Hot! Interview With DeskAway Creator Sahil Parikh

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to ask Sahil Parikh, the owner and creator of the popular DeskAway SAAS project management suite a few questions. Many thanks to Sahil for taking the time to answer my questions.

Q. When & why did you start DeskAway?

Sahil Parik Desk AwaySoon after, on an unforgiving itch to realize my lingering dream to start a software company from India, I quit my job in the US, moved home and started Synage Software in 2005 – my vision was to build a global web product that would prove that India is more than a low-cost service destination. Initially after the move we were taking up a lot of web design and development projects and hence needed a tool to assign tasks to our team and track the number of hours they would take. We wanted to make delegating easy and wanted to keep on top of client work. We looked at other products out there that we could but couldn’t find anything that was easy to use, feature-rich and yet affordable. We developed the first version of DeskAway in 2005 as a testing ground – for our internal use to gain project clarity. At that time I was also reading Michael Gerber’s E-Myth where he spoke about having systems in place so that things can be automated. Virtual teams were becoming popular, SaaS was on the rise and this is when we saw an opportunity to fulfill the need for an easy to use, powerful and affordable collaborative online service backed by personalized customer service.

We launched DeskAway in late 2007.

Q. How many users do you currently have?

Sorry, we do not give out user or financial information.

Q. Where are you located?

Mumbai, India.

Q. What role does competition play in your day-to-day operations? What role do competitors play in your decisions as far as the app?

Competition is good. It keeps us on our toes and makes us feel ‘paranoid’ on a day to day basis. Plus, we get a lot of customers who sign up after being dissatisfied by one of our competitors. We learn from their stories and help them serve better.

Q. Being that Basecamp seems to be the 800lb gorilla in web based project management software, can you discuss what you like/don’t like about 37signals’ software, and how DeskAway is differentiated.

I admire 37Signals and their products. They are simple and clean with fewer features. Our take on this is a bit different – instead of simplicity we focus on ease of use and powerful features. Ultimately, people are going to require tools that not only help them work smarter but also scale as their business grows.

Q. What has been most surprising about running the company and software?

There is nothing like “finished”. You are constantly learning and re-iterating. Growing and running a web company is much harder than what I thought 4 years back. You are always at it making sure the experience your product/service gives is smoother than the competition.

Q. What frustrates you most about the web software space?

We still have to design for different browsers – I wish there was just one standard that everyone could follow. It is better than what it was 10 years ago. One browser to rule the world.

Q. Where do you see yourself – and DeskAway, in 1 year? In 5 years?

DeskAway is on its way to become India’s top SaaS project collaboration product; and among the top 5 products world-wide. As for me, I want to enjoy a good work-life balance while doing the things I love.

Q. Coming from out of the US, what does your international user base look like?

Most of our customers are from the US, UK, Australia and then Asia. These are a mix of tech companies digital media, creative, web design, development, software, freelancers, education, non-profits to name a few – Small businesses that work with multiple teams and multiple projects and need a way to track their work from a central location.

Q. Any sneak peeks on upcoming features?

Besides small enhancements, we are currently working on a deep integration with Google Apps and planning a brand new API. Follow @DeskAway on twitter for latest updates, announcement, discounts and more 🙂

Oh and stay tuned for my (@sahilparikh) book on SaaS and how businesses can leverage the web to grow and prosper.

Leave Something Out?

Did I leave something out? Do YOU have a question that you’d like answered? Or, would you like to see an interview with another Project Management creator? Leave a comment or contact me directly.


Zach Katkin

Zach is the owner of a number of small businesses including Atilus. He has used many of the small business tools and tips featured on this site in order to help his company. Zach – who general doesn’t like speaking about himself in 3rd person – wants to help you – that’s right, now I’m talking to you – make your small business the best it can be using the Interweb.


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