MISTAKES THAT LEADERS MAKE
5 WAYS TO CUT YOUR CREDIT RISK
YOUR BUSINESS PROBLEMS SOLVED
DECEMBER 2010 VOLUME 2 ISSUE 4 Rs 100
YOUR BUSINESS 25 tech tools and trends that will ready you for tomorrow
Investment Opportunities in the Education Sector
1. Assess Your Training 2. Set up an Advisory Board 3. Forecast Demand 4. Structure Your Organization 5. Hire the Right People 6. Do Business in West Bengal 7. Find a Co-founder
Buying Apps in the Google Cloud
IN CONVERSATION Richard Boucher of the OECD on India’s Entrepreneurial Economy
VIVEK PAUL, once the poster boy of the Indian software industry, is back − this time in enterprise tech
10 SONGS THAT FIRE ENTREPRENEURIAL PASSION
table of contents 30
INSIGHTS 22 THE ENGINE OF ANY BUSINESS
Richard Branson on listening to your people and building a winning work culture.
24 LIFE WITHOUT BURNOUT
Sankrant Sanu on avoiding entrepreneurial burnouts and staying happy always.
26 THE POWER OF PEOPLE Rajeev Karwal on the importance of finding the right people for your venture and retaining them. 28 THE GARAGE Ankush Chibber on listing the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ before starting your venture and being consumed by your own business idea. 30 BANKANOMICS Bharat Banka on the deeper implications of India evolving to an ‘emerged economy’ from an ‘emerging economy’.
TECH TRENDS SPECIAL 50 THE FUTURE-PROOF ENTREPRENEUR
25 technology developments will transform how your business does business. Are you ready for the future? By Jonathan Blum
62 THE SMARTPHONE GETS SMARTER
Visiting the app store anytime soon? You will likely be flooded by a deluge of mobile apps—a mix of both genius and garbage ones. We tell you what to pick. By Jason Ankeny 8 Entrepreneur + December 2010
68 ORGANIZATION 2.0
Vivek Paul worked with legends like Azim Premji and Jack Welch before taking the entrepreneurial plunge. With his venture Kinetic Glue, he is out to be a game changer once again. By Bindi Mehta
32 LEARNING FROM FAILURE Surinder Kapur on turning around the initial failures and creating constant value with your product and services. 34 CATCH THAT VIRAL
Surajit Agarwal on getting bit by the viral marketing bug.
36 WHY WE BECOME ENTREPRENEURS
Nandini Vaidyanathan on the intoxicating hold of entrepreneurship over us.
IN CONVERSATION 38 “INDIA SHOULD BE INVOLVED IN
SETTING STANDARDS AT THE OECD” Richard A. Boucher, Deputy SecretaryGeneral, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), talks about how the functioning of the OECD has a direct effect on how economies operate around the world. By Pranbihanga Borpuzari
WOMEN ENTREPRENEUR 42 BEDAZZLED Jewelry designer Poonam Soni entered the market in the late '80s to create a brand that is celebrated world over today. By Sriya Ray Chaudhuri
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR 44 RETURN TO THE ROOTS
Madura Micro Finance Ltd (MMFL) expects to spin off a better generation of entrepreneurs by ensuring effective deployment of microﬁnance loans. By Shobha Mathur
46 CRUSADERS INC The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the Jubilant Bhartia Foundation, announced winners of the ‘India Social Entrepreneur of the Year’. By Pranbihanga Borpuzari
GREEN SIGNALS 48 TURN YOUR HOTEL INTO AN ECOTEL Five steps to ensure your hotel keeps the planet green. By Param Kannampilly
MONEY 87 CHARGED UP Ways to knock down rates of business credit cards. By Gwen Moran 72
88 CREDIT RISKS
Things to know before accepting credit card offers. By Rosalind Resnick
89 PERSONAL PROTECTION
Keep your business and personal assets segregated so that you are safe even if the business fails. By Gwen Moran
OFF BEAT 72 ANTHEMS FOR ENTREPRENEURS
10 songs that will make you laugh, cry and bounce back with vigor if there are obstacles in your entrepreneurial journey. By Shantala Bellare Entrepreneur + December 2010 9
table of contents TECH DEPARTMENT 78 MOBILITY ON THE CHEAP
Todayâ€™s entrepreneur is constantly on the move. It becomes all the more important to stay in touch and in command. By Ankush Chibber
80 STREAK STRIKE!
The Dell Streak is designed for people on the move. By Team Entrepreneur
81 IMAGES FROM THE CLOUD
Check out some new options for web-driven printing. By Jonathan Blum
HOT STARTUP OF THE MONTH
83 BUYING APPS IN THE GOOGLE CLOUD
A look at some must-have apps for small businesses. By Jason Ankeny
85 SYNC SIMPLIFIED
Tired of syncing data between your home and office machines through pen drives and other such devices? Try the Amkette Flash Link. By Pranbihanga Borpuzari
98 THE SALES ARE ON
Looking for the best retail deals in your city? Log onto Wooqer. By Shonali Advani
102 NAVIGATING THE FINANCIAL MAZE
Mukut Deepakâ€™s startup has built a distribution network for ďŹ nancial services products using local kirana stores. By Bindi Mehta
CLASSROOMS 90 PUT IN â€˜HANUMANIAN EFFORTSâ€™ EVERY DAY Steps to transition your company from a startup to a mid- or large-sized ďŹ rm. By Rana Kapoor 92 FUNDING EDUCATION The current trends in the education sector and the spurt of entrepreneurial activity make it an attractive VC/PE destination. By Ved Prakash Arya 94 BOOTSTRAPPING YOUR STARTUPâ€™S SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY The web is growing too fast for you to ignore it. Climb the social media bandwagon. By Rajiv Dingra
Four youngsters are on a roll in Pune with their egg-specialty restaurant Yolkshire. By Ankush Chibber
THE ULTIMATE â€˜HOW TOâ€™ BUSINESS GUIDE 112 Forecast demand / sales effectively 113 Draw an organization structure 114 Choose an advisory board 115 Hire with ďŹ t in mind 117 Assess your training 118 Set up an industry in West Bengal 121 Choose your co-founder
106 PILLOW TALK
Gaurav Kapoor gets comfy with his cushion cover and bed linen venture. By Prerna Raturi
6 FEEDBACK 12 NEWS IMPACT 16 SME DOCTOR 20 STUMPSPEAK 130 BACKSTAGE
108 SON OF THE SOIL
Mansukhbhai Prajapati is more than a potter. He is both a respected scientist and an inventor. By Prerna Raturi
110 AD MAD
AdBanjara is on the rear end of an auto-ad drive in Bhubaneswar. By Bindi Mehta
124 CRYSTAL CLEAR Indulge in your ďŹ‚ights of fancy as you ring in the New Year... By Sriya Ray Chaudhuri 126 ROOM FOR BUSINESS
The Pune Marriott Hotel and Convention Centre is ideal for entrepreneurs. By Sriya Ray Chaudhuri
ď‚&#x; ď‚&#x; ď‚&#x;$
10 Entrepreneur + December 2010
%%""$!%#!$%% '#(("&"#%" "##"'
TO DO ABOUT THEM Who said leaders donâ€™t make mistakes? By Toddi Gutner
76 5 LEADERSHIP MISTAKES, AND WHAT
1. Assess Your Training 2. Set up an Advisory Board 3. Forecast Demand 4. Structure Your Organization 5. Hire the Right People 6. Do Business in West Bengal 7. Find a Co-founder
VIVEK PAUL, once the poster boy of the Indian software industry, is back âˆ’ this time in enterprise tech
NIRMAL BISWAS COVER IMAGE
128 D DRIVE The D-segment is abuzz with activity. Pick from the Cruze, Laura or Corolla Altis. Donâ€™t forget the petrol Civicâ€”there is no diesel variant here. By Pranbihanga Borpuzari
To read more, grab the December issue of Entrepreneur To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in
“India should be involved in setting standards at the OECD” Richard A. Boucher was appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2009 as the world tried to ﬁnd its feet amidst an economic downturn. Talking to Entrepreneur, Boucher says that the OECD has a direct effect on how economies operate around the world. By Pranbihanga Borpuzari
ENTREPRENEUR (E): Within the OECD, what is your mandate? RICHARD BOUCHER (RB): My mandate within the OECD is to look at bringing in the experience of emerging markets like India and China into our fold. Beyond that I work on preventing corruption and deal with finance, science and innovation issues. Among other responsibilities, I am spearheading the organization’s enhanced engagement and accession processes.
E: India is not an OECD member and only has an enhanced relationship with it. How do you explain the OECD’s relevance to India? RB: The OECD is a place where people from different countries come together and exchange experience. Every addition to that, new set of ideas, new set of people we get, enriches the experience for everyone. For example, take the case of a policy maker who is trying to figure out how to run a water system or how to manage fiscal consolidation. You will find people within the OECD who are trying to outline this same problem. Whether it’s chemical standards, tax treaties or international bribery standards, our discussions have a direct effect on how businesses and economies operate around the world. It’s founded on experience, not merely theory. In a way, we are at the forefront of a lot of economic problems and in the process we tend to come up with best practices, standards people can and should meet in various countries. 38 Entrepreneur + December 2010
E: You have various multilateral agencies like the World Bank. Where does the OECD fit into the scheme of things? RB: Everybody has a different role to play. We tend to be more analytical about the issues we are looking at and the policies that are concerned. We tend to come up with best practices and standards that have practical benefit for nations. If we want a world that is based on real experience and not theory, I think the OECD is the best place to share that experience and come up with answers to the problems we all face in managing economies and companies. For example, if anyone wants inputs on fossil fuel subsidies, we have answers to that. If someone is interested in innovation strategies, the OECD is already working on it. On the labor front, we are already working with the International Labor Organization in putting together a G20 ministerial on labor. This, however, does not mean other agencies like World Bank and IMF do not have a role to play. Obviously, the IMF has its own role to essay; the World Bank has a role in all financial, regulatory or development issues.
E: Has the fact that the economic downturn was so heavily centered on Western nations led some countries to question the value some of the other aspects the OECD stands for? RB: The economic downturn has raised several questions. Today, everybody needs to reform. Having said that, I must also add that econom-
ics is not a perfect science and we all need to keep learning and innovating as we move along. One of the items on the G20 agenda today is to watch out for trade and investment protectionism. We are looking for this in subtle forms. Countries, by and large, are committed to the global market economy and dispensing with barriers to trade, but they are all watching each other pretty carefully. But there are certain fundamental issues of markets, like market incentives, tracking investment, developing jobs, productivity, technology, education, better labor policies and better competition. Nobody’s really questioning these issues. Countries still believe that getting better at the fundamentals of economic management is the way to satisfy their population and a means to grow their economy and also come out of recession.
E: What do you think of the way in which India and China tackled the entire downturn? RB: It’s a simple conclusion that if you have money in the bank, you fare better during a downturn. If you have already borrowed to your capacity and reach a downturn, you have very little resources to tackle it with. India and China used their money to boost their infrastructure, develop their markets and, in the end, they came up trumps. Photos© Shamik Banerjee
E: The OECD, as you said, is involved in setting standards. Why is it important for India to be a part of setting these standards? RB: The more you want to participate in the global economy, the more you would want to have a say and have a level playing field. India is not only attracting investment but also investing in various entities. These are the areas where investment codes and guidelines become relevant. The same is the case with anti-bribery issues. It makes the business environment, the economic environment and, frankly, the political environment so much healthier in every country. As new countries join the convention, it helps them and the world reap such benefits. Taking some of the things that we stand for to a global platform makes sense. Corporate guidelines would be an example where we should try to have an international standard that everyone can adhere to. Or on taxes, an area where the OECD has informed and helped create the international standard, but it has also gotten bigger than us. Big economies outside the OECD—China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and Russia—can be really important, because this lets them get involved in the setting of future standards. These countries complain sometimes
To read more, grab the December issue of Entrepreneur Entrepreneur + December 2010 39 To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in
in conversation “COUNTRIES, BY AND LARGE, ARE COMMITTED TO THE GLOBAL MARKET ECONOMY AND DISPENSING WITH BARRIERS TO TRADE, BUT THEY ARE ALL WATCHING EACH OTHER PRETTY CAREFULLY.”
why they should be expected to meet those standards they did not have a hand in making. So, it is in our interest to have them involved in standard setting.
E: You have been a frequent visitor to India. What have your engagements been with the policy makers of this country? RB: The understanding with India has been very good. We have technical co-operation, a profound understanding and we are doing the second big review of the Indian economy which will come out in spring. We have already done the investment review last fall and are doing a host of other programs with specific ministries. There are some new areas, like studying water management, where we have a lot to learn from India and vice versa.
E: What does a country need to do to be an OECD member? RB: Each of the OECD’s 20-odd major committees goes through the practices of the country to gauge its efficacy. The tax experts go through tax practices; anti-bribery personnel go through what steps a prospective OECD member country takes on bribery. And in those areas where our committees think the country ought to do more to come up to our standards, we tell them that a positive recommendation is possible if they follow certain steps. Generally, the faster the countries reform and get their practices to meet our standards, 40 Entrepreneur + December 2010
the faster they become our members. The OECD is not simply satisfied with a country passing a law but is also interested in its implementation and the sincerity to follow what has been set out. A lot of really important social issues come through it as well. What we need to do is to make it meaningful for countries to join us, so that when we have policy discussions we benefit from their experience, and when they face policy choices, they get the benefit of our experience and our expertise. If you go back 30 or 40 years, the OECD was at least 80 percent, if not more, of the world’s GDP. If we are going to be the world’s premiere economic management organization, we have to have that relationship with the countries that now constitute a significant portion of the world’s GDP.
E: What does the OECD have to offer to entrepreneurs and startups? RB: We need to understand what they need. The best examples we see are the investment policies. We see a lot of pieces to the puzzle in an innovative economy. An environment which supports entrepreneurship has a number of different financing models. We see entrepreneurs as people who create jobs and we can make sure that governments are reaching out to those who want to start up. We can help governments ensure entrepreneurs grow and give them the tools to create a good ecosystem.
Vivek Paul worked with legends like Jack Welch and Azim Premji in building global corporations in the past, and today he is taking an entrepreneurial bet... By Bindi Mehta
erhaps the strongest thread that runs through the [Silicon] Valley’s past and present is the drive to ‘play’ with novel technologies.— Timothy J. Sturgeon, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in his paper on globalization. If there is one individual who personifies Sturgeon’s sentiments, it is Vivek Paul. Fittingly, 51-year-old Paul says his favorite place to live is Silicon Valley in California. And the spirit of the Valley has somehow become a part of Paul’s system now. “I can live anywhere in the world. But the Valley is special,” he says. Like his answer, his aspirations are also global with a specific and special focus. With his entrepreneurial venture Kinetic Glue, Paul wants to build strong global industry networks and ecosystems. However, the venture’s specific aim and goal is ‘to make Indian companies the most competitive enterprises in the world.’ Neat. Let’s look at how he plans to make this happen.
68 Entrepreneur + December 2010
“I had seen the consumer internet revolution unfold. There were a lot of different platforms that people were using to achieve different tasks. However, there was no platform or software targeted at corporate entities. If individuals could share and network in a manner that would help their personal growth, it could add much more value in a corporate environment,” says Paul. With this conviction, he stepped down from his role of partner at investment firm TPG (formerly Texas Pacific Group) in August 2008 to give birth to Kinetic Glue, his first entrepreneurial venture. Kinetic Glue aims to offer enterprises a social networking platform akin to Facebook, Twitter etc. It combines the advantages offered by consumer social networking platforms under a single banner and adds relevant features to make it suitable for a corporate environment. “Businesses have special requirements. They need confidentiality, user credibility, control and, finally, all features should be available in one place. We built Kinetic Glue keeping all these unique requirements in mind,” says Paul. In early 2008, Paul was already studying the consumer internet movement and giving shape to the idea in his mind. He discussed it with Meeta Malhotra who was working as director, Ray+Keshavan, in Bengaluru, to further understand the scope of such a venture. Malhotra is today Paul’s partner in the firm. “We spent the summer and fall of 2008 just studying the market and conceptualizing the thought in our minds. By the end of 2008, I was ready to become more engaged with the venture. We built a core developers’ team comprising engineers from Wipro and Neev Technologies, a startup in Bengaluru and set the ball rolling,” says Paul. Today, Photo Courtesy© indiatodayimages.com
VIVEK PAUL: A SUCCESS STORY PRIOR TO THE LAUNCH OF KINETIC GLUE in 2008, Paul served as a partner at venture capital ﬁrm TPG (formerly Texas Paciﬁc Group). During his stint there, he funded Elevance, a leader in developing chemicals from renewable sources, FPT Corporation, Vietnam’s leading ICT company, and Amyris Biotechnologies, a leader in biofuels using synthetic biology. Paul’s learning at TPG was: There are very few entrepreneurs who actually do what they set out to do. Paul’s association with Wipro (1999-2005) before TPG was perhaps the most popular phase of his career. Under Paul’s leadership, Wipro grew from a $150 million conservative Indian company to a globally-focused $1.4 billion software services giant. Paul also led the ﬁrm’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange. While at Wipro, he unveiled a vision to put the company among the top 10 global IT ﬁrms. He was the highest-paid Indian executive during this period. The lesson he picked while transforming Wipro: “In the real world, there is no cocoon.” In the pre-Wipro phase, he was employed at GE for 10 years, in charge of the company’s Global CT (Computerized Tomography) business, reporting directly to the Chairman of GE. He also served as the President and CEO of GE’s medical equipment JV in India (with Wipro). The JV was recognized by GE as among one of its best joint ventures in the world, and subsequently by the Economist as the best JV in Asia. At GE, Paul says he learnt to regenerate himself constantly from Jack Welch who imagined that he had just been appointed as chairman every time he landed in New York.
To read more, grab the December issue of Entrepreneur Entrepreneur + December 2010 69 To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in
class rooms [Web Effect]
BOOTSTRAPPING YOUR STARTUP’S SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY You cannot ignore the sheer numbers out there on the web… By Rajiv Dingra
ootstrapping a startup is hard work for entrepreneurs. Not only does one have to look into several functions like operations, marketing, sales, finance and Human Resources but one has to also consider the costs of each function and at each step of the entrepreneurial journey. In such a scenario, it could be difficult to divide time between getting new business and managing the business that you have already managed to bring in. This is where a social media focus may be helpful. Social media, the buzzword of today, is a free platform of expression for users to connect with each other and build a following for themselves or their startups or brands. Brands, both big and small, have taken to this medium in one way or the other and this has lead to the birth of several social media consultants and agencies all over the world. If you are a startup, it’s hard to ignore this crucial medium as it directly connects you to your consumers. With 18 million of them on Facebook, 15 million on YouTube and 7-odd million on LinkedIn, it’s too sizeable an audience to ignore. So, whether you are a B2B or B2C startup, it’s important that you have a social media plan and strategy in place to source early business as well as early employees. Now, as a bootstrapping startup, the real dilemma starts with whether to do social media strategy and execution in-house or to outsource this to an external consultant. This dilemma occurs because it’s a choice between time and capital, as outsourcing might be more expensive but
saves the time that you might yourself spend in executing social media strategies.
EARLY DAYS—DO IT YOURSELF! Social media is a very personal and conversational medium and it’s important that whoever handles your startup’s social media understands its core brand identity and USP. Early on, it’s important that you handle social media yourself. Internationally, many web product startups use social media i.e. blogs, Facebook and Twitter, to constantly take feedback and consumer views on their ongoing startup plans even before an official launch. Another reason to handle social media internally, at least in the early days, is to define the objectives and expectations for your startup yourself. If you have an external consultant do this, he/she may not look at your startup in its entirety and may even break things down into sales, human resources and other kinds of objectives too early.
“Outsourcing might be more expensive but saves the time that you might yourself spend in executing social media strategies.”
94 Entrepreneur + December 2010
EFFECTIVE INTERNAL EXECUTION The way to do it internally is to get trained in social media through an external consultant. This is in case one doesn’t have the right resources or skill sets within the organization. Another alternate route is to align or recruit younger employees in your startup who are regular practitioners of social media tools and have the experience and knowledge base from the outset. It is important that one identifies such employees first to initiate social media internally. In case
the entrepreneurs or co-founders themselves are adept at handling social media, then it is definitely recommended that they take up the responsibility themselves and effectively execute social media strategies in the organization.
OUTSOURCING THE SOCIAL MEDIA FUNCTION Social media should be outsourced in the following scenarios:
Social media provides a sea of knowledge on several topics and also brings together people from various fields. It’s a startup’s call on how to leverage this level playing field to its own advantage. RAJIV DINGRA is the Founder and CEO of WATConsult, a social media agency. He also founded WATBlog.com, a leading digital media blog.
1. When real business is offline and social media is a good-tohave but not must-have tool. Also when your core business is offline and online connections may have little impact on it. For example, if you are a supplier of manufacturing parts to nuclear power plants, it is important not to do it yourself but to rather find a credible agency to handle it for you. 2. When time is of essence and resources are few. For example, if you are a lawyer in a two-partner law firm, it is necessary that you outsource social media, as your time spent is far more expensive and is better utilized in doing what you do best. 3. When brand and creative is well-defined and you need execution help. If you have already defined your startup’s brand identity and creative communication approach, then it may make sense to involve a social media agency for execution or even hire a freelance consultant. This is because a freelance consultant would be able to execute your brand identity quicker and would save you daily time in managing your presence. 4. When you need big ideas as well as large-scale execution. Internally, it would be difficult to do this from a resource standpoint and will also mean constant management and monitoring while outsourcing to an agency will get in a more professional approach to the whole activity.
LISTEN FIRST AND ENGAGE LATER Social media is not a different medium. In fact, it’s like any other communication platform but with a multiplier effect of friends connected to other friends that makes it distinct. It’s also the most cost-effective way to spread the word about your startup, if you get it right. One of the best ways to use social media is to not sell or push but to present yourself via your conversations and to listen first and engage later. It’s important for every startup to test social media waters and build first-hand experience of interacting and learning from one’s target group of consumers that will enable better understanding and, thereby, better business. Photo© Neha Mithbawkar
To read more, grab the December issue of Entrepreneur Entrepreneur + October 2010 95 To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in
pillow talk COPY CAT
His survival instinct has seen Gaurav Kapoor weather bad times and worse... By Prerna Raturi
106 Entrepreneur + December 2010
aurav Kapoor, 32, says he’ll never forget his trip to Paris in 2005. “I was the quintessential suitcase salesman and covered 80 stores in 36 hours,” he reminisces. A former public relations person, Kapoor today sells his range of cushion covers, table mat sets and bed linen all over India through Easyday (Bharti Wal-Mart retail India) and Timbor Stores. The company also has its presence in Welhome, Pantaloon and Big Bazaar in India, as well as the Landmark Group in Dubai. The company had a turnover of Rs.1.08 crore last financial year. But the best part is probably the brand name for Kapoor’s products—Nakalchi Bandar, which in Hindi alludes to copy cat! But Kapoor is quick to defend the quirky brand name, saying it comes from the silk-like polyblend fabric that is the current rage. “It imitates pure silk
dupion fabric,” clarifies Kapoor. The company uses poly-blended plain fabrics, Benarasi brocade, polysilk jacquards and embroidered fabrics and prints across its range of products. Kapoor’s voice becomes a tad sheepish, though, when recounting his first experience in the business in Varanasi. As he sat with the bleaching man, trying to gather the nuances of treating the yarn, he dipped his hand into the liquid. “It was hot, to say the least,” Kapoor recounts. The wound has long healed, but he humbly admits there is still a lot he needs to learn about fabrics and designs. But what Kapoor does know, and which is crucial for any entrepreneur, is how to be extremely adaptive to an ever-changing market. You don’t have to notice the frustration in Kapoor’s voice to understand how things often went wrong while he was trying to make a success of his venture. The initial stages roughly tally with any struggling entrepreneur’s story. He started the fabrics arm of his father’s company R.K. Impex in August 2003. Till then, the company was a buying house for carpets. Kapoor put in a capital investment of Rs.16 lakh, part of which was invested by his family, part from a bank loan and partly from his own savings from the days when he worked with Burson-Marsteller Roger Pereira (the firm split in 2002). After research on products, Kapoor started to export his designs and patterns to the western market in 2004, and the company showcased its goods at Heimtexil in Germany, the New York Home Show in the U.S. and the INDEX show in Dubai. The strategy made perfect sense. Ethnic home décor with an Indian shade-card has always been a hit in the west. Kapoor’s first client was a small chain of retail stores in London. “The owner bought handloom fabrics from us and the billed amount was Rs.1.35 lakh in 2004; it was our only sale in the first full year,” he recounts. Still learning the ropes of the business—and marketing—Kapoor, then 26, got more clients from trade show directories, word-of-mouth, cold calling and faxing and e-mails. That’s when he toured Paris for 36 hours. “I was such a greenhorn that when we had Pier 1 Imports—the second-largest home décor retailers in the world—walk into our stall at a trade show to discuss orders, I was so overwhelmed to execute the final order that I gave up on them!” he confesses. For the next three years, Kapoor exported to the U.K., France, Photo© Shamik Banerjee
South Africa, Belgium and the U.S. The recession hit the world’s SILK ROUTE economies at about the time the STARTED IN: company had just appointed its August 2003 first ever agent in New York, trying START UP CAPITAL: to match the demand and build a Rs.16 lakh bigger client base. “That very day, I FIRST YEAR TURNOVER: was with a few friends and we were Rs.1.35 lakh discussing how the U.S. markets CURRENT TURNOVER: were heading towards a recesRs.1.08 crore YOY GROWTH: 20 percent sion,” says Kapoor. While the world reeled under the economic meltdown, Kapoor was quick to change tack and started to concentrate more on his sole Indian client—FabIndia. “Of course, I was scared about the future, but I also decided to ride out the rough period by cutting marketing costs and selling at home,” he says. The company built on FabIndia as a customer and approached more companies within India. Kapoor soon moved to Noida to set up a small unit there. “For four years, I worked out of my home until the company attained scale to afford rent for a factory in Noida two years ago with an investment of just Rs.5 lakh,” says Kapoor. Here, too, it wasn’t easy sailing. Apart from less capital to work with, there was the age factor. Customers were hesitant to give large orders and a few even reneged on payment. “I was only 26, and I had to take great pains to convince the customers I was serious about my commitments,” Kapoor says. Wholesalers didn’t mean great business for the company because the credit business for Kapoor seemed too unsure for him. It was this hurdle that gave birth to the brand Nakalchi Bandar, which was launched four years ago, in collaboration with The Next Shop in India. The home store retail chain shut its operations in India in 2009 but the brand grew with Easyday stores. With things looking better on the global market horizon, Kapoor has once again started getting export orders and he is wooing back his old customers. But he isn’t likely to become complacent. The company still struggles with the everyday challenge of being a small concern. “Working 24X7 just to be on top of this business can be exhausting,” he says. But the efforts are worth it when he sees his brand of cushion in someone’s house, a friend’s car or his fabrics in a hotel without selling it to them directly. “We feel we must be on the right track with our products,” Kapoor signs off.
To read more, grab the December issue of Entrepreneur Entrepreneur + December 2010 107 To Subscribe, visit www.entrepreneurindia.in
back+stage 10 GREAT TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE NOW FAILURES
The Hall of Shame of the stuff we deem useless. Or hate. By Ankush Chibber
1. THE LANDLINE TELEPHONE. Why do we need it? To keep MTNL in business.
2. THE POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA. It’s what your mobile phone does.
3. THE IPOD DOCK. The iPod is a personal music player. PERSONAL!!!
4. THE SYMBIAN OS. Don’t even get me started. 5. HOTMAIL. Working with this e-mail service? How old are you? 80?
6. WINDOWS – 7, 8 OR 10. They will all suck. Always. 7. LOTUS NOTES. Makes thousands of office-goers feel nauseated. Everyday.
8. PC GAMING. The debate ended with the PS3 Move and Xbox Kinect.
9. PHOTOSHOP. An established ﬁlm magazine did a photo feature with actor Rekha the other day. Enough said.
10. THE TELEVISION. There is a reason it is called the Idiot Box. If you don’t agree, go watch Bigg Boss.
130 Entrepreneur + December 2010
Illustration© Chaitanya Surpur
Published on Jan 5, 2011