some of my previous employers let go off people. The question that everybody has in mind is, “Will I be next?”.

Despite we letting people go, there is no panic among people because they co-own the company. Mohan PSK, Santhosh Tuppad and I are founders of the company but however, those who own our company are our employees. Every person who attended Test-Ed conference must have seen it and also many of the participants acknowledged it. When the queue for lunch got large, our testers pitched in to serve food to participants, our testers made the bread and rotis people ate. Some of our testers weren’t there to listen to talks but had a different learning perhaps. Isn’t this awesome? We are creating a cult, oops, they are creating a cult without recognizing they are doing one. As founders, we just facilitate. They do all of it. Never give us the credit, although we steal it sometimes. Here is why we take some credit – We empower our co-owners with the power to choose whom to work with and whom to not.

We facilitate them to innovate, challenge them to keep themselves sharp and ahead of all testers, and help them build a vision. We maintain an eye to contact when we speak to them and they see this is no pep talk to keep them going. Transparency has been the key to help them build their side of the bridge of trust towards what we speak.

Moolya Academy

There aren’t a 100 great testers in India. Even if there are, they are hiding or not applying to work with us. We need hundreds of great testers for the future. Yes, we need our own (top of the mind names) Jonathan Kohl, Julian Harty, Rob Saborin, Elizabeth Hendrickson, Fiona Charles, Paul Carvalho, Huib Schoots, Ilari Henrik, Jari Laakso, Sebi, Shmuel Gershon, Issi Hassan Fuchs, Rikard Edgren, Henrik Anderson, Ben Kelly, Scott Barber, Matt Heusser, Adi Setiadi, Ola Hylten, Vipul Kocher, Rahul Verma, Ajoy Singha, Rosie Sherry, Rahul Gupta, Markus Gartner, Siggie, Anuj Magazine, Dhansekaren R, Nattu, Ramit Manohar …

We wish to to hire these people but even otherwise, it is important we create our own versions of these people’s mind with a Moolya slant to it. The Academy headed by Master Shifu Parimala would help in accomplishing the testers we want to create. Just as James said, “Moolya could have not had a better Master Shifu than Parimala for this goal”. Moolya Academy is the biggest thing to happen to Moolya in its 2nd year.

Why are we successful? The non obvious reasons

Obviously, we do good testing, we hire good testers, we have paying customers, we have repeat customers, we have a bunch of customers discussing on how they could work with us, we stand for good testing and a whole bunch of things. The non obvious reasons are what makes us or what could make us outliers in the services business. Let me just state one of them.

Support from the testing community. No other testing services company in the world has been supported as much as we are being supported by the testing community. We owe a lot to the community. The community markets for us, they do the pre-sales, they help us to challenge other competing bids, they give us projects, they care for our growth and more. This is why, Moolya does not have anyone yet in a role of marketing, pre-sales or sales. It is all what we do with the help of the community. I am sure it is quite surprising to some people that we got close to a million dollar revenues without actually hiring anybody to sell for us. This is history!

We came to existence to change the world of software testing, while others may have had narrower vision or their objective was to make money. This is a strong reason why the community backs us. This is why we think we will be largely successful and be unique.

Interesting milestone

There are plenty obvious milestones but there is one interesting milestone which I am not sure happened to other companies in India working on testing services. A company X wanting to outsource testing work invited bids and we were fortunate to be invited into it. (Hail the community). It so happened that all other bidders were large and medium IT services and testing services companies from India. We stood out as the top bid (nope, this was not about how cheap price we can quote). We were pitching a little higher than others perhaps and had the justification of why. So, the company finally decided to outsource to us.  This does not surprise us. However, this surprised the other competing company in India who setup a team to investigate what we really do 🙂

Here is the answer competitor: In the words of Po: There is no secret ingredient, it is just you! In the words of the Po of Moolya: There is no secret ingredient. We do testing the way it is supposed to be!

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