Esper helps the engineering and product teams to deploy applications seamlessly and orchestrate the Android device-based application lifecycle. The complete DevOps stack offers an API-centric and language-neutral approach to development, deployment, and maintenance. Using Esper, companies can configure and deploy Android devices for various use cases, keep them secure and help their business function seamlessly. Esper launched its operations in November 2018.
About the founders
Yadhu Gopalan is the Co-Founder & CEO of Esper. He has over 20 years of experience in the software industry and specialises in developing and shipping operating systems or related products. At Esper, he builds and oversees end to end solutions for the devices and helps Esper clients achieve data orchestration through the use of the devices.
Shiv Sundar is the Co-Founder & COO of Esper. Having worked extensively in the Product Development field for about 15 years, Shiv understands the intricacies of Android and, at Esper, he leads the developers move their Android applications to the world of Orchestration. He also oversees sales and marketing, HR, customer retention, partnerships and affiliations.
Yadhu and Shiv met during their time at Microsoft. As colleagues, they worked together on key projects like the Windows 4 platform and realised that they made a good team.
In 2017, Shiv quit his job at Silicon Valley and took a one way ticket to India. Seeing the plethora of Android devices and the scope for managing these devices, Shiv was inspired to build something for India to bridge the gap of a management and security platform. He started to lay the foundation of his entrepreneurial journey and by October that year, he launched Esper. During this process, many interested investors started approaching Esper. Shiv returned to Silicon Valley and refocused Esper’s target markets to include the US along with India. Once the investment options were in place, Yadhu – who had just come off Amazon, joined hands with Shiv and embraced the entrepreneurial path as well. The duo have been working together since May 2018.
We are publishing an interview with Mr. Shiv Sundar, Co-Founder & COO:
Q.: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
Ans: Esper’s platform allows the engineering and product teams to deploy applications seamlessly and to orchestrate their Android device-based applications across development, deployment, and maintenance. Esper goes way beyond MDM to create a complete tool chain for Android devices. We deliver operational excellence and a stable, scalable infrastructure to help you quickly deploy your experiences at scale.
Our tools enable developers to tackle the big challenges of devices such as identifying, debugging, and resolving issues with their apps and devices in the field. We also help streamline the process for building, deploying, and managing apps on devices for POS, restaurants, kiosks, logistics, and transportation at scale.
Q.: Can you share with us any insights that led you to believe that this is a big enough problem?
Ans: Android has become the most popular platform for IoT devices which require a user experience. The latest generation of devices used by companies is all run on Android, from healthcare devices to fitness devices and even restaurant kiosks and tablets.
There are currently 2.5 billion Android-powered smartphones and tablets in active use worldwide, which doesn’t account for the increasing number of Android IoT devices. Estimates vary, but some sources predict 70 billion IoT devices will be deployed by the end of 2020. Most touch-enabled IoT devices with a user experience are run on Android.
It’s crystal clear why enterprises choose Android devices. It’s cheaper, the OS is open-source, secure, comprehensive, and is feature rich. What’s less clear, however, is what these enterprises need, to manage 1000s of these devices. Most traditional mobile device management solutions lack basic visibility into things that really matter, like whether a kiosk is turned on, let alone operational efficiency metrics. That’s where Esper comes in.
Q.: Tell us about the Product / Solution. Explain how you went about the Product-Market Fit Process.
Ans: At Esper, we offer a full-stack approach to managing and securing Android devices. Some of our key products and services include:
● Automate device and application deployment
● Debugging applications remotely
● Running applications in kiosk mode
Android OS Enhancements
● Zero-touch Provisioning
● Application Lockdown
● Device Monitoring
● Device Security State Assessment
● Automated Alerts
● Device Groups
● Wide Device Selection
● Scale Device Deployment
● Time to Market
● Enterprise-focused Secure Android ROM
● Remote Diagnosis
Q.: What is your USP?
Ans.: Our USP is that we can build and deploy Android devices used in vertically integrated use cases such as retail, restaurant, logistics, and transportation. Being a cloud platform, it automates application deployment and management for Android devices and helps keep them secure and allows business to function seamlessly
Q.: What were your assumptions when you entered the market, learning that you have? Who in your mind is your ideal customer? Do you have at least one of them signed up?
Ans: It’s impossible for me to point to one ideal customer. We’ve got a lot of unique, exciting client relationships and we’re continually creating deeper investments in industries like healthcare, retail, restaurants, fitness, and hospitality.
What I’m willing to do, however, is talk about a few ways Esper can make a huge difference for certain types of client use cases that are particularly exciting to me.
Healthcare technology and mHealth is a huge focal point where we’ve already created some strong partnerships.
mHealth device innovation is at historic highs and the industry’s capability to create secure connected healthcare devices is lagging behind. This is an area I’m enormously passionate about because Android devices powered by Esper are making a huge difference. Our client Birdsong makes affordable, easy-to-use tablets for senior citizens to build confidence and stay connected. Rom3 is a smart, clinical-grade stationary bike for post-surgical therapy that can speed up recovery, improve outcomes, and reduce pain.
Q.: What has been your biggest failure as an entrepreneur and what did you learn from it??
Ans: As an entrepreneur one needs to be committed to the vision for the company and the product. We did a lot of me-too features trying to mimic market leaders that were not attractive to customers. Once we took a differentiated approach to our product offering with customer empathy we saw a spike in adoption. Key learnings were, do not try to compete with market leaders on features. Focus on creating a truly differentiated product offering that addresses the pain point of customers that are using the offerings from market leaders.
Q.: How are you pricing the Product? Explain your thought process.
Ans: We follow a subscription-based model. The pricing is per device per month. We charge customers on a monthly basis based on the number of devices that they are managing using our platform. Unlike other service providers, we offer customer support 24/7 and deployment support with no additional charges.
Q.: How did you get your first customer?
Ans.: The majority of our early customers came through our Inbound marketing efforts. We created a lot of meaningful content around Android device deployment and worked with major hardware vendors to validate our platform across various device form factors and Android versions. Our early customers had failed to deploy devices using the existing solution providers and were actively searching for alternatives and they stumbled upon Esper.
Thanks. All the best.