BANGALORE: They make an adorable pair in their neat formal suits and shoes. And when they start talking, they have crowds hanging onto every word they say, often having them in splits with their experiences.
Shravan Kumaran and his younger sibling Sanjay Kumaran are perhaps India's youngest entrepreneurs. Shravan, 14, is the president and Sanjay, 12, is the CEO of Go Dimensions, an app development unit that they founded two years ago from their bedroom in their home in Chennai.
On Saturday, they stood before the 5,500 attendees at an SAP event in Bangalore, and talked about how to ideate, and draw up a business plan. "You should have a strong idea, self-confidence, a good business plan and know about sources of funding," said Sanjay with the confidence that you normally only see in much older people. And he then went on to ask: "Have you heard of dad funding?" The crowd roared.
In the past two years the two have developed eleven apps that are available on the Apple App Store and Google's Android Play Store. The apps have received over 35,000 downloads. Their first app -- Catch me Cop on the Apple App Store -- was released last year and was a hit. That was a game where a con escapes prison and a wide hunt is launched for him. There are chases through a desert, beach and a maze.
"Abdul Kalam (former president of India) once came to our school and he loved playing Catch me Cop," recalled Sanjay. Shravan is in class 9 and Sanjay in class 7 at the Vael's Billabong International High School in Chennai.
Since the two are less than 18 years, Go Dimensions cannot be registered in their names as per Indian law. So the registration is in the names of seven of their family members who are above 18.
Today, a spare room in their Chennai home is a digital lounge filled with Apple Macs, iPads and Samsung Galaxy Notes. The ''after homework hours'' are spent on coding and debugging test apps, while nibbling on cheese fritters and lasagna. Recently, they launched an action game called Extreme Impossible 5 or EI5.
"We developed more than 150 test apps before releasing the first app, Catch Me Cop. That app was launched within a week of submission to Apple, and that was really exciting. Another app, Alphabet Board, got a rating of 5 on the app store," said Shravan, who credits Apple founder Steve Jobs for inspiring him to be what he is today. "Jobs is the big daddy of clean and intuitive user interfaces and who changed the way we communicate. And how can I forget his famous line, `Stay hungry, Stay foolish'," he said.
Despite their star status, they have their feet on the ground. "Some of the teachers told them they would be more productive at home than coming to school," said their mother and former journalist Jyothi Lakshmi. But they are clear they will attend classes regularly, and also pursue their love for cricket and the keyboard. They admire Dhoni for his aggressive play. The boys credit their father Kumaran Surendran, director with anti-virus and security solutions company Symantec, for encouraging them to learn programming and play with gadgets. They learnt QBasic, a programming language for beginners, when Shravan was in his fifth grade and Sanjay in his third grade. They learnt to code on Java by reading books and information available on the internet. Programming on Apple's iOS required a bit of handholding from their dad.
The two have previously made presentations at TEDx, and IIM-Bangalore. The brothers are hoping to get at least 50% of smartphone users in India to use their apps.
"Once we achieve those kind of numbers, we will launch our first paid app," Shravan said