Nick Adams is the CTO and Co-Founder of SapnaSolutions. SapnaSolutions is on a mission of transforming Pune city into a Ruby on Rails hub.
Satish Talim>> Nick, could you tell us something about yourself – your background, where you are based?
Nick Adams>> I came to India in early 2008 to seek my fortunes with EnTrip, our web based travel portal. My friend Anthony and I decided to do something doubly different and start a company in another country rather than work in London after we graduated. We joined forces with Yann, a French entrepreneur with experience at StudiVZ, to create SapnaSolutions earlier this year here in Pune, India.
Satish>> Could you tell us a little more about SapnaSolutions?
Nick>> SapnaSolutions is a new kind of development company. Although we will use our European links to take outsourced work, we also have a number of product and marketable web 2.0 ideas which we plan to implement alongside our client work. Those products, one of which we are working on at the moment, we hope to scale, and build the company eventually into a Web 2.0 hot house. It makes the company atmosphere electric, more like one of a start-up, than an ordinary development company.
Satish>> Nick, why did you choose Ruby on Rails (RoR) as a framework for development work at SapnaSolutions?
Nick>> I have been working in Rails since early 2007 when I used it to create the first prototype of ‘Trip’, which would later turn into EnTrip. Ever since then, I’ve watched RoR and the community and the buzz surrounding it grow and mature, and since most of the scalability issues have been resolved, there seems no better framework on which to build a new forward thinking web company.
Satish>> Were there any surprises in working with RoR?
Nick>> Many, mostly pleasant! I remember when I was learning Ruby and Rails, I continuously found myself surprised by how much ‘just worked’. It’s mostly down to the elegance and power of Ruby, of course, which is how most of the Rails magic is possible. One thing that’s slightly surprising now is that Merb, a powerful and yet tight framework is merging with the full and often thought of as bloated Rails 2.2 stack. I am very interested to see what will emerge and how easy migration will be; hopefully that will be yet another pleasant surprise!
Satish>> What is your impression about the RoR scene in India and especially in Pune, where your development center is based?
Nick>> When we started recruiting it was tough but once we got our HR machine going we found that there are quite a number of RoR developers available for hire in India. Unfortunately, the web geek nature that is found in the active community surrounding Rails, is not here yet. In India software is still seen largely as a tool, either for a better paid job or for doing the bidding of a project manager. We are yet to see the real interest in the web and in contributing to technology that is needed in order for India to fully utilise the power of it’s thousands of web developers. Here in Pune we are lucky to have India’s first Ruby university course, and a number of companies using RoR. A number of our developers have joined us from Pune, I think we are set to have the city emerge as a strong contender to lead a new generation of web savvy developers in India.
Satish>> What advice would you give startups about platform choices?
Nick>> What do you know? Choose something you are comfortable with. A strong link between business and tech is important, so you can assess quickly what is possible, how long it will take, and what the cost will be. Knowing the technology you work with is a real benefit. What is free? I would advise any startup to go open source, because it’s free and because the communities in open source technologies are very strong. What is fast? Choose the platforms that let you get your ideas out there quickly, so the time to market and time to feedback is faster. I would give a big thumbs up for Rails in this category – once you know it, even challenging web apps are a breeze.
Satish>> Getting back to SapnaSolutions, what are your future plans?
Nick>> We intend to get going with client projects, and eventually scale our products. We believe we are at a unique advantage by being able to speak five different European languages in house, which allow us to take projects from clients typically outside the Indian market, and also build applications and products for emerging markets in Europe. My own dream is to take EnTrip, my own startup forward, after a short lull in development, which we expect to be possible as soon as we are up and running with Sapna.
Satish>> Anything else you would like to add?
Nick>> Yes, thanks for everything you’re doing for the Ruby community here in Pune Satish! The next challenge is engaging people with it’s many applications, the Web being a very exciting such application.
Thank you Nick. In case you have any queries and/or questions, kindly post your questions here (as comments to this blog post) and Nick would be glad to answer.