From multiple sales jobs to being own own boss, meet the hard-worker!

The phase of exploration

He had a comfortable job with a multinational company. His career graph as sales engineer was steadily climbing. But Devendra Zade, a qualified mechanical engineer from Nagpur had always nurtured the dream of setting up his own business. He was always enthusiastic and ready to take up any kind of work. Inspite of having a full-time job, he would spend the evenings after work and the weekends, developing his own business. He dabbled in selling ready spices to restaurants and households for some time, installing CCTVs another time and once even tried making and selling idlis. All this gave him valuable experience in sales and marketing. However, at one point he realized that running a business in something would put his professional qualifications to optimum use and make him feel accomplished.

Finding his calling

Devendra started a dealership in industrial oils and abrasives. This was an area he was completely familiar with since he had been working with companies like ITW Signode and Saint Gobain which dealt in similar products. He took up dealership of a company manufacturing oil abrasives. The company agreed to give him exclusive dealership after assessing his performance for six months. For one year, Devendra juggled a full time job with his new business. He used one bedroom in his flat to store material and sacrificed all his evenings and weekends to work. His efforts gradually paid off and soon he had steadied himself in the new enterprise. Now was the time to pursue his business dedicatedly. Devendra resigned from his job and plunged full time into his business. He grew his portfolio and started dealing in industrial oils and abrasives of different brands that are used to increase the performance of industrial tools.

Connecting with deAsra

The first year was a period of struggle after which the turnover figures started looking good. As business started gaining momentum, it was time to manage the financial aspect of the business carefully. A dynamic entrepreneur, Devendra knew he must keep his knowledge updated to sustain in an ever changing market. He would therefore make it a point to attend seminars and business related events whenever he could. He once attended a deAsra seminar on a friend’s suggestion and realized the efficacy of a lot of points presented there.

An area of concern for him had been managing his cash flow as he had to give a 90-day credit to his buyers whereas he had to make payment to his companies in a much shorter period. This left a gap between receivables and payables. He immediately contacted the deAsra team to help him procure a cash credit facility from the bank. The team studied his case and helped him make a project report. He duly got cash credit finance which solved his cash flow problem.

The edge of expertise

With an array of various products he could now recommend the right product to his client depending on the application of the tool. His engineering expertise gave him an edge as he extended his services beyond simply supplying the product and gave advice on selecting the product.

After a complete brief on the use of the machine, Devendra recommends which product would enhance its productivity and efficiency. He also undertakes conversion of the original product to suit the client’s specific need. This way, he helps his client in leveraging the effect of the tool or machine which ultimately reflects in the bottomline! In short, it is an intelligent combination of technical as well as commercial skills that gives Devendra a clear edge over his competitors.

Devendra has ambitious plans for his business and has finalized talks for a dealership with a German company. However, while he pursues his career goals he strongly values health, personal growth and family.

He encourages his staff to complete work by 5:30 every evening and to spend the rest of the time with their family; something he does himself too. As he plays cricket on weekends and enjoys his time with his son, Devendra Zade manages a wonderful work-life balance. He acknowledges whole heartedly that without the unconditional support of his family, he would not have been able to be where he is today.

Designing her own future

Warli art, which is popularly seen as a part of the interior designs in most modern Indian homes, is a beautiful folk art of Maharashtra, traditionally created by tribal women. While Warli is popularly turning into a hobby, few have the passion to turn it into a profession. One such businesswoman is Mrs. Prashansa Muley—who like her name, has been making laudable efforts to present this traditional art to modern society through her business venture “Shaurya Arts”.

Opportunity in Crisis

A native of Wai, Prashansa holds a degree in MPM from Synergy University, Pune and after marriage, worked abroad in this field for a couple of years. Subsequently, the couple shifted back to Wai, where pregnancy and motherhood deterred Prashansa from working on a full-time job. However, instead of getting bogged down, she decided to turn her hobby, Warli art, into a business idea. Her parents offered to look after her child and with their support and her dedication, she saw the birth of her second baby—‘Shaurya Arts’ in January 2015.

Product life-cycle

Prashansa realised that besides fabric, Warli can also be done on earthenware, nameplates, glass and various other surfaces. She presents Warli not just as decorative items but also utility items like lampshades and cutlery, and has also ventured into corporate gifting. Prashansa has chalked out a five-phased product life cycle for her Warli products. Firstly, she sources earthen and ceramic ware from the local potter. Next, she gets the base coat applied from the local women of Wai. In the third stage, she does the main Warli art design herself. Finally, the application of the second coat and the packaging of the article is also outsourced.

Introduction to deAsra

Prashansa is a member of the Marathi entrepreneurs network where she met Mrs. Shubhangi who runs a masala business and had received deAsra’s support. After a deAsra representative delivered a lecture to the group, Prashansa decided to contact them. Prashansa was trying hard to do exports, and she got some good guidance from deAsra regarding how she could start an export division for her business.

Hurdles

Since Warli artefacts are not a ‘need’ commodity and cater more to the ‘leisure’ segment, marketing is a challenge for Prashansa. She tries to promote her business through her business groups, social media, and has a done a few exhibitions before. Word of mouth publicity is a great way in which her artefacts sell well. She is trying to find a marketing agency in cities like Pune/Mumbai who can promote and sell her products in these cities. Secondly, her product involves working on delicate material like earthenware and glassware and handling it is a challenge.

Success stories

Prashansa has many success stories of satisfied clients. As Diwali gifts for a construction company, she made wooden paperweights in the shape of a house with the company logo inscribed. She designed t-shirts for a tourism company on which she represented the company’s different services through Warli. For a Sports Company, she designed customised lanterns that depicted various sports through Warli .

Her products have reached cities like Pune, Mumbai and also to the US and New Zealand.

Dreaming big

Prashansa wants to set her business base in Wai and give back her bit to the society by providing employment to the locals. Her HR skills help her communicate and empathise with the people who work for her. Besides Warli, she also wants to explore other Indian tribal arts like Madhubani.

She would be happy to receive deAsra’s guidance in expanding her business through e-commerce and building her own website.

deAsra wishes Prashansa all the very best for her business!

Decoding the rules of business

In a little flat in Pune’s prime residential area, sit a group of people poring over their computer screens and writing code that would make machines ‘think’, ‘judge’ and ‘act’. Welcome to Emprotek Software Solution Pvt. Ltd., an emerging technology startup that develops customised embedded software solutions. Simply put, these are software solutions that help a washing machine figure out how much water would be required for a given load of clothes or help a furnace understand at what temperature it must heat a particular metal.

The brain behind the enterprise is Shriram Kulkarni, who has a rich experience in embedded systems. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in  Instrumentation & Control Engineering from Pune University, Shriram did a Post Graduate Diploma in Embedded System Design from C-DAC ACTS, Bangalore. He then worked with various renowned software companies. During this period, he also got an opportunity to work in USA, UK and France.

Identifying the niche

Shriram observed that there was a large segment of businesses that would benefit from embedded systems solutions, but they were unfortunately not being catered to. Having identified this niche, he took cautious steps towards setting up his own enterprise.

By the time Shriram returned from the UK in 2013, he had a concrete plan ready. He first worked towards reducing his home loan and other liabilities. He had already started taking up small assignments to test the waters and to understand the market. Soon after, he resigned from his well paying job and set up his business in a small flat in the building where he lived. Initially he wore many hats – he was the software developer, marketing executive, accountant as well as the finance manager of the company.

However, he soon felt a strong need to have somebody by his side to guide him on various aspects of running and managing a business. It was around this time that he learned about deAsra.

Intelligent hand-holding

He was delighted to find out that the deAsra team could guide him on managing his finances, recruitment, marketing and other issues. He voiced his plans as well as his concerns unhesitatingly and the team at deAsra advised him on the best course of action.

In the early days of his business, Shriram struggled with pricing his services since there was no tangible formula to evaluate the intellectual prowess that went into his solutions. Gradually, experience taught him to put a price to his efforts and negotiate with the client.

Today, Shriram has a team of five working with him and a portfolio that includes clients from the automobile and petroleum sectors. He focuses on meeting clients, understanding their needs and designing a customised solution for them. His developers and engineers enjoy the challenging assignments he brings in.

Yesterday’s decisions have forged a brighter tomorrow

Shriram has plans of moving into a larger space and widening his client base, all in good time. He is assured of deAsra’s support in his journey. Today, Emprotek is an established player in the market and enjoys a steady stream of business. Looking back on the road travelled so far, Shriram humbly claims that he still has a long way to go but that he is enjoying every milestone and challenge en route.