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In conversation with Shiv Sundar, Co-founder & COO of Esper

Today we speak with Shiv Sundar, co-founder & COO of Esper to understand the journey of Esper and how it works.

TechGraph: Before we start the interview. Can you tell our readers to know more about, What Esper is?

Shiv Sundar: Esper was launched in November 2018 as the first-ever solution for Android single-purpose devices – including business tablets, smartphones, kiosks, mobile point-of-sale, digital signage, and more. We, Yadhu Gopalan and I  (Shiv Sundar) saw a huge unmet need in the marketplace as Indian organizations began to adopt Android devices and apps for work. 

It was created to provide a simple, powerful way for organizations to manage fast-growing Android fleets for unique use cases, such as self-serve customer payments or healthcare screenings. 

Esper is an Android DevOps tool that offers much more than traditional mobile device management (MDM) tools, including complete developer tools and Esper Enhanced Android (custom Android OS). 

Following our Series A funding round in February 2020, Esper has experienced rapid customer and revenue growth in India, APAC, and the North American market and has been named a DevOps minicorn – or, mini unicorn. Our global teams are centered around three fast-growing business hubs, in Bengaluru, Seattle, and San Jose.

TechGraph: What are the industry challenges you have observed that concerned you to jump into this space?

Shiv Sundar: It’s clear why businesses in India choose Android devices and apps. Android is cost-effective, it’s an open-source operating system, it’s widely-adopted, and it’s very flexible. 

What has been less clear, however, is what enterprises need to manage thousands of kiosks, point-of-sale systems, and other non-traditional devices. Most traditional MDM solutions are built for employee smartphones and they lack the power to show whether a kiosk is turned on, let alone secure. That’s where Esper comes in.  

Single-purpose Android devices need to remain secure after they’re deployed and they may be subject to tampering attempts by employees or customers. Esper provides customers with powerful remote management tools for the entire device lifecycle, so businesses can remotely monitor, fix, and update Android devices and apps. 

The result is better security and performance, and far less time and money spent sending technicians for in-person device repairs. That’s why Esper’s customers save an average of 60% or more on Android operating expenses (OpEx).

TechGraph: What according to you is the scope of IT platform business in the Indian Market?

Shiv Sundar: Esper offers a user-friendly software-as-a-service (SaaS) product which could be called a platform but primarily, we offer a complete set of cloud tools. Our open APIs, an SDK, a custom operating system, and much more.

Our growth potential in the Indian market is positive by virtually any measure. India’s SaaS industry has the potential to reach $13-15 billion by 2025 according to a NASSCOM report. That’s a projected 6x adoption rate over the next 5 years, which is certainly an exciting sign for Esper’s future.

India’s mobile adoption is likely to continue growing exponentially between 2020 and 2025 when 5G networks will be rolled out nationwide. Analysts predict 5G will create $27 billion in business opportunities for Indian mobility and IoT organizations like Esper.

TechGraph: Could you please shed light on Esper’s product portfolio?

Shiv Sundar: Esper offers a complete set of tools for the entire Android development and operations lifecycle. 

This includes:

•    Validated and Enhanced Android Devices.

•    A Custom Android Operating System.

•    A Complete Cloud Console for Android Deployment and Management.

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•    Developer Tools, including Open APIs, an SDK, and cloud test labs

Our customers can use these solutions to automate Android device and app deployment at any scale, regardless of whether they’re managing 3,000 or 300,000 devices. 

Often, customers use our cloud console or developer tools to lock devices to kiosk mode to prevent personal usage and maintain a continuously secure state. 

Esper Enhanced Android devices are shipped from leading global device manufacturers with our custom Android OS for better security and control throughout the product life cycle. Our custom OS enables advanced telemetry use cases and over-the-air firmware updates. 

TechGraph: Is there any plan to enter in new verticals too?

Shiv Sundar: Esper has established a strong presence in retail, hospitality, healthcare, fitness, and logistics in both APAC and North America. We have near-term plans to expand our reach within these verticals, especially in Europe, Africa, and South America.

Business agility has been a huge part of Esper’s story so far. The pandemic has forced us to change and innovate very quickly to stay ahead in rapidly-changing industries. 

We’re excited to continue evolving within our current focus verticals and be part of the mobile revolution in retail, logistics, healthcare, education, and more.

TechGraph: What is the roadmap for Esper going forward?

Shiv Sundar: Our roadmap is pretty simple – we plan to maintain our incredible growth rate and share Android DevOps with new customers. 

Since our Series A venture capital funding round in February, Esper has experienced month-over-month revenue growth. We’ve also doubled our global employee headcount – which is particularly remarkable considering our staff has mostly worked from home. 

There’s a lot of attention on Esper’s growth, resulting in an influx of leads from large organizations in India, APAC, and Worldwide. 

Fortune 500 companies are actively trying to scale up Android deployments to 100,000 or 500,000 devices without ruining the customer experience or performance. Esper’s world-class customer support team is excited by these opportunities to grow some of the world’s biggest and most complex Android fleets. 

Finally, we plan to maintain Esper’s remarkably fast rate of product innovation to expand our core product offerings.

Currently, we’re adding sophisticated new content management capabilities to fit edge content delivery network use cases. We’re also growing Esper’s India network of partners, including value-added resellers (VARs) and independent software vendors in retail, healthcare, hospitality, and education.

TechGraph: Lastly, at the time of crisis, there have also been opportunities for change. Are you optimistic about the post-COVID-19 world?

Shiv Sundar: The events of 2020 have been enormously challenging. I think it’s essential to acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on entire communities and industries. 

The only way to solve today and tomorrow’s challenges is to work together. As an entrepreneur, I believe in growing a socially-responsible business. That’s why Esper has released a free product tier for innovators and small businesses. We’ve also strengthened non-profit partnerships with Hungerbox and iTeach schools in recent months. 

Mobile adoption has grown quickly due to COVID-19, and many recent Android innovations have the potential to create a healthier, better world for everyone. 

Remote telemedicine monitoring devices can improve healthcare access and affordability. 

Student tablets are a powerful learning tool, especially when it means students from disadvantaged backgrounds have a chance to learn using technology from home. We’ll continue to see hopeful examples like these post-Pandemic.