"Our First Client Was a Politician Whose Order Got us Rs 1 Crore!"
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We had a word with Ambarish Gupta, CEO and Founder, Knowlarity Communications about his start-up's growth and journey so far, along with his personal growth.
How was the idea of your Start-up conceptualized? What is the need you are addressing in the market?
We got our first client, a politician in 2006. My co-founder, Pallav Pandey had a political consulting company. In 2009 he was working with Sh. Naveen Patnaik in Orissa who was busy campaigning in Villages, and with only 10 days to go for elections, we went to Sh. Naveen Patnaik and offered him a platform (which at the time was not there) that offered him a facility to record his voice and play that to the masses over the phone. The message was simple but direct asking for votes. He loved the idea and paid us our first money. Then we came back and decided that though we have the money but we needed to build this product.
We had to hit 70 Lakh voters in a span of just 10 days, we had money but not the product. We then built a software in the next 72 hours which would enable him to target 45,000-50,000 voters per day. We started after 3 days, but with just 50,000 voters being reached per day for the next 3 days we then scaled the system quickly eventually reaching 10 Lakh voters per day. In the end we were able to reach all the 70 Lakh voters in a span of 10 days. The best part was Navin Patnaik won the elections that year. So we went back to him and suggested that maybe now since he has got elected he should send a thank you to all the voters. He agreed to do this as well. In this way we got a repeat order. The funds, which we got, were more than Rs.1 Crore. This probably was the biggest moment for us, where we before having the product we were able to get a client, offered him huge value and deliver on that.
Our services are based on the “pay- as-you-go” model. You only pay for the amount of revives you have paid. Knowlarity is currently serving in more than 65 countries with happy customer strength of 15000 and growing stronger. We provide the most comprehensive cloud-based communication tools for start-ups, professionals, and SME clients. Besides telephony, we provide IVR and cloud conferencing. Our platform is very flexible. It can be integrated into any CRM platform or customer service ticket application.
Funding so far...
Yes. Two rounds so far:
Sequoia Capital & Mayfield
Team size and Office culture
Team size: 435
The team stays in high spirits thanks to 2Cs which are:
Career growth: Deep exposure to people in terms of work they do along with fast career growth. No policy of minimum tenure in a role before promotion, no normal curve for performance evaluation, no experience threshold for any role, Internal Job Postings, etc. In essence, you perform, you grow!
• We are open, transparent and empowered: Approachable leadership & empowered people. Voice of Employee surveys, Town halls, no attendance records, non-hierarchical office culture, informal dressing, extensive flexi work options
• We work hard & party harder. While there might be no work life balance with the high intensity work at all times, we ensure that we have fun as a team. That fun could be fun on floor activities every week, a dhol party on Holi, music & drinks at CEO's house or a beer with a colleague at the end of a long summer day, etc.
What is the Business facet that for you is made of stone?
The purpose is to make money. I believe, a company might not make money in the beginning, but it can eventually make out how the business will work.
In an Entrepreneurial business where every time we do a transaction and make money or know how we are going to make money on that particular customer. So this has been our corner stone always, and that’s how we strategies or build up a business, and this has served us very well, especially in the most difficult environment that we are in.
What were your early failures?
I started of a company called Inventica, it could not flourish. I started Inventica in 2003, two years before magicbrics and everybody else. But that couldn’t raise any investment, or build a team. That time it was a very exciting experience and learning that I cooked up and implemented in Knowlarity.
I think there were lot of things which could not have been change like the funding environment was very bad, secondly there wasn’t a startup ecosystem which could have come to support. There were joining startups, having cofounders in company wasn’t the trend of the market that time.
Piece of advice to young entrepreneurs
My piece of advice to the young entrepreneurs would be – To ask yourself first that why you want to be an entrepreneur? Entrepreneurship is a matter of risks and high investments at stake, and it’s certainly not meant for everyone.
They should also figure out what they want to do first. It shouldn’t be a sheer peer pressure. One might be happy doing a job, working in a startup, running a lifestyle business, Software or some integration company, there is enough money and autonomy but the chances of consumer startup success is very slim, strategically speaking.
You should be super sure about your capacity to face lot of sacrifices and the high chances of failure.