Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Anil Bidarhalli - Bengaluru

It has been almost two months since I met Anil while I visited Bengaluru (Bangalore) during a weekend trip around the independence day. That was the first time I met him, but the man has left a lasting impression. I had mentioned to him over a cup of coffee about my idea of this series. I never called him in the last 2 months because I wanted to fulfill my promise first. I am free to call him now :-)
Anil has a calmness that is very unlike people of his age. A maturity that one gains after seeing a lot of the real world. He has been successfully running a computer hardware sales & service business since last 4 years or more. At the age of 28, he has bought himself a Sedan, a Mac and has sufficient wealth to take care of his family (he is single and lives with his parents) and pamper his little sister :-). But wealth is only one aspect of Anil's business. His real kick is in vision.
Anil started his business without consciously starting a business. Well, that is how he likes to put it. He has just got over his +2's and he was helping his friends with their hardware problems. Gradually he thought of doing it professionally. After running it on the retail consumer mode for a couple of years, he thought of going the corporate way. But for serving corporates, he would need to be formally registered as a firm. That was the trigger point for the birth of his firm 'XYZ'.
Anil currently runs the show with a full time staff of 6 people an has clients who swear by him for service. His 'Anil touch' is evident in many instances. His office space is very unlike others. He has rented a house as his office and keeps garden chairs for his customers to relax while they are visiting his office. His office is not in a busy commercial area. It is in a quite neighborhood. Anil's emphasis is not on creating more sales figures but rather creating a space for himself in his customer's mind through consistent and personal service. His commitment to service is evident from his long and untimely calls with his customers. Some of his customers are 70 year olds who take his word for anything in computers.
Going forward Anil wants to get into software development as well. For that matter he had also tried his hand at it an year ago. It was an enterprise sales software. But he stalled the project as it turned out to be a non-profitable venture at that time. Anil intends to understand the Software development business better and get back to it. From whatever I know of him, he sure will get back and make a success out of it.
Here are the excerpts of an e-mail interview I had with him:

What made you get into business?
I was always interested in business since my school days. I regularly used to read economic times and news papers like that. I was a regular reader of Brand Equity and Corporate Dossier. The strategies and the boardroom discussions used to drive me crazy and I used to enjoy every aspect of the business discussed.I had planned to start business after my study is completed and have some years of hands on experience, little amount of money in the bank account. Then start business. I had my punch line " make things possible" ready long before i started my business.

What were the major challenges you have faced in your business till day? especially since you are a first generation entrepreneur?
the challenge was to find right kind of clientele as my way of doing business was not conventional wherein the targets are set and performance is analysed by the balance sheet. i do not contradict that balance sheet reflects the company but it was not for my kind of business in the beginning.I have evaluated my business by way measuring the satisfaction I have given to my clients. I have always suggested my clientele what to buy and also where at times. this sincerity of thinking about the client and his money has kept me ticking in the business so far.
as a first generation entrepreneur i initially had investment crunch and slowly i have reinvested the money that has been earned through my business. even now I am in need of investment and there are investors ready to invest in my company. I am being choosy, whether to take it from them or go ahead on my own.

What are your future plans for your business?
More services related to technology and bring all of them under one roof.

What advise would you give a first generation entrepreneur who wants to take the big leap into a business venture?
I am not that big a businessman to give advice but I can share what i should have done to make my business better. Before plunging into the business i should have planned little more and secured some investment then things would have been much easier. But the thing which made me continue my business is the urge to provide service to people.

First Generation Entrepreneurs

The idea of having a series of posts on first generation entrepreneurs has been on my mind for quite some time. It amazes me how people without any background in business and almost nil support from their forefathers (in terms of experience as well as finance) manage to take the leap of faith. From my personal experience it is a very crucial and adventurous decision for a first generation entrepreneur to decide to be so. I have met and closely known various such businessmen across industries. I will share the journey of these men and my thoughts about them & their business in days to come.
I hope I am able to maintain some consistency and write on at least one entrepreneur every week. Look out for my posts with label FGE aka First Generation Entrepreneurs. :-)