April 2015 … today, I am a mentor to many budding entrepreneurs including my sons; but looking back to my beginnings, I realise I had no one to mentor me or guide me. Those were the days when professionals like engineers were not considered a good choice to move on to business ventures; but today, students from various streams experiment with their ideas and test out their business acumen with so much more confidence.. How I wish we had this eco system 20 years ago.
My dream was to establish an organization and make it a public limited company and a pioneer in the industry. I discussed this dream extensively with a good friend of mine who is an alumnus of IIMB and serial entrepreneur. We discussed various business opportunities and I always wanted more, “Not only this – something more”
When this friend suggested that I could take up the Franchise of First Computers and BiTech, I was not quite impressed or convinced. I wanted it all. I proposed that I be given the entire franchisee for Andhra Pradesh. My plan for to conduct computer courses to deal with the Y2K (it was 1996-1997 then). We approached BiTech, but they were not convinced with the quality of the course we offered.
One fine evening, over the dinner, group of friends suddenly got charged up. We believe in the idea – so why do we need a franchisee? We will set up our own organization – prepare the
course content and run the program. Four of us in the team had the knowledge and understanding of the content. We approached a Guru – a whiz to prepare the course content. This tech guru bought into our idea and moved out of First Computers to head our organization. The seed was planted in my existing office – when I was in the cross roads of what to do next? All of four of us became partners and formed a partnership firm. We recruited the first few trainers – all this was done using my office as the base. We decided that we will operate out of Chennai.
The Tech Guru was a great mentor to me. I liked his approach towards training, and his small suggestions and inputs for future trends in the technology space guides me till date. We did not know jargons such as “business model”, strategic inputs, go-to-market, etc. We always dreamt of making huge profits and having many franchisees. Our concentration was to produce trained resources, think of how to place them, how to engage with our customers (IT companies) to convince them that we have the trained resources they are looking for, and how to make our trainees as experienced software professionals. Looking back, I realise that our go-to-market strategies and business models got formed unconsciously as we worked zealously towards building our organization.
As I had always been part of the stock market trading, newspapers have been a daily source of information with respect to economic, political and business trends in the market. The small piece of information gave me insights as to how the market is moving. One news item that caught our attention during our early idea seeding days was that TCS was looking for skilled resources to handle the Y2K issues. We took our training plan to the doors of TCS – the idea was simple. If we are able to provide placements to our trainees, our business will improve.
Looking back, I realize that if we had shown our model to any person having knowledge on Finances, it would have been rejected upright. All financial ratios were haywire. The only thing we had on our side was belief, passion and endurance. Each one of us worked round the clock in our area of expertise to launch the training organization.
We planned for advertisements – spread the word to our known family and friends and got in the first few registrations. We discussed and fixed the training fee. All was set for the Launch… and 18 years ago… we launched our dream, we launched Focus Infotech on April 14, 1997.
Journey of an Entrepreneur