Kinesh Doshi, founder and CEO of Accion Labs, often gets asked: What is the five-year vision of your company?
The problem, he says, is that no one can see out five years in the technology industry. In fact, if someone says he or she has a five-year roadmap, they are probably lying.
Doshi originally learned this lesson from GE’s Jack Welch, but he’s taken it to heart with his global technology firm that has become one of the fastest growing companies in Western Pennsylvania.
Accion Labs, which has 12 offices and more than 1,000 employees, focuses on providing specialists to technology firms and IT organizations on the latest emerging technologies. It helps produce the latest apps, e-commerce websites and internal software by using big data, cloud, open-source, Web 2.0, software as a service and more, even though its name may not be on the finished product.
But being on the cutting edge means you cannot be too rigid.
“Companies grow — individually grow — by being flexible, and looking out and grabbing the opportunities that they are building toward, not by having a very firm roadmap,” Doshi says.
If you try to plan too much, he believes you’ll end up disappointing yourself and others like your direct investors.
A defined niche
With backgrounds in the IT industry, the founders and leaders of Accion Labs understand how software is built.
When they founded the company in 2011, along with the good luck of being in the right time and place in an industry of demand with people who can deliver, Doshi says they discovered a gap in the marketplace.
Companies often try to build software in a traditional manner, even though new technologies have changed that model. You cannot do five-year projects anymore — writing the requirements for a year and then developing the software for four years.
By working on emerging technologies, Accion Labs doesn’t see the need to compete with other technology companies. Instead, it may collaborate with them to provide value for customers.
A niche of emerging technologies does present some problems for hiring, though. You have to not only find specific skillsets, but also find people who fit into your work culture.
CTO Ashutosh “Ash” Bijoor says that Accion Labs has grown quickly, but in a service-based business, the ability to maintain quality is critical. He believes it comes down to maintaining the right work culture.
“Each person can potentially cost the entire company in execution, and so for us, the biggest challenge is maintaining quality of the deliverables,” he says.
Accion Labs isn’t a manufacturing company with a single facility, Doshi says. It not only has offices in Pittsburgh; Atlanta; and Santa Clara, California; the United Kingdom; Singapore; Malaysia; Australia; Switzerland; and throughout India, but a lot of its employees work at client sites.
The workforce, which is much younger than average, hasn’t spent much time with Accion Labs, like in a mature company, he says.
“It is very hard for us to impart our culture to them, or make sure that they appreciate it,” Doshi says.
Maintaining your work culture during growth starts with making the right hires.