March 29, 2010

Startup saturday 13th feb

Posted in Starup Saturday tagged , , , , , , , at 2:29 pm by chait83

Well this blog was written well a month back for startup Saturday. It never got published on the site it was intended for, apparently because they did not have any policies in place (Probably they still haven’t given a thought). I didn’t want the hard work to go in vain. This blog series I am writing down to contribute my 2 cents to the spirit of entrepreneurship and the startup community.

Startup Saturday Pune 4, focused on Grass Root Ventures and Pune Angel Network. We invited companies from micro finance, vada pav, laundry, courier, low-end staffing, sanitation, taxis, rural BPO, rural hospitals, mobile service centers and low-cost hotels. We choose to focus on these ventures because, there are diamonds at the bottom of the pyramid. The market is gigantic, customer problems are many and the demand unmet.

We had Brigadier Jayant Mankikar from Checkmate Security Services who talked about how the founder Mr. Vikram Mahurkar used to take guards on his scooter to client locations every day and has built a company of 300 Cr, employing close to 50,000.

Brigadier Jayant Mankikar is a currently working at the position of GM at Checkmate Security Services. His company provides security services to mainly corporate sector. You can find more details about their services here.

1. How does the company operate?
The company has a team which travels to the rural areas of the country. There they conduct their routine physical fitness test and a few other basic tests to shortlist candidates. The candidates are brought to a training center in Pune for a fortnightly training. The training center is equipped with all facilities for training a security guard like metal detectors, CCTV, etc. The candidates are provided with lodging and boarding facilities. Once the candidates are done with their training there are sent to the site for their regular duty and their payroll start from that day.

2. Some of the challenges they face:
The major challenge faced by their organization is communication gap between the organization and gaurds.
a. Labour unions: Mr. Jayant spoke about the most menacing problem faced by their organization is their employee referring to labour union for petty issues instead of approaching to their seniors. He spoke of a how he was woken in the middle of the night by a labour union leader demanding reimbursement of Rs. 24 which was miscalculated by their payroll department. Although the problem of labour unions is age-old, startups should be very effective in their communication with their employees. Although communication cannot curb the menacing problem, certainly it’s the most import part of the business.
b. Homesickness: Since most of the employees hail from rural areas and never been away from home for a long period, they most certainly get homesick. In this case they just pack their bags and return home without intimating anyone; in this case the clients notice that one fine day four of their guards are missing. In this situation the company has to arrange for alternate guards on the fly.
c. Routine security procedures challenged by annoying individuals: Sometime individuals are annoyed by the security guards on duty who are doing their routine security checks and try to evade the procedures. If these individuals happen to be important or influential people, the guards are in a twist. In this case if a guard not withstanding the pressure performs his duty, is demanded an apology for “Nagging” the person which actually is the duty of the security personnel.
3. Any business opportunities for techno startups in security business?
Mr. Jayant’s reply was no to this question. He felt that most of the tech stuff required for the security purpose is available. Yet we feel that any tech startup who wants to explore opportunities in this segment should visit companies like checkmate, for they have pan India presence and their clients are mostly big corporate. After all a good product / service can only be designed when an entrepreneur knows the business thoroughly and with his business acumen is able to define correctly the pain areas and build a good team which can address the pain area correctly.

Next was Rajiv Kumar from Laundry Consultants Group:

He has been a technical consultant, reseller, and service provider for large laundries in Pune. His clients have been large five star hotels like “The Taj Hotels”.
How he started his business:
Rajeev started his business with as low investment as the brochures in his bag. He didn’t have an office when he started his business.
1. Benchmarks for laundry business:
2. His future plans:
Rajeev had made a presentation for his upcoming venture and his presentation was cut short since we were running short of time. Yet with whatever presented we got a fair idea of his plans. Here are the issues he is aiming to address.
a. Overnight service: Today people are spending more time in their offices and more than often they would want a service wherein they handover the clothes for laundry in the evening and collect in the morning. With his service model Rajeev aims to solve this pain for the people who don’t find much time for laundry.
b. Fabric dynamics: As each one of us is aware that our “once in a life time” Fabrics need special care. This can be provided only by a professional laundry service.

Suketu Talekar from Doolally:

They run a micro brewery. For those who don’t know what a microbrewery is, it is a small brewery which produces handcrafted beer and served directly to the consumers.

Although his presentation was the funniest one, it was filled with lot of passion and a sense of achievement.

Suketu talked about his experience in drinking beer at a microbrewery in Singapore to setting up the first microbrewery of Pune and the challenges thereof.
If anything, his presentation was an amazingly simple and inspiring story of a person working in Singapore, with no experience or knowledge of food and beverages industry, making a commitment to friends after few pints of beer, to quit his
job and make good beer in India. They started in 2006 and finally got it up and running in 2009.

Inspiration:
Drinking beer ofcourse! Suketu was inspired by this idea of starting a microbrewery India when he was completely drunk, both in terms of literally senses and his love for handcrafted microbrewery beer experience all the while frustrated with the job he had at a FMCG company in Singapore. He came back to India to pursue his dream and the hurdles were endless.

Challenges faced:
1. Prior to Doolally there was no concept of microbrewery in India, hence getting the license was really tricky. They had to take the officers to Singapore to explain them what a microbrewery actually is. It took eighteen months for them to secure the first license for microbrewery in India.
2. Machinery: Again since this was a first of its kind venture in India, setting up the machinery for the brewery was a tough job. Their first design had failed the first time and they had to do it again.

Business operations:
Doolally currently is not involved in the allied business of serving food, as they want to play on their strengths which is brewing the beer. So they have contracted with the Corinthian club, where the club takes care of serving the food and the beer is provided by Doolally.

Doolally have plans to expand by leasing out Franchises, but time being they plan to focus only on the quality of the beer and the whole experience of drinking a handcrafted beer rather than investing in the marketing or PR of the product. Suketu simply puts this as “We would want to put whatever we have in our product rather than marketing”.

His take on failures:
Suketu said that during this four years of putting Doolally in place, they had failed in every conceivable manner. His said that an entrepreneur has to be very shameless, every time you fall flat on your face you stand up, learn from your mistakes and start walking. Now that Doolally is Pune’s first microbrewery, in that sense it makes their team the pioneers of microbrewery in India.

The word Doolally:
Deolali is small town near Nashik (Suketu hails from the same town) which was a pre-independence transit camp for the British army. The word Doolally originates from the slang term “Doolaly (Deolali) Tap (Fever in marathi)” and referring to menace created by soldiers in transit who were kept at the town without any commanding officer.

As an icing on the cake, was the kickoff of Pune Angel Network. Anil
Paranjape and Rajeev Karajgikar briefly spoke about the idea, pain
points of entrepreneurs and investors and how this network is going to
be a bridge between the two. The most important point raised by Anil Paranjape was that any serious wannabe entrepreneurs who have crude idea for their venture should meet the Angel network so their ideas are refined over subsequent meetings. Most of the times the entrepreneurs think that they should first create some prototype and then come to Angel network. In this case lot of time is wasted if the prototype happens to be non-promising and only a different approach in conceptualization of the prototype could have built a successful product or a service.

Networking over tea was entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs crowding around Pune Angels.

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