In the early days of every small business, budgets are tight and every opportunity to economize is appreciated. If you’re a small business owner who’s on the lookout for affordable IT assistance, fortunately Cesion Software is here to help. Launched in early 2018, Cesion.us is run by a group of ambitious high schoolers who specialize in building websites and creating apps, as well as providing IT training and support.
Although Cesion is only about nine months old, its pioneering founder and CEO Abhigya Sodani sowed the seeds of the business several years back. While living in Oregon, Sodani recognized that his passion for programming could fill an important niche. Soon, he began building websites for small businesses that were strapped for cash. Then in 2017 Sodani moved to San Jose, California, and started a new high school. Intent on pursuing his business, he asked his fellow classmates to join in. The group won their first deal in February 2018 — a website project for In Motion Wellness — and Cesion Software was born.
How the team works
Initially, the company was comprised of four dedicated entrepreneurial-minded students. Today the company has 11 employees. Edward Frazer, CTO and president, described the company’s quick growth:
“After we won our first project, we started getting a lot of attention from our peers. People were really motivated to become a part of what we were doing. When we met with them, we discovered that there were a lot of very skilled and smart people who were interested, so we invited them to join us.”
With all of the company’s employees attending high school full time, every project is completed remotely. Team members work after school and on weekends, uploading their portion of every project to the code sharing platform GetHub. Occasionally, when strategy needs to be discussed, team members meet remotely to talk about projects and how to move forward.
App wins accolades
As the company has grown, it has expanded and evolved. Recently, the company has branched out into designing its own software products. This summer six of Cesion’s team members pitched an idea for an app called Zuriel at the Kintone Social Impact Challenge competition. In the end, Cesion won the contest and was awarded funding for their project thanks to their compelling 10-minute pitch. Right now they’re in alpha. This fall, they’ll begin product testing.
The goal with Zuriel is to harness the power of students’ problem-solving skills to tackle the issue of school under-funding. Zuriel is populated by academic problems submitted by teachers and divided into categories like English and math. Students volunteer to work on these problems, and as a reward for their efforts they earn “zurrency,” which can be cashed in for prizes like Amazon gift cards.
The project is funded by local businesses, which donate money through Zuriel to earn incentives like job postings and advertisements. For every dollar businesses donate, 70% goes directly to schools and 20% is converted to zurrency. According to the app’s development team, Zuriel was created to provide incentives to students to motivate them to work hard and continue learning.
“Working with our peers, we’ve seen what they’re capable of. We know they have the potential to make companies just like Cesion and make an impact. However, the problem is that their ambition hasn’t been unlocked. We developed Zuriel to give students the kind of opportunity that was given to us. As they spend their free time working on problems, they’re increasing their motivation. They’re also learning that dedicating yourself to being productive is both personally rewarding, as well as valuable to the community.”
-- Edward Frazer, CTO and President
What they’re proud of
Sodani is very happy about Cesion’s new funding. He’s also incredibly proud of how far the company has come.
“The pinnacle of our achievement is winning the Social Impact Challenge and receiving funding. But what I’m most proud of is the team that we’ve created. For the first nine months, I was running the company by myself, pitching to potential clients, and frequently getting turned down. Once the team came together, everything snowballed. People started spreading the word, and work started flowing in. It has been incredible to see the transformation.”
-- Abhigya Sodani, CEO and Founder
While Cesion’s team has accomplished a lot, Frazer is most proud of its Zuriel win.
“Winning the Social Impact Challenge required us to: #1 acquire a bunch of technical knowledge, #2 apply that knowledge, #3 turn it into something people liked, #4 consolidate ideas about the product, and #5 come up with a pitch. It took our team a lot of time and energy to accomplish these goals. We’re proud that we were so successful.”
-- Edward Frazer, CTO and President
According to Sodani, Cesion must adapt its focus in order to thrive. That’s why the company’s plans are to transition to solely focus on running Zuriel: “Website building and app building are getting really easy to do. It’s at the point where if you have a computer, you can make them yourself. I don’t see these activities being profitable in the long-term.”
Launching a company and then a new product has taught Cesion’s team a lot about what it takes to succeed in the tech industry. They’ve also learned how to control their own costs. When asked about why they chose a .us domain name, Soldani said, “We chose the .US domain because it gave us just as much legitimacy as a .com, at a price we could afford.”
Looking ahead, Cesion’s team is excited to be delving deeper into Zuriel product development. Said Frazer: “We learned a lot when we did the research and started making our own product. The project has been really helpful in terms of school and in terms of our futures. We’re meeting some amazing people, and we know that the connections will help us when we start our careers.” While Cesion’s team member are still thinking about their potential careers, Soldani has own pretty much mapped out: “What I want to do has been very clear to me from the 6th grade. I am almost 100% certain I will be going into tech.”
We wish Cesion’s team all the best.