Featured BizSpark Startup on Azure – Skillendar

Skillendar is a neighborhood network and skills & services marketplace, built on ASP .Net and Azure, with the goal of helping people with busy schedules and limited availability. Check out the interview with Sundar Venkitachalam, founder and CEO of Skillendar.

BizSpark:  Tell us who you are and your role in the company.

Sundar Venkitachalam:   I am a technologist turned entrepreneur. I have been working as a technology consultant for more than 16 years now. I am the founder and CEO of Skillendar.

BizSpark:  What is your company’s mission?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Our mission is to provide a platform for neighborhood outreach and promote brotherhood and community spirit across the globe.

BizSpark:  In 140 characters or less, tell us what your company does:

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Skillendar is a neighborhood network and skills & services marketplace for you to connect with and reach out to your local community.

Sundar Venkitachalam, founder and CEO of Skillendar.

BizSpark:  Tell us about your Azure based solution.

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Like Facebook is a network for friends and LinkedIn is a network for professionals, Skillendar is for your neighborhood. Also Skillendar has a unique calendar based skill search that helps you find the availability of people in your neighborhood who are open to share their time or provide a service, at a glance. Hence the name Skillendar, short for 'Skills On Calendar'.

Anyone can become a provider and start helping their community regardless of whether they would like to charge a fee for the service/time or they are open to do the job free of charge as a community service.

Skillendar is designed for short term or temporary jobs. Hence it really suits people with busy schedules and limited availability like Students, People with full time jobs wanting to do a second job etc. Moreover, Skillendar helps you publish your personal interests and hobbies and attract potential clients to earn extra income over your evenings and weekends.

BizSpark:  How is Azure implemented in your solution?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Skillendar has been designed and built using ASP .Net 4.0 based on service oriented architecture principles.  Front end and all the service end points are hosted inside web roles. The worker roles have been configured to run de-coupled multi-threaded tasks that handle several background processes based on Azure Queues.  We use SQL Azure and Windows Azure Blob storage for the data management.

BizSpark:  How did you get excited about Azure?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Comparatively azure offering are very much cost effective for us to get our hosting infrastructure ready without compromising scalability and quality of service.  That’s exactly what we need while bootstrapping our business.

BizSpark:  What were the Azure features that prompted you to decide to build on Azure?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Great scalability, scope for resilience, hassle free server administration and quick deployment have been the key deciding factors.

BizSpark:  What specific value are you getting from BizSpark beyond the technology?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Apart from free software, networking events organized by BizSpark has helped us to connect with potential partners and advisors.

BizSpark:  What has been your biggest “aha” moment since founding your company?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Skillendar was initially built as a platform for professional service providers. After our beta release and several market analyses we realized that there is a big gap in the market for a platform for neighborhood outreach.  This really was an ‘’aha’’ moment for us. We went back to the drawing board and start building the new community focused skills and service marketplace.

BizSpark:  What has been your lowest moment and how did you overcome it?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Getting a considerable amount of traction and reaching the critical mass has always been our biggest struggle which we are yet to tackle.

BizSpark:  What advice do you have for companies that are thinking about building in the cloud?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  Most developers miss the importance of re-architecting their existing apps or building new apps specifically for the cloud. Though some of the scalability advantages are inherent to the cloud, it’s always vital to understand the underlying technology and its capabilities and design your app accordingly in order to get the most out of the cloud.

BizSpark:  What is the one thing that you would like readers to take away about your Azure app?

Sundar Venkitachalam:  In this economic downturn, the important thing that we lack the most is community spirit.  Join Skillendar and connect with people in your neighborhood. You can either start volunteering or earn some money by helping others.

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