Mahendra Alladi is a seasoned entrepreneur, thought leader, inventor and technologist primarily focused on the Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) domain. Mahendra is the founder and CEO of ACCELQ, a leading no-code test automation platform used by enterprises worldwide.
ACCELQ is the realization of a meticulously planned product idea rooted in solving real-world challenges in the ALM space. His strong belief in customer-focused innovation is the core driving force behind ACCELQ.
ACCELQ is Mahendra’s second stint at a startup after the successful acquisition of his previous venture (Gallop Solutions). He holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the reputed Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and was the All-India topper in the Graduate Aptitude Test for Engineers.
Where did the idea for ACCELQ come from?
The core idea for ACCELQ came from my observation of the challenges customers encountered in the ALM domain. With the evolution of continuous delivery practices, testing has become a significant roadblock in achieving desired release velocity in software development, and manual testing cannot cater to this pace. On the other hand, existing automation solutions were either too shallow or too complex to use by the intended audience.
ACCELQ is genuinely a realization of an intuitive and common-sense approach to solving this problem, driven by the understanding of the real-world complexities and the passion for customer success.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am an early bird, usually up by 5ish. I spend an hour catching up with emails from the teams and clients on the other side of the world and planning the day’s priorities.
On most days, a bit early in the day, I try to pick on an informal chat with one of the available team members and discuss an open-ended idea. It may be on the product or business front, and it is usually a leisurely conversation, and no conclusive outcome is expected. I made this a regular practice, and I realized how powerful these thoughts add up when working on significant roadmap ideas.
My day with the team starts with a quick daily standup, discussing the priorities and addressing any roadblocks. Apart from this, I get involved in several informal meetings for progress review and incremental feature demos. These meetings help fine-tune deliverables and address any gaps.
I spend a good portion of my day reviewing outstanding customer requests and issues. As time permits, I try to wear the end-user hat and critically assess random use cases on our product. Learnings from these activities is a significant input for continuous product innovation. And it keeps us grounded and focused on our responsibility towards the customer.
Evenings are mostly spent with the family. I love engaging kids and often end up re-learning high school math along with them.
I find a day productive when I engage in a diverse set of challenges. I like to break down my daily tasks in a way that facilitates a lot of context-switching. I tend to keep my meetings informal, objective and brief.
How do you bring ideas to life?
First and foremost, I make sure the idea is fully sold internally with the team. I ensure there is absolutely no ambiguity on the rationale and the value-prop associated with the idea.
In the early stages of realization, I spend time with different team members, narrating and whiteboarding the same story and picking on perspectives. The scope of the idea, realization path and the associated challenges become clearer by the day.
At this point, I usually disengage from the idea for a couple of weeks while the team is going through a design exercise. Getting back to the same idea after a gap generally reveals some significant blind spots. It is amazing how effective this exercise is.
Once the realization phase begins, the key is to keep your eyes and ears open and accept iterations and rework as a norm. We frequently organize incremental demos and ensure the idea and realization are in sync.
It is also important to have a fair judgment on what level of incompleteness or imperfection is acceptable—where you can compromise and where you cannot. This balance is achievable only when the team is aligned with the core thought process behind the idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Specifically, in the enterprise products space where we operate, the significant focus of fresh innovation centered around an enhanced user experience is a trend that excites me the most. No longer is the case that you can take an enterprise user for granted on the expectation of a steep learning curve. We see this trend where innovation and user experience have become synonymous. It is a very healthy development, as I strongly believe that ease of use is the primary fuel for continuous innovation. Clutter does not inspire new ideas.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Although it might sound counterintuitive, my attention to detail is what makes me more productive. It reduces cycles and iterations. It helps me drive the culture of finish in the team, where everyone starts to contribute to their best and enhance the overall quality and velocity.
When working on an unfamiliar subject, I tend to put a lot of effort into relating the topic with the common-sense framework. Continuous learning keeps me up and running and motivates me to do more.
What advice would you give your younger self?
When you are on a journey to realize your dream, don’t be worried about a few missing puzzle pieces. If you have a good conviction of the big picture and a strong desire to do it, rest assured that gaps will automatically fill. It is more important to get started than to seek absolute clarity.
You need not be successful in convincing everybody of your idea. The “possibilities” you clearly visualize may not always be easy to express or translate outside of your “self.”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Bootstrapping can take you a long way in an entrepreneurial journey—in fact, all the way to being a leader in the domain. Execution skill is probably the most important in the early stages of a startup.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Keenly listen to your customer, day in and day out. It is one of the most important functions of your daily job. Every opportunity to “read” a customer’s need/perception/perspective is an opportunity to improve. And absolutely the only way to sustain your enterprise!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
From Day 1, we had our laser focus on product engineering and design, and everything else was secondary. And we continue to follow that till today.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are always some setbacks in the journey. But the important thing is to keep learning and moving on. Quickly improvise, stay tenacious and don’t give up on the core belief and the sense of positivity.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Demand for technical resources is growing in the IT field, and matching technical profiles to a job requirement is extremely challenging. An AI-based solution can help by mining the candidate profiles and the hiring companies’ employment patterns. It would be possible to build a correlation based on a particular candidate’s past employment history and the attributes of the hiring company, which includes the types of resources they hired in the past.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
A mesh router that I recently bought that allowed me to be on the move while working from home, not worrying about dropped wifi signals!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Undoubtedly, Microsoft Outlook. I have a plethora of unique use cases on Outlook beyond just being an email client.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall B Rosenberg. It is interesting to learn how such a seemingly simple aspect of daily life—communication—can influence world-changing outcomes. One can achieve greater heights and lead teams to realize dreams with effective communication.
What is your favorite quote?
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Vincent Van Gogh
- A productive day comes from engaging in a diverse set of challenges. Break down your daily tasks in a way that facilitates a lot of context-switching.
- Be a keen judge of what level of incompleteness or imperfection is acceptable and know where you can (and cannot) compromise.
- Bootstrapping can take you a long way in an entrepreneurial journey—in fact, all the way to being a leader in the domain. Execution skill is probably the most important in the early stages of a startup.
- You will always encounter setbacks in your journey, but the important thing is to keep learning and moving on. Stay tenacious, stay positive and don’t give up.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.