Recently I was lucky to get an opportunity of interviewing Dr.Anand Deshpande, founder of Persistent System Limited, Pune, India.
I met him along with J4E founder member Vishal Methi and CS Nikhil Thakur to interview him about his journey of starting his business in 1990s and listing it on BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange). We could learn from his experiences and hindsight which will help us to grow up our business effectively .
Interview is published on Youtube, however this blog post is to share my insight about the conversation.
After completing his PhD in US and returning back home Dr.Deshpande started Persistent Systems Limited Company in 90’s as a small startup. Some interesting facts he shared about the initial internet setup and processing times stuck in my mind forever. In 90s it took him 6 months to get a telephone connection with an internet; and it used to take 10 min to upload and download just 30kbps data Every day in the morning they used to spend one hour to upload files for their customer in US and one hour in evening to download all the file which their customer send back with correction and suggestion or feedback. It was normal routine for them then. Now we have advanced so fast that we can get internet connection in 2-3 days whereas a wireless internet connection can be accessed within few hours. Yet we still complain about not having right resources and systems to run our business.
People built businesses in much adverse condition than what we have today and still people always complaining about lack of technology advancements. . And here I met
Dr. Deshpande who was talking about 1990s technology challenges and putting them in perspective rather than complaining about his struggle.
Lesson 1: Make the most of the resources you have available and gradually adapt with changing times and technology
Moving on we have discussion on how he managed cash flow in an early days. .In India those days it was big challenge of getting bank loan; it took him almost 6 months of process to get it approved .In the meantime he started working with clients who were ready to pay for the services upfront, so he could sustainably grow the business.
Lesson 2: Believe in yourself and the value you provide to the client. This helps you set a good service policy with clients. Working with quality customer right from the start is best policy to follow.
My next question to him was did he have any mentors and what was the role of mentors in his journey so far?
Dr.Deshpande highly recommends people to have business mentors and coaches. He doesn't expect the mentor to teach him everything. He sees mentors to be like sounding board to verify all the things that he comes across in business; to help trigger the problem. Also he believes that mentors should help in increasing reputation of business. This will help to increase business valuation and trust in the market. The one more advantage of having mentors; is they open doors for you to have new connections. They help you to meet new people , shows you new direction.
Lesson 3: I always thought that mentors or business coach should help us run the business correctly. However, now i learnt that business coach or mentors are people who guide us the path, ask us questions to help us introspect and get us introduced to new meaningful networks of people.
Next question we asked was based on something commonly discussed in business networks, i.e. which is best business model service or product ? . He replied there is no such thing as B2B or B2C. Today products and service industry has quite merge together so at end of the day we are constantly providing the service by selling product. So what matter is the experience your customer gets whether they buy your product or buy your service. Customer is something that we need to focus on rather than worrying about product base business or service business.
This is something that totally resonated with me, as business owner or customer I always value customer service the most.
Vishal Methi asked the most common problems he observed in networking events. Business owners seem to be generating lot of leads and yet they are facing challenges to grow their business. So we asked Dr.Deshpande what factors might be going wrong for such businesses?
Interestingly Dr.Deshpande believes lead generation is only 20% of the business, however having a right system and right people for right jobs will convert the leads. Having right processes and systems will ensure good customer service who will give you more referrals ensuring consistent business growth.
Lesson 4: We should look after customer’s journey rather than worrying about generating new leads all the time.
In the end we asked him how he is giving back to the society, where he shared about deAsara foundation which helps individuals willing to bring their business ideas to life.
Share your insights in the comment below.
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