'We Believed In An Idea And Made It A Brand Name'
Just Dial started out of a rented apartment. Our first office or my first desk was a centre table, which was right in the corner of the house. We believed in the idea and made it a brand name. It is important for an entrepreneur to have faith in their idea and then work accordingly.
Building reputation in ecosystem
Entrepreneurs must understand the fact that ultimately the product will be used by people, and it takes time to build reputation. Just Dial is 20 years old and it took time for us to find a place. Normally it’s perceived that any technological product from India, is actually inspired rather copied from something similar, developed in US or somewhere else. But Just Dial was our brain child. When Just Dial was born, the country functioned differently. There was no internet penetration and telecom penetration was about 1 per cent. We were quite courageous to think of starting a telephonic information service then. We could envision the fact that there is going to be telecom revolution happening. In fact, business is all about looking at the future.
Keep changing and innovating in business
Innovation is a way to go, otherwise ideas will grow old. Till recently, Just Dial concentrated on providing information. Like where you can get a certain product, at the best price. But now, the costomers can even buy these products using Just Dial’s automatic transaction system. By using the Just Dial app, you can order a product and get it delivered.
Key to any business is profitability
Business is run to earn a profit and every businessman should remember this. Focus should always be on profit. We grew organically; it took us 20 years to be what we are today. In 2000, when dot com boom came in India, experts said, “Internet is a way to go and you guys are going to be over soon.” But we believed in our product and services and knew telephonic information service will revolutionize.
Just Dial was started with zero funds, we did not have any money to start this business. But, we were never in a hurry to create something big immediately. We wanted to bring about change in the society by creating a service to make information accessible across the country, round the clock. We used to work day in and day out, improving everyday. However, profits came right from the Day 1. But entrepreneurs today don’t need to wait that long.
With a booming telecom and internet industry, a company like Just Dial can be built in five to seven years. It used to take ages to to get connected through the dial up connections, which were available at that time. Then, it was a struggle to open a page. We could not believe that internet had the power to change the future. Though we had a website, JustDial. com, but we did not have guts to plunge into internet business immediately. We continued with what we were doing earlier. Entrepreneurship is also about not getting distracted. Friends and well wishers will give you lot of ideas and suggestions to improve things, but you should not get distracted. Focus and continue to do what you are good at.
Have a strong foundation
And then came telecom revolution. Cellphone prices dropped, incoming calls became free and outgoing charges cheaper. It gave us the oppertuanity to grow. We continued to build the service further. Around 2006, we thought venturing into internet more seriously as internet penetration was now 2 to 3 per cent. But our main focus was our telephonic service.
Believe in your idea and product
If funding comes, then they should come to you, you should not go to them. We were a highly profitable company. We started with zero fund and then in 2007, a pea company wanted to invest. We did not require funds because we already profiting. However, they offered us around Rs 250 crores and we agreed to it. That’s when the money started pouring in, however, it is lying in the bank and e are yet to use it.
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (October 2016 Issue).