How to cater and scale technology for a start-up in rapid growth

There are multiple stages in a start-up. At an early stage, most tech start-ups usually include two founding members – a business head and a tech head leading the validation efforts. Further down the line, we notice parallel and vertical streams of teams leading the initial growth of the company. It’s usually at this stage or after this stage, where the business has some solidarity to it and the focus on building tech for a large and scalable model begins. The following points made in this post have been laid out in view of a mature start-up.

Be Agile

Following an agile methodology for development is a no-brainer for any start-up. The environment is fast paced, catering to a dynamic business where release cycles are frequent. Often, the common pitfalls of this method also show a lack of emphasis on planning and documentation while customer expectations sometimes are not clear. To mitigate this, a hybrid of agile and waterfall approaches enables start-ups to move towards a mature business. To do so, the start-up must;

– Identify problems of the business

– Prioritize the need of the hour for the business

– Allow for high level architected solutions for each problem

– Build feature specs

– Execute in sprints (ideally 2 weeks) for maximum output to customers

Extensibility

Your business logic and data is your Intellectual Property. As a Fintech company, this becomes the most critical piece of software development. It is important to protect your data while also facilitating growth with the exact same data. How do you draw this balance?

Build your logic and algorithmic layer around your data and an external layer that does not directly interact with your data set. This permits external endpoints to be consumed by growth partners as well as reduces development efforts for building tech for internal teams.

Micro-services

Enterprise applications are often built using a monolithic approach or as a single unit. Although it’s a natural approach to development, it can be frustrating because of multiple dependencies on modular structure and deployment to the cloud also becomes a challenge.

In contrast, Micro-services architecture equips you to independently deploy services or pieces of software without large dependencies on other services. These services or pieces of software ultimately add up to become a single application while running its own suite of processes and mechanisms.

Additionally, in a Fintech setup, technology is built to cater multiple teams – both internal and external and having a micro-services architecture easily allows horizontal scaling.

Reusable code

In a start-up, it’s a good idea to prototype development. Prototyping facilitates quick delivery of a piece of software and a better understanding of future product development.

Post prototyping, it’s important to pick the right framework for a full-fledged and scaled application. This is where building code that can be re-used in multiple services becomes a factor of efficiency in development. Building custom libraries (back-end or front-end) and even choosing the right frameworks ensure ease of development across resources and knowledge transfer. A choice of using AngularJS as a front-end framework allows for creating directives specific to custom applications and promotes reusable components.

Build vs Buy

A classic point of debate and contention is always build versus buy. There are multiple points to consider while making such decisions in a growth stage start up to create a fine balance between the two.

Often, out of the box or integrated solutions provide quick solutions for increased productivity to a business need but come at several costs, such as pricing and rigidity of use. Sometimes these solutions are not compatible with existing software or custom solutions.

Custom-built solutions provide competitive advantages, builds intellectual property and fit a specific business need but also comes at several costs, such as time for development and uncertainty in product definition.

A hybrid approach can be an effective way of mitigating the disadvantages of build or buy approaches. At times, building on top of or integrating an existing product into your custom built solution adds greater value to the overall business product. An example of such a solution can be integrating a good workflow management tool into your custom CRM application.

Dev Pathi

Dev has been involved with startups for the past 5 years since he returned from US. He has launched several mobile apps that have been well accepted in the Indian startup scene.

In New York, he worked with Conde Nast helping them move their web infrastructure from an enterprise setup to an open source setup.
Dev manages the technology development initiatives at Capital Float.

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Having a dedicated business bank account is important for business owners to effectively manage and utilise their working capital. With a simple segregation between personal and professional funds, the day-to-day transactions will be easier to track and document. It is also essential for compliance in IT returns filing and will help you to identify the correct deductions for your tax savings.

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With the availability of working capital financing solutions from digitally operating NBFCs – known as FinTech (technology) companies ¬– entrepreneurs can now have their dedicated business bank account and procure loans without pledging any collateral. These online platforms provide financial the benefits of less stringent terms and flexible repayments.

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Salary solutions for employees: You need to pay your employees on time every month, and may have to remit their remuneration through dedicated salary accounts or crossed cheques. The business bank account must make the execution of these processes simpler.

Digital banking services: In an era where all personal banking transactions can be done online, current accounts must also come with a host of online banking services. Your account must give you the flexibility of transferring funds anytime, anywhere, and of making regular payments on working capital demand loan that you may have procured from another financial institution. In addition to net banking, services such as phone banking, mobile banking and quick reverts on SMS-based queries are looked forward to as well. Mobile instant alerts on transactions must be provided by banks in the digital age.

Cheques payable at par: Your business bank account should offer the provision of personalised cheques payable at par across India. This conventional facility is good for business owners who prefer to use cheques over online banking for making payments to their employees, vendors, suppliers and to the companies that issued working capital finance to them.

Competitive foreign exchange rates: If your business operations involve buying from or selling to other countries, you will need seamless foreign exchange transactions. Choose your current account from a bank that offers competitive rates on foreign exchange rates routed through them.

Zero balance account: No business wishes to reach a point where they have zero balance in their bank account. Nevertheless, there can be tough times in the market and you may experience some strain on your finances. For emergencies, your business current account should allow you to reach zero balance even if it is for a temporary period. There should be no ‘penalty charges’ on such accounts. You can always update the balance with relentless focus and consistent efforts while working on your business objectives.

Where a zero balance account is not possible, the minimum monthly average balance (MAB) must be made affordable for SMEs. Alternatively, the penalty for non-maintenance of minimum balance must not be very high. Do not hesitate to compare business accounts of different banks on this basis. Your working capital finance provider may also be able to guide you here.

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Businesses do have good reasons for applying for a separate banking account, and it also proves their creditworthiness to sources of working capital loan in India. Non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) and FinTech lenders can directly disburse funds into a current account.

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