This article is an authentic story of our amazing customer Madhu Amara, who shares his successful outsourcing experience in developing his site www.unshaft.com.
We are grateful to Madhu for the pleasant words and believe that his inspiring first-hand information will help those who are still in doubt about outsourcing.
It all started with a water pump in the middle of a village in India. This water pump with its chipped blue paint and rusted exterior was the bane of my existence. It was my responsibility in our miniature townhouse situated among roaming cows and pigs to make sure our water reservoir was sufficient for our daily activities. My two roommates had other responsibilities to facilitate our living conditions. All I had to do was flip a switch to fill a water tank that was located 10 feet below our townhouse. Once that was full, I had to flip a second switch to move the water from the bottom reservoir through a long cylindrical filter, and then ultimately to an overhead concrete tank located on the roof of the house. Seems simple enough, right? Hardly.
We were not required to pay a water bill at this point, so we didn’t have the greatest expectations for the quality of the water being pumped into the house. Our thoughts were correct. The filtration unit was not particularly effective; the water would change from light brown to a semi-clear substance. The water that entered the house was the most corrosive agent I have ever seen in my life. It rusted everything it came in contact with. Cutlery, bathroom faucets, and of course the actual water pump itself. That stuff should be used for chemical warfare. The only thing that survived the wrath of the village water was my titanium folding bicycle that I used to transport myself between the hospital and my house. The whole contraption of pumping water was not a closed system as it should have been. The corrosive nature of the water caused the cheap metal to let air in, causing multiple air leaks. We pleaded with our landlady to fix the issue; the only responsibility she felt she was obliged to do was collect rent from us every month and nothing else. My friends loved to use the term “shafted” to describe this particular situation, among other things that would constantly not work for me. We didn’t know the language and there is no such thing as a Yellow Book in India. Only after walking down the dusty road next to our house, I was able to find a “plumber” who proceeded to install an air valve that was faulty among other things. The net result was that water had to be poured into this open valve whenever there was an air leak, which was every day. I was forced to spend wasted time every day after school, placing water from a bucket and a mug into the valve like a village idiot to provide water pressure to run the motor. During my moments of water pouring reflection, I thought to myself there had to be a better way to find a solution for my problem. Eureka, the idea for Unshaft was born.
Move to December of 2010 and I was jaded. I had wasted 6 months and $3,000 dollars on a middle tier Indian programming team. I initially thought I was getting a cut rate bargain, but after the months rolled by, I realized I was getting a programming team that just wasn’t cutting it. I had wasted so much time, doing rotations in the hospital all day, trying to read in the evening, staying up until 3:00 AM testing shoddy code/making sure we were on task, and heading to the hospital the next morning bleary eyed. Rinse and repeat for half a year. It was especially exhausting because I promised myself by taking on this extra night shift, I would attend all my required classes, which I did successfully. Home for Christmas break, I slumped back in my chair watching snowflakes cascade softly down through the window. I had already fired the team, although I paid them the lump sum that we had agreed up at the beginning of the project. What to do now? I put up an auction on eLance to see if any high tier programming teams could help me finish my site. I was hopeful at least some of the code could be salvaged. I interviewed about a dozen teams and they all reviewed my code. The funniest/saddest message was from a team based in Ukraine. Their message was something along the lines of, “On a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the best rating, I give your code a 5. And that’s just out of sympathy. Wonderful, so I’ll have to start from scratch. So I decided if I was going to launch this startup correctly, I am going to go for an elite quality team to support me.
After browsing all the profiles, a team from Russia caught my eye. Their handles were HireRussians/Sibers, a word play on their location from Siberia. My exposure to Russia was limited. I only knew about Kasparov and Kaspersky; the former a famous chess master and the latter an award winning anti-virus program. I figured with Sibers high rating and Russia’s ability to churn out men of great chess ability/anti-virus programming, this was probably my best bet. On top of that, they stated upfront that I own all intellectual property rights. I took the plunge and accepted them as my provider. The first message I received from them was on my birthday, December 21st. It was a highly organized e-mail asking the right critical questions about the site and it included a wonderful birthday message to boot. I was excited; this had the potential to be great relationship. Their estimate came to me on Christmas Day, again detailing exactly line by line what each milestone consisted of and a reasonable timeframe to it. After securing a generous loan from a third party, I was ecstatic heading into the new year.
Fast forward to September 2011, it is close to show time. After our 9 month relationship, the baby is close being born. It’s exciting and scary at the same time; will the site be a success or will it be a flop? Only time will tell. What I can say for certain at this point is that there are some core values that stood out during the work we have done so far, especially in comparison to the previous programming team I worked with. They are as follows: integrity, critical thinking skills, and meticulousness organization.
Integrity refers to not only giving a realistic estimation to the client at the beginning of the project. It also refers to providing a solution to a particular problem a client has or even better providing a unsolicited improvement on a particular aspect of the site to enhance the project as a whole. It also means that the particular work will done perfectly the first time around, so it does not have to be worked on again in the future. Critical thinking refers to being able to think 2 or 3 steps ahead of what is being worked on currently, to avoid future problems. Organization refers to having everything lined up perfectly on both the frontend and backend, so everybody knows what their job entails and that all the pieces of the puzzle fit correctly to create an elegant end product.
It’s been a great ride so far; I hope the journey takes me to bigger and better places while providing people a way to improve their lives.
Madhu Amara, September 2011