The secret sauce for happy employees Page 51
The Idea Factory
The Magazine for Growing Companies
Why Anirban Das Blah, founder of KWAN, owes his company to Jerry Maguire
The Idea Factory From the The magazine for growing companies
Box Office to the Boardroom
Can 3-D printing change your business?
june/july 2013 | `150 | Volume 04 | Issue 06 A 9.9 Media Publication | inc.com Facebook.com/Inc
28 Reels of Inspiration
Entrepreneurs scope out ideas from the unlikeliest of places. Is it any surprise then that movies, and the larger-than-life characters they bring to us make for great sources for lessons in life and business? by shreyasi singh
36 You’ve Been Hacked!
He’s barely 22 years old. But, you’d be smart to listen to Saket Modi, founder of Lucideus, a web security solutions provider. by shreyasi singh
42 Health Care Buzz
A look at the coming revolution in health care that is driven by entrepreneurs, and (hopefully) will change the way health care is delivered in India. by ira swasti
Elevator Pitch About 1 per cent of kidney patients in India have access to dialysis centres. Read how this start-up is trying to change that, on page 58.
photograph by a prabhakar rao
on the cover
Anirban Das Blah, MD, CAA KWAN. Photographed by Jiten Gandhi in Mumbai. Cover design by Shokeen Saifi. Photo imaging by Anil T.
This edition of Inc. magazine is published under license from Mansueto Ventures LLC, New York, New York. Editorial items appearing on pages 4, 12, 14,16, 24 and 54, 56 were all originally published in the United States edition of Inc. magazine and are the copyright property of Mansueto Ventures, LLC, which reserves all rights. Copyright © 2009 and 2010 Mansueto Ventures, LLC. The following are trademarks of Mansueto Ventures, LLC: Inc., Inc. 500.
60 The Way We Work
Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku mostly hire freshers for their mobile and web wallet company MobiKwik. Here’s why. as told to sonal khetarpal
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20 08 48
06 Editor’s Letter
08 Behind the Scenes
A larger-than-life stage, flower decorations and bright lights: A look at the companies that jazzed up this big fat Indian wedding.
World Bank report says India needs labour reforms most A new book’s spiritual take on entrepreneurship The Inc. Data Bank: Where to find the best hires A Skimmer’s Guide to Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
A remote medical diagnostic device that is trying to transform rural health care.
20 All Things People By Hari TN Incentive plans tempt better performance. Sure? Think again. It might not be so.
23 The Goods
Services that make it easier to market with online photos Secure smartphones Tools to gauge your social media popularity Tech Trends: Tools for reducing stress at your desk
Strategy 51 Managing A corporate canteen should go beyond filling empty stomachs. Done well, it can serve up both happiness and productivity. 54 Technology Is 3-D printing an important tool for your business or just a passing fad? 58 elevator pitch Sparsh Nephrocare sets up dialysis centres in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities in India. Can it convince you to filter out `15 crore as investment?
64 Founders Forum
G.S. Bhalla, founder of Cocoberry, is a patient but stubborn man.
June/july 2013 | INC. | 3
Four Ways to Be Happier at Work Most of your waking hours are spent at work, so why not try to make them more enjoyable? Inc.com columnist Geoffrey James shares some tips for keeping a positive attitude.
Top Videos on Inc.com
1 Don’t overcommit yourself. It’s great to
be enthusiastic, but making promises that you or your team can’t reasonably keep is simply a way to create failure and disappointment.
Richard Branson Founder of the Virgin Group, on taking risks
“Don’t be put off by failure. Work really hard to make your idea succeed. If it doesn’t, bow out gracefully, and try again.”
2 Don’t compare yourself to others.
We all start out in different places, and everyone’s journey is unique. Drawing comparisons is a complete waste of time.
3 Don’t try to win every argument.
Don’t take yourself so seriously. The ability to laugh at your foibles not only makes you happier; it also makes you a more likeable person.
Head to Inc.com for expanded coverage on this month’s cover story on the country’s 25 most audacious companies. Learn about Red Bull’s mind-blowing marketing stunts, the quest to develop a sprayable liquid Wi-Fi antenna, and more. www.inc.com/audacious-companies 4 | INC. | june/july 2013
Danny Meyer Founder of Union Square Hospitality Group, on overcoming insecurity
“It took me a good decade to get to the point where I was able to say, ‘I’m not just a complete neophyte who doesn’t belong here.’”
Leadership: photos.com; Audacious: Jörg mitter/courtesy red bull
Some battles aren’t worth fighting, and many people are easier to handle when they think they’ve won the argument. What’s important isn’t winning but what you plan to do next.
MANAGING DIRECTOR: Dr Pramath Raj Sinha Printer & Publisher: Anuradha Das Mathur Editorial managing Editor: shreyasi singh assistant editor: Sonal Khetarpal feature writer: ira swasti
The Magic Of Movies I must have been14 when I first saw To Kill A Mockingbird, the
1962 Hollywood movie based on Harper Lee’s brilliant book. Set in Alabama, it tells the tale of Scout and her younger brother who are exposed to the racist ways of their home town when their lawyer father Atticus Finch (played by the incredible Gregory Peck) defends a black man charged of raping a white woman. From the very first viewing, Atticus Finch inspired me—for his courage in taking up a case that nobody else would, and his effortless moral conviction. That he is a committed, single father only adds to his gravitas and he continues to serve as a moral compass till today. “What would Atticus Finch do?”is a question I’ve often asked myself. Movies have a way of doing that—of moulding opinions and shaping thoughts permanently. It got me thinking about the movies that might have played a part in scripting the journeys of entrepreneurs. Which characters helped them stay the course when the path ahead seemed almost insurmountable? Or, are there scenes and plots that changed the way they approached their work? Reels of Inspiration, our cover story on movies that have inspired entrepreneurs, is a fascinating read. It’s got great lessons on building teams, battling greed and brewing in the right values—all drawn from a variety of movies. Do tune in. Personal inspirations aside, for me, this issue became uncomfortably relevant. My Facebook account was hacked into while I was working on You’ve Been Hacked, a feature on the cyber security risks Indian companies face. Thankfully, the damage (dozens of “friend” invitations sent on my behalf) to my account was limited (or so, I hope!) but it drove home the point about how vulnerable we are online. I’d also urge you to take stock of how secure your digital assets are.
Shreyasi Singh firstname.lastname@example.org
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DEsign Sr. Creative Director: Jayan K Narayanan Sr. Art Director: Anil VK Associate Art Directors: Atul Deshmukh & Anil T Sr. Visualisers: Manav Sachdev & Shokeen Saifi Visualiser: NV Baiju Sr. Designers: Raj Kishore Verma Shigil Narayanan & Haridas Balan Designers: Charu Dwivedi, Peterson PJ & PRADEEP g nair MARCOM Designer: Rahul Babu STUDIO Chief Photographer: Subhojit Paul Sr. Photographer: Jiten Gandhi community team assistant product manager: Rajat gupta Sales & Marketing senior vice president: krishna kumar (+91 98102 06034) business development Manager: arjun sawhney (+91 95822 20507) Senior Manager (South): Anshu Kumar (+91 95914 55661) Senior Manager (West): Deepak Patel (+91 98207 33448) assistant regional manager (south & WEST): rajesh kandari (+91 98111 40424) Production & Logistics Sr General manager (Operations): Shivshankar M Hiremath Manager Operations: Rakesh upadhyay Assistant Manager (Logistics): Vijay Menon Executive Logistics: Nilesh Shiravadekar Production Executive: Vilas Mhatre Logistics MP Singh, Mohd. Ansari OFFICE ADDRESS nine dot nine mediaworx Pvt Ltd A-262, Defence Colony, New Delhi–110 024 For any queries, please contact us at email@example.com Published, Printed and Owned by Nine Dot Nine Mediaworx Private Limited. Published and printed on their behalf by Anuradha Das Mathur. Published at A-262, Defence Colony, New Delhi–110 024. printed at Tara Art Printers Pvt ltd. A-46-47, Sector-5, NOIDA (U.P.) 201301 Editor: Anuradha Das Mathur
BEHIND THE SCENES
Companies at the Heart of Everyday Life
Wedding planning It goes without saying that a wedding is a crucial milestone in one’s life. Making the shaadi an event to remember is what Myshaadiwale does best. Started by J. P. Yaduvanshi in 2007, the 54-people company provides wedding services, right from the initial printing of wedding cards to organising the honeymoon. So far, the wedding management agency, has organised more than 150-plus weddings with an array of destination weddings—including inside a helicopter, at the beach, or on a cruise ship.
Flowers, symbolising beauty and sanctity, are the perfect décor for the ceremonial mood of the wedding. The creative set-up at the stage and the bouquets of white orchids and yellow lillies on the tables are prepared by Flowers by Design. The company founded by Sandesh K. Reddy in 2004 is now headed by Mayank Sharma and Poonam Sharma, and offers services to the hospitality industry. It has enlivened more than 1,000 events till date.
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Gutter Credit here
A Big Fat Indian Wedding, Bangalore
24.12.12 6:00 P.M.
Lighting Optimum lighting is not only easy on the eyes, it also adds to the mood of the environment. The brightly lit wedding venue with pink and golden hues was done by Sri Lalitha Electricals. The company was started by Manarshetty Dasarath in 1969. It provides electrical items for ambience lighting and decorations for weddings, corporate functions and concerts. The 75-people team lights up events at hotels such as Taj Westend, Le Meridian and Movenpick. They were also one of the first companies to bring in the concept of hiring mobile generators in Bangalore.
Videography Old photos and videos allow cherished moments to stay alive forever. It is the photographers from Eye 3 InfoMedia that captured the wedding in their Cannon 5D and Red Digital cameras. They also made the wedding e-card and an animated wedding web album. Founded by J. P. Yaduvanshi, Jay, Nihal Thomas and C. Jaikrishna in 2010, this 30-people company provides digital, print and web media services. They have worked for corporate bigwigs such as Nike, Maruti Suzuki and Aircel.
photograph Courtesy flowers by design
reported by sonal khetarpal
News, Ideas & Trends in Brief
Unemployment Unease India should reform labour laws and invest in education, says World Bank report
The 2013 World Development Report on
jobs throws light on some very surprising numbers. It estimates that 200 million people in the world, of which 75 million are under the age of 25, are unemployed. A World Bank team of eight researchers processed over 800 surveys and censuses from all over the world. To address the problem of unemployment, the report estimates that an additional 600 million more jobs than in the year 2005 need to be created over the next 15 years, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where the youth bulge is more pronounced. Some countries have very large increase in their labour force— nearly eight million new entrants a year in China since the mid-1990s and seven million in India—while others face a shrink-
ing population. Ukraine’s labour force is estimated to fall by about 1,60,000 people a year. However, the report points out that not only job creation is important but also the nature of employment. A job does not only affect the well being of the job holder but also of others. Two jobs may appear identical from an individual perspective but can differ from a social perspective (figure on next page). The more transformational the job is, the greater is its value to society. A high paying job in IT in Bangalore is not only good for the job holder but also for India because it leads to a country’s long term growth. Also, who gets the job also makes a difference. The effect of female employment moves beyond the individual. An increase
in the share of household income contributed by women often results in improvements in children’s educational attainment and health. Among disadvantaged castes in south Indian villages, an increase of $90 in a woman’s annual income is estimated to increase schooling among her children by 1.6 years. That said, the report notes the importance of the government’s role in creating the right kind of jobs. The report acknowledges that private sector currently accounts for 90 per cent of all jobs worldwide. The government ought to create the right kind of environment for private sector jobs to flourish. For India, the report emphasises on the need of the government to form a strong continued on the next page
June/july 2013 | INC. | 11
Unemployment Unease continued... Some jobs do more for development Jobs connected to global markets
Jobs in functional cities
Jobs that are environmentally benign
DEVELOPMENT Jobs for the poor
Beware! Your team may leave you for another industry soon According to a survey conducted by professional networking portal ApnaCircle.com, over 50 per cent of skilled professionals switch their industry after their first job. The respondents reported three major reasons for this switch—lack of growth and opportunity in their current profiles (about 34 per cent), loss of interest or realisation of their potential (33 per cent) and more money (23 per cent). Of all the working professionals surveyed by the network, about 43 per cent are postgraduates, 39 per cent are graduates and 11 per cent are diploma holders. Amongst these, the number of IT professionals top the list with 26 per cent, followed by HR, operations and retail (22 per cent), marketing and media (15 per cent) and banking and finance (13 per cent). The survey highlights a new trend of workers acting as “careerpreneurs” who are inclined to take risks in their careers like entrepreneurs do to reinvent themselves. Freshers showed a similar pattern with 16 per cent reporting they wished to be self-employed or become entrepreneurs. This trend may generate happier and satisfied professionals, leading to better employee productivity, but on the downside, it may leave the job market chaotic and starving for skilled professionals. —I.S.
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Jobs that empower women
Jobs that link to networks
Jobs that do not shift burden to others
Jobs that shape social identity
Source: World Development Report 2013 team
urbanisation policy to create better jobs. The industrial and the services sector need an urban environment to flourish. They cannot flourish in a rural setting. Planned urbanisation will create a rapid increase in desirable jobs. But, forming towns for the sake of increasing urbanisation will not create jobs or enrich lives. According to the report, it would need policy-based conversion rather than discretionary conversion of land use, formal policies to compensate farmers so that they are the stakeholders in urban growth rather than its victims, energy efficient infrastructure, better productivity and promotion of creativity. Martin Rama, leader of the team that produced the report, concedes that urbanisation in subSaharan Africa has increased without any accompanying rise in sustainable higher productivity jobs. The report highlighted that creating skills in India is not that important. It would be more valuable to invest money and energy in education rather than skill development. If people have a reasonable level of education, they can get trained on the job as well and are more productive.
But, all such reforms fall apart without having a proper labour policy in place. There is a great need to reform labour policies—to help improve governance, especially in areas that hinder entrepreneurship, especially in India. The majority of firms in India
“Forming towns for the sake of increasing urbanisation will not create jobs or enrich lives.” that are born small tend to stay small, and do not have any drastic change in their number of employees in their life cycle. There is also widespread non-compliance due to cumbersome labour regulations. India has to talk more about its labour laws, and not keep them as taboo subjects, urged Kaushik Basu, World Bank chief economist and senior vice president. He emphasises on the importance of flexibility and the freedom given to enterprises to change their number of employees as per their productivity.
Jobs that give a sense of fairness
The Ups and Downs New book on the emotional rollercoaster ride that is entrepreneurship, written by professor Rohit Prasad (left).
Start-up Sutra, a new book written by Dr Rohit Prasad, associate professor of economics at MDI, Gurgaon, has a rather philosophical or if you will, a spiritual take on entrepreneurship. It narrates the story of two entrepreneurs struggling to run their business, interspersed with snippets of conversation with a spiritual guru. Told in true Bollywood style—with the betrayal of investors, a fall out with co-founders, a visit from Bill Gates, a neglected marriage and an always impending bankruptcy—Prasad shows how the circle of family and friends get as affected by the business as the entrepreneurs themselves. Here are a few excerpts from our interview with the author. —Ira Swasti Q: What was your objective of writing the book? A: I felt that with the volume of activity in
Indian entrepreneurship today, someone needed to tell the authentic story of entrepreneurship. It’s not always about super-talented people wanting to change the world with a great idea, it’s also about trying to soothe the ego and insecurities of an entrepreneur. Secondly, I wanted to celebrate failure. If I may borrow an analogy from the Indian film industry, about 10,000 people land in Mumbai everyday to make a career in films. About 9,500 of them are never heard of. Now their failure could have been a result of their shortcomings. But I wanted to celebrate the aspiration of an
14 | INC. | june/july 2013
average entrepreneur which is integral to create an ecosystem that will eventually generate successful entrepreneurs. Unless you’ve got people who have made that foray into the field and failed, you won’t have people who made that foray into the field and succeeded. Q: You dedicate an entire chapter on the wife of one of the entrepreneurs. How can the spouse of an entrepreneur better deal with living with an entrepreneur? A: It is needless to say that entrepreneur-
ship places extraordinary strains on personal relationships. The family needs to understand that the entrepreneur in the house is going through an extraordinarily tough time, professionally and intellectu-
Q: Which sutra (courage, resilience, dispassion or creative action) do you think is the hardest to master for an entrepreneur? A: Dispassion is something that most peo-
ple don’t have enough of, and it becomes an especially difficult quality to possess for entrepreneurs, who are generally very passionate about their businesses. I often ask entrepreneurs—“After all the efforts you’ve made and built a business that has been successful, could you gracefully walk away and leave it?” It’s a difficult answer. You can see that when first generation entrepreneurs have to pass on the business to the next generation, they don’t find it easy to let go. Serial entrepreneurs are probably better at this because they realise that they are great at starting things but not that good or interested in consolidating the business further. But dispassion goes beyond that. It’s a more of a philosophical approach to life where you do your best and don’t worry if it doesn’t work out in the end.
photos Courtesy subject
Hero Saga? The untold story of the entrepreneurial ecosystem
ally. So, they need to be supportive of the entrepreneur. Yet, at the same time, they should not get swept away by the entrepreneur’s passion. You need an anchor in the family to balance the equation. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, should realise that running a business means asking a lot from their families emotionally, so they need to value the time spent with them. It should never be about choosing between the business and the family. You could follow routines like Sunday morning breakfast is always with family or bedtime is always reserved for the kids and so on to achieve that balance in your life. At the end of the day, a failed personal relationship will affect your professional life and burn you out in the process.
inc. data bank
The book: Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier. The big idea: Jaron Lanier imagines a world in which Google, Amazon, financial giants, and other huge, data-hungry organisations are compelled to compensate people for using their personal information. He argues that the resulting perpetual income streams would revive the middle class and help offset jobs lost to technology.
WANTED The most successful companies have given up on job boards.
of companies with high retention rates decreased their investment in job boards last year. Source: Aberdeen Group
The backstory: Lanier is a virtual-reality pioneer (he co-founded VPL Research, the first maker of VR gloves and goggles); a Silicon Valley guru; and—more recently—a critic of the dystopian aspects of the digital revolution. If you read nothing else: Manifestoes such as this one succeed on the power of cumulative argument—they’re not meant to be sampled. That said, Part Eight lays out Lanier’s modest proposal for a sustainable information economy, in which people earn royalties on the tens of thousands of tiny contributions made over a lifetime of online participation. The data that keeps giving: Lanier addresses every aspect of this model, including what happens after death (your data continues to provide payouts to your descendants at gradually decreasing rates). Rigour rating: N/A (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). Who Owns the Future? is an intellectual exercise in futuristic economics. Yes, it’s a straw man, but it’s an uncommonly fleshed-out straw man that will make you think. —Leigh Buchanan
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The good hires? They’re in your network
If you’re still taking the post-it-and-they-will-come approach to online recruiting, you’re wasting time and money. Online job boards aren’t nearly the font of qualified applicants they promise to be. You have a much more powerful source of new talent right in front of you.
Social media is cheaper and more effective. If you’re not already using it to recruit, your competitors are. LinkedIn
Portion of recruiters that use these social-media sites to find employees:
98% 42% 33%
Share of job seekers who use social media to find work:
38% 34% 52%
Source: Bullhorn; Jobvite
But one thing that hasn’t changed in recruiting is referrals: They make up one of the smallest—but highest quality—talent pools.
Hires who were referred by other employees are more likely to stick around.
of applicants come from referrals, but they account for
Employee retention rates after three years:
40% of hires.
47% referrals 14% job-board applicants
So, start tapping the most powerful referral source: your social media–savvy employees. How? Pay cash. of Employees say cash 48% bonuses motivate them to refer job candidates.
The average referral bonus across all industries for full-time hires:
$1,200 Source: The Lawton Group
“For those who recognise its power, social media has radically changed how recruiting is done. With three minutes of work and a couple of clicks, you’re connected with a trusted audience of hundreds.” David Lewis, president and CEO of OperationsInc, a human resources outsourcing and consulting firm based in Norwalk, Connecticut
—Compiled by Julie Strickland
lewis: courtesy subject; book: courtesy simon & schuster; others: istock (2)
A skimmer’s guide to the latest business books
Companies on the Cutting Edge
In 2005, two Indian Institute of Science graduates Sameer Sawarkar and Rajeev Kumar jointly developed the first version of ReMeDi, a patented telemedicine and tele-diagnostic solution that enables a doctor to provide diagnosis remotely. But, response to the service when it was implemented in a small village in Madurai was poor. Even though the technology was working, the ecosystem was missing, say Kumar and Sawarkar. Doctors gave prescriptions but patients didn’t have access to pathology labs or medicines. From 2008 to 2012, the duo went back to the drawing board, and experimented with different business models and technology variations. Apart from constantly evolving the remote healthcare delivery ERP system, they also included a glucometer, microscopy tools, biometrics and an oximeter to their diagnostic kit in 2012. To save the tools from misuse, they introduced Save Devices, a patented technology that allows the doctor to control the diagnostic devices from the clinic thereby restricting the village operator from misusing it. These enhancements have made a great difference—ReMeDi has recorded more than 2,00,000 consultations across their 850 centres in the last two years. Features Kit operates on less than two watts of power Video-audio conferencing works at a bandwidth as low as 32kbps Patient Medical Record software Remote-delivery ERP system which aggregates multiple players of the primary healthcare value chain (clinics, trained doctors, pharmaceutics) on a single platform Analytics component provides demographic and epidemiology related information Integrated accounting application to ease billing process
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Recognitions received Finalist, Sankalp 2009 Award for Health Winner, YourStory 2010 Social Enterprise Finalist, Schwab Foundation’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 Winner, Action for India 2012 Growth Award in Health
“Innovative combinations of technology and business models such as ReMeDi are needed to transform the face of Indian villages.” —Sameer Sawarkar, co-founder and CEO, Neurosynaptic Communications
photograph by Subhojit paul
reported by Sonal Khetarpal
All Things People BY
Hari TN is the global head of human resources at Amba Research, a Bangalore-based investment research outsourcing firm.
Does a dangled carrot always tempt? Incentive plans sometimes drive better performance but figure out how to use them right At some point in our working lives (espe-
cially in the early years), most of us have believed that all performance-oriented problems can be fixed by an appropriately designed incentive plan. I’m sure some of these statements must seem familiar. “We need to incentivise the right behaviour traits.” “Our incentive plan is not driving the right behaviour.” “Our sales staff doesn’t believe this incentive plan can help us meet next year’s stiff targets.” “Our delivery folks need to be incentivised for driving account growth.” Yet, there has been a lot of debate on what incentive plans accomplish. For one, do they really motivate? And, if so, what is the causal linkage? Most importantly, do incentive plans really help to retain talent in a competitive market? Or, is the purpose more limited—basically, to align managerial remuneration with company performance (even if there is a limited causal relationship between managerial remuneration and company performance). Well, there are no easy answers, if the many debates across several companies I’ve consulted with are any indication. Certainly, no one answer fits all. The core of the problem stems from the fact that most managers don’t understand that incentives merely reward certain outcomes. They don’t directly drive outcome. This might
2 0 | INC. | june/july 2013
sound like a syntax issue to you, but it is a very fundamental difference. So, while it is important to reward the right outcome through incentives, doing so works only if you have the right person in the job and there is an ecosystem that supports the achievement of desired outcomes. If you have the wrong person in the job and the ecosystem doesn’t exist, all incentives are irrelevant. A manager’s main job is to ensure that she picks the right person and fosters the right ecosystem. But, this is the more difficult part. Which is why, most managers end up taking the easier route—putting an incentive plan in place
that is tied to a predefined outcome, and hoping that it magically happens somehow. To cut it short, an incentive plan can’t fix any real problems. You can use an appropriate incentive plan to cement and accelerate your momentum only after you have determined what the solution to your real problem is. It’s a common trend to have a greater percentage of variable pay in the pay mix, especially in industries and companies where salaries constitute a significant chunk of the total cost. Having a great variable play helps limit payouts in difficult times and preserve profitability. But, even when the illustration by manav sachdev
ALL THINGS PEOPLE
underlying thinking behind a variable pay plan is really about linking costs to profitability, it is positioned as an initiative aimed at incentivising performance. As mentioned above, this is a weak argument as there isn’t a strong causal link between an incentive plan and results. Interestingly though, we’ve found that getting support for an incentive plan is easiest if you argue that it would motivate performance. Another reason for the existence of incentive plans is that rewarding for “results” is generally considered both fair and safe. Take the case of top management bonuses, for example, which are determined by company performance. To be really fair, though, a company’s performance flows from the interplay of several complex factors. It’s extremely difficult for the board to assess how much the management influenced the performance by doing, or not doing something. How much of the company’s failure, or success, was actually influenced by factors totally outside the management’s control? Since the actions of the board are subject to scrutiny, the safest bet would be to attribute results (whatever they may be) to what the management did or did not do. No board will be blamed for slashing bonuses of top management when a company performs poorly, or will be questioned for paying high bonuses when they’ve performed well. Which is why linking payouts to outcome has for so long been considered a just principle to apply, and emulate. Another reason for incentive plans to exist is that they’re believed to retain talent, especially for senior managers in midsize firms. Instability and churn at senior management level does not bode well for growth. In these cases, a board may come up with an attractive gain-sharing plan where a percentage of the firm’s valuation on exit is shared with the management team. It can be argued what drives the purpose of such a plan—to motivate the management team to create value, or to keep a good team stable. In most cases, retention is the primary purpose. Yet, a wrong team (or individual) won’t result in the desired outcome, however perfectly designed the incentive plan might be. The quality of the
An incentive plan is a great tool when well used in the right situation. It is not a panacea for bad performance, or a forecast of achievement. individual and the rigour of the management processes cannot be substituted by a generous incentive plan. High incentives are also used to attract talent when a company can’t afford to pay market compensation. Here, a good incentive plan can attract risk takers, especially if there is a credible chance of creating disproportionate wealth when the firm does well. In such instances, the upside has to be so significant that risk takers can be lured by the possibility of a pot of gold at the end of the journey. There are other examples where incentive plans can work very well. The important thing to keep in mind is that the outcome should be directly linked to an individual’s efforts. Small and self-sufficient teams, with clearly defined goals that are largely under the control of the team leader, can be motivated by incentive plans. In fact, historically, incentive plans can trace their origins to these situations. But, the power to motivate drops off exponentially when there are complex dependencies, especially from other functions internally. People are willing to accept the vagaries and uncertainties of markets and customer behaviour, and how it impacts their results. They’re somehow less willing to accept linkages with other people’s efforts. For CEOs, it’s not often easy to fight the demand for commission plans, especially from the pre-sales and delivery teams who most crave these schemes. These teams often believe the sales people they support are making tonnes of money in commissions while they are not getting anything, even though they play a role in winning the deals. Such thinking is not surprising since pre-sales and delivery play an important role in any sale. Still, in my experience, in
most cases, this is an unreasonable demand which is based on an incomplete understanding of how commission plans work. Mostly, the entire sales commission plan is designed around a basic belief that you pay for “results”, not “efforts”. Therefore, a sales person could slog for years, do all the right things and still make no money in commissions. Or, could simply end up getting very lucky and make a huge commission without having necessarily been directly responsible for the wins. In other words, the sales person is taking a risk. As a corollary to this, the base pay of a sales person is often low. It could be between 40-60 per cent of their total on-target compensation whereas for the other functions it could be between 80-90 per cent. The sales person therefore depends upon earning reasonable commissions periodically to be able to send her children to a good school. The base pay can just keep the lights on. Those people in other functions who crave for a commission plan do not want to take this risk. They would be unwilling to compromise on their base pay. They would want the commission plan on top of an attractive and competitive base pay (and their regular variable pay plan). To any logical person, this would sound absurd. At the end, an incentive plan is a great tool when well used in the right situation. But it isn’t a panacea for bad performance, or a forecast of achievement. Often, the reasons incentive plans are used can be tackled by managers conducting better reviews, having difficult conversations, or providing their teams direction and coaching. Contact Hari TN at firstname.lastname@example.org.
June/july 2013 | INC. | 2 1
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A Thousand Words More brands are using photos on social networks and other sites to promote products.
Picture Perfect Turning online photos into marketing gold from left: Middle Row second photo: boo_licious/flickr; jahari/flickr; bottom row: john Kittelsrud/flickr; ugocuesta/flickr; the infamous Gdub/flickr
Online photos represent a great mar-
keting opportunity. But figuring out how to make the most of product shots on social networks and other sites can be tricky. Here’s the skinny on four new services that make it easier to collect, display and track online photos. —Jennifer Alsever
Creating photo albums
This service lets you crowdsource thousands of usergenerated photos and display them online in curated albums. Sign up for an account and create a photo album on your site or on Pixlee.com. You can invite customers to upload pictures directly to the album or via email, Instagram and Twitter. Then, you can add the album to Facebook and Tumblr. Pixlee’s software will pick the best photos based on the photographer’s popularity, where the photos were taken, and other factors. You can log on to your Pixlee dashboard to see how many photos you’ve collected, how many views they have received, and other metrics. cost: Starting at $500 a month
best for Tracking analytics
best for Tagging photos
best for Creating loyalty campaigns
Curalate helps track how other people use the product images from your company’s website, Pinterest account, or Instagram account. Go to your Curalate dashboard to see a variety of metrics, including which photos are driving the most traffic to your website and which ones are being shared the most on Pinterest and Instagram. The service also identifies your most influential customers and lets you respond to pins, repins and comments about your images from your Curalate dashboard. You can also use Curalate to create promotions on Pinterest. cost: Roughly $1,000 a month
Use Stipple to tag photos of your products with a variety of information, including prices, maps and links to your online store. When someone mouses over or touches the image, the information automatically appears. The data stays with images as they are shared across the Web. You can check your Stipple dashboard to see how many people have viewed the content and on which sites. You can also use Stipple to tag images for use in traditional online ad campaigns. cost: Free for social-media campaigns with up to 1,000 engagements, then $250 a month and up
Looking for ways to solicit usergenerated images of your products? Pongr lets you create loyalty campaigns on its website. You dole out points to fans who submit images by emailing them to your Pongr address or submitting them with the service’s free iPhone or Android app. People can also accrue points for sharing images and cash them in for prizes that include gift cards and iPads. Your company’s Pongr page displays the images, a leaderboard, and a store for redeeming points for prizes. cost: Free to create a photo gallery and campaign; $4,500 a month for premium services, including access to CRM data and customised landing pages
June/july 2013 | INC. | 2 3
Products + Services
My favourite tool for frequent flying paul wilke founder upright position communications mare island, california
My four-person public relations business specialises in tech, IPOs and travel. As a small-business owner without a lot of time—or an assistant—I have to be as efficient as possible when I take business trips. That’s where GateGuru, a free airtravel app, comes in. I linked GateGuru to my account on the trip-planning website TripIt. When I add trip information to TripIt, GateGuru automatically creates a JourneyCard that I can pull up on my smartphone. (You can also enter trip information in the app manually or email your itinerary to GateGuru.) The card contains my flight details, including airport weather, flight status, and the wait at the TSA security line. I can click icons to see information on shops, restaurants, ATMs and other services in the airport. I can also use the app to search for and book Avis rental cars at discounted prices at my destination airport. After my flight takes off, less-relevant information automatically disappears from my JourneyCard. Another fun feature: I can update my Twitter or Facebook status right from the app. The latest version of GateGuru also lets you track how many miles you’ve flown and the number of airports you’ve visited. The app has gone a long way toward making me an efficient traveller. —As told to Julie Strickland
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How Safe Is Your Smartphone? Secure models for business use If your mobile phone contains work documents, losing it can prove disastrous for you and your business. With that in mind, more hardware companies are rolling out supersecure models. We ranked the following phones, each of which features robust 256-bit encryption, by their souped-up security features. —John Brandon HTC One secure
The new 5-ounce HTC One features advanced options for unlocking the phone’s screen, including face detection and drawing a pattern. As with the other phones here, you can fully encrypt all data on the HTC One under Settings. The Android 4.1.2 phone has front- and rear-facing cameras, a bright 4.7-inch screen, and a superfast Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor. Another plus? The phone lasts for an impressive 18 hours of talk time. cost: $199 for 32GB of storage and a twoyear contract with Sprint, AT&T or T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S 4 more secure
This 4.6-ounce Android 4.2 phone includes Knox, a feature that provides extra security for workrelated files and apps. Using the free Samsung for Enterprise service, your IT staff can wipe phone data remotely and require a strong password to unlock the screen. The S 4 also offers advanced unlock options, including face detection. The phone, which has a large 5-inch display and front- and rear-facing cameras, will be available this spring through several carriers, including AT&T and Verizon. Information on battery life and pricing was not available at presstime, but comparable Samsung models have retailed at $199 for 16GB of storage and a two-year contract. BlackBerry Z10 most secure
This 4.8-ounce phone has a built-in, highly sophisticated security feature, BlackBerry Balance, that separates and secures work and personal information on the phone. (For example, it prevents users from pasting contents of work emails into emails in personal accounts.) IT staff can add and remove work apps remotely. The phone has a 4.2-inch touchscreen and front- and rear-facing cameras, and it lasts for about 10 hours of talk time. It comes with apps for LinkedIn and Dropbox. cost: $199 for 16GB of storage and a two-year contract from AT&T or Verizon Illustrations by oliver munday
From left: courtesy subject; phones: courtesy company (3)
Products + Services
How to become a social media ninja Four tools to gauge your popularity on social media When you’re busy leading teams and building products, you might not find enough
time to keep up with all the tweeting, pinning and checking-in business. But as hard you might try, you cannot ignore that social media has become an important platform to speak about your brand and know what your customers are thinking. So to save you some time, we list out some tools to help you manage and analyse your social media presence. —Ekta Tibrewal, thinkdigit.com Tweetdeck
If you happen to own multiple Twitter accounts or are simply looking at monitoring your Twitter feed, get Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck lets you manage and monitor Twitter content that matters to you using filters. But not just that, it also gives you the option to schedule tweets and notification alerts for new tweets. cost: Free
Hootsuite is a social media management tool that helps you track all your social networks using a single window. Just install Hootsuite, launch it in your browser and connect your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. The tool lets you set up live streams in customisable tabs and helps you manage your day-to-day social communications easily. If you can’t find enough time during the day to consistently update your Twitter or Facebook accounts, it even lets you pre-schedule up to 50 unique updates or messages. cost: Free and pro version for $9.99/month
Think of Buffer like a virtual queue. The app allows you to schedule content and then posts them on your behalf, at regular intervals. It works exceptionally well for Twitter. Buffer also provides insightful analytics on your social updates, engagement and reach of your tweets and posts. Plus, the free mobile app makes managing different social accounts from your mobile quite easy. cost: Free
If you think bit.ly is just another URL shortening service, you’re wrong. Besides making your URL short, bit.ly is a great sharing, bookmarking and analytical tool. On signing up for a free bit.ly account, you’re provided with a dashboard where you can view statistics for all the links you’ve shortened till date. But that’s not all. The website also allows you to generate QR codes or your own custom domains for your business. cost: Free
Online tools for motivating employees You know that showing appreciation helps motivate employees. But you might not always have the time to recognise good work. Online platforms help companies reward accomplishments year round by doling out virtual badges and points to employees for a job well done. PropsToYou is a free online project-management tool that awards virtual badges to employees for completing tasks, mentoring co-workers, and other accomplishments. Employees and supervisors can log on to PropsToYou to enter tasks and achievements. Once a week, the software crunches numbers and gives out badges—the Self Starter, the Animal—notifying the team and updating employee profiles. A more sophisticated option, Badgeville’s Behavior Platform integrates with a handful of popular customer-relationshipmanagement and collaboration tools, including Salesforce and Yammer. The software, which costs roughly $10 a person and can be customised by managers, automatically tracks accomplishments and sends real-time notifications when employees earn points or awards. The software reminds people which tasks they must complete to win awards and updates their profiles. Badge ville recently partnered with employee-recognition platform Maritz to dole out tangible rewards, including iPads and vacations. But a pat on the back still goes a long way. —J.A. June/july 2013 | INC. | 2 5
Products + Services
tech trends john brandon
Breathe In, Breathe Out Tools for reducing stress, without leaving your desk
Traffic Woes No More
India is still considered one of the toughest places to do business in. While traffic may not figure in the top three reasons why, it might just be the fourth one. But there’s a new indigenously-developed traffic monitoring app that may offer some respite. Traffline is a real-time traffic tracker that allows users to check traffic conditions in the city at any point of the day. Developed by Birds Eye Systems, a Mumbaibased start-up, the way it works is simple. Birds Eye has fitted GPS-installed probes on taxis and public transport vehicles which continuously transmit information about the position of traffic. This information is then converted to speed information by the company’s patented algorithm to help estimate the best routes to travel and the travel time from one point to another. It works with any digital map marked with different coloured lines for routes that are “congested”, “slow”, “moderate” or “smooth” and sends alerts such as “van stalled at western express highway” to help escape unexpected road events. The app is available for Blackberry, Android and iOS platforms for free. But it is currently only active in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. —Ira Swasti
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of the week sitting at a desk, worrying about deadlines and emails. There are plenty of fitness devices that track your movement during the day. But how about your stress levels? Recently, I tested two devices, Tinké by Zensorium and Inner Balance by HeartMath, that use biofeedback to do just that. Tinké is a palm-size sensor that costs $100 and monitors your cardiorespiratory health using an iPhone or iPad. When I plugged it into my iPhone, a message on the screen prompted me to download Tinké’s mobile app. Next, I placed my thumb on the sensor, and the app displayed my heart rate, blood oxygen level, respiration rate, and heart rate variability (i.e., changes in the rate at which your heart beats). The app compiled the data into a fitness score— called a Vita Index—that I could share with Facebook friends and Tinké users. I could also gauge my stress level, or Zen Index, by completing a 60-second breathing exercise that involved breathing in time with expanding and contracting circles. The initial results were alarming. My Vita Index was a dismal 62 out of a possible 99, and my Zen Index was 46 out of 99. After seeing my scores, I was more stressed out than ever. Over the next week, I checked my vitals and did my breathing exercise three times a day. Noting that my stress levels shot up before big phone calls, I spent five minutes breathing in and out slowly beforehand. By the end of the week,
my Vita Index jumped to 90, and my Zen Index rose to 56. Next, I tested Inner Balance, a $99 kit that includes an app for the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch and a sensor that clips to your earlobe. I plugged the sensor into my iPhone using an included cable and downloaded the app. To start a session, I selected my desired length of time (five minutes) and identified my mood (content). Then, I began a guided breathing exercise, breathing in time with an expanding and contracting circle, much like with Tinké, while thinking about a positive moment. A line representing my variable heart rate fluctuated up and down as I breathed, and a “coherence” score measured my heart rate stability. On the app, I could look at photos with positive associations and listen to relaxing music. I could also share the results with other Inner Balance users and track my progress. Not surprisingly, my initial coherence score was an awful 0.5 out of 15. But after doing the breathing exercises three times a day for a week, my score jumped as high as 8.5, averaging about 4.5. I was skeptical when I started my experiment. But both products helped me control my stress levels without doing much more than breathing. In the end, I wound up preferring Tinké, mostly because the Inner Balance earlobe sensor was a bit pesky to wear. I still spend most of the day at my desk, but now I’m much more relaxed.
After seeing my scores, I was more stressed out than ever.
ILLUSTRATION by SCOTT MENCHIN
FROM LEFT: Photos.com; COURTESY SUBJECT
Like many people, I spend most
he most definitive quality of entrepreneurship is that it’s such an immersive sensory journey—viscerally punishing and rewarding in equal parts. At Inc. India, it’s what makes entrepreneurs' stories so compelling to tell, much like watching twists and turns unfold in your typical plot-driven blockbuster movies. A few weeks back, that metaphor got us thinking: as entrepreneurs script, direct and act out their roles, do they find fodder for inspiration in the heroic tales of struggle and achievement that are the staple of cinema? We were amazed at the answers, and the stories we found. Take Anirban Blah, for example, who was so inspired by the 1996 Hollywood hit Jerry Maguire that when he founded his talent management venture in 2009, he christened it KWAN—a word that signifies both prosperity and love in the Tom Cruise-starrer (set in the ultra competitive world of sports celebrity managers in the United States). Other founder-CEOs might seem to have slightly less dramatic movie-magic tales to share but it’s fascinating how films are so ripe for picking when it comes to lessons that can be applied to running a company, or building a team. Go, get some popcorn. We’ve got quite a show lined up for you.
By Shreyasi Singh | Design by Anil VK | Illustration by Haridas Balan 2 8 | INC. | june/july 2013
June/july 2013 | INC. | 2 9
Reels of Inspiration
Anirban Das Blah | MD, CAA Kwan
Living the Story A
nirban Blah loves to “KWANtify” his relationships: which, he says, means putting people first, much before business and profit. It might sound like corporate platitude. More so, because Blah’s entrepreneurial story of building India's leading talent management venture is located in the money-spinning, dog-eat-dog world of the Indian movie industry. Though Blah's job leaves a lot of people starry-eyed, he remains unfazed. “It's like any other business. Our focus is clients too, only they are a bit more famous,” says the 34-year-old entrepreneur, who started KWAN (now, known as CAA KWAN after a joint venture with the Los Angeles-based Creative Artists Agency) with co-founders Indranil Blah, Vijay Subramaniam and Dhruv Chitgopekar in 2009. It was their second stint in the nascent world of talent management after Globosport, Mahesh Bhupathi’s sports management company where Blah was the CEO. He left because he wanted a sense of ownership. His celluloid inspirations probably scripted these moves. Jerry Maguire, the ambitious sports talent manager, played by Tom Cruise in a 1996 Hollywood movie of the same name, wrote in a manifesto in the beginning of the movie, that real value in their business lay not in the billings they clocked, but the relationships they built. In a dramatic scene in the movie, Maguire's client, football player Rod Tidwell, called this intangible relationship—“not just the money, not just the coin, it's the KWAN– love, respect, community and dollars, too,
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the whole package”. That is a mission statement woven into CAA KWAN’s very identity today. Blah deconstructs this mission simply. “Essentially, it’s about doing what’s good for the long-term, and not be blinded by shortterm gain. When we entered the industry, agents were mostly considered transactional and exploitative. That was the norm.
The Naming Act Anirban Blah christened his talent management company, KWAN after drawing inspiration from the movie, Jerry Maguire.
Reels of Inspiration
We didn’t want to be that. For me, Jerry Maguire was a way for living with some soul and integrity.” In the memo Maguire writes in the movie, he says: “We are pushing numbers around, doing our best, but is there any real satisfaction in success without pride?” It might have got Maguire fired from the ultrasuccessful Sports Management International in the movie, but it triggered a way of business and life for Blah, who has watched the movie nearly 25 times, and makes sure he reads the full text of the manifesto a couple of times a year. Not that the symbolism of their name, or values is easy to miss—a huge poster of the movie signed by the cast and crew dominates CAA KWAN’s Mumbai office, and the About Us page on its website carries the conversation between Cuba Goding Jr and Tom Cruise. It’s certainly helped Blah and his four-year-old firm reap rich, filmi-ishtyle rewards. There is no cinematic exaggeration here. Just check out some of the stars KWAN represents. photograph by jiten gandhi
Ranbir Kapoor is a KWAN man. That’s big casting for Blah’s team considering Kapoor is the only male member of his illustrious family to have hired an agent, that too when KWAN was barely three-months old. Others like international jetsetter Frieda Pinto, leading actress Deepika Padukone, advertising favourite Genelia D'Souza, and the likes of Sunidhi Chauhan and Anurag Kashyap have also picked KWAN to manage their corporate endorsements, live appearances and events. Also, KWAN isn’t restricted to Bollywood glitz. It has a very strong southern glamour with clients like Mahesh Babu, Ram Charan Tej, Allu Arjun and Kajal Aggarwal; and a thriving sports management business unit. And, the galaxy keeps growing every month. For Blah, though, living his inspiration day in and day out is more about what happens inside their offices, not on the frantic sets of ads and movies. “You need to be inspired every day. People aren’t inspired by a movie, or by their boss. It’s about having a great workplace." An important step to that was making sure they set up a “nice business” with “nice people” in it. In fact, more than the glamour talk, it’s this aspect that gets Blah really going “We don't necessarily hire the most qualified people. We hire the nicest ones, people who can be trusted.” Plus, they are young, love what they do, and don’t have any filmi connections. Each person in his 80-people team across its offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad has these attributes, Blah asserts. “To be honest, our role is not only to worry about the client. It’s to worry about our people, and help create the organisational capacity that will be able to help them work successfully with the values that define us.” His formula of niceness in the supposedly big, bad world of showbiz is seeing near-blockbuster results. Profit and revenue numbers are hard to come by for this industry, and Blah doesn't divulge numbers, but in the four short years CAA KWAN has been in existence, it's become one of the top talent management agencies in the country. In fact, they’ve won the CNBC Award for the Best Agency of the Year twice already. Unlike the celebrities he manages, there are no star bosses, popularity charts and corporate ladders to climb in his office. By shunning a top-heavy structure, Blah has de-centralised power, and brought processes, entrepreneurial zeal and accountability to his client-servicing teams. It’s a rare professional enterprise in an industry not known to be like that. “Ours is a venture-funded type of company. Each team handles a certain personality, and has complete responsibility to take any sort of decision. Having a top-heavy structure leads to erosion of power. If there are several people who are equally talented, how do you just put one of them on the top?” he asks seriously. (With inputs from Rohini Banerjee) June/july 2013 | INC. | 3 1
Reels of Inspiration
Ashwin Naik | Founder & CEO, Vaatsalya Hospitals
Tales of Teams I
t is easy to cast Ashwin Naik, founder and CEO, Vaatsalya Hospitals, in the role of the do-gooder, compassionate doctor. Founded in 2006, Vaatsalya Hospitals has become a worthy example of a business with both its head and heart in the right place. By kickstarting the affordable healthcare trend in states of south India, Vaatsalya has made it possible for rural and semi-urban communities across its 17 hospitals in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to access high-quality, inexpensive medical care. Fortunately, Naik wears his superstar social entrepreneur badge lightly. His choice of inspiring movies reflects that as well, considering many of them are heist thrillers!
Ocean’s Eleven "This one seems like an unlikely film for business lessons but I’ve picked up so much from it that I watch it every now and then to reinforce those lessons. For example, in the beginning of the movie, George Clooney’s character, Danny Ocean, sets out to assemble a team for an ambitious plan to rob three casinos. I don’t think they start with the idea of having 11 people in the team. But, once a team of 10 is put together (to bring different skills on board), they feel that there are still some skills missing and realise they need a “grease man”. When they spot a man turning cartwheels, they know that they have got their grease man, and they get him on board. As a company builder, I thought that was very interesting—it shows that first, you really need to know the skill you want on your team before you go out and get it. There are many philosophies for hiring but I believe in the philosophy that there’s a job, and there’s a right person for that job, and your job is to go and get that right person. These days, there is this whole talk about a good “fit” in the company’s culture and ethos, and being “aligned” with the company’s goal. I’m beginning to think that the alignment to the job is way more important. In fact, the Chinese guy they hire in Ocean’s Eleven doesn’t even speak the language but he’s got the skills. That is the key to building a great team."
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Reels of Inspiration
Boiler Room "This is another heist drama, and another team being recruited. Again, in the beginning of the movie, there’s a bunch of recruits where the lead actor is trying to tell everybody to act “as if”. Basically, he meant that you have to live your part, and do it convincingly. That is so true of entrepreneurship. When you’re starting off, you’re a twiddly-looking company constantly asked to pitch to investors, bankers or others. It’s possible to be stumped at times by their questions. But, being able to act “as if” is important. The actual word is “hustle”. At times, you don’t know something but you need to behave as if you do, and act as you go along."
JFK "The thing that struck me most about Kevin Costner’ portrayal of the prosecutor Jim Garrison in this movie about solving the John F Kennedy assassination case is that everybody, including his wife, abandons him. Yet, he continues to pursue the case with an almost-obsessive persistence. That’s a reasonably-expected characteristic from a decent entrepreneur. In our roles, persistence is the key to success. I do believe that if you stay with a problem for a long time, you will eventually find a solution for it. Sticking it out is very important to grow a business."
Anil Kaul | Founder & CEO, AbsolutData
Between the Lines M
uch like the mountain peaks he likes hiking on, (Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in continental United States being his most recent conquest), Anil Kaul’s business goals are set as high for his 12-year-old market research and analytics company AbsolutData. Nothing less than becoming the “most impactful, most respected and most powerful analytics firm that has ever existed” is the 250-people company’s stated vision. And its moves so far seem well choreographed to do that; the company has an impressive list of a bevy of Fortune 500 companies as clients, and a growing folder of interesting work. On his own part, Kaul, a PhD in marketing from Cornell University, and a former McKinsey & Co consultant, wants to hike the base camp of Mount Everest soon. Could the Big B himself have had something to do with these grand ambitions?
Rocket Singh, Salesman of the Year "This movie isn’t so much about inspiration as it is about relating to the journey of the characters in the movie. A lot of companies start exactly in the same way the protagonist and his friend begin their business—identifying a market gap, and providing the services required. The pain, the troubles and joys they go through rang so true. It reminded me of so many moments enroute building AbsolutData." June/july 2013 | INC. | 3 3
Reels of Inspiration
Zanjeer "What I love about this movie is that, for once, there is a character who isn't willing to accept a given situation. As an entrepreneur, that happens a lot. You often find yourself in situations and circumstances that you’d not want to work in and would rather be bold, and go out and change the whole paradigm—be it something outside your office, or an internal cultural change. In Zanjeer, Amitabh Bachchan’s character inspector Vijay, has an abiding focus— to change the entire system, and not settle for any wrongs. It’s about saying that I’m not going to be shaped by what is happening to me, but actually change the influences. I watched this movie before I became an entrepreneur, and remember feeling an exhilaration to be my own person and scripting my own decisions. When I actually left my corporate career to become an entrepreneur, the movie had resonance. I come from a service family where business wasn’t really encouraged. So, that inspiration has been important. I actually don’t watch many movies multiple times but this is an exception."
Twelve Angry Men "This entire film has been shot inside a single room where a jury of 12 people is deliberating on convicting a man accused of murder. There is near unanimity among the jury about the guilt of the accused, except one jury member. The movie is that one person’s attempt to make the other 11 see why the accused is not guilty. It’s amazing to see how he does it. He works on one person at a time to understands their background, context and life circumstances to figure out their perspectives. To me, that was so inspirational. Even as an entrepreneur, you need to understand the motivations and attitudes that are shaping the decisions of your employee or clients. No two view points are the same. Plus, the movie is a great tale of the power of persuasion. And, that you don’t give up if you’re alone in having a different opinion. You fight for it. You can actually persuade people if you have conviction."
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Reels of Inspiration
Gopi Natarajan | co-founder & president, Omega healthcare
The Power of I G
opi Natarajan is one of those people who sound like they are built for success. Even on a phone interview, it's hard to miss Natarajan's easy, self-assured confidence. His professional experiences might have something to do with this. Omega Healthcare, the health care revenue management company he set up in 2004 with partner Anurag Mehta, today has a run rate of more than $38 million, and around 4,500 employees across its facilities in Bangalore, Chennai and Trichy. Natarajan says they're on course to having 10,000 employees within three years as they continue their annual 35 per cent growth rate. Now, how did the The Godfather help him do this? The Godfather "For me, this iconic movie is a great lesson in leadership and decision making. Vito Corleone, the character played by Marlon Brando is a nice guy. But, when it comes to business, it is purely business. Corleone takes swift decisions at the right time— something critical for entrepreneurs. But more than that, there’s a lot to learn about grooming the next generation from this movie. As a founder CEO, that is very important; you can’t afford to be everywhere. You have to pick the right people and prepare them for greater responsibilities. Also, I operate a lot on intuition and The Godfather talks a lot about the power of gut. Data is always good but you can achieve a lot by pure intuition, especially when it comes to managing people. Beyond a point, a successful business is really about just that—people. In fact, something we pride ourselves on is that out of the 60 senior most people in our company, 55 have been with us right from the beginning. With my team members, I can literally tell you—if a person is happy, dissatisfied or looking out for an opportunity. For me, The Godfather is an incredible demonstration of the power and huge advantages of intuition. I’ve watched this movie around 12 times."
Wall Street "It’s one of those movies that I think has a great message—that you can be the smartest guy in the world like Gordon Gekko, Michael Douglas's character in the movie, but there really are no get-rich-quick schemes in life. If you do so, you get caught out, and lose. In that sense, Wall Street is a very powerful movie on the subject of greed. Greed for the short-term will never last; you have to put in the hard work needed for long-haul success. In the movie, Gordon Gekko gets consumed by his own ambition and greed. I actually watch the movie over and over again from the point of view of ethics, and what is good business conduct. When your venture does well, and grows, it’s easy to get caught up in your own bullshit, or as they say in the US, to start drinking your own Kool Aid. In fact, when we were trying to raise money in 2006, we talked to a bunch of PE firms. A couple of funds valued us at a higher price than HealthEdge, the Florida-based private equity fund we eventually went with. But, we're great believers in the difference between “dumb money” and “smart money”. Smart money will always be greater than dumb capital. So, we decided to partner with HealthEdge because we knew that team well, even though they were valuing us at 10-12 per cent less than others. Staying away from the temptation for more money has served us well. We’ve grown eight times since HealthEdge came in." June/july 2013 | INC. | 3 5
Youâ€™ve Been Hacked!
The Ethical Hacker Saket Modi, founder, Lucideus, proves a companyâ€™s website is hackable before he gets the owner as a client.
You’ve Been Hacked!
u o y y Wh this needmore guy n you tha ink th
Over the last few weeks, cyber attacks have assumed mega proportions—both in India, and abroad. As a recent BBC News article reported, the United States has accused the Chinese government and its military of cyber spying. According to the article, a Pentagon report said that the Chinese intrusions are focused on collecting intelligence on diplomatic, economic and defence sectors of the US which could benefit China’s own defence programmes. The Chinese government has denied the accusation. Whoever is right or wrong, the instance clearly brings into light the implications of cyber espionage. So, if the US government worries its web infrastructure is not safe, what are the chances that your website and applications are secure against hacking and corporate espionage? Recently, in India, the hack-heist of a leading bank’s ATM network raised further red flags about the threat of security. Yet, how much attention do CEOs pay to the very real, and exponentially-growing threat of hacking and cyber theft? Hardly any, asserts Saket Modi, the 22-year-old founder and CEO of Lucideus, a specialist web space security and training provider which counts clients such as IBM, Microsoft, the Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. Modi is part of the White Hat tribe of ethical computer hacker or security expert who specialises in penetration testing to ensure the security of an organisation’s information systems. He might be fresh-faced, but Modi is adept at demonstrating some pretty scary scenarios. “Considering the preparedness of cyber security in our country, we’re sitting on a time bomb. We produce 2.5 quintillion bytes of data everyday, out of which 69 per cent is unguarded,” he says. He certainly alarmed me when after fiddling with my smartphone for less than a minute, he sent me an e-mail with all the text messages stored in my phone. We sit down with the young entrepreneur, and an ethical hacker through his engineering college days at LNM Institute of Information Technology, Jaipur. by Shreyasi Singh | photographs by Subhojit Paul June/july 2013 | INC. | 3 7
You’ve Been Hacked!
How well acquainted are the CEOs you meet with the threats and dangers of web security? Is it an important factor in their conversations about their company’s technology needs and imperatives?
nology plans and imperatives. How is that relationship stacked right now—do you think business heads are not getting the right advice from their IT heads, or are the IT heads having difficulties in convincing CEOs to invest in security?
A non-tech savvy CEO will definitely rely on her technology team to lay out tech-
With most CEOs, especially if they’re not tech-savvy, the biggest problem is that they don’t know who makes the right CTO—who should they work with, and what their demands should be. The common perception is that you can go to IIT Delhi and IIT Mumbai, and get the best computer scientists who’ll make very sound web applications with amazing functionalities. But, developers cannot protect you. Another misconception that a lot of small and mid-size companies have is that they think if they’ve shelled out a lot of money for their web development, they’re secure. So, I’ve had several CEOs telling me that while the average cost of building a dynamic website is `1 lakh, we’ve paid `3 lakh, which means we are secure. What they don’t understand is that spending more money on web development does not secure you.
Modi: In the mid-size segment, people still don’t understand security, and its importance. To be honest, a lot of people behave like an ostrich, burying their head under the ground as that they don’t think the threat exists because they can’t see it. Most companies invest time and money on their digital presence as their founders have understood the business benefits. So deploying technology is their top most priority; security isn’t. But, we’re evolving, and security has to be the next logical step. That is how anything evolves. First, money comes into the system. Then, come the thieves and robbers, and then comes the security personnel. Right now, it’s the golden age of thieves because there is a thriving underground market for hacked data.
Even the best of the best aren’t safe. *Source: Security Threat Report, 2013
The Security Threat Report, 2013 found that even major organisations still leave users’ passwords vulnerable, at a time when password vulnerability ought to be a rarity. The report says there are a variety of well-known and easily-followed techniques for generating, using and storing passwords that should keep both individuals and organisations safe. Yet, in 2012 we saw one massive password breach after another, at a slew of high profile institutions.
» Russian cybercriminals posted nearly 65 million LinkedIn pass-
words on the internet. Teams of hackers went to work attacking those passwords, and cracked more than 60 per cent within days. That task was made simpler by the fact that LinkedIn hadn’t “salted” its password database with random data before encrypting it.
» Dating website eHarmony reported that 1.5 million of its passwords were uploaded to the web after the same attack that had hit LinkedIn.
» A social networking site, Formspring discovered that the passwords
of its 4,20,000 users had been hacked and posted online. It instructed 28 million of its members to change their passwords as a precaution.
» Yahoo Voices admitted that nearly 5,00,000 of its own emails and passwords had been stolen.
3 8 | INC. | june/july 2013
The hacking, or the manual penetration testing, that we do at Lucideus isn’t engineering. Actually, it’s reverse engineering. Reverse engineering is a different type of skill. No engineering college has a course on security. The kind of malware that is being developed across the globe now is not signature or behaviour dependent. Yet, many large security companies are still only developing tools which are automated, and based on algorithm. A human brain, i.e. a hacker, can easily take over and decode that algorithm. That is precisely the reason why automated tools are not the next-generation defence against the new wave of malware. It’s why I can hack your website even when you have a firewall. Advanced perception threats are now very customised, tailored to attack a particular problem— the signatures are so unique that a normal tailored tool can’t help you. At Lucideus, we know this understanding is missing so apart from implementing security solutions, a big component of our business is also about training people in understanding security. Another misperception is that several organisations think security is an experience-based role. Typically, most companies will appoint a developer with several years of web development experience as their security or QA chief. This is a wrong call. Senior web developers are trained only to fix the bugs. But, fixing bugs does not make you a security expert. In today’s super dynamic age, CSOs must be more handson. They should be aware of the underground market, or the exploit market. In fact, hiring somebody very experienced for this role increases the time and energy required in the process of unlearning and re-learning. The hacking language is best suited for somebody in the 18-25 category. Is your age an advantage then? If not, how do you market? Since awareness levels are low, has it been difficult to convince companies to enlist your services?
Generally, people don’t want to shell out money for security. It’s like an insurance policy that you can’t feel or see. We’ve learnt that clients won’t give us money in the first
You’ve Been Hacked!
Take Saket Modi’s quick quiz
to figure out how safe your company’s web presence is. Do you have an in-house IT team which develops and maintains your day-to-day IT operations? » If YES, do you have a chief information security officer (CISO) in place who has a fair knowledge in the security domain and is up to date with the latest developments in the exploit market? » If NO, do you have a permanent third party vendor that develops and maintains your web applications, websites or web Infrastructure? Is your vendor aware of the ever changing security landscape and have a CISO along with a team which takes care of ONLY the security angle of the applica-
tions or servers they are developing? If you have a portal (like a CRM) for your organisation, have you got a Web Space Penetration Test (WSPT) conducted for it from a third party (which is NOT related to your portal’s developer in anyway) ? » If YES, good! » If NO, you need one ASAP to increase your efficiency. Do you have your servers (web servers, mail servers, DNS Servers etc) hosted with reliable web services providers like Amazon, Rack Space, Go Daddy, HostGator etc? » If YES, who has the root
phase, so what we do is go and ask them for an authorisation letter to scan their website. By this I mean, we have the same level of access as an outsider. We don’t ask them to divulge their codes or passwords. After three levels of scanning, we go back to the company with a binary response. Either, yes, you’re hackable; or no, you’re not hackable. The first response is always denial. The next question that comes is to prove it to them that they are hackable. In many cases, we’ve given people their own passwords. The minute we show them proof of concept, they’re more than willing to shell out money to secure their websites. On an average, 9 out of 10 companies we’ve scanned, we’ve been able to hack into. If you could give CEOs a few simple tips to make their e-mails and laptops more secure, what would they be?
First, an organisational tip. Don’t be fooled into depending on SSL. Get WPA-II. Second, do not download applications that you don’t know about even if they come from friends through BBM, WhatsApp or e-mail. A survey says more than 10 per cent of the Google Play Store apps are infected, and as soon as you download them, you cede con4 0 | INC. | june/july 2013
access to these servers? If you have it, it is good, otherwise, you must ask for it from your vendor, CTO or CISO. » No, I outsource the entire setup and maintenance of servers to a third party vendor who maintains my portals and sites and I has no clue as to what servers he uses. Do you use a third party application (like Google Apps, Yahoo Small Business Mail, Microsoft 365, Zoho Mail etc) for accessing your e-mail? » If YES, do you have the admin privileges of your domain such that you can monitor the activities of all your users?
Defending Data Saket Modi claims that on an average, nine out of 10 companies they’ve scanned are not secure, and can be hacked.
trol of your laptop and phone to them. They can see your messages, screen shots, and even wipe out your entire memory. So, more than payment gateways and bank accounts being hacked, the higher degree of threat is from a hacker taking control over your laptop. Be more vigilant about the security of your devices and laptop. Tip number three, don’t go to random websites. There are some websites that can con-
» If NO, then do you know
where exactly your emails are stored and where you are accessing them from? Have you got the WSPT done for the same?
Have you had an IT security audit? » If YES, do you have a fixed frequency of when these audits take place? (you must have a frequency of at least one audit every quarter) » If NO, you need one at the earliest. Test Results: If you score three or more YESs, you are secure!
trol your devices for life if you visit them even once. Run an incognito window. Do your searches on incognito mode. Finally, sophisticated hackers won’t send you viruses from e-mail ids that you don’t know of. They’ll come through ids of your friends and family which you’re most likely to click on. Which is why, don’t ever click on greeting cards or other images linked to other websites.
save the day for health care in India? And, Maybe
even the world?
4 2 â€‚ |â€‚ INC. | june/july 2013
In early 2012, the central government had announced plans to ensure Universal Health Coverage in India, that is to say, increase the health insurance cover of all citizens from the present 25 per cent to 75 per cent in the next five years. This was aimed at making basic health care facilities accessible and affordable to all. With almost a year gone by, not much has been achieved on this front. The usual suspects—lack of political and administrative will—are to be blamed. Fortunately, a growing breed of entrepreneurs are looking at the same problems the government is trying to solve as business opportunities. And the possibilities, and the need, to do this seem limitless. According to a 2009 report released by CII-Grant Thornton, the Indian health care industry is expected to breach $75 billion by 2017, and on the other hand, the doctor-patient ratio in India is 1:2000 as against the WHO norm of 2.5 per 1000 patients. With such abysmally low access to health care facilitators and even poorer infrastructure, the magic bean that could really work for these businesses is technology—both for substituting and facilitating direct doctor consultations, and for bringing down the cost of access. Read on to find out more about a clutch of ventures trying to do just that.
by ira swasti
June/july 2013 | INC. | 4 3
Health care Buzz
According to Dr Akash Rajpal, founder of
Mumbai-based firm Ekohealth, Dr Akash Rajpal about 35 per cent of insurance applications get rejected in the country, mostly because people only apply for a health insurance after contracting chronic lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart ailments or cancer, or after they’ve crossed a certain age threshold. “This is the time when a patient badly needs an insurance cover and the time he or she doesn’t get it,” Dr Rajpal says. Also, 80 per cent of a person’s medical expenses come from routine lab tests, doctor visits and medicines, and not from one-off surgery costs, that an insurance scheme may or may not cover. Unfortunately, it would be simply unfeasible to expect private insurance companies with an already low member base to cover a large number of highrisk patients. On the other hand, the government usually tends to focus on people at the bottom of the pyramid, as perhaps it should. That leaves a large number of people between these two scenarios, who can’t afford 4 4 | INC. | june/july 2013
insurance and are not government-scheme beneficiaries. How can a business then leverage this huge pool of the urban poor and the middle-income segment that prefers to go to a private instead of a government hospital, but doesn’t have the means to pay for it? Ekohealth is trying to make that possible through a group discount model for health care services i.e. group discounts for surgeries and other medical procedures at various hospitals that the company has tied up with. The idea behind the model is that hospitals would be willing to offer bigger discounts if they have a bulk of patients looking for treatment and patients would benefit from the lower costs of medical procedures. Started in April 2011 by Dr Rajpal, Ekohealth offers a subscription of `1,500 per family per year, under which, every family member is entitled to discounts ranging from 10 to 50 per cent on doctor consultations, medicines and more complex medical procedures like surgeries at medical centres such as Apollo Pharmacy, Medanta, Seven Hills Hospital and SRL Religare. Ekohealth ties up with a hospital or medi-
Investment Trend #1:
Private equity and venture capital investments in the Indian health care industry are increasing rapidly. In 2012, the industry absorbed $1.2 billion across 48 deals, according to research firm Venture Intelligence. cal centre in a city and refers its members there without charging the hospital any referral fee, but makes money from advertisements of companies or hospitals that wish to co-brand their identities on the company’s membership card. But for the model to work, the company needs to have a large membership base in
place, and so Rajpal targets both corporates which are a great pool of a large number of potential members present in one place and individual families, which usually have four members on an average. However, the bigger goal of the venture, according to the founder, is to create awareness among people about the costs of various medical procedures, (just like any other commodity in the market) so that uninformed patients are not taken for a ride by unethical doctors and hospitals. “Most of the medical decision making at the family level is dependent on the family physician or unreliable word of mouth because people are not aware of the regular cost of a certain procedure,” he explains. “What that leads to is
Because with or without insurance, you still need a doctor
Health care Buzz
Consult a doctor, sitting anywhere around the world According to the 2010 World Health Statistics report, there were only 6.13
Having Your Back Mumbai-based firm Ekohealth ensures that people with no medical insurance have access to health care services.
a practice of referral fee which is as high as 60 per cent of the patient’s bill and that artificially inflates the bill.” Then, many more patients do not know that there are usually more than 50 manufacturers that produce the same molecule for a drug, one that charges `800 and another that may cost only `40. According to a 2011 study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, the retail margin of five commonly-used branded-generic medicines was in the range of 201 to1016 per cent. Ekohealth ensures that all its members can consult the company to get information on the cost of medicines or medical procedures to know the cheapest and best option available, once the patient’s doctors
have prescribed a certain medicine or surgery. It claims to have reduced the health care costs of its 8,500-odd members by `22,000-50,000 a year and is operational in major metros and Tier 1 cities such as Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Nagpur, at present. So is Ekohealth doing the government’s job? Dr Rajpal doesn’t seem to think so. With the population size that India has, he says he doubts any other democratic government in the world could have managed this feat. So, if anything, the government needs the support of private players to make the vision of basic health care available for every Indian come true. “And we believe we could do the same with Ekohealth.”
lakh physicians in the country, against a requirement of 13.3 lakh, which amounts to a more than 50 per cent Dr Debraj Shome shortage of doctors in the country. Even with these depressing figures, there are increasing reports of India’s best medical brains choosing to move abroad for a better life and pay. With such a wide demand and supply gap, how many Indians can practically hope to consult a qualified doctor at a price that won’t burn a hole in their pockets? “Issues in health care are similar in India and the US as doctors are highly trained, but extremely expensive resources makes it difficult to have an equitable distribution of doctors in every city, in every country,” says Dr Debraj Shome, the cofounder of the Mumbaibased firm Angels Health that aims to bridge this very divide with its online platform MediAngels, also hailed as the world’s first “e-hospital”. “And I realise that good quality health care is not just a problem for the masses. Even for educated doctors such as myself, reaching the right doctor at the right time can be a problem, as I Investment Trend #2: have witnessed from close quarters.” Health care providers in India Started by renowned plan to spend facial plastic surgeon Dr $1.05 billion on IT Debraj Shome and Dr products and Arbinder Singal in January services in 2013, according to a 2011, one can do “everyreport by Gartner. thing on MediAngels that can be done at a physical June/july 2013 | INC. | 4 5
Health care Buzz
4 6 | INC. | june/july 2013
ures for last year as it prepares to raise its first angel funding next month. Funded by HDFC PE, the e-hospital has a 90 per cent user base comprising of Indians and a 10 per cent foreign user base, owing to the global nature of the platform. Out of this 90 per cent, about half the consultants were sought by people from metros and Tier 1 cities while the other half by Tier 3 and 4 cities. “We have even got patients from villages coming to the Investment Trend #3:
“Good quality health care is not just a problem for the masses. Even for educated doctors such as myself, reaching the right doctor in time is a huge problem.” — Dr Debraj Shome, founder & CEO, Angels Health
FDI inflow in hospital and diagnostic centres was $1,542.35 million from April 2000 to December 2012, according to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). platform, raising queries in Hindi, which shows the crying need for health care across every corner of the country,” Dr Shome says. With a team of 18 people and a target to reach the $2 million mark by next year, the CEO confesses that running a business is “more challenging” than practicing as a surgeon. “You have far more control over what you’re doing as a doctor because you are only dependent on your skills, but you need a lot of crossfunctional expertise and collaboration with other people to get the work done in business,” he says. “But one less challenge of running an online hospital is that we can get the best medical minds from around the world to treat patients, without worrying about geographies.”
hospital except surgeries, of course”. That means, uploading a patient’s medical history online to consulting a doctor through videoconferencing to getting medicines delivered at home, can all be done sitting at home. It’s a boon for elderly people and patients who can’t move from their beds. At present, patients can consult from among 350 doctors on board in 93 specialities from 15 countries including India. These doctors are screened through a highly stringent process by a five-member committee of doctors from around the world, one of whom is the head of department of Dermatological Surgery at Stanford University, USA. While consultation with an Indian specialist could cost between `250 to `750 to a patient, consultation with a foreign specialist costs upto $150. “A normal consultation with a good qualified specialist in the US can cost you $250, with our platform, we’ve brought it down by more than half, and the advice right at your doorstep,” Shome says. Apart from its doctors, the platform also verifies all of its 21,000 sample collection centres across the country by the American College of Pathologists, so that only qualified professionals collect and evaluate the patients’ blood or urine samples to upload the results on the patient’s online profile on the MediAngels platform. This is also a great way to maintain a repository of all such tests of the patients conducted in the past. Shome reports treating 10,000 patients in the first year of starting the business itself but is reluctant to disclose fig-
Health care Buzz
Some other saviours... Skanray Healthcare
A medical devices company that has been making waves recently is Skanyray, the Mysore-based company which produces high-frequency X-ray machines at half the price of conventional X-ray devices in the country. Started in 2007, the company recently acquired Larsen & Toubro’s health care business. The low-cost hospital chain Narayana Hrudalaya is one of its customers. The company is now looking to set up a manufacturing facility in Brazil and West Asia.
Emergency services in India—be it fire, police or medical— are highly unorganised and inefficient in reaching the victim in time. But this Gurgaon-based company that specialises in providing emergency medical services has come to rescue— both, by making emergency response quicker, and by equipping people to be better prepared. Founded by Amreena Puri in 2009, the firm provides ambulance services along with emergency medical equipment (Vivo First Aid Kit). It has also carried out training programmes to train individuals in first aid and basic life support skills across 110 organisations and 22 cities.
Global E-care? Angels Health allows people to consult Indian and foreign doctors through its online global platform MediAngels.
This Bangalorebased firm founded in 2009 by Nandkumar S. produces robots that help plan and execute minimally invasive biopsies on hard-to-reach tumours in the body. Traditionally, clinicians have to plan their oncology procedures by combining 2-dimensional CT scans and their own understanding of the human anatomy to determine the approach to target the tumour, as well as estimate the right route and amount of energy required
to destroy it. But with Perfint’s robot MAXIO, they can visualise the ablation procedure (or the procedure of removing tissue) in 3-D and plan the right path to approach the tumour, with more accuracy and in less time.
Health Point Services
Founded by Amit Jain in 2009, this company sets up E HealthPoint units in rural areas of India to make health care accessible and affordable in villages. Each health point is equipped with a fully functional diagnostic centre, staffed with qualified lab technicians that are trained to perform more than 70 diagnostic tests at an affordable price for the target segment. People can also consult doctors living in urban areas through telemedicine facilities available in these centres. Interestingly, this firm also provides clean drinking water through a monthly subscription plan as a lot of diseases can be prevented by the consumption of clean water.
mDhil Health Info Services
Imagine if with all the information you con-
sume daily on our mobile phones, you could get daily health messages that motivate you each day to live a healthy, more fulfilling life. This Bangalore-based company started in 2009 by Nandu Madhava, mDhil provides basic health care information to Indian consumers via text messaging, apps and interactive digital content. Based on a subscription model, users receive three health messages on topics such as diabetes, smoking, maternal and sexual health a day on their mobile phone for a fee of Re 1 per day. These health alerts are written by public health professionals such as registered nurses and physicians. June/july 2013 | INC. | 47
Health care Buzz
Made in India is more affordable and accessible
Dr Shyam Vasudeva Rao
According to Dr Ruchi Dass,
CEO & founder, HealthCursor Consulting Group, 80 per cent of India’s population lives in semi-urban or rural areas, yet more than 70 per cent health facilities are available in urban areas. And, if we look at the medical devices market specifically, 65 per cent of all medical devices are imported from outside India, even when the cheap medical device market in India is worth $5.2 billion. Clearly, this is a hugely untapped opportunity in the market. But thankfully, there are companies such as Forus, Skanray and Perfint Healthcare (see box on page 41) that are heralding a new wave of medical innovation in India with their indigenously developed medical devices. It was in 2005 that two colleagues at Phillips—Dr Shyam Vasudeva Rao and K. Chandrasekhar heard a lecture by Dr Arvind of the Arvind Eye Care hospital chain and learnt that 80 per cent of blindness cases 4 8 | INC. | june/july 2013
in India were preventable. Ready to take on the challenge, the co-workers took four years of research and analysis, quit their jobs in 2009, and built 3nethra, an integrated eye screening device which combines three other individual components into one, to detect major eye ailments such as cataract, glaucoma, diabetic retina and cornea problems in a fast and accurate manner. “The ophthalmologist to patient ratio in India is so skewed at 1:70000 that we knew we could only solve this problem through technology which was scalable,” says Chandrasekhar, co-founder, Forus Healthcare. Priced at `5 to `7 lakh, 3nethra not only brings down the cost of eye screening by four times as compared to the three individual devices required to do the same level of eye screening but it is portable (at about 13kg) and can be used by paramedical staff with minimal training, as is usually the case in villages or urban slums, where medical infrastructure and trained personnel are hard to find. “The main idea of building this device was to democratise the process of eye screening. So
Investment Trend #4:
The drug and pharmaceutical sector has attracted FDI worth $9,783.31 million between April 2000 and December 2012, according to DIPP.
Health care Buzz
Indigenous Innovations Forus Healthcare has designed a device that can be used with minimal training to detect major eye ailments.
Investment Trend #5:
FDI inflow in medical and surgical appliances stood at $584.14 million between 2000 and 2012.
we first targeted hospitals, then eye care specialists, then optometricians and now optometric shops, to install our devices,” says Chandrasekhar. With over 130 installations, today, the device reaches 3,50,000 to 4,00,00 people in 15 states. Out of these, about 60 per cent of the installations are Photograph by s radhakrishna
in metros and Tier 1 cities while 40 per cent are in non metros. Though, the company’s focus while building 3nethra was not so much on segmenting the market but making the product usable in different scenarios—whether it was a vision centre, a mobile van or an OPD. “In fact, many of our
devices installed in urban Bangalore are taken to nearby villages by medical staff to cater to the rural population on weekends,” he says. But making a medical device in India is not without its own set of challenges because of the lack of an ecosystem. There are not enough
medical devices companies in India nor enough human resources with the required skills. Plus, validation of a health care product is more complex and requires more time than a consumer product. Finding investors to fund product development amounts to another challenge as investors usually wish to see a prototype before they invest in the business, which creates a chicken and egg problem as entrepreneurs find themselves with no funds to conduct research and build a prototype. Luckily for Forus though, Accel Partners and IDG Ventures provided angel funding of $5 million, which along with the founders own money, was enough to build the product and launch in the market. The two-year-old firm today has more ambitious plans for its future. It hopes to expand its markets outside India, starting with Africa and Latin America in the next two years. “Thanks to the universal design of the product, 3nethra can be used in both urban and rural settings, anywhere in the world.” June/july 2013 | INC. | 49
Tactics. Trends. Best Practices.
Managing The Perfect Menu Want to keep employees happy? Think beyond basic khaana courtesy: motilal oswal
In any office, it is at the corner of long cor-
ridors or near the water cooler that people end up having the best conversations. And, in the just-before lunch hours, it wouldn’t be too hazardous a guess to make that a big chunk of chatter revolves around food! Many office-goers pack their lunches,
or order in food from the nearest dhaba or deli. And, then there are those for whom fresh and healthy food is five minutes away from their workstations, thanks to several companies who have understood the wholesome business benefits of good food and productive lunch hours.
Typically, uber-cool, corporate giants such as Google have been written about for their lavish, bountiful cafeterias. But, many mid-size companies have caught on with this trend as well despite these pennypinching times. Smartly, these corporate canteens aren’t limited to satiating the gasJune/july 2013 | INC. | 51
tronomic impulses of their employees although that is the starting point—think international cuisines, food festivals, special diet combos and fresh juice counters. But, the real benefits are often beyond nutrition. Cafeterias have become an integral part of employee welfare in any organisation. Not only does bringing lunch on-site keeps employees healthy and boosts productivity, it also helps companies reduce their health care cost and combat attrition. Which is why, companies are trying to create their canteens more as an alternative space where people can relax with their colleagues. Clarista, the 4,000-square feet rooftop cafeteria of Ahmedabad-based Claris Lifesciences, a sterile injectables pharmaceutical company, has a gaming zone with pool, foosball, table tennis, air hockey, boxing bags, chess and carrom equipment. It also has a reading and a smoking corner. “Dif5 2 | INC. | june/july 2013
ferent people have different energy triggers and adopt different ways to rejuvenate themselves. We have tried to create an environment where more and more people can congregate to unwind,” says Shyam Sharma, president of HR and corporate communications at Claris Lifesciences. Clearly, the high-fun quotient has worked because Claris was one of the “Best Companies to Work for in India in 2012”, according to a study conducted by The Economic Times and Great Place to Work Institute, India. Karunakar Gupta, group manager for administration at Evalueserve India, a global KPO with more than 2,600 profes-
sionals worldwide, echoes the sentiment. Right from when they moved to an office space in Cyber Park at Gurgaon, Evalueserve dedicated 12,500 square feet of space with a seating capacity of 510 people to its cafeteria. The idea was to provide safe and hygienic food that is value for money. But, over the years the cafeteria has become a hotbed for other activities. When employees stay back in the office, they use the space to play table tennis, chess or carrom. As this area has maximum footfalls, it is used for promotional activities, and miniexhibitions of garments, artificial jewellery and gift items. Shop as you work, anybody?
from top: evalueserve india; motilal oswal
Gastronomic Tales Bringing food on-site improves employees’ health and boosts productivity. More than that, it helps companies reduce health care cost and combat attrition.
Evalueserve believes the canteen also gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their concern for the employees by paying attention to small conveniences. For one, although the company does not subsidise the food, it does not charge the vendors rent or electricity charges. This brings down the cost of food by 15-25 per cent. They have instituted the use of meal coupons to help employees save tax and minimise their expenses on food. “Investing in non-revenue generating platforms shows the ideology of the management. It shows they care for their employees,” emphasises Gupta. At Motilal Oswal Financial Services, a Mumbaibased financial services firm, the canteen offers opportunities for collaboration and discussion among employees. For instance, they have a Cafeteria Committee of 10 people who liaise with the vendors to discuss the weekly menu and suggest changes. In fact, it was thanks to one of these suggestions that the “Super Food” concept was started. Diet combos were added to the buffet along with a kiosk for fresh juices. The crusade for healthy living, as a corporate goal, did not stop there. The canteen’s tables are screen printed with “Do You Know?” health tips. Even the wall paper has health facts splattered all over. Also, it is within the interstices of a canteen that everybody from the top management to an intern or a fresh recruit eats the same food together. It helps break down the spacial hierarchy of the office which otherwise has enclosed cubicles for senior managers. “There are no earmarked tables for anyone. Even our CMD eats at the canteen,” notes Sudhir Dhar, head of HR and admin at Motilal Oswal. “It serves as an informal discussion room that gives people a chance to discuss work-related issues in a
non-threatening environment. It’s interesting that such conversations can be inter and intra department, and help the management figure out the buzz and the chatter in the company.” Having said that, the orange, green and yellow cafeteria at Motilal Oswal also has an all-white, glass-doored Executive Dining area with a seating capacity of 25 people used for all client meetings. The idea for such a space is fed by some smart thinking. Dhar notes that clients who come in often remark that a company that takes such good care of its employees will certainly look after its clients well. The executive dining area is also a venue for its bevy of employee awards for super-achieving or long-service employees. The winners enjoy an executive lunch with the CMD, and other senior management members.
their 26 clients. Vohra avers there has been a considerable difference in eating habits of people—away from “good food” to a healthy, balanced meal. “Many now prefer pre-portioned low-calorie meals, and our corporate clients put in surprise visits at our kitchens to keep a tab on quality. “Some also send the food for laboratory testing. These checks and audits keep us on our toes,” notes Vohra. Vohra also remarks on the increasing demands from companies for different types of cuisines. They range from regional variety such as Rajasthani or Gujarati to international cuisines like Mediterranean, Greek and Thai, called in to replace regular buffet meals or be a part of food festivals organise regularly to break away from the monotony. The cafeteria at Motilal Oswal changes its menu every week and invites
Investing in non-revenue generating platforms shows the ideology of the management. It shows they care for their employees, emphasises Gupta from Evalueserve. The company has also made buying food at the cafeteria a cashless affair with DIY payments where employees just need to swipe their ID card, and select buffet or a la carte options. The total amount gets deducted from their salary at the end of the month. The rationale was to do away with the need to carry a wallet and save queuingup time. Also, the system keeps a track of everyone’s eating habits. At any time, a person can log in on the company intranet and view the food consumed. It helps people keep a tab on their daily intake. The old cliché—health is wealth—certainly seems to hold much sway. It’s making demands on the vendors who service corporate canteens. G S Vohra, co-founder of Tulip Institutional Services, a company providing catering services to educational institutes, corporates and hospitals has started including nutritional value for all the 20,000 meals they serve everyday for
many one-time counters like Dominos Express besides the permanent Cafe Coffee Day and Aroma Tea kiosks. Also, the cafeteria at Evalueserve has an organic food stall from Organic Express that caters ready-to-eat organic food to corporates and eateries, and sells raw organic products for the health conscious. “The idea is to offer not only healthy recipes but food cooked from organic products,” says Ishit Pilani, partner at Organic Express. With prices 25 per cent more than a regular meal, their multi-cuisine kiosk offers a variety of sandwiches, pastas, salads, biryani—all using organic cereals and produce. Currently, they serve in 22 corporates including big MNCs such as GE, American Express and Future’s First. They also take orders and deliver organic raw materials and organic ready-to-eat food, helping people take home the goodness of health food. —Sonal Khetarpal June/july 2013 | INC. | 5 3
Technology The new industrial age 3-D printing technology is all the rage. How useful is it for your business? In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama argued that 3-D printing could “revolutionise the way we make almost everything.” His speech echoed a sentiment that has been gaining traction among entrepreneurs and techies for some time now. Three-dimensional printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has been around since the late 1980s and has produced some exciting advances. Companies in the industry have printed aerospace parts, industrial manufacturing equipment, and even human stem cells. One company is working on a technique to print functioning human organs. Although all of this is promising, 3-D printing technology still has a long way to go. The industry is poised to grow to $3 billion globally by 2018, up 56 per cent from 2012, according to a study by the market research firm Global Industry Analysts. So far, big companies have dominated the sector. “If you’re talking about using 3-D printing for actual finished products, it’s really aerospace and the medical industry driving most of this growth,” says Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates, a firm that provides consulting services to the 3-D printing industry. The average 3-D-printed product costs roughly $4 a cubic inch to produce, according to Wohlers. Generally, it’s cost effective to print only items that can be produced in low volumes with high
“It’s going to lead to a whole host of new business models and a different way of thinking when it comes to start-ups.”
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markups—such as airplane parts or hip replacements. When it comes to more commoditised items, such as children’s toys or the casings for TV remotes, mass-scale injection molding in China is still significantly cheaper. At this stage, prototyping seems to be the most effective 3-D printing application. Stratasys is an Eden Prairie, Minnesota–based manufacturer of high-end 3-D printers that allow companies like BMW to innovate on the fly. For
example, BMW uses Stratasys printers to create new thermoplastic tools for its assembly-line workers. The tools are more lightweight and ergonomic than traditionally made tools. “Being able to print new components for their factories as fast as they can innovate is already making manufacturing firms incredibly agile,” says Bruce Bradshaw, Stratasys’s director of marketing. “As a result, companies will be less tempted to outsource manufacturing to places that lack the expertise to use this type of technology.” Matthew Tran is the co-founder of Boosted Boards, an electric-skateboard manufacturer based in Sunnyvale, California. He is fortunate enough to share office space with a robotics company, which has given Boosted unfettered access to a number of 3-D printers. The
Just Press Print A sculpture made by a MakerBot 3-D printer
precision and features that industrial printers do, but entrepreneurs can still use them to create parts and components of finished products. Wohlers offers a tempered vision of 3-D printing. “It won’t be bringing back manufacturing to the U.S. in the traditional sense,” he says. “But it’s going to lead to a whole host of new business models and a different way of thinking when it comes to start-ups.” That trend has already started. Last December, Staples announced a partnership with 3-D printer manufacturer Mcor Technologies to provide 3-D
printing services in Staples stores. Down the road, small companies could sell digital files for their products online. Customers would print their purchases at the local 3-D print shop and have them delivered to their homes that same day. So will 3-D printers produce just about everything one day? That’s a long shot, says Bradshaw of Stratasys. “There’s a lot of talk that eventually your mom is going to have a 3-D printer in her living room,” he says. “I just can’t see that happening.” —Sam Wagreich
The Rise of Solo Manufacturing
A Man and his Machine MakerBot co-founder Bre Pettis and his Replicator Desktop 3-D printer
If 3-D printing is indeed going mainstream, it will be in large part because of people like Bre Pettis, cofounder of the Brooklyn, New York–based 3-D printer company MakerBot. The company produces affordable desktop 3-D printers, with a basic unit selling for around $2,000. At South by Southwest this year, Pettis unveiled the Digitizer, a new MakerBot scanner that can scan a physical object—say, a golf ball or a garden gnome—and record its precise physical dimensions so it can be re-created by a 3-D printer. And that, he says, is good news for entrepreneurs. —Eric Markowitz
How has MakerBot changed since you launched it in 2009? Four years ago, there were three of us. I brought an early version of our printer to South by Southwest and just prototyped shot glasses in bars all day. Now, we’ve got close to 200 employees, a huge manufacturing facility, and actual offices with desks. When did you realise that this was going to be big? Basically, when we started shipping them out. When we first made MakerBots, we knew people would use them, but we didn’t know how. That’s when I really started thinking about the industrial revolution
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saved $30,000 by not taking the traditional factory production route.
and what could happen. Putting these tools into people’s hands democratises manufacturing. It’s getting to the point where if you have an idea, you can make it. How does 3-D printing change product prototyping? Before, if you wanted to manufacture something, you had to have a connection to a factory. That’s not easy. With MakerBot, you basically have a factory on your desk. You can iterate. You can keep improving your ideas. How are entrepreneurs using MakerBot? One customer made what he called a Square Helper, a device that stops your Square
credit card reader from spinning around when it’s connected to your iPhone. Rather than going through a threemonth injection molding process, he can just print out the orders as they come in. That ability to iterate and move quickly really opens things up for entrepreneurs. On another level, the payment start-up LevelUp used a MakerBot to create a prototype of its mobile-phone scanner. It
What about those of us who don’t know how to use 3-D modelling software? The goal is to make it easy and accessible for users who don’t have a CAD background. We created our interface in partnership with Autodesk, which makes user-friendly design tools. Is the goal to inspire future entrepreneurs? This technology will help speed up manufacturing for lots of entrepreneurial businesses. My goal is to provide tools that anyone can use to make anything.
company used 3-D printers to generate a plastic enclosure for an early prototype of the skateboard’s hand-held remote controller. “You get the part within hours, depending on what size it is,” says Tran. “If you had to machine that part, it could take a couple of days.” To some degree, even businesses that don’t have access to industrial 3-D printers can still take advantage of the technology. Start-ups such as MakerBot (see below) and Formlabs have introduced a number of consumer-level 3-D printers that cost less than $3,000. The consumer models don’t offer the same
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Elevator Pitch Sparsh Nephrocare runs dialysis centres in non metros. Will you filter out `15 crore as investment? The Pitch: “In India, about 15 lakh people suffer from complete kidney fail-
ure. Only 15,000 of them are able to get dialysis done regularly. Since most of the dialysis centres are located in Tier 1 cities, patients from small towns have to travel long distances twice or thrice a week to get treatment. This drastically increases the cost of therapy. To bridge this huge demand-supply gap, Sparsh Nephrocare takes the treatment to patients in underserved towns. Our centres are cost-effective and low-frill, and are set up as independent units within existing hospital premises. We use the US Food and Drug Administration approved re-processing system which results in higher quality of dialysis and significantly reduces cross-infection risk. In the two years since we’ve launched, we’ve grown to 15 centres and provide 3,000 dialysis procedures per month. Our plan is to expand to 40 more centres and reach 10,000 more patients in the next few years.” —As told to Sonal Khetarpal
Gaurav Porwal (left); Saurav Panda (centre); Rajeev Sindhi (right) Location
2013 Projected Revenue
The Experts Weigh In Build better brand value
Sparsh Nephrocare is addressing a very serious problem created by our changing lifestyles. Being a single speciality provider, it lends very well to an economies of scale business model. Having said that, the number of nephrologists in India is still limited, therefore the company should try and use technology in a way that utilises the existing resource pool well. Further, laser focus on unit economics and maintenance (hygiene, clean-up of machines etc.) of the centre would lead to solid brand building which in turn will ease the acquisition of both patients and doctors. Ashutosh Sharma, senior associate, NVP India, Bangalore
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Tweak the Revenue Model
`15 crore Set your brand apart
Dialysis is a good business for investors because revenue is recurring as each patient requires three dialysis per week. And, access in Tier 2 towns is critical as most 10 lakh or below population towns do not have dialysis machines and the requisite backup for complications. However, it might be difficult to brand in an inside hospital model where exclusive branding and collections will be a challenge. Another challenge is to ramp up the revenue per centre. With their current model, they will make less than `1 crore per centre. So to get to a `100 crore scale, they will need more than 100 centres.
In the medical retail businesses that have come up, there is a clear focus on chronic conditions, which means that the business can continuously build on its installed base of customers. The key element to watch out for would be their differentiation relative to other players— for a hospital choosing a partner, how would Sparsh differentiate itself? How would Sparsh differentiate itself to end customers? There is a fair degree of competition coming into this space, and this is not a winner-takes-all business— hence the pace of initial growth could be another key driver for value creation.
Dr Mahipal Sachdev, chairman Centre for Sight, New Delhi
Alok Mittal, MD Canaan India, Gurgoan
Funding Sought for
Buying more dialysis machines, water-purification systems, recruiting team members, and developing ERP software further.
Will you reach out to Sparsh’s health care crusaders with the moolah?
Photograph by A. prabhakar rao
June/july 2013 | INC. | 5 9
A Fine Balance Bipin Singh and Upasana Taku are learning to balance their relationship as partners—at home and at work.
Before Bipin Preet Singh and Upasana Taku tied the knot, it was the arrow of MobiKwik that had struck them both. A mobile and web wallet company, MobiKwik allows users to make payments for products and services through a mobile app, website or SMS. Today, Singh and Taku boast of a customer base of over two million users and mobilise 35,000 transactions daily. Driven by the youthful idealism to impact people's lives, they have aspirations to become the PayPal of India. Their preference to maintain a flat organisational structure does not come as a surprise, for they love to brainstorm new and creative ideas with their team members. It’s hard to miss the fun they’re having as they build their company—sometimes, using strategies the spy in popular television series Burn Notice uses. Another thing that’s work in progress for Singh and Taku—striking the right balance between being husband and wife, and co-founders.
As told to Sonal Khetarpal | Photograph by SUbhojit Paul
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The Way we Work | Bipin P. Singh and Upasana Taku, MobiKwik
The most “effective manager is one who doesn't seem to be managing at all.”
Upasana Taku: Our daily routine is determined by our cook. She comes to our house twice. First, in the morning around 9am and then in the evening at 9.30pm. After she has finished her chores, usually around 10am, we leave for work and we have to reach home before she comes back in the evening. If we are working late, we have to ask her to wait for those extra ten minutes. Bipin Preet Singh: We usually reach office by 10.30am. There are no fixed working hours as such. Different teams come as per their work demands. Customer care team comes early to respond to customer queries and sales team usually come a bit late as they have to call or meet clients. UT: In the morning, both of us make our own 'to-do' list, on the laptop or a mental
checklist. It differs as both of us handle different business domains because we have difJune/july 2013 | INC. | 61
ferent areas of expertise. Actually, that is the reason why I joined MobiKwik in February 2010, seven months after Bipin started this venture. Even before I joined, we were good friends and I would help him with the problems, mostly related to payments. It was due to the problems in settling payments that our second venture, ZaakPay was incepted at the end of 2010. I am strong in operations and business development. This is because of my past experience at PayPal in the US. Bipin, being an engineer from IIT Delhi and having worked as a Platform Architect at Intel, NVIDIA and Freescale Semiconductor, is strong in technology and marketing. BS: We not only have complementary skill sets, but also opposing
personalities which works to our advantage. Upasana is direct and confrontational whereas I am the more diplomatic one. Many a times, I do not confront people when they are doing something wrong. To be honest, I am trying to change that.
realised not everyone has the same personality. There are a lot of straight shooters but, there are some soft spoken, mellow people who do not like direct feedback. I am learning to be more creative and diplomatic in my communication with them. So, in the company, I am the bad cop and Bipin is the good cop. And, both of us are trying to reach the middle ground where we can be both the personalities when required.
learning to manage ourselves, but also our time. Being in a start up, we always have a lot of work on our table. In the first two years of the company, our work day was very unorganised. We did not have any strategy and would do whatever came our way. We were on a very reactive mode. Now, we don't do that. We have learnt to treat important matters first. For me, checking if all the payments are settled on a daily basis is of utmost priority. BS: One thing I check everyday is the company's metrics—num-
ber of transactions, new users and the amount of payments settled or outstanding. On average, we do 35,000 transactions in a
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UT: In the first two years, we would invest whatever we earned.
We did not even take out our salaries. But, for a start up that is trying to create a big name for itself, it was not the right strategy. In a start up, you have to invest first, and earn later. The benefits of being a leader in a space are disproportionately larger than the risk of initial investment. It is no good being No. 5. It is better to invest a higher sum to facilitate company growth and be No. 1. From 2009 to 2011, we invested `50 lakhs. But, in 2012 itself we have invested `1 crore to get more people and develop more products. This helped us grow in terms of revenue and in the number of employees as well. Uptil 2012, we were only five employees. Now, we have 34 people in our team.
UT: For me, it is the reverse. As our team is growing, I have
UT: We are not only
day. I have realised that there are two kinds of things I have to do, one is defensive—work required to keep the company running, and other is offensive—trying new things that will increase the company's revenue. It is the latter that excites me. It is the freedom and the excitement to do new things that made me leave my corporate career of seven years and start MobiKwik in 2009. But, as we are growing I have to spend more time on defence. However, I ensure, I do at least one activity everyday that will lead to our growth. We have grown from `5 in 2011 to `100 crore this year.
hile hiring, it is the persistence to work hard, and the potential to learn fast that we look for. We also consider the right mindset which is suited for a start up. We do not really look at their current skills or college. Most of our people are not from any great colleges. We do not have any IITian in the company except Bipin. BS: To be honest, I don’t care if
they even have a degree. There was one interesting incident. One of our employees with 15 years of experience decided to leave. When we asked him for reasons, he said our entire team is frustrated. He said, we throw unrealistic work goals on them and they are always under pressure. We were shocked. Both of us decided to take each employee out for lunch separately and get their feedback. Fortunately, no one complained. We realised, people who have worked in bigger companies have a very different mindset. Most of the people who left us or we had to let them go were people with eight to 10 years of experience. It was because of the culture misfit. In fact, it is the experienced people who complain about work. The youngsters actually work more and do not complain about it.
UT: In fact, most of our employees are freshers or people with two
or three years of experience. Young people are idealistic. They want to make an impact on a large number of people. This is what matters most to us and we tap on that. There have been instances when some of our employees get apprehensive with the lot of responsibilities. In such cases, we have to constantly give them confidence and assurance that we are there to support them.
BS: Mistakes are a part of learning process. Our goal is to mini-
UT: Apart from hiring, it is this year onwards that we are trying
to acquire new customers and establish our brand. In fact, in 2010 and 2011 we worked quite hard, but only on developing our products and ignored the marketing part. Our belief was if we build an excellent product, users will discover it themselves. But, even if you have the best product in the world, it never happens. You have to find ways to talk about your product and find ways to make people talk about it. It is when we became more active in the public domain and were talking to one of the strategic partners, we realised that we were perceived to be much smaller than we actually were. So, we did a survey with our friends and asked on the number of transactions they think we do daily. The answers were 10 times smaller than the actual number. It did get our brain ticking.
mise errors as we make progress. If people are scared of making mistakes, they will not take risks. A start-up is all about risks. If they do not take any risks, the company will not make any progress. In fact, we have our own share of mistakes. We realised this when we all went for an offsite trip to Jim Corbett Park with our 24 employees. On the way back, since everyone was far more open after spending two days together, we asked them for what they liked or did not like. A lot of things were said. Most of the people complained that they never got the opportunity to talk to us. It was an eye opener for us. I would spend most of my time with the tech team and Upasana with the sales team. We realised as our company grows, we will have to set formal processes in place so no one feels left out. Another complain was that some people had not received their confirmation letters when their probation period ended. Too engrossed in growing the company, we did not realise how important these small things could be to our –Bipin Preet Singh employees. After that, we hired our first “employee happiness officer”.
“A start-up is all about risks. If our employees do not take any risks, the company will not make any progress.”
UT: But, the onus is still on us to keep everyone happy. Now, I try
to ensure they all know clearly what their goals are and what is expected from them. I do not micromanage. I give them the timeline and let them work themselves with a usual tracking of their progress. An open atmosphere is essential to let the employee grow. Also, there are no hierarchies in our office. It just does not matter. The person who is right is right and who is wrong is wrong. The only way we establish that is through intellectual debate.
BS: There have been cases when we have fought very viciously in
the office with each other. We are trying to minimise that. But, it shows our employees that just because we are married, we will not support each other. After such situations, I have to do damage control and tell our employees we are not on the verge of divorce. What I have learnt by handling our team is that the most effective manager is the one who does not seem to be managing at all. I define the parameters of what needs to be done and convince them why it is important for them to achieve it. If they see it as a challenge and an opportunity to grow, people respond very well to it. At times, they do things better than I myself could have done.
BS: Now, we have a dedicated social media person who tracks all comments on MobiKwik. We even have our team of 13 people in customer care who handle the ticketing system in our website. I personally handle our company's Twitter and Facebook account. We now have a customer base of over two million customers and are adding 2,00,000 users every month. UT: We are now looking to raise funding for the first time for
MobiKwik. Prior to that, we had raised funding for ZaakPay for half a million USD from Sequoia Captial in 2011-12. Our future plan is to get to five million users by end of this year, and ultimately reach a `1,000 crore turnover.
BS: As our company grows and all processes fall in place, I think we will have more time for ourselves. From last year, we have tried to stop working on Sundays. When we are not working, we go for movies, concerts or plays. If we are at home, we watch TV shows like CSI, Ugly Betty or Burn Notice. But, whatever we see—Betty handling her mean colleagues or the spy in Burn Notice using different strategies to get his official post back—we inevitably link it back to our company. June/july 2013 | INC. | 6 3
founders forum Ten Questions for G.S. Bhalla
The founder of popular yoghurt chain Cocoberry, is a determined man. He says, running a business is like climbing a mountain. You can stop for breath but it will always be uphill. The biggest myth in business is... That you need to have a lot of money to get started. Start when you are ready.
What have you sacrificed for success?
Time away from my family.
Whom would you trade places with for a day?
Tim Cook or Larry Page
What company do you not want to start but wish someone else would?
What’s the one thing you wish you knew before you started the business?
An artificial intelligence company.
Hire the best people as early on as possible. Great teams build great companies.
Who gives you the best advice? My family. Which TV or movie character would you like to go into business with?
What’s the one thing your employees would be surprised to know about you? I like to iron my own clothes.
What have you learnt about yourself while running your business? I have a lot of patience and tenacity. In business, things take twice as long and end up costing twice as much to get done, sometimes.
Ari Gold from Entourage.
In the 1950s.
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as told to ira swasti
If you could time travel, where would you be right now?