Innovation is the key to success in today’s cut-throat competitive environment. The window of opportunity gets smaller and smaller and the time to success decreases. In short, cash cows are a dying race. Innovation is not a one man show. One needs backing either from one’s family or colleague. In this edition of article on ‘Spirit of Innovation’ we will see how with the support of either the angel or a family or supportive staff companies have successfully innovated.
Monsoon Software Consulting Pvt. Ltd.
“Capital isn’t so important in business. Experience isn’t so important. You can get both these things. What is important is ideas. If you have ideas, you have the main asset you need, and there isn’t any limit to what you can do with your business and your life.”
This line said by an anonymous person describes perfectly the risk taking and innovative side of Mr. Saurabh Agrawal, the owner of web portal Indiaresults.com. The web-portal is a flag bearer of its parent company MSCPL web solutions, which is in turn, is a division of Monsoon Software Consulting Pvt. Ltd. MSCPL has also ventured globally.
Indiaresults.com: Describing the web portal as a philanthropic medium, Mr. Saurabh Agrawal says “When I started with the venture Monsoon Consulting in 2000, Y2K boom was everywhere and internet was still in its nascent stage. I didn’t have much knowledge about web portals, I was digitally illiterate but slowly through trial and error we have managed to reach this stage. We posted the results of MREC, PT online first time. This was well accepted by all and most importantly the initiative received media coverage which made the venture famous.”
Indiaresults has witnessed more than 534 million page views for the period Jan-Dec. 2012 and 465 mn hits in 2013 till now (Source: Google Analytics). It has a nationwide coverage in almost each Indian state and union territory and has been publishing the results of different National & State boards, Universities and Engineering/Medical/Management/Recruitment competitive exams since 2000. No doubt that the portal has been ranked as the most popular portal for examination results and career related information by major search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN & Alexa etc. On this Mr. Agrawal says, “For any online results publishing website the key is peak time load handling. We have consistently done well in this area. This has been proved by Google Analytics.”
But Indiaresults is not the company which basks in the glory of its past success. Telling about the recent developments in Indiaresults, Mr. Agrawal, says, “Last year onwards, we started focusing on PPP model, wherein we tie up with boards to become an exclusive partner to publish online results. We have gained success with Haryana Board, Punjab Board. We have also started with SMS service, wherein we disseminate exam results through SMS.
Dedicating his success to his risk-taking ability, Mr. Saurabh says, “In all ventures, risk was always there. Without risk, no idea becomes innovation. It is the will power of my brother, Mr. Atul Agrawal and my risk taking ability which has been our guiding force in this beautiful journey of a decade.
On being asked about the future of company, with so many web portal designing companies in the market, he said, “The scope is huge. I dream about a day when every shop even ones at nukkad will have a website. Innovation here is how you can sell your idea to these shops and get a business out of them.” As they say ‘Sky is the limit’.
123Wedding Cards: 123weddingcards.com is a retail website offering wedding cards and other accessories. A customer can choose the cards displayed on website and can make an instant payment to place an online order. The website has integrated secure bank gateways, which offers additional and hassle free transaction options. The portal caters to retailers and direct customers.
Putting light on the idea behind this portal, Mr. Agrawal, says, “Actually we became a co-sponsor of a marriage carnival and owing to which we were provided with a stall. Sitting there, we had an idea of starting a portal providing e-wedding cards. Well, not surprisingly we were ridiculed for the idea. But we were bent upon starting the venture. We tied up with a local vendor, set up a factory and the production started. I truly feel that innovation is understood only when it is physically available.”
The web portal has a tie up with 450 dealers and the list is growing. The company has another venture Indianweddingcards.com which caters to audience all over world.
theladyemdeals.com: Ladyemdeals is a daily deal website, where hot deals for different products in different cities are offered. The company designed the web-portal for the company.
Fulload.info: Fullload.info is a website which is based on the transport management.
JKP: JKP is a giant publishing house in UK which also runs a website for the sales of the books. The company integrated the distributor with their SOAP system.
Pythian.com: The Company undertook many complex projects for the web portal.
Backoffice IT Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”
This line said by James A. Michener, describes well the persistent character of Mr. Anil Agrawal. Given the hurdles present at that time, he could have easily gone back to being professional CA but due to his consistent efforts, NAV Back Office has become one of the well-known IT companies of the nation.
NAV Back Office provides services in alternative investment. Talking about his journey, Mr. Agrawal says, “Mr. Nav Gupta the founder of the company, started the company in US in 1991. Slowly but steadily the company had clients all over world. Mr. Nav wanted to start the Indian operations. For this we met, he explained the concept to me and trained for 6 months. After this we started the company with 4 people 200 sq. ft.”
Briefing about the profile of the company, he said, “NavBack Office basically provides independent funds administration services for Hedge Funds, Funds of Hedge Funds, Commodity Pool Operators & Commodity Trading Advisors. We were the first company to get such a concept in India. We serve different kinds of funds varying by strategies, asset classes, use of derivatives and leverage, sectors, and regions. Our clients employ a variety of strategies including Convertible Arbitrage, Equity Market Neutral, Fixed Income Arbitrage, Merger Arbitrage, Distressed Securities, Special Situations, Long/Short Equity, Global Macro, Multi-Strategy & Managed Futures etc.”
When asked about the hurdles that he faced while starting the operations, he reminisces, “Those days we faced a lot of connectivity issues. Dial up connections were only available, broad band and lease line were still distant reality. Also, in the period 2004-08 attrition rate was high. Ours is a more specialized work, for which we hire CAs, train them, give them high salaries to retain but still attrition was high.”
When asked about why he chose Jaipur to start their operation, he said, “Rajasthan is known to create CAs. They are known as accounting people, so you see getting good talent is easier here. And we being service provider, getting good quality manpower was our main concern. ”
Talking about the innovative side of the company, Mr. Agrawal, says, “As said earlier, ours is the first company to get this concept in India, now we have 5-7 companies. Also, here different currencies are involved, and thus accounting becomes really complex. So software has to be upgraded regularly to increase efficiency and also to generate timely reports. To give you an example, one of our client does lots of trade which results in huge data, processing the data took over 5- 6 hrs every time. And if by mistake an error comes up, entire cycle has to be repeated. We developed software for them on dot.net which reduced the processing time to 2 hrs.”
“Also, we have our data center and disaster management plan. This again is connected to our US data center. This is really important as in our field data security is of ultimate importance.”
Talking about the challenges that the company is facing in today’s world, he said, “The market conditions in US is tough right now. This has resulted in reduction in the billing rate. Also, getting new business has also become difficult due to the economic condition. On the Indian front, costs here are rising. This is creating a substantial pressure on profit margin.”
Indeed, idea generation has to be backed by persistent efforts to get the ‘idea’ take a form of some business venture. If it was not for the sheer will power and consistent efforts of these entrepreneurs they wouldn’t have been able to bring their small idea to this stage of international recognition. They had their Einstein moment during the start of IT revolution, witnessed the slump period in IT and came out as rising star of the tough period.