A place for startups and entrepreneurs to meet in Pune
It was great privilege and pleasure to get an opportunity to listen to Mr. Kailash Katkar, founder and CEO, Quick Heal Technologies. Very rarely we come across people who possess an inspiring juxtaposition of ethos, pathos and logos. Effortlessly he comes across as very humble, soft spoken and humorous person. He has ability to give a sudden adrenalin rush to aspiring and budding entrepreneurs like me.
Well I have attempted to recall his take on various aspects of entrepreneurship, feel free to correct me if I have misinterpreted them.
Business undertaking in chronological order:
On early days:
The conditions in which he was caught were challenging enough for any other lesser mortal to loose focus and hope. Humility to stay grounded, hard work to achieve end goad, determination to succeed, passion to create value were deep engraved him during his early days. The value system instilled in him by his parents during childhood continues to be key driver in his personal and professional life.
It all started at the age of 12 with screen painting, by 16 he was only person who knew calculator repairing in entire Pune, in few more years he took over the company where we was working, this was purely driven by passion - the owner had decided to shut down the business. Later he diversified in providing AMC for computers. One of the many significant tipping points in his career was his altruistic responsiveness to incessant virus issue faced by his exiting customer base.
What inspired to create antivirus product:
When business yields diminishing returns, it's time to pivot. He did change directions from Computer AMC to Antivirus but ensured that he was grounded to business objective of creating value for customer. His business practices and principles were geared to create value for his existing AMC customers operating in extremely uncertain conditions not knowing how to deal with computer virus. Initially this was free of cost service in form of multiple utilities to tackle various viruses. Later on a friend showed that it could be a potential product for retail and corporate segment. That’s what called for brand building and marketing. His brother, Mr. Sanjay, , CTO, Quick Heal, was instrumental in developing this product. It was not easy either for him. It required multitasking between college, job and this additional task.
On Brand building:
Per him there is no “scientific” or "proven" way to build a brand. It needs determination, perseverance and hard work. He first served a leading newspaper company free of cost, and later used this as reference to grab a contract with leading insurance providing company. He had passion to work for reasons that go beyond name and fame. That is what eventually mattered and customers could rely on his company.
This was long uphill battle. He pursued aggressive marketing when business was in financial trouble and liquidity an issue of concern. Nevertheless, he always believed in finding common ground and building rapport with his business partners. This helped to churn unimaginable growth in sell of product across India. He disapproves of “comparative marketing”; his ethos does not allow any competitive product to be ridiculed. Customer is wise enough to take an informed decision on his own.
He believes in following his instinct and intellect. He works on a sound intellectual framework while leading Quick Heal and does not allow emotions to corrode that framework. To stay competitive he questions on whatever his teams and partners do.
Incessant learning and development is driving force for him – it started from screen painting and continues even today while he is championing financial budgeting and EBITDA for his future initiatives. A firm believer in leading from the front and walking the talk.
On dealing with failures:
Success was not overnight and despite having a winner product in hand tough time continued till 2000. While the business was primarily bootstrapped, he continued to sacrifice everything he had and staked the last available cash to undertake a unconventional and massive newspaper advertisement seeking distribution and marketing channel. Call it boldness or gamble, the efforts paid off and laid a distinguished approach in setting up offices throughout country and now even the world is indeed flat for him.
Innovation and creativity comes naturally to him and his brother Mr. Sanjay.
From captivating jingle on Radio Mirchi to attractive packaging of CD – all is done in-house.
On capital investment:
He had faced times when there was no readily available liquidity, banks were not willing to lend. Thanks to his patience and perseverance he has been able to build a great brand and product.
The recent capital investment will be used to bring new products in the market. Needless to say Mr. Katkar is well positioned and determined to take Quick Heal to next level of innovation.
On TiE Pune and POCC:
The board and executive members are poised to create a framework and environment similar to Sillicon Valley.
Now it's up to aspiring and budding entrepreneurs to take advantage of this august company to achieve their desired end goals. Ideological kinship and strategic partnerships is the way forward to achieve it.
The basic purpose was to evangel the good initiative of POCC and TiE to foster innovation and create a ecosystem for entrepreneurship. It also goes without saying that the session was no lesser than a TED sessions, i found it compulsive to share with other members who could not attend it.
The views and interpretation mentioned in this note are personal. Kindly bring discrepancy to my notice and I shall rectify the post.