As a young student during her engineering days, Sonia Sharma always dreamt of creating jobs rather than working for an organization as an employee. Perhaps she was wired like that or the upbringing she received from her parents did the trick. She never gave up on this dream and ended up creating a multi-million-dollar technology company, making her mark in the high-tech industry that is dominated by men.
Born in Ludhiana and raised in the picturesque town of Shimla, she completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science from UIIT in 2004. She then gained rich corporate and startup experience working with Arcot Systems (bought over by CA) for 2 years and Aveksa (bought over by EMC) at Bangalore.
She continued to nurture her dream to start a venture of her own and evolve as a ‘woman technopreneur.’ The opportunity came in the form of a gap in the market that she and her husband Vishwas Mudagal, a serial entrepreneur, recognized. She wanted to create a world-class product development company to build high-end products, mobile apps and games for leading companies, and sensed a dearth of qualified ‘product’ guys in the services industry. All this while she became a mother, but that didn’t stop her from founding GoodWorkLabs in January 2013. Thus began the journey of creating a solid company that has grown 500% year-on-year since inception.
Having core expertise and experience in building and scaling technology and services teams in start-ups, Sonia is the backbone of GoodWorkLabs, spearheading the client engagement, project delivery and operations. Her responsibilities include product development, identifying roadmaps, partnering with customers, nurturing and building passionate teams and creating winning partnerships with all stakeholders. Sonia is known by her colleagues as a task-master who can move heaven and earth to ensure the company delivers on its promises and every team member works towards the same vision to make GoodWorkLabs a global leader in innovation outsourcing, delivering cutting-edge software solutions.
Her passion is to encourage and support women in their mission to succeed as entrepreneurs and achievers in their respective fields, where passion, hard work, determination, ambition and leadership come into play. Her exemplary life so far and in future will remain a constant inspiration to many woman achievers who can take a leaf from her book.
During her leisure, Sonia enjoys travelling, watching movies, reading books, and spending quality time with her family.
1. What is the Name of Your Venture?
My venture is called GoodWorkLabs and we are a leading new-age outsourced product development firm (OPD) and UX design studio. We help our customers to design and build robust products such as Mobile apps, software products and games.
We started GoodWorkLabs in 2013 with the objective of becoming a powerhouse of innovation in both technology and design for clients across the globe. Over the last three years, we have grown at a rate of 1112% and we are all set to become a global leader in the ‘innovation outsourcing’ space.
2. Who is your target Audience?
The products built by us cater to both B2B and B2C segment. We design and develop enterprise and consumer products, mobile apps and games for funded startups, mid-sized companies and also fortune 500 companies.
3. Where is your venture based (city, state, country) & what are your target areas?
We have delivery centers in Bangalore and Kolkata and our head office operates from Bangalore. We have a sales office in San Francisco.
Currently, we are targeting India, USA and Europe locations to expand our business presence.
4. What problems does your venture solve? What are your products or services?
We are an outsourced product development company. We build and design robust products such as Mobile apps, Software products, Games and also provide Mobility solutions for Enterprises.
GoodWorkLabs was born as an idea when both me and Vishwas (Co-Founder and CEO of GoodWorkLabs) had identified a key gap in the IT services industry – the lack of product building experience.
We wanted to bring our vast experience in building high-end products, creating R&D teams along with a ‘design first’ approach. We position ourselves as the ‘product’ guys in the ‘services’ industry.
5. Share the idea or story behind the venture. How did it come to an existence? How did you identify your co-founder?
I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. At an age of 21, during my engineering college days in a laid-back city of Shimla, my dream was to create jobs and become an entrepreneur, rather than just become another brick in the wall. I’m glad I have realized my dream by founding GoodWorkLabs.
After working for couple of startups and witnessing ‘how it’s done’ I started GoodWorkLabs in January 2013. By positioning ourselves as the ‘product’ guys in the IT services industry, we were able to bag couple of marquee clients at the very outset.
This helped us establish our credibility and there was no looking back since then. Later that year, serial entrepreneur Vishwas Mudagal also joined GoodWorkLabs which further fuelled our growth.
Thus began the journey of a solid company, which has grown 500% year-on-year since its inception.
6. What expansion plans are you looking for the next 2 years, next 5 years?
In the next 2 years, we are planning to expand in terms of both revenue and geography and establish a strong presence in USA and Europe markets.
Recently, we also started a new line of business called ‘GoodWorks CoWork’ which is a design inspired coworking studio. Through GoodWorks CoWork, we aim at creating a perfect ecosystem and community for Startups and nurture their growth.
We also have plans to float ‘GoodWork Ventures’ via which we plan to invest in at least 3 startups this year.
7. Where do you want to see yourself in next 5 years?
As part of future roadmap for GoodWorkLabs 2.0, productizing our services was critical. We spent a lot of time brainstorming with our clients, industry experts and our internal teams and what we realized was that in order to reach out to a larger audience across the globe, we would have to build a robust and scalable platform which both customers and businesses could use to launch their mobile applications, to automate work-flow processes and to integrate their business solutions.
This led us to build a phenomenal enterprise mobility platform called GoodWorks Mobility.
We will be launching GoodWorks Mobility shortly. What’s amazing about this launch is that we have already successfully signed up marquee clients for pilots and have further tied up with industry biggies to take our product to the market with several partnerships. That’s a super validation that the product will succeed because we have been very practical in our approach.
We are very excited about this launch and this product will be most probably handled by a separate entity.
With this move, we will become a group of companies.
Promoting Growth in 2017: Turning into Angel Investors
In January, 2017 Vishwas and I decided to become Angel Investors. We are all set to mentor upcoming startups and extend our expertise and thought Leadership to help businesses grow.
Money is just one of the many benefits that startups would get under our mentorship. Startups would also get access to a bunch of other benefits such as valuable network, free office space, technology and design consulting, PR and marketing.
Bangalore is a breeding ground for startups and both Vishwas and I have been enthusiastic about creating an ecosystem for startups to succeed. So anyone who is a startup or is someone with an idea but unsure if it is business worthy, then GoodWorkLabs is offering them an opportunity to begin.
5 Years down the line:
GoodWorkLabs is striving to become the global leader in the innovation outsourcing space as we continue to take up complex technology and design work on outcome basis for customers worldwide.
As part of our expansion plan, we will increase the headcount in our US office in the San Francisco bay area. We have significant demand for our services in that area. Also, we will continue to expand in key geographies around the world including Europe and APAC, and by bringing out products and solutions for different industry verticals. We intend to scale by keeping our DNA intact.
8. Have you raised any funding? Or have any plans for the funding?
The initial Capital was funded by Vishwas Mudagal (Rs. 25 Lakhs) and we achieved a growth of 500% in the first financial year itself. We initially saw a revenue of USD $0.5 million in 2014-15, which grew on to become five-fold (i.e.) USD $2.5 million in 2015-16 and we are still going strong. So, you can say we are one of those companies who are boot strapped, self-sustained and are very profitable.
We are not looking for any funding, as we are very cash positive. In fact, as part of our diversification drive, GoodWorkLabs will fund and incubate a few startups in the next few years, and help them succeed.
9. What were the problems you faced during the starting days and how did you resolve them?
When we were starting out, finding and hiring the right kind of talent was the biggest challenge we faced. It is ‘the’ most critical factor as it makes or breaks the company’s growth. The talent pool in India is big in terms of numbers but finding good talent is difficult. A part of it is to be blamed on our education system.
But we have created a ‘hiring philosophy’ in accordance with our objectives and growth plans. At GoodWorkLabs, we focus on hiring candidates with two qualities. One is passion – we look for people who are eager to learn, contribute and grow with a positive attitude. The second is – we look for problem solvers!
Both these philosophies together have helped us set a positive work culture and attract a crowd of like-minded people. As the saying goes, ‘birds of the same feather flock together.’
10. Are you married, single or in a relationship?
I am happily married to Vishwas Mudagal, who is also the CEO and Co-founder of GoodWorkLabs.
11. What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
I like to travel and explore new places, cultures and cuisines. When I am not working, I love to spend time with my 6-year-old daughter.
12. What’s your favourite food & holiday destination?
I enjoy Indian, Thai and Indonesian cuisine. My favorite destinations are Bali and the Himalayas.
13. Whom do you consider your idol or biggest motivator?
There is no one idol as such. I have learnt so much from so many people around me. I think it’s very important to have an open mindset and a receptiveness to appreciate things in the people around you. I feel this is what has helped me grow so much in life.
14. What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Passion and perseverance are the two traits that differentiate entrepreneurs from the rest. We end up looking out for the same in our employees also but it’s very hard to find.
15. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I’ll do anything differently. I have enjoyed my journey so far… I have experimented and failed before finding success in GoodWorkLabs. I feel that failures are very important as they make you who you are. Even if I had started off my career differently, I am sure I would have experimented and would have had my share of failures before finding success.
16. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family & Social life?
One of the many things that entrepreneurship teaches you is time management. I think I have gotten better at it and I am able to spend limited but quality time with my family and with those who matter to me the most.
17. Anything, you would like to say to our readers or upcoming entrepreneurs?
In my industry, quality and on-time delivery is very important, which translates into the trust (or lack of it) your customer has in your company.
Always ensure that your processes are in place and that you invest in a team, which can deliver. No matter how unique your idea may look like, no matter how much funding you have raised, no matter how much user base you have, if you are not clear about how you are going to make money, you cannot sustain yourself.
Once your idea goes through the above litmus test, it’s very important to figure out how you are going to execute it. A solid idea needs a solid team, which can execute it. It’s very important to take a calculated risk and your idea should be validated before you go full throttle about it. We have often helped many startups with their minimal viable products which they used to test the waters. Upon getting positive signals after user validation, many of our customers were able to raise funds and build the business of their dreams.
18. What is your USP which makes it unique & different from other start-ups in similar domains?
Our USP is our design thinking approach. We have an in-house UX design studio and a seasoned design team which helps us develop solutions that have an aesthetic value and are easy-to-use.
In short, GoodWorkLabs specializes in building the coolest UX and UI for mobile and software products. The best companies in the world have hired GoodWorkLabs to design the UX and visual design of their products, apps, and games.
In parallel, our strength further comes from the fact that we understand hard-core technology and product development that are managed using agile software development processes and extreme programming.
Most products we build impact millions of lives and shapes the future of technology and industry. This is what makes GoodWorkLabs a great company and us as a team believe in changing the world, through technology and design.