Date of Interview : July 06, 2013
How did the idea of PlacementKloud.com come about? What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?
We initially set up Innomedia Creations as a design studio in 2002. Soon we found our specialization in producing communication solutions such as placement brochures for the educational sector. Over the years, we garnered several prestigious clients and the business had begun to do very well. We found this was the right time to expand. Also, when we worked on placement brochures, we realized the amount of time and resources that educational institutions and recruiters put into the placement process is enormous. We decided to develop a platform that could bridge this gap and minimize the use of resources while increasing efficiency of the process.
What is the total market size in your space and what’s your market share?
It is too soon for us to estimate the market size at this stage. We are still very new and are the first of this kind in India. But the potential is huge as there are about 3900 Management colleges and 3400 Engineering colleges in India (AICTE approved). Besides, there are colleges in other streams too. PlacementKloud is a platform suited for any educational institution offering campus placement facilities to its outgoing students.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Based on my experiences, the three skills that I would say make a successful entrepreneur would be:
- A powerful vision
- Strong analytical and observational abilities to study the market and identify potential gaps that you can filled with a unique concept
- Perseverance and complete confidence in your idea
Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
PlacementKloud.com is self-funded. We put our profits back into the business in order to sustain and grow. Till now, we have bootstrapped our way up from humble beginnings.
What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
In the initial stages of the development of PlacementKloud.com, I was trying to deliver too much without even knowing whether it was useful or not. That delayed the process a bit. However, I quickly learnt that it was important to put together the basics first. The rest would follow. From these experiences, I learnt what not to do in the initial stages of launching a business. I think the lessons have been priceless.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship is much more than pure business sense. It also means believing in yourself and possessing the ability to make assessments and take calculated risks. Thus, one should take complete responsibility for his decisions as an entrepreneur.
The current dynamic world is very conducive towards entrepreneurs. Compared to the past, the sources of funds have exploded. Additionally, access to information has become easier and technology has become more cost effective. So, to any student who wants to take this path, I would say:
1. Come up with a brilliant idea because ultimately, it is your idea that matters. The idea should be functional to be useful.
2. Sit on your idea for a few days. If the excitement grows, estimate its practical quotient and go for it. If it doesn’t, think of something better.
3. Ideas alone don’t sell. They are for you. Execute it well for it to sell. The start is going to be tough. So, hang on and do not stop believing in your idea.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I have always tried to come up with concepts which were little premature for the market, which cost me a good amount of time. I ended up trying to convince people and getting them to adapt to the new concept. So, if I had to start my career all over again, I would do things when the conditions and people’s mindsets are more conducive to accepting the idea. I would like to be at the right place at the right time to launch my business (if there is any way to predict the same). Having said that, I would not say that I regret the way my career has shaped. Those tough days made me much stronger and gave me strong insights into change management. It has been a thorough learning experience.
What motivates you?
Nothing is more motivating than the satisfaction you gain from your work. My biggest motivation in life has been the realization that I could manage to achieve what I set out to achieve. I am also motivated by my desire to offer excellent service and value added functionality to all our clients.
What book has inspired you the most? (OR) What is your favorite book?
Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is my all-time favorite. It has been a companion whenever I have faced a lean phase. But I would say that the book gave me the life changing motivation is Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnston. This book talks about dealing with change in a very simple and endearing, but powerfully motivating way. Besides these, I enjoy reading Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach. It gives me the energy to conceive out-of-the-box things.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
I fear not being able to reinvent myself to meet challenges in business in particular or in life in general. I have always believed that you need to reinvent, evolve and get better if you want to stay in the race. I manage this fear by thinking about my past failures. They instill confidence in me that if I could overcome hurdles in the past, I can do it again.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I admire the Tata Group, not because it is one of the biggest and the most successful establishments in India, but because it is a business that is built on strong morals and ethics. If I can take my business to that stature without compromising on my values, I am going to be the happiest man on earth.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your leisure time?
I love technology and gadgets. I also like to read, travel and spend time with my family.
What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this?
My experiences have taught me that people can work optimally only in a friendly and relaxed sphere which is free of undue restrictions and protocols. The work culture at our office is very relaxed. But we make it is a point to instill a feeling of oneness towards the company and a sense of responsibility in our staff so that they take accountability for their work. When a person is accountable, he or she produces the best results.
If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
I would ask for your recipe of a successful start-up.
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