Why this startup is betting on low-code and no-code to help businesses scale

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The low-code and no-code movement is fast becoming popular among small businesses. While most enterprises today invest in tools like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, etc., for their processes, small businesses often aren’t able to afford and maintain them.

This is where Zvolv comes in, putting technology in the hands of businesses where they do not have to go through large IT shops. Founded by Hardik P Gandhi, Pushkar Prasad, and Sujoy Chakravarty in 2015, the Pune-based startup provides an alternative way to build enterprise applications faster, with little to no upfront cost, and no developer dependence.

“Old tools are adept at storing and maintaining data, but not optimally suited to tracking and managing end-to-end processes. The time and cost of developing any new functionality on these tools are extremely high. This limits access to only a small part of an organisation,” Hardik, Co-founder and CEO, tells YourStory.

The co-founder adds that the extreme criticality of data stored in these systems also makes changes risky, which is why most enterprises choose to handle many processes outside these tools. This can reason in loss of efficiency.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the need to automate internal enterprise processes that are currently manual or offline has become even more urgent. Applications need to be created fast and development and maintenance cost need to be justified. However, custom development approaches require hiring experienced coders with specific skill sets and take a lot of time to design, test, and deploy applications.

“Not every organisation can hire specialised resources and partner with external agencies has many challenges in code quality, maintenance, and on-going support. Amid COVID-19, we have been able to close several high-value deals and do entire deployments remotely,” adds Hardik.

How it works

Zvolv’s product development started with early experiments with smaller businesses to refine and test the product. The entire product development was bootstrapped with around $200,000 invested by Hardik and Sujoy.

In 2018, it was launched to initial enterprise customers, and in the same year, it raised a seed round in from Lead Angels, Eagle10 Network. The startup’s early customers included Future Group, Dominos, and Titan that are still using the product today.

“We decided to build the product in India and test it out with Indian businesses, to begin with. While we were apprehensive about the realisation of revenue, we haven’t been disappointed so far. However, product evaluation and decision-making timelines are quite long with Indian customers, and that is a challenge we continue working around,” says Hardik.

Zvolv offers a white-glove onboarding package to all customers where a Zvolv business analyst and implementation expert works with the customer to build the first application collaboratively, offer training, and change management support.

This enables getting realisable value from the application much faster than trying to learn and implement with trial and error as with other self-help tools.

Zolv’s platform provides granular building blocks that are necessary to build complex enterprise applications. These include features like task management, form builders, project management, document automation, drill-down dashboarding and reporting, and intelligent automation bots, among others.

“With drag-drop visual builder capabilities, process experts (mostly business users) with little to no coding experience can put together a large part of the applications themselves. IT help may be required for integration with other tools or complex automation, but that too would require generic IT folks rather than specialised skills in any particular technology,” says Hardik.

Business model and competition

Zolv charges an annual license fee based on the number of building blocks utilised in building the applications. The startup charges for how many blocks a business uses, rather than how widely or how often the applications are used.

This enables customers to launch applications more broadly to vendors and partners without having to worry about escalating license costs.

While the startup began with retail customers, including the likes of Aditya Birla Group (Pantaloons), Lenskart, Swiggy, More supermarkets, and others, the pandemic changed that. Amid COVID-19, the co-founder says that its new retail customer engagements were stalled.

“We had to focus on other verticals. Now, we have customers in manufacturing, construction management, healthcare, large services organisations, as well as some large government projects,” adds Hardik.

Zolv competes with the likes of Our Systems, Unqork, Zoho Creator, Appian, and Salesforce Lightning. According to BrandEssence Market Research Global, the low-code development platform market is expected to reach $65.15 billion by 2027.

The next step

Moving forward, the startup is looking to replicate its success in India in APAC, the Middle East, and the US markets. It is setting up its GTM strategies in these geographies with relevant reseller and sales partnerships, consulting and SI partners like KPMG, Accenture, and Tech Mahindra, as well as product partnerships.

Zolv’s target is to grow to 4-5X in revenues over the next 18 months, with a large percentage of the revenue coming from outside India.

“We are in this for the long haul. We are looking to become the next ServiceNow or Pegasystems or Salesforce — conceived and built in India, but servicing large global companies with a product that holds its own against the best of breed,” concludes Hardik.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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