How getting burned by a developer inspired SD Squared Labs

Joining me today is Sachin Dev Duggal. I know him as the guy who created Nivio, a company that actually let you get Windows apps on your freaking iPad, and it was all legal.

It was this beautiful thing. People loved it. And he sold it. I thought we were going to do an interview about that and that’s what I’m all geared up for. Instead, that’s kind of going to be the backstory to what ends up being the actual interview, which is this new company that is actually bigger, more substantive and it’s called SD Squared.

It’s got this crazy freaking business model that if I didn’t know somebody who worked there, I wouldn’t believe it actually existed. If anyone goes to SD Squared and has SD Squared build an app, it costs no more than $25,000 for an app on any single platform.

If it’s more expensive, then they just do the work and they don’t charge you any more than $25,000.

I want to know if he is losing his shirt on this. And we’ll talk a little bit about this company that everyone in tech seemed to love, Nivio.

Sachin Dev Duggal

Sachin Dev Duggal

SD Squared Labs

Sachin Dev Duggal is the founder of SD Squared Labs, a boutique complete services software & application development company

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy. And we’re not going to do an interview about the company I thought we were going to do an interview about. Joining me today is Sachin Dev Duggal. I know him as the guy who created Nivio. Nivio had this really cool thing where you can actually get Windows apps on your freaking iPad, and it was all legal and there was nothing weird about it. Am I right, Sachin? That’s what it was?

Sachin: That’s absolutely correct. We were one of the first people in the world to put Windows in the cloud.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sachin: And give you an app store that let you rent Windows applications.

Andrew: It was like this beautiful thing. People loved it. You sold it. I thought we were going to do an interview about that and that’s what I’m all geared up for. Instead, that’s kind of going to be the backstory to what ends up being the actual interview, which is this new company that is actually bigger, more substantive than that and it’s called SD Squared.

It’s got this crazy freaking business model that if I didn’t know somebody who worked for you, I wouldn’t believe it actually existed. The idea is if anyone goes to SD Squared and has SD Squared build an app for them, it costs no more than $25,000 for an app on any single platform you want, which means that if it’s an easier app to make, they charge you less.

If it’s more expensive, then they just do the work and they don’t charge you any more than $25,000, which, again, I would have thought something seems suspicious here. I happen to know someone who works for you and he said, “Yeah, Andrew, that’s the thing they’re doing. That’s the revolutionary part.” I want to know are you guys losing your shirt on this, are you making money on this, how much revenue, how’d you build it up, how’d you get your customers? And we’ll talk a little bit about this company that everyone in tech seemed to love, Nivio.

And it’s all thanks to two great sponsors. The first will do your books right. If you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re a business whose books are not kept in order, I urge you to listen to that part of the interview. It’s Bench. I’ll tell you about them. The second company is going to bring you customers, I mean in bulk. It’s called ActiveCampaign. If you think you know them, listen to my ad for them. It’s going to change your mind about how great ActiveCampaign is. You don’t know them because man, have they improved over the years.

First, Sachin, welcome, man.

Sachin: Thank you so much for having me here.

Andrew: So I know that it’s real, you guys really will lose money on an account if that’s what you’ve guaranteed as the price. Let’s talk dollars and cents though. What’s your annual revenue with SD Squared?

Sachin: So this year, we’re aiming to cross $30 million by March 31st. Last year we did just over $13 million. The year before, we did just over $6 million.

Andrew: So each year you’ve grown tremendously. We’re talking about just from this dev work or you also have another part of your business too where you manage cloud services for people?

Sachin: Right, exactly. It’s split between what we call engineer.ai, which is the dev work and cloudops.ai, which is the cloud management and Amazon reselling that we do.

Andrew: I see. How much is engineer.ai bringing in?

Sachin: Probably around 35% this year.

Andrew: I see.

Sachin: And next year it will probably be around 50%.

Andrew: Okay. And the parent company then is SD Squared. SD Squared comes from your name, your three initials.

Sachin: Essentially my name and my cofounder’s name have the same initials. So, we couldn’t think of a better name, so we came up with that.

Andrew: Are you guys profitable?

Sachin: We are. We’ve been profitable since the first nine months. We are now in the fourth year.

Andrew: And this business is fully bootstrapped? No, don’t you have investors?

Sachin: When we sold Nivio, we got a decent chunk of change. We invested some of it. But we were very clear that this time around, we weren’t going to keep raising money, raising money, raising money until we found a vision that we were able to execute on, that we’ve proven execution on and we built substantial revenue, so in the tens of millions. I think we’ve achieved that. The total amount of money we put in the beginning was half a million dollars. That was just about four years ago. We’re $60 million in aggregate revenue since then.

As I said, we continue to grow at about 100% to 150% a year. And I think we can maintain that for the next three to four years because as we’ve kind of meandered over the last four years and really were very intent on unscrewing outsourcing because we think the outsourcing market is quite broken–there’s no transparency, people keep changing prices irrelevant to who you speak to in the same company, you just have a different level of service.

So we wanted to standardize all of that. We think there is a big play here to make outsourcing a little bit like ordering from a restaurant menu, where every single time you go to your favorite Chinese restaurant and you order sweet and sour chicken with egg fried rice, you know what it’s going to taste like, you know what it’s going to cost and you get it at the same time. It takes the same time to make.

Andrew: Okay.

Sachin: Whereas I think software has just not been innovated since the advent of the outsourcing industry itself.

Andrew: And my sense is this is going to resonate with my audience and partially that’s why you basically zipped from the hospital where you just had a baby–baby boy or girl?

Sachin: Baby boy.

Andrew: Baby boy, congratulations–to do this interview and I know that it’s going to make sense for my audience to check it out and I understand why–actually, partially you’re doing it because it’s a good fit for my audience because partially from what I understand about you, you are super-driven, so intense that people need to brace themselves sometimes for your level of intensity. But we’ll get to that. Is that fair to say?

Sachin: That’s news to me, but I’m all ears.

Andrew: Look at you. First of all, from what I know about you, at 14 you were intense about computers. At 15, you basically started a profitable business doing what?

Sachin: Building PCs.

Andrew: How much money were you making then?

Sachin: First year about £5,000. At that age it must have been about $7,500. Second year, about $50,000.

Andrew: That’s fantastic for a kid who’s in his teens, couldn’t even come to the U.S. and drink at that point. That’s a level of dedication and intensity that I get from you and I relate to and I think our audience will.

You then created this thing–I don’t want to spend too much time on it–but Nivio. Nivio, as we talked about, was going to give people Windows on their other devices. What happened there? You sold it. Talk to me about the end there. It seems like there was a bit of what I think you might characterize as a coup.

Sachin: Yeah, well, I think it’s a combination. So we spent nine years building Nivio. We had a really interesting run because we went to non-traditional investors. I was in banking, left banking to do it. The cloud hadn’t been created then. So we were building this big dream of the network PC, as Larry Ellison often spoke of. But we actually managed to start executing it.

So we were able to run Windows in any browser, whether it was an old Windows machine, a Linux machine, a tablet, a Macintosh, whatever you wanted and then we did these deals with all the big Windows software providers to say, “Hey, you can rent Office for about $2 a month or you can rent Photoshop by the month.”

And then we started–we kept building, kept building. Unfortunately one of the things we realized around the middle of the nine-year period was we were building waterproof paint for a population where it didn’t rain and they didn’t have houses. So we were waiting for them to build the houses and then waiting for the weather to change and then they would understand that waterproof paint is revolutionary.

Andrew: I see.

Sachin: And I think in that process we raised money that I would now consider non-smart and money that really we had no business raising. It was the wrong type of capital for the type of company we were in.

Andrew: What type did you raise?

Sachin: We raised family office money, private equity, family office.

Andrew: Okay.

Sachin: So high net worths, family offices from the telco space, private equity but private equity that has traditionally done telco and not done early stage tech.

Andrew: So, then why–

Sachin: Even when we raised money, we were still early stage tech.

Andrew: Okay. You guys raised what, $21 million?

Sachin: We raised $21 million. In total, we raised about $30 million.

Andrew: Sorry?

Sachin: In total we’d raised $30 million, but that particular round was $21 million.

Andrew: Okay. I see. What was the problem with raising what you consider non-smart money or not savvy?

Sachin: I guess it’s business plans–it’s so funny. I had this discussion with someone at the American embassy last week. As a startup, you give a plan. The plan is not numbers that you’re going to hit month on month with a set category. We’re not Pepsi. The plan is or the numbers are a view of how we want to do things and they need to be having flexibility and interpretation and movement and changes to support that growth.

So, as things happen, as we learn new things as we progress, we want to be able to course correct. I think what happened was whatever we said we thought we wanted to do–we were very clear like, “These are all the things we’re planning to do,” our lead investors basically said, “We said we were going to do this. Why aren’t we doing this?” So we ended up becoming loggerheads all the way through.

Andrew: What’s an example of something that they–sorry, what’s an example of something that you wanted to do but as you kept going, you realized you shouldn’t be doing it but they were stuck up on it?

Sachin: I think it was vice versa. We first said, “We don’t want to do free storage.” Then we realized actually free storage is very important because at that period, Dropbox was just starting, free storage was the thing. It was a great way to acquire small business customers. Box was also quite early in its period.

This is the period of time we’re talking about, like 2004 to 2009. So we really thought this is a great opportunity to get in on storage and build the application and stream the stack on top. But in the end when you’re raising traditional non-early stage money, they’re focusing towards building cash flow and preserving cash. We’re focusing on trying to build as fast as possible and grow as quickly as possible.

So we ended up having a lot of disagreement on what we wanted to build. One of the requisites on how we raise money was we were going to have a certain number of their key people either on the board or working within the team. In the end, it turned out that it just wasn’t workable. So we sort of agreed to disagree. You could argue that we agreed to disagree where we were forced to disagree. At that point, you kind of look back and say, “Well, maybe this ship has had its run and maybe someone else, if they think they can do a better job should go ahead and do it.” We exited a part of our stock anyway. So it wasn’t the end of the world for us.

Andrew: So you did. How much did you cash out before the sale?

Sachin: We made about just over $3 million.

Andrew: When you say we, you mean you personally?

Sachin: Yes.

Andrew: You personally, just over $3 million and then was there this coup?

Sachin: Well, yes, there was. But I think a coup is maybe a slightly more overplayed and slightly dramatized term. I think what I’d say is that our hand was forced to basically take what we had sold, take a backseat and let other people operate. I would say the way it was done was not particularly pleasant. That’s water under the bridge. It sets you up to watch what’s going to come next, but also sets you up to have even more passion to prove–

Andrew: But you contested the resignation though, did you?

Sachin: Yeah, contested it because when you’re forced to say you’ve got to resign and if you don’t resign, then we’re going to make your life miserable and you are the whole of 25, never been in this situation, being told, “Hey, buddy, this is the Wild West and this is how things happen.” So, we contested because in the end when I got back to London and I was safe in British borders, I kind of thought it over and I said, “The last thing I want to be ever seen as myself is someone that got pushed and rolled over.”

So we contested it, we fought back. Ultimately we won the right to contest and a bunch of other things along the way. Then we’d wasted so much time in that period of bickering and disagreeing and arguing that ultimately it made more sense to look at greener pastures.

Andrew: Okay. And then the company was eventually sold. Did you get more than $3 million from the sale?

Sachin: No. We kept the rest in shares.

Andrew: I see.

Sachin: I would say they’re more or less worthless now because they were sold and the assets were stripped apart. It’s one of those stories where the guys that we were partnered with were just generally unscrupulous.

Andrew: So disappointing. And ultimately they actually ended up with nothing. They would have done probably better to let you stick with it. The product was–I never tried it. I’m just looking at research, tech journalism from the time, the product did it. It actually put Windows inside people’s–here’s an example of an Engadget article showing Windows in an iPad and a Galaxy Nexus. They’re doing hands on reviews of it.

All right. But then you say, “I’m going to follow this up with something that I felt was very needed for a long time.” You named it Shoto. Can you describe what Shoto does?

Sachin: Yes. So Shoto uses machine learning to tell you who has pictures from any particular night out, any holiday. So we’ve all been on a holiday or a trip where everyone keeps saying, “Send me that picture, send me the picture.” Then some person sends an email, some person sends a Dropbox link.

Andrew: Right.

Sachin: In the end, you never get to see the pictures, you give up asking and the problem never gets solved. Even until today and until Shoto was created, that problem has been predicated on you sharing pictures. Facebook Moments is you sharing pictures. Google Photos is you sharing pictures.

But we don’t wake up in the morning and say, “Today I’m going to share the pictures from the holiday.” The reason we share on Facebook or Instagram is because of the dopamine that people like a photo. So we make this perfectly curated version of our digital life and we share those photos.

But when it’s five of you having dinner or three of you on a holiday or ten of you go on a road trip, the likelihood you’re going to put those online is a lot less now because you’re a bit more cautious, especially if you were doing anything silly.

Andrew: And if I do, I’m going to post one of them. I’m not posting 100.

Sachin: Exactly.

Andrew: And I’m posting the one where I look good, not the one where my friend looks good but I happen to be blinking in a weird way, but my friend would probably want that.

Sachin: Exactly. Then the other part of it is you won’t even post the photo because sharing–when I post sharing it to those friends–is so much work. When you share and you go through the photos and you share the 50 photos, number one, how do you share the 50? The alternative was you upload it to a folder, share the link, too much work. What’s the reward for that work? Nothing. Maybe a thank you by the friend.

Andrew: Right.

Sachin: Or you keep asking your friends for it but then they’re in the same dilemma. Why are they going to share to you? You’re not giving them any currency for them to do that activity. You’re not giving them any dopamine. Only five people could like that picture. That’s not enough compared to 500 likes on Facebook you can get.

So Shoto came in and said we think the model of sharing is broken because nobody wants to share. But everybody wants to see. So, what if we made you swap the photos? What if we said, “I know Andrew has ten photos from this interview. But if I want to see those pictures, I’m going to have to share at least one of the ten I have.” So, I hit swap, I share one, you get a notification saying Sachin has shared a photo. If you want to see the photo, you’ve at least got to share one of the pictures you have.

Andrew: Got it. So now you’re encouraging virality.

Sachin: Exactly. In that process, when you kick it off, you’re like, “Well, I might as well share all ten. He’s seen them anyway. He was there.”

Andrew: Right.

Sachin: So we’ve made it so seamless to share hundreds of photos, but also tie in that collection benefit so that your friend has to do something before he can see them.

Andrew: And you had this idea. It makes total sense. I get it. You said, “Great. I’m going to have an Android developer create this for me.” You hired someone. You paid him a deposit?

Sachin: Yes.

Andrew: And what happened?

Sachin: And we got burnt. It started off a perfect story, “I can do the iOS as well. It’s $10,000.” I’m an engineer, so we asked him all sorts of questions. He gave us really great answers. This time around we said, “We’re not going to do this in Europe first. We’re going to do it in San Francisco. We’re going to do the Silicon Valley startup. Maybe we’re a little late to photo sharing.”

So we got on a plane, went to SF, four of us. Had a cofounder who was a head of engineering as well. We were engineers and really tested this guy beforehand. All great. First shipping gets missed. Second shipping gets missed. So, like 12 weeks through it, “Have you done anything?” Then we’re given a bunch of excuses, reasons and so on and so forth, but really nothing was done. So, we lost over three months in the beginning and then had to go really build it ourselves.

Andrew: Is this a corporation that did this for you? I think I see the lawsuit.

Sachin: Individual person who masks himself behind as a company.

Andrew: Can I say the name of the company or is that going to. . .

Sachin: I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

Andrew: You know what? Let’s leave the company name out. But I do see the lawsuit here. All right. So, you guys sued him. I’m assuming you never got your money back, right? You definitely didn’t get your software, did you?

Sachin: No. We got neither the software. We filed in small claims, I think. We probably got a little back. But it’s nothing compared to the opportunity cost of three months, where we had this very clear goal of shipping at certain times. We were really militant by this time because we were so eager to get back into the saddle. This guy just took us for a ride.

Andrew: The upside, though, is that put an idea in your head, the one that made you your biggest success to date–and you’re a guy who’s been at this since you were 14. You know what? Let me take a break here and come back and we’ll talk about this thing that you realized and how it launched this new business.

The company that I want to talk about is a company called ActiveCampaign. Do you know ActiveCampaign?

Sachin: I’ve heard it from you.

Andrew: Really? Thanks. I’m glad the ads are working. ActiveCampaign is a company that’s been around forever doing standard email marketing. I’m concerned that people think that’s what they’re doing. In fact, they’ve graduated from standard email marketing, which everyone does. You know, when you start off with an online business, what you do is sign up for one of these email marketing companies and just start sending out email.

The problem is those are dopey emails. The same email goes to every single person. At some point, you have to get smart enough to say, “No. I want some intelligence. I want that if somebody clicks. . .” Like here’s one of ActiveCampaign’s customers called Teton. They sell camping gear. They want to know, for example, that they’re not sending a hunter a down sleeping bag, that they’re not sending someone with a family who’s just looking to go out for a weekend a $300 sleeping bag ad.

You want to know who’s getting the message so you send the right email to the right person. So that’s what ActiveCampaign is about. At some point, every business needs to go to that level of focus to create sequences of emails so that the first email that you get when you sign up to get a mailing from a company isn’t the same one that somebody’s who’s been on the mailing list for a year gets, like a welcome email and then a second one and so one and so forth.

At some point, every business realizes, “I’ve got to have this marketing automation. It’s got to be smart.” So, Sachin, what they do is they go to these big guys, really expensive companies that do everything because they’ve heard their name in the news, because they’ve heard someone use them. These companies charge way too much, really, tons of money. They’re overall complicated, which means the company that hires them then needs to hire an outsider vendor to manage them. And it means you then get stuck with this company that is not doing what you needed to do because all the features are just ad odds with each other.

That’s the problem that ActiveCampaign wants to solve. They’ve made creating a funnel easy. They’ve got drag and drop automation workflows. They allow you to base don what people have clicked to create different emails. They make it simple, simple, simple. So even your virtual assistant if you’ve got one can manage it for you and you’re not stuck in this software or stuck hiring someone to manage it for you.

That’s the idea behind ActiveCampaign. That’s why they’ve signed up here. What they’re offering Mixergy is something phenomenal. If you want to get a free month from ActiveCampaign to use it, two free one-on-one sessions so that a consultant can help you, free migration from whatever crappy system you’re using right now, there’s a special URL just for Mixergy people. It’s ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy.

You can see how people who I’ve interviewed have used it and recognized it. You can see just by looking at this page how it’s going to transform your business. I like that they have this flow chart showing you contact comes in here. If they’ve done this thing, then you send them this sequence of email. If they’ve done that thing, you send them that sequence of email. That kind of intelligence is critical when you’re sending people email because people hate getting a lot of email.

All right. Anyone who’s listening to me should go check out ActiveCampaign. It’s available at ActiveCampaign.com/Mixergy. If you’re stuck with a crappy system, you don’t have to stick with it anymore. They will create emails for you that will grow your sales.

All right, Sachin, the next thing you did was you said look, there is a problem here, not just for me. If I’m a developer who’s seeing this problem, other people who aren’t developers are experiencing it far worse. Talk about the problem as you discovered it and the revelation for the solution as you had it.

Sachin: So I think one thing that’s really important to do is really set some context. Over the last ten years, maybe even longer, outsourcing has moved from guys that can invest in bankers, building large trading systems, outsourcing to big outsourcing companies, body shopping, whatever you want to call it. Today it’s two people in a garage. It could be somebody who’s working at Pepsi who has a great idea. It could be a small startup within Chanel that wants to launch an app for their handbags. That notion of IT outsourcing has changed a lot.

So it means that the general quality of the specification has become very lucid and opened to interpretation with the lean methodology and everything and agile and all those good pieces, which has really helped get the right product out.

So, if you view that as a topline change in the market and the audience, we’ve got from various fixed, controlled, set rigorous specifications to open ended specifications like Uber for dog walking or Tinder for finding a housekeeper. That’s the general explanation. “I want to have video chat. I want to have reviews. I want to have these things.”

Unfortunately outsourcing itself hasn’t changed though. It’s still based on this model where you’re going to try and explain your specifications to someone. Whatever you say, you’re going to come back to and say, “You said this.” Everyone is bidding at the bottom of the price trying to get the contract and then they screw you on the change request when you realize you’ve understood your business or product anymore. So, they talk agile but deliver waterfall in terms of pricing.

It’s all people-driven. So it doesn’t scale. You know, really, the outsourcing industry has screwed every other industry except itself. It’s arbitraged prices from oil to foreign exchange to ordering a taxi. But in itself, it remains this archaic project-based heavily priced system or you get told, “We’ll charge you by the hour but we have no control over quality. It’s your headache. We’re going to make 25% or 20% of a resource by the hour.”

Andrew: I get it. They disrupted every other industry but they haven’t been disrupted yet.

Sachin: Exactly.

Andrew: You said, “There’s a problem here. I’m going to be the guy who’s going to go in and disrupt the outsourcing business and create something with more sanity.” So I get you have this idea, this revelation. What I don’t get looking at my notes here is how did Amazon Web Services, AWS, fit into your story in the early days?

Sachin: So we had obviously come from Nivio. We were one of the largest deployments on AWS. We moved from data center to AWS. We knew the AWS guys really well. They knew us. When we left, we started having conversations with the team in India. They were just pushing out Amazon and said, “Would you want to help? You’ve got so much board room access. You guys know the cloud better than we do,” especially in a place like India because we still own the trademark for the word cloud in India and in a few other countries.

Andrew: Because of what? You owned the trademark for the word “cloud” in India?

Sachin: We owned the trademark for the word “cloud.”

Andrew: For the word “cloud” in India, you owned the trademark?

Sachin: In multiple geographies, not only India. In the U.S., for example, we own cloud book, cloud PC, cloud phone, cloud TV and a number of others because we were so early in the game.

Andrew: Who owned it, Nivio or this new business?

Sachin: Nivio did in the heyday.

Andrew: Got it. Okay.

Sachin: So, as we started talking to Amazon, at this point, we were early on in building Shoto, so we hadn’t quite had all these issues and problems. So we started working with them and saying, “We’ll help onboard people in the cloud.” A bunch of engineering people left when I left. So, they joined us at SD Squared.

So we started working with them on small projects, helping people come in. Then what we realized is that actually Amazon business in India was going to grow very quickly. They needed anchor partners to help them both from a billing perspective, tax and finance, cloud operations, guys that knew how to deploy onto AWS, had the deep engineering skills.

So we then realized the second problem–one, we had these contractory issues, outsourcing–we realized that most cloud operations companies have no engineering skill. So they always blame the engineering company saying, “They built a bad application. They build a bad back end.” When actually, they just don’t understand it. The engineering company has always then blamed the cloud operations firm or team saying, “They don’t know how to operate it. We built you the perfect thing.” As a customer, you’re sort of screwed.

So, rather than trying to focus on just cloud operations or just–we say actually the problem is outsourcing as a whole, whether you’re building or you’re operating. So we’re going to do both in parallel because actually, those that are operating are eventually going to build something as a V2 or V3, an improvement.

So, if we’re helping them with the cloud ops, they’ll come to us first when the want to build something. Those that we build for, they basically said, “Can you just do it for me? Can you just run it, can you just make sure it’s operating?” So that’s a natural. We have 100% conversion of people we build something for who then want us to operate and host it. For us, it’s great because irrelevant or whether you operate a building, we’ve always got share of wallet.

Andrew: I see. Let me understand the beginning of it. Amazon said to you, “Look, we have these clients that are coming to us. We need somebody to manage them, to make it easy for them to move to AWS. We, Amazon, will send you, Sachin, clients, take care of them, make it easy for them to work with us. You said, “Great. This is a whole new business for me. In addition to running Shoto, I’m also going to help people in India get on AWS.”

Sachin: Exactly.

Andrew: Then you realized the other problem, which was hey, it’s very expensive, very tough and unreliable to have somebody create software for you, I’m going to solve this problem too and I’m okay with being in three of these business because two of them really work hand in hand with each other.

Sachin: Exactly.

Andrew: I see. I’ll still keep Shoto. Why keep Shoto then? Why not say, “Hey, you know what? Photo sharing makes a lot of sense. This idea makes a lot of sense. Screw it. I have these two other things that are rocket ships on their own. I’ll stick with them and let somebody else take over this photo sharing thing.”

Sachin: And you know, that’s a discussion Saurabh and I have every four months. Every four months, I say to him we spent three years and we got it working and we’re finally getting users on and every week it’s growing faster than the week before. But also, more importantly, we need to experience scale of an actual consumer app. We need to know the things that move. We need to understand how things like algorithms or machine learning or AI actually work rather than just talking about it. So we always need to keep building things that we may not necessarily have customers for because it helps us stay current.

Andrew: Is it fair to say also that you love it?

Sachin: I look at it as a research and development opportunity which is actually also a live product that’s growing.

Andrew: Is it fair to say that you personally, Sachin, love it? This is your thing, your baby, Shoto. You speak with it with a lot of passion because you believe it needs to exist in the world. Like Malcom X standing on the streets of Harlem talking about the Nation of Islam, you have to keep promoting this because you know the world needs to come around to this. It’s that kind of thing.

Sachin: You’re absolutely right. I think it’s so close to my own heart because I feel the problem has just become so much bigger. We’ve been taking pictures of the baby and we’ve all been taking pictures. Now, I want everyone else’s pictures. Pre-Shoto, I’d never get them. Now come Shoto, I got everyone’s photos before I left the hospital.

Because we’re seeing it work and I’m seeing it work and I’m talking to people that I know, I know there’s a bunch of things we have to fix and a journey that needs to be done. I don’t want to give up on it because I think we’re early still in the journey and we have the luxury of being able to write our own check.

Andrew: Because you’ve got this team of developers and so it’s not that big an expense compared to everything else that you’re running, so you might as well do it.

Sachin: Exactly. Yes.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. You then because of this Amazon deal, you start bringing in, you told our producer, $10,000 a month in revenue. Then you moved to $40,000 a month in revenue. You were starting to really make some serious money with this cloud thing, right? That’s where the big funding came. That’s why you didn’t need to rush out and take crazy money again.

Sachin: Exactly.

Andrew: Okay.

Sachin: So, basically, we bank rolled ourselves on the margin we made from AWS and then used it to build very small iterative versions of what is now engineer.ai. So, we started off by saying, “Let’s just try weekly pricing.” So you want to build something. It’s guaranteed cost per week, maximum number of weeks.

When we started working with our first set of customers, the first customers we ever worked on it–it was the back of an envelope calculation–ended up being the largest site for women in India called POPxo, where we took them from 5,000 uniques to over, I think, it’s 30 million uniques and a billion views. It crashed more when it was 5,000 then once we took it over and rebuilt it. In total, they spent $100,000.

Andrew: They needed you to build a blog for them? They couldn’t just use WordPress?

Sachin: We built the blog. We put it on. We scaled it on AWS. So image [inaudible 00:32:51] was quick. We made it mobile responsive. We built a bunch of things for them, but at like $3,000 a week.

Andrew: I see.

Sachin: It started off at like maybe $2,000 a week, ended up at about $3,000 or $4,000 a week. But they paid us every week. Whenever they didn’t need the team, they would turn the team down to a skeleton and then we’d use the people with something else. Then we needed it, when we brought it back. Then we realized organizing that was a bit difficult but we’d hit something. We hit the fact that people were happy paying on a weekly cost as long as they knew what they were getting.

Andrew: I see. Okay. So you’re starting now to rethink this whole pricing model. That’s the first example. Then you start to iterate. What’s the next iteration on the pricing model?

Sachin: The next iteration was where we said we’re going to put a maximum number of weeks. So one was this idea of having a team you could switch on and switch off. The next one was teams works for some people, but a lot of startups, they just want a fixed cost. We were seeing competition for people that were giving fixed costs but they were never fixed because they had change requests and everything else. So we said what if we started to actually set the fixed cost and said it’s no more than this? If it’s more than this, we’ll pay for it.

And we saw immediately half the issues that we would have with people disappeared because we said we’ll put our money where our mouth is. You don’t have to pay us 25% up front, 50%. You pay us every week.

Andrew: Pay us every week. We guarantee this price, no higher. Did you also guarantee results at that point?

Sachin: No. We didn’t guarantee a particular week of delivery. We guaranteed a particular number of man weeks.

Andrew: I see.

Sachin: We were very clear. We said, “Hey, this may be a little bit longer. You may change your mind along the way. You may want to make some adjustments. We’re not going to charge you for those adjustments unless you are building something completely different.” Basically if we haven’t built the feature–if we haven’t started building that particular feature you wanted and you want to swap it out for something else, no cost.

That obviously had some risk in it because they could swap out a like box for a map view, as an example, which is in an order of magnitude harder to build. So that got us to our third iteration, which is really where we came back and said, “We need to do some really deep development to really change outsourcing.” It started off last year by saying, “We’re going to put pricing on the web.”

So by that what I mean is we’re going to send people online and say, “You want to build an app or a wearable or a website or whatever it is, come online, go through our wizard, it will give you a price. Whatever price it gives you, we honor.” But that suddenly took away the need for us to have these long conversations with customers, try and understand their spec, distill that down to features, put a price around it, work up what we’ve already built/not built. To me, that’s what really kicked off what we’re trying to do now.

The minute we try to put that online, we’re like, “Well, hang on, if we put the pricing online, why can’t we automate the building of it?” So there you come into like complex AI and machine learning and natural language processing because really, what engineer.ai does is you go from, “I want to build a mobile app. It’s like Uber for dog walking. I want to have video, payment, comment views. You’ve got a bunch of features you can choose from. Then 60% of the word is done by machine. The remaining 40% is done by teams.

And then here we came to the last iteration. We said, “Hiring is really tough. If we’re going to build a thousand apps this year at $25,000 and 10,000 apps the year after at $25,000, we’re not going to be able to scale the team quick enough. That is a full-time job for us just to do on our own.

But more importantly, we start competing with every single little app dev shop or medium app dev shop or consultancy company that wants to be an app or a web design shop, they own relationships. We don’t have relationships everywhere. So what if we became the modern version of Rent a Coder or the modern version of any of these auction sites. Really, what if we became the Uber for software development. So we said, “Come to us, price online, machines will go [inaudible 00:37:25] of the code. We will then get a team to work on it.

As far as you’re concerned, you give it to SD Squared or engineer.ai. Who we get to do it and what are you bothered about? On the flip side, we go to a little app dev shop in Austin, Texas or app dev shop in Sydney or in Bulgaria and say, “We’ve got some work for you. We’re going to pay you this much. Here’s our process. We’re sending a doc or image if you accept this job with the development environment set.

60% of the core has been done. Here are the user stories. Here’s how we want you to build it. Here’s a code value process that we’re doing. We’d like it done by this much time. This is what we think your team can deliver. By the way, every time you submit, you commit to Git or you commit the story, we’re tracking it. Every Friday at 5:00 p.m., our customers will get an email which says, “This is the status of you project.” If it’s late, you will be penalized. If it’s on time, you get a bonus.

Andrew: Are these dev shops in the U.S.? I thought they were in India.

Sachin: So our team is in India and part of our team is now being built in Malaysia. But these dev shops can be anywhere.

Andrew: But have you starting using–where are the most of the developers now? Is it in the U.S.? Is it in India still?

Sachin: We have a small team in San Francisco. The biggest development team is in Eastern Europe and in India. The last iteration that I spoke to you about we haven’t gone live with.

Andrew: You haven’t gone yet through the marketplace?

Sachin: No. We haven’t gone through the marketplace yet. We’re doing like an internal version of the marketplace first. But really, that’s the pipe dream. Because we would have built so many of the component parts–the libraries, the AI that puts it together–anyone can pick it up as long as they follow our process, much like Uber uses companies outside the U.S. who have taxi drivers. Similarly, we’re using app dev shops or startups that are bleeding and they have surplus people.

Andrew: Interesting.

Sachin: To earn some extra cash to those people.

Andrew: I want to know about the times when–first of all, I want to know about the times when you guys underpriced and you had to eat the cost because you’re committing a cost no matter how much it actually ends up being and I also want to talk about some of the challenges with your team because you’re really pushing them to do a lot here to hit deadlines, to hit cost and what that means for the team you’ve had in India. I’ve got some notes here about what some of them said.

But first I’ve got to tell people about Bench. Bench is a bookkeeping service. Here’s the thing. I don’t know why in a world where there is Uber, where you can go to an app and get a professional company to actually send a driver to you, why anyone still calls a local yellow taxi service to come pick them up, it’s stupid, but people do it. I see it. They do it. They call a yellow taxi company and they get screwed and they still do it. It’s not going to happen forever, but people still do it.

Just like still people will go out and look for a bookkeeper, some mom and pop that doesn’t get the internet to go and do the books or that does get the internet and has done a good job for someone else, but frankly, how long is that going to survive because the truth is that they’re going to lose more of their clients and then they’re going to like half-ass their work because they can’t really make enough money for this to be a real business anymore and your books aren’t going to get the attention they deserve. The reason that’s happening is because just like software is eating the world and every other part of the world it’s happening in bookkeeping too.

Bench and other companies like it are now starting to say, “We don’t need the little mom and pop sitting at home trying to do the books. We’re going to start with software. Software is going to go into all of your shopping carts and pull in the data if you’re a client of Bench that knows how many sales you’ve made, how much each sale is worth and make sure that’s it’s accurately tracked.

Software is going to go into your credit card account and pull in the company’s expenses and categorize them. Then people will come in because this is important and it can’t just be left to software. People come in and actually real bookkeepers at Bench will look and make sure the numbers are where they need to be and that they’re organized properly and that it all makes sense. That’s the idea behind Bench.

They are disrupting the bookkeeping industry. You owe it to yourself if you’re listening to me to go check out what they can do for you. They have a team of bookkeepers and software that work hand in hand to make sure they do right by you and get you your numbers. The reason that numbers are so important is because every good business needs to know what their expenses are, month to month, week to week, year to year, not just when they’re worried they’re losing too much money.

By the way, how often, Sachin, do you look at your numbers, your income statements, your expenses?

Sachin: Every week.

Andrew: How often?

Sachin: Every week. We reconcile our numbers every day.

Andrew: What do you get every day?

Sachin: We do a P&L every day.

Andrew: You do a P&L every day. Why is it so important for you to know your income and expense on a day to day basis, week to week basis?

Sachin: So the reason is–it’s more of a management philosophy–our company is built on the idea of trimesters not quarters because we’re not organized enough to end a period inside a period. I believe most companies aren’t organized. You have a lot of waffle in the last two weeks of the quarter or definitely in the first few weeks.

Then we take the trimester and we have five critical numbers we’re tracking, usually a couple of them are revenue or cost numbers or specific product lines. Then we have five priorities for the trimester, but they all boil down to months, weeks and days. For the weeks and days, we run what we call the weekly action review, which is a weekly meeting on a Tuesday. It’s all the guys who report to me. We have the meeting and all the people that reported to them, they have the meeting and cascades right the way down.

Then every day we do 15 minutes, which is tracking against what we discussed for the week. So the reason why 24 hours is a very good important period for us is everything we do, something needs to move within 24 hours. So, for example, in finance, the most important things for us to do is have some idea of a crude cost and some idea of a crude P&L, revenue.

It doesn’t have to be accurate. It just needs to be accrued because it will keep floating up and down. But we need to accrue cost like we’ve paid for a marketing event or we’ve agreed to a contract, for example. The weekly numbers have to be accurate. There’s no fudging there. The reason is because in the war discussion, the numbers come out to everyone. Everyone sees the numbers on the senior team and at the end of the month, they go out to the company, so everyone in the company will see the numbers.

Andrew: Everyone will know your revenues?

Sachin: Everyone knows the revenues.

Andrew: You’re a developer who’s in India who might need to sleep on the floor at night to code to get things done. He gets to see the numbers too?

Sachin: Everyone gets to see the numbers.

Andrew: Shocking. Okay.

Sachin: Everyone sees the numbers, everyone sees the profit, everyone sees the cost. And then my goal is to also expose salary brackets. But we’re a company that’s built on data and on transparency of that data. The reason why it’s so important that some of these things circulate is it shows growth and success and people feel happy. But also, everyone, we go out quite frequently and say, “We need to reduce this line item. Come back with ideas of how you can remove it.”

Andrew: You get the whole team thinking about it.

Sachin: Right.

Andrew: How many bookkeepers do you have?

Sachin: How many bookkeepers? Seven.

Andrew: Seven. Right. So here’s the thing. In all days, a guy who’s listening to me who doesn’t have seven bookkeepers couldn’t do anything like this, couldn’t reach even like a tenth of what you’re doing. The thing about Bench is that now–just to close out this ad–the thing about Bench is that now everybody has access to this.

If you are listening to me and you’re thinking about bookkeepers in the old way, you have to think about them in a way that Sachin is thinking about it. You have to change the way you look at this. Here’s the URL. They are giving Mixergy something they’re not giving anyone else–a free trial. This isn’t a free trial of software that doesn’t cost anything. This is a free trial of man hours, of people who are going to be doing work for you. That’s in addition to 20% off your first six months with Bench.

They’re really making a full effort here to make sure that other Mixergy people, more of us check them out and sign up. If you want all this, I urge you to go check out Bench.co/Mixergy. Bench.co/Mixergy. If you check them out before and you’re a marketer, they made one change–they constantly are A/B testing and I can see this–they made one change to this landing page that I think is worth looking at just to get a sense of what they’re changing.

I love it. If you guys check it out and you don’t know what it is, actually send me your guesses. My email address is Andrew@Mixergy.com. Check out this URL if you’ve checked it out before, only if you’ve checked it out before, send me your guess about what they changed. They changed something and I just like that they keep changing stuff. This one little thing, I think, can have a big impact.

All right. But beyond that, go sign up or go check out this bookkeeping service. They will get your numbers right. Sachin shouldn’t be the only one who has accurate data on a regular basis. You should too if you’re listening to me–Bench.co/Mixergy.

I really love knowing what entrepreneurs look at, numbers they look at and how they think about it. It’s the kind of stuff that we don’t talk about much. Really, I could talk, if you and I were hanging out together, we might talk about like–we might talk about sex, we might talk about who you hate with names, we might get really open. For some reason we don’t talk about the numbers that we care about. We don’t talk about that level of detail, but man, I could see how much it influences the way a company manages.

Let’s go back for a second. You had this thing where you were going to charge a certain amount and you had this checklist for people. One of your competitors did that too. But what they did was they had a human being manage your checklist because they knew that not everything could easily be presented to the customer and not everything could be presented by a checklist.

So, if a human being on their side who was chatting with a potential customer was putting stuff into a checklist and then realizing hey, this new thing they’re asking for isn’t in the checklist, the human being could make a decision about how much to price it. You didn’t have any of that, right? Why not? Didn’t that limit you?

Sachin: A part of our strategy is we have priced over–it’s not live with all of them, but we’ve priced over 5,000 features. So, think of a feature we’ve priced it. We’ve priced it under different types of brackets, mobile app, wearable.

Andrew: Give me an example of one of the features that you’ve priced.

Sachin: Payments.

Andrew: Payments.

Sachin: Being able to do payments, being able to do social login.

Andrew: So I want Apple Pay inside my app. You’ve priced that.

Sachin: Yeah. We’ve priced any payment. We take any payment. Basically we’ve taken a lot of our pricing is based on normal distribution. So we say normal distribution of payments is a Stripe, a CCAvenue, an Apple Pay, an Android Pay, one of the five or six that exists. Payments in the U.S. means something different to payments in India to payments in Malaysia. So, once we know where the end customer is, there are some features that take into account there will be some customization for that particular region.

Once all of that feature, it’s a set price, it’s like that egg fried rice. It doesn’t change whether you add soy sauce, don’t add soy sauce, add chili sauce, don’t add it, put one egg or three eggs, it doesn’t make a difference to us, it’s egg fried rice. So, for us, it is payments. It means it needs to be able to charge a card. It needs to be able to do recurring bidding. It needs to generate some kind of invoice. It does need to send that record somewhere else, allow chargebacks, all those things. It’s all covered. It’s included.

By taking that approach, it also means we have massive reusability of code. So the way we look at the world is that in any given app, about 60% of the code is rewritten–Facebook login, analytics, the boiler plate, the splash screen. We don’t need to write it. So we saved money on pricing because we no longer have a human doing it.

We’ve saved money on setting up the development environment because the machine setup the doc images. We’ve saved money on 60% of the code because we’re reusing it. We’ve done it before. If we haven’t done it before, we’ll lose money. We’re not really losing, we’re just investing in our own library, which is why we’re doing the $25,000 promotion because it’s the quickest way for us to build lots of applications and build lots of code pods.

Andrew: I see. And then if I want to take my stuff away from you and go somewhere else, do I have the code? Do I have the ability to do it?

Sachin: You have a royalty free perpetual license with the code to go wherever you want with whomever you want. It’s all standard. There’s nothing custom.

Andrew: Okay. And then does it also limit you to what you can do if you’re charging $25,000?

Sachin: No.

Andrew: No limits?

Sachin: The $25,000 is a promotion where we have taken an assumption that on 50%, we will lose. But we’re not losing. The reason we’re not losing is because we’re building components.

Andrew: But then you invest back in the business and get–

Sachin: Anytime we’ve got a component, it’s useful for us later.

Andrew: Okay. All right. On the other side of the business, the cloud part, you had a problem where you were starting to account for a big share of Amazon’s revenue in India, you told our producer. What percentage were you accounting for?

Sachin: We currently amount for just under four percent.

Andrew: How do you know it’s four percent? They don’t make their data public.

Sachin: We know the revenue numbers for India.

Andrew: How?

Sachin: Look, I think when you’re the biggest partner in the country, you sort of informally and otherwise know where you are in the pecking order. Then when you know what your quantum is compared to partner number two and three, you have a very good assessment for what that revenue looks like.

Andrew: Okay.

Sachin: Also Amazon, Gartner and others do produce annual cloud spend in India by vendor. So we corroborate the data across a number of different points.

Andrew: I see. You help them corroborate their data. Other people do too and then they end up with what you feel is accurate data and that’s how you know it.

Sachin: Yeah.

Andrew: So is that a problem for Amazon?

Sachin: No. I think getting a market share percentage or what percentage we contribute it always a problem because you don’t know how someone’s booking their revenue. For us, what’s important to understand is are we the largest partner? Yes. How much larger are we than number two and three? What I’m led to understand is we’re an order of magnitude bigger where we are bigger than number two and three combined. So, that’s a good position. It lets us know where we sit.

Andrew: Aren’t they feeling like you’re cannibalizing their revenue. You’re not actually bringing anything new. They’re just sending you a lot of customers that–any of that resonating? I’m looking at my notes here from our conversation with Ari, our producer.

Sachin: We had this problem. We had this problem where Amazon basically said, “Hey, you guys have to pack it in. We can’t just keep giving you revenue. Basically we’re paying you to deal with our customers.”

Andrew: Right.

Sachin: So we had this long, very drawn out discussion. The guys are Amazon are very good that way, especially the U.S. team. I said, “Well, it’s a little unfair to assume that we’re not doing anything. Clearly we’re giving value if you keep passing us business. We’re not coming to you and saying pass us business. Why would you pass us business when you have to pay us additionally? Clearly we’re doing something for you with our customer and whilst it doesn’t seem tech to you, it’s still solving a customer pain point, which was global currency billing, taxation and so forth.”

And what I said to our internal team was until we get to half a million run rate, I’m not investing much money in this because I’m going to be a stickler to make sure that you guys deliver revenue first. So, as soon as we crossed half a million, we started doing more. We started doing migrations, building capacity. We sent from normal partner to premiere partner within nine months. Sorry, advanced partner and now we’re on course to premiere. All of that has been us now investing as soon as we cross the half million point.

Then we started building a lot of machine learning and automation around two areas–infrastructure management and pricing. So let’s start with the easy one, which is infrastructure management. So Amazon launched a new data center in India as an example. They have some 70,000 companies that supplied to Indian users or that Indian subcontinent, but the data center is in Singapore, AWS Singapore, AWS Ireland, wherever. Suddenly we made it one click to be able to move to AWS India. That is launching in about four weeks, actually less than that, two weeks.

Then we realized that Amazon is losing a lot of customers in the emerging markets because they don’t have a credit card. They don’t want to use their credit card. When you are a small startup CEO in an emerging market country, your Amazon bill is an order of magnitude more than your shopping bill.

So, if you use your credit card and suddenly you got to the grocery store and you can’t buy milk. So, in those countries, especially the cash economies everyone bounces back and says, “I don’t want to use it.” Even Amazon.com in India, for example, does cash on delivery.

Andrew: Who? Amazon.com cash on delivery in India?

Sachin: Yeah, they do cash on delivery.

Andrew: Okay.

Sachin: You pay in rupees as soon as they come to the door. So we said okay, we’re going to create a prepaid card, make it multi-currency. This will also have the benefit of letting startups who couldn’t even access the free tier now suddenly be able to access a free tier. This service we’ve been testing for about three months is launching next week.

Andrew: You mean the free tier of Amazon Web Services?

Sachin: Yeah. So it’s Amazon prepaid card. It’s available to anyone anywhere in the world. It’s also great for U.S. companies because suddenly you can now give a department a budget. Here is a cloud card with $5,000. The minute you spend $4,999.99, it will send you your final alert message and then switch everything off automatically. So, you’ve got like budget control over it.

Andrew: I see.

Sachin: Where it became really interesting is we have a service called the unscrewed billing service. What we’ve done is because we have these roughly 500 customers around the world now that use us for AWS, not just India, we have this very interesting view of what machines are being used by whom. We also see that many of our customers don’t use reserved instances. From conversation, it’s because they’re nervous. What if they don’t need the machine? What if IT decides to do something differently? They don’t want to be committed. They don’t know to sell it. It’s too much headache for them.

So it’s no problem for us though because we always have these customers and if one person is not using it, someone else will use it. So, our unscrewed billing service is basically using portfolio analysis to look at what everyone’s using and say, “Right, we’re going to, as SD Squared, buy 1,000 reserved instances of this and 3,000 reserved instances of this and we’re going to split them up the difference with the customer. So, customers, when they buy AWS from us, we are 10% cheaper than AWS.

Andrew: I see.

Sachin: Because of the portfolio services that we’re launching.

Andrew: I see. But that’s where it’s going.

Sachin: Yes. Today we’re five percent cheaper than AWS.

Andrew: You mentioned–sorry. You mentioned payment in India. I’ve been fascinated by this. You must know of a company called Paytm, is that what it’s called?

Sachin: Paytm. Yes.

Andrew: Paytm. I hear it’s huge. Can you tell me a little bit about why it’s so huge and what’s going on with payment in India? What is Paytm?

Sachin: So Paytm is a wallet. Wallets haven’t really taken off in the U.S. I guess the only wallet you can think about is the biggest, and it’s actually quite big is PayPal. But PayPal started off as a wallet. But PayPal has become semi-wallet, semi-payment processor.

Andrew: Right.

Sachin: Paytm is PayPal, but in India. But it’s designed around the Indian context. It had a really good, interesting trajectory, very quick growth. Then in November, it exploded. The reason was the Indian government decided overnight that they were going to take out $286 billion worth of notes in circulation to stop money laundering and what they call black money, which is cash that’s un tax declared. They basically killed 86% of the circulating currency.

Andrew: By the way, a family would have a bunch of bills at home that they were saving up for something and suddenly those bills had an expiration date on it unless they got it to the bank, it was gone and the bank wasn’t going to take all the bills at once, from what I understand, there was a limit.

Sachin: There’s a limit because they wanted to know and if it was over a certain number, they wanted to know where you got it from.

Andrew: So, now people were sending their kids into the bank with some money, their uncle in, right?

Sachin: Yes. It was split between different people. You had to kind of amalgamate. For most of India, it wasn’t a problem in that sense. It was just a problem because there were queues of people outside banks.

Because there were queues, that’s what queued Paytm and other wallets to suddenly become so much bigger because they’re like, “Once we get this, we’re not going through this again. We’re going to just start paying people electronically.” So, people who didn’t have enough cash because they didn’t have the right notes, the only way they could pay was either bank transfer or wallets.

At the same time, the government setup two schemes prior to that. One was to make sure every person in India had a bank account which was linked to their unique ID, national ID. The second was they setup what’s called a payment processing license, which is not a bank, but it’s like a wallet, for example. So you’ve had like a creation of an industry, a creation of a structure that says there must be financial regularity and everyone must have a bank account. Then finally, a roadblock which said, “If you don’t do this, there’s no other way for you to pay.”

Andrew: And so that’s why people were starting to move to this and as a result, even to the point of a rickshaw ride people would use Paytm to pay for.

Sachin: Exactly, even now. Now Paytm is a very large provider. It’s had the same kind of success as PayPal but in the world’s fastest growing market.

Andrew: I would freaking love the founder of Paytm on Mixergy, Vijay Shekhar Sharma. All right. I’m putting that out there in the interview so anyone who knows him can help me find a way to get ahold of him. That guy is phenomenal right now, right? On fire.
Sachin: Yes.

Andrew: And Americans don’t even know about this.

Sachin: Well, I think it’s worth realizing that a lot of innovation now is happening outside of the American borders because you’re trying to deliver a larger scale at a smaller price point. Look at Tencent. Tencent’s app does everything, from ordering taxis to messaging to you name it, they’ve covered it in a single app. Going in the U.S., most people, unless they’re of Chinese or Japanese descent, don’t use Tencent. I think there’s a lot of innovation happening around the world that will eventually start to roll back into the U.S.

Andrew: I can see that. I can see American companies learning from them. All right. I dig what you’ve been doing. I’m glad we had you on here, especially considering the fact that you just had a baby. I know right after having a baby, most people don’t want to deal with the world in any way and I really appreciate you coming on here and doing this for me, that you raced over to do this interview means a lot, that you care that much about Mixergy, that you would come here and do it means a lot to me.

I’ve been fascinated to find out about you, frankly, I think, because of the name SD Squared. It wasn’t the kind of name that sticks with you. I never heard for you until one of the people I knew happened to go work for you and he goes, “Dude, this guy’s killing it. Here’s what he’s doing.” He started telling me and filling me in. I had no idea. I started looking you up and it was a little hard to find out a bunch of information about you but then I discovered a bunch of stuff. I’m amazed by what you built and I’m proud to have you on here. Thanks for doing this interview.

Sachin: Thank you so much for having me.

Andrew: Cool. Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. The website–what’s a good website to send people to? Is it engineer.ai?

Sachin: It is engineer.ai. Send them there.

Andrew: Engineer.ai if they want that $25,000 guaranteed app creation, right? You’re not charging them more than $25,000.

Sachin: No more than $25,000.

Andrew: Someone says, “Here’s my app.” “Actually, yours is twice as much.”

Sachin: No. $25,000.

Andrew: And if they want a second platform–

Sachin: It’s $12,500 percent platform afterwards.

Andrew: So first platform I want an iOS app, $25,000 for the first one and then, “Sachin, I need an Android app too,” another $12,500 and what’s a third platform I might want?

Sachin: Anything after that is $12,500.

Andrew: Like a Mac after that?

Sachin: A Mac, web, Windows Mobile, you name it.

Andrew: All that and another $1,200.

Sachin: The only thing I would say if it’s some obscure platform we haven’t heard of, then we probably wouldn’t do it.

Andrew: Okay. All right. The website isn’t fully up yet, right? But it will be by the time this interview is up.

Sachin: Yes.

Andrew: Cool. The other website is up, the SD Squared, people can see more information about it on SD Squared.com, I think, is where I researched it.

Sachin: SD2Labs.com is up. But engineer.ai by the time this goes out will already be up.

Andrew: Okay. And my two sponsors for this interview, the first one will actually bring you more sales, I’m telling you, you’ve got to check out the marketing automation available via email on ActiveCampaign. You really could start to do this thing and then pass it on to an assistant because it’s so easy to use.

The second one is the company that will help organize your books to the point where almost it’s like having seven bookkeepers the way Sachin does. You really will have organized books. You can know exactly how much money you’re making week to week, month to month, year to year. Bench.co/Mixergy will do that for you and I’m grateful to them for sponsoring.

Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Bye, everyone.


  • Graham Seymour

    Great episode, Andrew!

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