When started my career with Wipro, lil I knew what I wanted to do with my career.
I was enjoying my corporate stint at Wipro…training.. weekend fun… monday blues, etc.
Every week, at pune we use to work and learn about different things & learn about
new Avaya initiatives in the telecom sector as agianst competion of the likes of Cisco, Nortel et all.
It gave me a great feeling to be working for billion USD companies like Avaya and Wipro.
I belong to a business family. My father has a factory which produces ELCB’s and
Magnetic equippments. Though I never gave much thought over joining him, I was
always keen on the idea of making a business. Before I joined Wipro, I worked on
2 different products at different times – however never launched any of them. Due
to lack of self belief – lack of dedication to work even harder to make the academic
product like an industrial product. I worked on Temperature controllers (with a
difference being – it had digital compensation of the ambient temperature), Tyre
pressure monitoring system ( which could be installed in any car to have a measure
of the pressue on the dashboard – then expressway was a new thing and I saw that
product as a real opportunity).
On one of weekends at home, I came across this product secureId from RSA and
loved the application of the product so much that I started working on it. I was
convinced that concept of two factor authentication has
a lot of play in Indian
financial markets (banking sector). I shared this idea with my friends and family and
they kind of liked it and had little doubts on its workability. I envisaged this as my
Billion dollar opportunity. (Eventually HSBC was the 1st company to implement 2FA
in retail banking space and till date not many banks have adopted the technology).
Every weekend (and Mondays if any) was dedicated to the making of this billion
dollar dream product – SebaSol. One of my friends (who had an engineering drop that
year – also pitched to help). He used to get my designs worked out with art work and
PCB specialist to have our 1st cut of working prototype. As I was working in Pune for
the whole week, it was him, who used to spend time in getting the needful done so
that by the time I am back in Mumbai on the weekend I had ground to work further.
It was working out good between us and a small team was formed. Finally we made a
prototype, and it worked!
On the software end, I had done little work and wasn’t too sure of enterprise
softwares. I spoke to my sister’s friends (who had about 5-6 years of experience in
software industry) to understand steps to design the system. Finally, I decided to get
going with the software side. I took help from one friend in Wipro (called K JO) in
pune. He made the required software system to let the 2fa devices work smoothly.
Now I had the complete working prototype ready.
Next step was to take this to customers. I consulted my sisters best friend , who had
done her MBA in marketing and was working for a startup. Based on her advice and
some reading on ‘marketing’ I decided to have some money invested in marketing.
But before that I had to choose the name of the firm. I had about a dozen people
around me, helping me. I considered them as a part of my team and had to take their
opinion on the name that I coined. My fathers company is called Delta Automats –
and I wanted it to be similar in name, so that laters we can have it called as one of the
group companies in technology division.
Deltecs was the domain available and it sounded great to me – I was able to connect
with it. I named the venture as Deltecs. Website was made, domain & hosting space
was bought. 1st step to market was taken. 1st website was built. I had a friend who had
a venture in commercial arts space. I spoke to her that I need some collaterals to be
made and she was happy to help us. We had our 1st set of danglers, flyers ready. Now
we had enough marketing material and decided to go ahead with it in the market.
We went to search customers – only to be disappointed. The banking fraternity was
more comfortable with proven products. Though they didn’t doubt about its help to
against phishing, it wasn’t working in our favour .The hardwork put behind was just
not paying off. There were difficulties – whom should we talk to, what company
should we represent, how to present ourselves, how to present the product, and the
list goes on. We came across a director from bank of rajasthan who put us across the
CTO of the company and also patiently explained that directors only take budgetary
decisions regarding such products so the decision maker will be a CTO.
CTO needed our credentials – and we were baffled with what credentials we can
provide – with no previous installation, no customers – we had zero credentials.
Our pitch for a pilot just went in vain and we couldn’t do much with this product.
In the meantime, at Wipro with my colleagues I started working on a B-plan for an
IIM competition – we brainstormed to finally identify Print@home as a need for
multiplexes to eliminate queues. We made a prototype for it and there was 1 customer
in pune – E-square, excited about the product. We started getting lot of people excited
with the product and there quite a few who gave us appointments to go and meet.
Unfortunately on weekdays, where we couldn’t skip work at Wipro. One fine day, to
cache on the opportunity, decided to quit. Family opposed the idea of quitting before
having the 1st customer. Savings in my personal account wouldn’t be more than 40K
rupees and shares wouldn’t be more than 80K at that time.
My father clearly made his point, that I shouldn’t expect any assistance from him –
which made me think a lot about my post quitting plans. I was 23 then with hardly 15
months experience. If my venture fails, there wouldn’t be much I could do but take
up a new job again. Question raised was, will I be able to get a job post a break in my
employment career. I had no definite answer but an optimistic YES.
I take a lot of decisions on an optimistic impulse and quitting the company was on
Shortly, my friend with whom I started a partnership company and I had differences,
immediately after the product launch and we decided to separate. He went to my
father to settle a/c’s and my father got it settled with him.
My friend at Wipro helped me with my work on mobile applications, which I had
begun to supplement my earnings as a bread and butter product. I perceived mobile
app would be a hit application and would find many buyers. My decision to go for
a mobile product as a supplementary product wasn’t that bad as the space had just
begun to open up. Mobile product was taking shape – while the hunt for security
conscious customer was on. Time went by, savings dropped down and finally got our
1st major customer who got interested with our licensing product ( a by product of
sebaSOL). We took 3 months to deliver the same. By this time, my friend had decided
to join the business. We delivered the product successfully and that helped us cementour place as a startup. It gave us enough learning and money to walk through our