Participating in the marathon of placements, internships, and the vicious cycle of entering better corporates is nothing short of an act of bravery when you are juggling between your online semester, PPTs, and IPTs. Being a part of the same batch with one extra year in our hand, and driven by an urge to help their fellow batchmates, Team CrakX came up with an idea to develop an application that could provide overall college-specific placement and internship material on your fingertips. They’ve told us about their journey which they have covered so far:-
1. What motivated the start-up idea? What problem did you want to solve?
We have seen our batchmates and juniors struggling to acquire meaningful resources while preparing for campus recruitment. The pandemic simply amplified this struggle. Sitting idle during the quarantine after our internships were over, we thought about how we could best use our time- in both a meaningful and enjoyable way. This is how the motivation to build an app was born. Thinking about all the problems we face in our everyday lives, which could be solved by technology, we came across an idea to build a campus repository. We had all been through the exhausting process of searching for resources while preparing for internships. The upcoming placement and internship season made the need for such a repository all the more relevant. Hence, we thought about all the major and minute requirements of a student preparing for placements/internships and put them in a single user-friendly app.
2. Given the multitude of opportunities present on campus like placement, higher studies, etc., what motivated you to go for a start-up?
We didn’t think of building a startup in the early stages of development. All we wanted to do was create an app that could cater to some specific needs of instizens and students across India. After receiving an overwhelming response and suggestions to take it further, we decided to model it as a startup to evolve/upgrade the app by including even more features and expanding it to more colleges. Everyone in team CrakX has always been passionate about developing a product that could help the masses, so startup was the best option.
3. Briefly describe the journey so far, like finding co-founders, seed funding, challenges, success in deploying your product.
The journey was certainly far from easy. From learning app development framework to racing placement deadlines and facing obstacles, everything was quite intense. Finding co-founders was not a problem at all since the three of us had a suitable distribution of skills to take on every aspect of the project. The first few days involved learning the development framework and ideation. Subsequent weeks involved the collection of resources, sleepless nights over coding, and conference calls. Deploying the app to the play store also involved some unexpected delays. The pandemic had already stretched a process lasting a few hours to days. Moreover, we also faced some policy issues which took a week to resolve. After all the disappointment, when the app finally went live, our DMs were flooded with positive feedback, and our satisfaction and excitement knew no bounds. Every step and struggle in our journey felt worth going through.
Statistics: We have 1500+ downloads from IIT Bombay alone and a 5-star overall rating on play store as of 23rd Sept while writing this article for Insight. We will soon be introducing many other features that will make CrakX useful to a broader audience, and we are expecting these numbers to multiply tenfold by the end of 2020.
4. What are your expansion/future plans?
We have long term plans for CrakX. We’re currently doing a lot of RnD on our business model and the quality of user experience we want to deliver. The major expansion will be to make this product available to multiple colleges since the problem we are dealing with is related to every college student planning to sit in campus recruitments. Over time, this need is going to grow further and will impact more students. This article’s readers can expect various new features in our next update, including the availability of CrakX for iOS users.
5. Take us through different phases of peaks and lows of your journey
Today’s ups and downs are bigger, but the curving shape—peaks of hope, followed by valleys of despair – is familiar to anyone who has worked at an idea or participated in any small venture, where one day’s breakthrough seems almost destined to be followed by a demoralizing setback. We are still at the earlier phase of our journey. Talking about major peaks and lows would not be fair. But there was a time when we were unsure about the purpose of our work. We had no idea and approach on how to go forward after a certain point, but time aways does justice to everyone who believes in hard work. It’s always the dark that fades away with the sunshine. We are currently working in a non-profit way and are committed to providing a top-notch user experience to everyone. To sustain the cost of our database, we could not advertise anything on our app as this will be irritating for most of our users. We have a business model to go forward now, but this was not always a case.
6. Please share some engaging experience of your journey that can inspire students
Never lose hope! There were various instances where we were compelled to show our patience and make a collective decision. One such experience was while uploading the app to the play store. Previously, we expected to release the app before the resume submission deadline(for placements). It takes 4-5 days for an app to get approval in google play, including rigorous examination, checking any sorts of plagiarism, policy violation, and other sensitive issues. However, in our app’s long description, we used the word “corona” in one place, and could you guess what happened? They directly rejected our app after we have waited for 4 days! As google said, an app including these words is likely to be related to medical applications and thus requires special permission. Sounds weird, right? This required us to again upload the file with the needed changes, and it took another three days to get final approval.
However, the good thing was in that waiting period, and we came across some of the bugs in the app, which were previously not addressed. We were lucky enough to identify and correct them. Thus although these issues lead to some delay, it also allowed us to tune our app and remove any visible bug. Keep patience; your hard work will never go in vain!
7. How is your team working through this pandemic?
We have a whole blueprint now on how to crack newer heights for CrakX. Currently, our team is juggling between the online semester and making a new update of CrakX before October end so that we can help this year’s placement batch at our full capability. But this time is helping us become more efficient, take some major risks, and accept the uncertainty. The pandemic has us all on a journey through uncharted territory. Our typical landmarks are gone, and we’re not even sure where we’re going.
8. What were the skills, knowledge, and experiences from IIT Bombay that helped you?
We believe that opportunities to work on some of the most extreme at IITB have helped us to shape our choices and purposes. Building something from scratch requires a lot of effort, whether from the development part, user experience, and then marketing a product after surviving through numerous assignments, exams, tests, vivas where our mental faculties are stretched beyond our comfort level. But the belief that even the most impossible-looking task can be tackled by application of mind and smart work gets instilled naturally. Professionalism is another trait that we learn from our excellent professors, and this has helped us a lot. We have tried to maintain every professional standard till now while developing our product.
As a result of the pandemic, we’re all on an unprecedented emotional and economic rollercoaster, and there’s no telling when the ride will end. The only thing that is consistent about managing your idea amid this pandemic is the volatility.
Special thanks to Amogh and Suman for allowing us to use stories by Insight, IIT Bombay in our app. We are eternally grateful for their support.
Link to Download: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=io.iitb.firebase_test
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