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Jai Arjun Singh |
July 24, 2004
Vineet Bajpai, is just short of 27 years old, but he has written a book for budding entrepreneurs. Bajpai knows a thing or two about the subject; he started his web-solutions company, Magnon Solutions, at the age of 23, with an investment of Rs 50,000, two software trainees as employees, two rented computers and a garage.
Today he has over 400 clients in seven countries, including the Ministry of Finance and the Uttar Pradesh government. Magnon has a turnover of Rs 58 lakh and is targeting Rs 1 crore next year.
My father was in the Air Force but I spent most of my childhood in Delhi. I did my graduation in economics from Delhi University and then completed my MBA from the Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management in 1999. I then spent six months working with GE Capital International Services.
Our generation had something of a mindset legacy in the sense that we only thought in terms of the standard professions -- lawyers, doctors and so on. To some extent, this was true of my attitude too. But then one day it occurred to me that if I took three days off in GE, it would make no difference to the functioning of the organisation; I was like a ball-bearing in a huge set-up. I didn't want that. I wanted the personal satisfaction of knowing that my presence -- or absence -- would make a difference.
The Internet boom had just begun and it occurred to me that if there were those who dug for gold during a Gold Rush, there were also those who provided the shovels and other material.
Web solutions seemed like a promising option. I set up Magnon Solutions with no technical background of my own -- in fact, I had to take a friend's help to even pick a couple of kids from NIIT who would best suit our requirements. I couldn't even afford to buy computers -- I had to rent two.
We started operations out of a refurbished generator room in south Delhi, with just one phone line for making calls as well as using the Internet -- which meant that we would go online only in the evenings and ended up staying in office until 10.30 pm. We got just Rs 5,000 for our first order, which was to set up a website for an artist based in Varanasi.
Initially, business was slow but soon we found ourselves on the upward curve. One of our proudest achievements was developing the official website for the Finance Ministry.
We bagged the order by crashing our prices, and managed to complete the 7,000 pages on the site in just 17 days -- it was imperative to honour the deadline because the ministry had announced on a TV channel that the site would be set up by a certain date. Eventually, they were very pleased with our efforts. One thing led to another, and we ended up handling the online version of the NDA government's "India Shining" campaign as well.
The BPO industry is another big opportunity for us. Our clients include Daksh and HCL Technologies, to whom we provide search engine optimisation services. This is important because when a company in, say, the US wants to outsource, it scans the Internet for a suitable BPO partner. Our web solution services for companies like Daksh involve getting them better visibility.
One of the reasons for our success is that we've managed to keep our overheads very low. For instance, we resisted the temptation to move to a plush office.
In fact, at the end of our first year, we had a meeting where everyone voted in favour of using our funds to expand our products and services, rather than to set up a new office. I derive inspiration from Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos. When a journalist asked him why everyone in the Amazon office used plastic cups and cheap pencils, Bezos replied that every penny saved could be used to buy a new server.
My experiences have also inspired me to write a book, Build From Scratch, which is aimed at the budding entrepreneurs. It looks at the practical aspects of setting up an organisation, like high-pressure sales management and manpower retention. My next book, The Barbarian Manager, will examine how managers are programmed to survive aggression in the corporate sector.
As told to Jai Arjun Singh