An excerpt from the Interview:
• What made you start your venture?
All three co-founders believe in their own respect that they have been driven by the need to stand out & express themselves better. Being in our early twenties, we never started because we had a grand vision or something in our mind in hindsight we all probably wanted to be associated with a new kind of differentiation. Also somewhere deep down we all wanted to enjoy a new feeling “to create a candy machine which will inspire and make its customers awe for the candy it produces”. This is what drives us.
• What has been the key to your business’s success?
The core belief that
1. Happy Clients will create chain reactions of business (referrals and repeat business)
2. Sales is the only way you can raise funds (and not waste time doing irrelevant non-business activities)
3. Mastering Execution of business through innovations and differentiation has been a core approach to win business. Our intentions are very long term and so are our actions and that is how one pursues great challenges in life when one consciously makes a choice to stick guns for the long haul on a focused field or problem statement.
Honestly speaking it would be really difficult to leave something so exciting and do something else.
• What are the major challenges in your line of business?
The Major Challenges have been
1. Blurring lines of Stakeholder Roleplay& Value Creation
2. Unprofessionalism while delivering services
3. Trust Deficit Cynicism amongst stakeholders while deal-making
4. Free Lunch & Desert Attitude by virtue of human relations and connections
5. Ivory Tower Approach without getting hands dirty
6. Bad Receivables because of un-paying customers (sometimes even big MNCs play foul)
7. Lack of a Regulator for secondary market transactions.
8. Winner Takes it All: Upfront Investments in each deal, long sales cycle and raising an invoice only on a successful deal makes this business look moody from a working capital standpoint and can be stifling at times in bootstrapping mode. It’s only when you have sizable operations that synergies start paying. One sizeable player shall take it all.
9. One Man Army Paradigm, hearing get quick rich stories, easy money, and the misnomer that no effort and only right connections is required makes them quit and move away from the team. Hence one experiences a high churn & attrition rate which makes training and mentorship a critical backbone of the game.
• Do you have a mentor who guides/advice you on matters of the business?
Apart from family members’ guidance we have never had serious mentors onboard. In hindsight, this gave us the opportunity to cement ourselves for the long run by equipping us with more conviction in our abilities to tackle uncertainty, risk and the ability to add a new zero every time we want to grow.
These are important attributes to sustainably innovate every year organically from within. In fact we are strong believers that the MARKET is the real guru which teaches you through its experiences. You can’t pull a trick or a convincing argument with the “market” to cover up your failures. Self-learning and problem-solving really keep us on our toes.
• Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations?
All founders are engineers and that at times can result in an overdose of tools. Time and again we have tried and tested new tools and have built a hypothesis by understanding the importance of hammer, nail and the magic of a carpenter.
We have used Xero, Greytip, Zoho CRM, Streak, GIMP, Wpengine&Wordpress, Zoho Campaigns on a progressive basis and have tested many competing products. We keep evaluating how a new tool can bring a sea change in improving our execution.
• What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion?
We came across this saying“business never happens between two companies it always happens between two human beings”. Hence customer/client satisfaction can only happen if value creation is ahead of their expectations curve, this makes them keep coming back for more.
As for the expansion front, entering new geography is only half the battle, the second half of removing the entry barrier of making new relations and training new employees we are trying to codify human deal-making behavior based on each “Client Persona” (Group or an Individual). We believe each “Client Persona” has a certain “Expectations Framework” on how a deal should be driven.
Since striking a deal involves going through “Chain of Decisions”, hence it really becomes important to understand who the decision-makers are and who calls the shots. With iterations in three local geographies/regions while deal making we have started codifying it as a scientific process by mapping the”Client Persona” Vs “Expectations Framework” and by identifying these decision-makers’ influence in the deal.
This whole understanding is important if one wants to SCALE the business. Two legs Referrals and Repeat Business is a huge chunk in our balance sheet but it only comes your way if one can codify HAPPINESS in every deal by beating the “Expectations Framework”. The third leg, unexplored and untapped revenue, is leveraging Marketing through a credible umbrella Brand like ‘Black & White’ is where we shall create wonders simply because it doesn’t exist in our industry.
• What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
1) Human Understanding & Psychological Behavior :
Understand people around you be it clients, vendors & employees and hire A players who are as hungry as you. One must learn to play with Sharks and Tigers to compete with competitors.
2) Conviction: Irrational Belief (Leap of Faith) in the face of darkness is like water that nurtures & germinates your seeds of ideas.
3) Disciplined & Dogged Fighting Spirit: Strong Work Ethic, Perseverance & Calm Demeanor in a crisis is very important to protect and work on your dream
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