Startups and innovations often come from the unlikeliest of places and situations. Here is another example where, unfettered by the Covid-19 lockdown, a youngster started a company from a cattle-shed. 29-year-old Dadasaheb Bhagat started a company in April from his hometown Beed in Maharashtra.
Coming from a traditional farming family, Dadasaheb once worked as an office boy at Infosys. He climbed his way up and then decided to start his own company. But the lockdown forced him to shut down and look at doing something else.
“I worked at Infosys about 10 years ago. Animation and graphic design software interested me, so after saving some money, I joined a certificate course in this field,” says Dadasaheb.
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Within a year of completing a couple of courses, he grabbed a job. “After working for a few years, I decided to start my company in motion graphics, branding and advertising called Ninth motion in Pune with a small team,” he said.
“We had 6,000 clients then and maxed out. The Covid-19 further put a halt in the plans,” he added.
The ‘cattle-shed’ moment
In April, after having to shut down operations in his first company, Dadasaheb decided to come up with a software that provides the user with an online graphic designing platform like CanvaThe software called Doographics, allows the user to produce creatives and designs with an easy drag and drop interface.
“There is some software available at present, but they are developed outside India and there is no good graphics software from the country. The idea was to create a ‘Made in India’ software. We already had some clients from within India and outside of our previous work. So we realised the potential and need for such software in the market,” he added.
“We just had a cattle-shed in the farm and three people started working from there initially. We made space for ourselves and moved the cattle to a neighbouring place. Slowly, the other youngsters in the village became curious and wanted to learn,” the software developer said.
Within six months, the company has 10,000 active users from Maharashtra, Delhi, Bangalore and a few from Japan, Australian and the UK.
Earlier this month, the company also received recognition from the government of India. “Our work and credibility were appreciated by the government Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under startup initiatives,” Dadasaheb said.
Generating rural employment
Eight people have joined the growing team. Like Dadasaheb a decade ago, these youngsters had no knowledge about graphic design and jumped in to experiment.
“I had finished my Class XII and asked Dadasaheb if I could work. He trained me, and now I am working to support him as a software developer,” says Rameshwar Shinde. Rameshwar is earning Rs 8,000 a month and is happy to have a job in his hometown.
Another co-worker Saurabh Bhagat, a class XI student, said, “Dadasaheb is my cousin and he asked if I would like to join as I am good with social media.”
Saurabh said that with some training, he is now designing social media creatives, posters, and visiting cards for clients.
Dadasaheb said he has also developed an online course to be taught to such enthusiasts wanting to get into the field.
“There are some students who are being trained in Latur, Ahmednagar and Pune. They will potentially join the startup once they complete their learning,” Dadasaheb said.
About the revenue model, Dadasaheb said the company is yet to start making profits. “We are reaching out to customers, and all the tools in the software are for free. The team is still designing the revenue model and how to monetise it,” Dadasaheb said, adding that he has invested all the money saved from earlier venture for the new one.
Eyes on the globe
Dadasaheb says the journey was not a cakewalk. “There are hardly any technical experts or developers having the right skills to develop such software. It was difficult to learn, find the tools and actually bring out the best elements in the development process,” he said.
The founder of the startup says there are many people or businesses in the village that are now approaching him. “The inquiries have increased and we are trying to help people around,” he adds.
About the future plans, Dadasaheb says he would continue to use the cattle-shed as a safe base for training and work purposes. “I will try to get back the Pune office once the situation improves. My target is to reach out to global users through the software and keep making it better,” he adds.
(Edited by Anuradha Parekh)