Focus on Sales and meet lots of prospects to strategize the direction for your business
Abhishake Rungta Co-Founded NavSoft along with his wife Priyanka Rungta in 1999.
Abhishake had an established business for a few years and wanted to start something new and challenging. Priyanka came from a business family and being tech savvy she also wanted to do something on her own.
Thus started Navigators Software which focused primarily into simple website designing,multimedia and hosting. Subsequently as part of their growth plans and sensing a huge opportunity in software development they ventured into development and implementation of their own ERP software (which they felt had a huge demand) for the SME sector and started marketing the same in India. It was really challenging and an uphill task as Indian companies were not yet open to implementing such a large software which would automate their systems as well as the pricing was beyond their imagination and budgets. They also realized that very large established global players like SAP and Navision also came into the Indian market and those companies were able to command a better price in the Indian market because they had a better brand name and brand recall and NavSoft. They thus decided to exit the business of ERP as the returns were not at all commensurate or profitable to the time and efforts.
Around 2002, Abhishake says that as one door closed another window opened. With the internet growing they realised that there was a growing demand for web applications in the international markets and the pricing was also quite lucrative. With that they dived into this space and started focusing on web development for overseas clients only. Since they had a small development team and were already in the software space they could immediately do the necessary transformation..
They started with a few projects from known connections to begin with and subsequently got references. They also began looking at some projects that were posted on the net and also initiated direct email campaigns. Abhishake and Priyanka also attended a couple of trade shows and chose UK as the primary market to begin with. They chose UK because of proximity and he knew that English was the main language compared to other European countries and most importantly they had a relative with whom they could stay and thereby cut on their travelling costs. In UK and stayed they took to the local yellow pages, did cold calling and got the interests generated with his prospects. They met whoever showed interest in meeting and eventually managed to close a couple of deals because of their face to face meetings and their ability to convince them.
He did everything from lead generation by making cold calls to generating interest to meeting potential clients to closing deals. He quotes the metrics of the same to be around 200 : 10 : 2 : 1. Initially he found it very difficult to do the calls and to also manage meetings because he had no prior selling experience in the IT space and carried out the same in a very unscientific and an ad hoc basis. But it was the hard work, determination and belief that he managed to get the initial sales and subsequently he leveraged this learning to build a sales team which helped him scale up and grow.
However to move to the next level was a challenge as there was a lot of resistance and trust issues with large companies to outsource their work to a small and unknown company like NavSoft which had no physical presence in their country. Also at this time many of the large companies were body shopping from India and internationally outsourcing had become a buzzword was picking up momentum. He realized that software outsourcing was in full demand and fortunately he was in the right market at the right time. Everyone wanted to build a web presence in 2002 because none of them had proper websites and he seized that as an opportunity to provide services and built capabilities to do simple websites in a short time at a great price. Thus firstly they decided to go after the SME companies for whom pricing was important and they started tying up with local partners who would act as their marketing channels. It was a Win Win for the two entities as the foreign companies interacted with a local company and at the same time enjoyed the benefits of the cost arbitrage in India.
Abhishake talks about a few mistakes which he would like to rectify or the things he would do differently if he had to go back into the past and relive the same. Firstly he would like to give much more weightage and importance to marketing & sales rather than production. It is imperative to create various marketing channels to market ones product and sales (you can’t depend on just one channel). Secondly marketing is a scientific process and something which must be taught in greater detail in all schools and colleges. Thus the right process depending on the product and industry must be created in the company. If one is not having the knowledge one needs to hire the right consultants who can show the way. Going through the self learning curve is too long ,arduous and might even lead to loss of opportunities. Finally hiring the right people who need to be well trained and motivated is a must. A proper team needs to be created and they need to communicate the same message and value points of the product. If one has a product or a service that has a decent demand and the pricing is competitive, then with the above in place one will definitely taste success. Americans are the best in marketing and if one can should learn from them.
Abhishake’s advice to early stage entrepreneurs – You have to really believe in yourself (and your product) and be passionate about what you do.
NavSoft today has around 150 employees and has 500 plus clients which include Fortune 100 companies. They work with 50 live clients on any given month. They have recently created an innovative new product that is a one stop solution for any runs e-commerce business. They were voted as one of the Top 50 Emerge companies by Nasscom as well as one of the top 5 cloud companies by Indian Express.