What is the story behind the inception of the company? What were some of the challenges that you faced?
Anandha, co-founder of MavenHive, and I have known each other since the 9th grade. We did our engineering together and even started working at the same place. Back in 2004 when were straight out of college, much to everyone’s surprise, we gave up offers from big software companies to join a small and relatively unknown consulting firm. We spent the next 6-7 years travelling all over the world, working with people from different backgrounds and solving some of the most challenging problems for our clients. It was a great learning experience.
However over the years, because of the way the company operated, we realized that there was no direct metric which measured an individual’s contribution. Without this measure, there was no sense of achievement, which in turn killed our motivation over a period of time.
Along with growth, came its own set of problems. Right from the way people were treated to the way projects were delivered and things changed for the worse. One thing we learned about growth from our experience was that if we focus on growth and lose track of how our employees feel about their work and aspirations, that kind of growth is not worth it.
These were some of the challenges that motivated us to go on our own way and start MavenHive.
How did you overcome them and how much have they changed over the years?
Thanks to the ground work we had done as independent consultants before we incorporated, we had clients lined up from the word “go”. So, business and revenue was not really a big problem for us. However, we always had those challenges in the back of our minds.
The first challenge that we tackled was giving an individual the sense of achievement in their work. We came up with a new operation model which meets employees’ expectations in terms of flexibility and compensation. It also gives them room to grow personally and professionally without any artificial restrictions. Our idea was to maximize the potential of each and every individual on the team and reward them for their hard work proportionately and instantly.
As for growth, we firmly believe that growth is not a scale problem, but a culture problem. As founders we do not have any growth aspirations for MavenHive, it is the individuals aspirations of growth that is driving the company today. We are striving to create a culture which makes this happen.
What is the USP of the company that differentiates it from others?
Our biggest USP is in connecting how much you bill with how much you earn. Traditionally, in a services or consulting company your salary is fixed irrespective of how much money you make for the company. All our compensation is in direct proportion with our individual billing, irrespective of whether it is the founder or a fresher.
In this model, most of the revenues are passed on the individuals and only a small operations overhead is retained by the company. This means the company itself does not operate with a big profit margin. This effectively makes equity meaningless, which is why our people don’t fret too much about equity, vesting etc.
Think of this as people getting an exit every quarter without holding a stake on paper.
Tell us about the consulting services that you provide? How are they unique from the market?
We’re a pure software consulting firm offering product development services to startups and SMEs from all over the world. Our focus is on developing and leveraging our expertise in relevant and upcoming technologies to build and grow our client’s products and services. Once we come in, we work very closely with the client’s management and product team to own the technical implementation of their product idea and take them from idea to production and beyond.
What is the work culture followed within the company? How does it motivate the employees?
At MavenHive, we intentionally do not to have CxO roles. Right from our compensation model to how we engage with our customers, everything is geared towards creating an organization where no individual feels too big or small to do anything. Everyone is free to try, fail, learn and do it better the next time. Even when it comes to hiring, if we can’t make someone happy, we don’t try to get him/her onboard. We consider it as ‘we were not a fit for them’ rather than the other way around.
As a founder, I am very happy with the way things are running today. We have a two years experience developer managing recruitment and a straight out of college fresher delivering critical product features and running customer demos within a month of joining us. Senior developers today take complete ownership of BD/Sales and are excited to represent the company when talking to prospective clients. All efforts are run not because the company wants them to do it, but because that’s what they want. No one reports to anyone, rather everyone comes up with idea and executes them.
Ultimately we believe all the people whom we hire, are adults who are capable of taking sound judgements and decisions.
What is the road map and the vision set for the company?
We don’t have any concrete growth targets for the company in terms of revenue or head count. Being a bootstrapped startup, we can focus on what matters to our people without any distractions. We just want people to enjoy doing what they’re doing and do things which they haven’t done before. I think growth is like innovation - you don’t plan for it, it just happens.
One thing that I have been following so far is that if you’re building an organization, invest in your people. Don’t obsess about growth just for the sake of growing. Growth is not a direct result of your actions. It’s a positive ‘side effect’ of happy employees and satisfied customers!
We have grown from a 2 people to a 12 people team with 7 satisfied clients in our first 2.5 years of journey so far. We’re happy with what we have achieved so far and will continue looking at growth from that perspective.
Read the published interview.