Mr. Vishwadeep Bajaj, Founder, ValueFirst, one of the new-age mobile technology major, delighted the young CEO aspirants at IWSB (iwsb.in) campus. It was a first for him and also students at the IWSB campus though he has been figuring in our brochure and communications and also has been a judge at one of the regional rounds of ‘SRIJAN’, business plan competition of IWSB this year.
Vishwadeep did his MCA and CFA, and went on to work with CMC and then Siemens in India and Germany. Even during his college days he used to dabble in Stock Markets! He switched between corporate life and entrepreneurial life a couple of times, before starting his steadfast journey as an entrepreneur in Europe in the technology space. He has since then founded a couple of companies in UK/Germany and exited before founding Valuefirst. Valuefirst, with headquarters in India, serves in many countries across Asian, African and European continents.
Vishwadeep is a down to earth, approachable, jovial person ever keen to help a learner. He has been a great risk-taker. Not so great on technology, but has always managed to rope in core-technologists to execute his ideas. As we always hear, ‘Hire a guy who is better than you’ to run your company. He has been doing it all the time.
His talk at IWSB :
– About ValueFirst : An organization where learning comes first
o We go to office to learn
o 240 of us are on a journey, fun along the way.
o Most of what we do is controlled from outside (market forces and changes); But we give our best shot to whatever we can control
o We experience the joy in negotiating/shaping the world
– Main goal is of enjoying
– Every moment is an exciting moment
o Current vision 2010 – Touch billion lives daily as a publicly traded communication services company by December 2010
– Touching lives meaningfully
– Not unsolicited content
– Publicly IPO
“My Journey” – Starts his wonderful journey
Childhood and Education
– Childhood in Srinagar and Jammu
– At class 11. Was thinking of who am I and why am I here? Started what is the purpose of life
– Did not perform well in board exams
– Got admissions in
o BITS Pilani – MSc in Museum studies – wondered what will I do there?
o Lucknow college of Architecture – short on age
– Graduation I joined in Agra? I am not able to recall which stream..see!!
– One day I bumped into a boy, in many places in a couple of days while going across shopping. I discovered that he is doing something called CA
– I thought that is a wonderful Idea and shared with parents. I convinced parents.
– Parents moved out of Agra. I continued to be there
– At 21 while I was studying, got chicken pox…came home, parents were in Gwalior.
– Mother convinced to look at some interesting advertisement in newspaper..
– MCA happened from MITS, Gwalior, the third institution to introduce MCA in the country after DU and JNU.
Into the corporate world and Entrepreneurship
– Went to CMC for summers, and joined them after MCA.
– First assignment was at RITES – Train reservation system, very impressive, many from the US, UK were wondering how India managed it?
– I fell in love with my boss, and married her within six months!!
– I thought, now I can start my own company, with someone at home who can support
– Started my own company, software development
– I did not know how to sell, I thought people will buy, targeted big companies.
– Finally thought will sell to small companies; went around got some projects
– Delivery guys were my friends from CMC, all moonlighting for myself
– I used to capture all requirements, and started delivering.
– I started making three times my salary 3K (10K in those days)
Stockbroking and UPWARD CURVE plunges
– One of the clients is stock broker. I got intrigued by the way he makes money
– I made 5 rupees per share, in a couple of hours I made 500 rupees
– I thought Wow! this is a great way to make money. Fast and Quick.
– I then opted to become a sub-broker, convinced the broker. He accepted me
– I got to know, a lot about the scrips, market behaviour etc.
– In 6 months made 33 lakh rupees.. in 1993
– I thought of starting a company.. planned
– Harshad Mehta scam happened
– I kept myself thinking that it is a correction
– In no time everything was wiped off…
– I had a contessa, best car in those days (better than my house owner)
– I had to sell every thing… borrow from father (from his PF)
– Everyone in family was worried. They asked me to get back to a job.
– Seimens ad came up. Went to the exam with a friend..
– Were late, the manager reluctantly accepted us.
– Copied through the test from my friend. Go thru!!
– There was GD. I could not speak a word, a south Indian girl dominated it.
– A gentleman walks in. Looked like the big boss. He asked me to summarize. As my luck would have it. I was the only one short listed!!
– I was told the last round is Technical interview. When they spotted about my stock market dabblings, due to Harshad Mehta episode, everything ended being technical analysis of stock market!! I could answer reasonably well.
– Got selected…
Packed off to Germany
– I was sent to Germany, surprising! On landing, I was told that the project was cancelled and I have to get back to India.
– The German boss, CHRIS, called me for dinner. To my surprise something else unraveled.
– He told me that, I have been asked to prove myself and I can select a two member team and you are there in it. CHRIS is a great boss who goes all out..
– What are you really good at, he asked me? I told that I work hard and I will deliver.
– We have to find a job, and the boss started internal sales within SIEMENS.
– He chanced upon Performance management Analysis order from one of the departments
– Finally we became a performance management guru team, multiple orders came within SIEMENS
– Our name spread, and we started to get orders from everywhere
– My boss was spotted as a potential CEO, and he was sent for a business school
– My boss said I will send you to a friend who needs people like you..
Found myself in England
– In the new place. I was hired for writing emails on SS7, as I was very good in English (Germany had very few people of my language capability)
– One gentleman from England came visiting, he saw me working..
– He went back and called me saying that looking for SS7 specialists
– WELSH boss, in ENGLAND siemens pulled me..SS7 Guru arrives..
– Finally they wanted Something more than SS7 as there were not many projects
– Why do not you do pre-sales he asked.
Who the hell knows, What is BPR?
– I would work hard and do very well in the sales..
– Manchester trip happend– Business process re-engineering needs? No one knew about it? A Potential order for BPR.
– Went to a shop to buy books on BPR.
– We went and pitched saying, We know the business of telecom from down up… hence we are a better company. We got orders…
– When I got back, the boss said “You won the order.. you Deliver”
– I thought Siemens is a great company and I will find someone to do it within
– I spotted a team in Siemens germany. They landed. My drive from Heathrow to Manchester revealed that they are no good.
– My boss told me “Fire them…”. I just dropped them at airport..
India Calling –
– I thought I will find some consultant in India.
– I got three people from India… best brains…
– They could not get to understand even the language and pronounciation
– So I kept them in the back office, and did all front-ending; Went on delivering…
– Management Consulting Practice was set up in Seimens..
– My boss asked me to set up my own company to help Seimens. Which I did in Chandigarh to help with development.
– My boss was promoted to become Seimens global telecom head
– Management conculting business is so person intensive. I thought of parking the company..
New move – Internet Technologies
– A British ISP was set up providing free services
– I jumped in as a CTO. THE CEO was 26yr English man
– Profiling Engine. Target advertising
– I convinced that we will do it in India
– Consulting company of mine in India is converted into software development
– We developed the free service in England…
– We were go to live. It was 1999.
– ALTAVISTA made an announcement in press. Said free complete internet service. One interview was enough to collapse our 43 people company
– Let me start my own company. I was reasonably networked. E-Commerce portals
– Model was sales in UK develop in India; also started Body shopping – Staff augumenting service…
– 2001 – Dot com bust. Many of our customers failed, and our business collapsed
Wireless and Mobile services
– We thought wireless application company. Appln for PDA – parcel, London metropolitan service etc..
– Management consulting e company -> wireless etc.
– 25 crore business happened
– I was in the process of progressing – 9/11 happened – US collapsed..
– All techies from US moved to EUROPE and UK
– I started losing all my customers to WIPRO, inexpensive labour
– Went to banks. I was pitching for funds. I was told – YOU ARE AS GOOD AS YOUR LAST SALE
– We will have to give you money and own your business? We cannot run it.
– WHY DO NOT YOU BUILD A PRODUCT? They asked
– FIRST time I realized that if you own an IPR then greater possibility of success!!
– We were wondering what to do?
Back to INDIA; OUR FIRST IPR
– One day walking on OXFORD street. I bumped into CHRIS, my first boss in Germany, It was a sheer confidence..
– He shared that he was running mobile messaging company. MTV service and said that we will work together.
– He went back and I got a call saying that all money invested in his company, he realized was of SERBIAN MAFIA and he has to close his company.
– I am looking for a product and CHRIS had it. CHRIS did not mind shifting to India.
– He came to INDIA to help us build MOBILE SERVER. A product was built finally, our IPR.
– I went to VCs for funds, they said that kindly show that it can be sold …
– In England it was costly to sell, people use it as a pilot, but none would buy
– We sold first in INDIA to MODI CARE…
– We went back for funding
– They said that you are very confusing…
– we consolidated every business under ValueFirst in2003
– NOW we have 25oo customers.. 3-4 crore messages every day.
– I had to convince family to get back…to INDIA
– Finally the family moved 2 years back!! Though my daughter is heading back to UK for her O level courses now…
THAT IS MY JOURNEY
Back to VALUEFIRST
– WHEN I First set VALUEFIRST. I want to do it with right values, there comes the name of the company too..
– FOUR CORE VALUES that drive VALUE FIRST are :
o LOVE EACH OTHER
– Unconditional acceptance of the other human being
– We do not restrict with the company
• Express the same happiness beyond – families, customers, public
• ALCHEMY – we will be able to convert everything into gold
o TRUTHFULNESS IN EACH ACTION
– Say what you think; Do what you say
– Thought, speech and action
• Most of the times there is no congruence …we are focused on the truthfulness in every way
• We never peep into any data
o FAITH IN ONESELF AND THE UNIVERSE
– You are extraordinary; Whatever you believe in – Will come true
– The Universe is designed to accomplish your will
• Will the highest of your dreams and see them coming true.
• Act with this faith..
• EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO TAKE REBIRTH…you will achieve
o EXCELLENCE in each effort
– Your each act must ensure excellence
– The results of your effort will be available with highest quality
• We measure effort and not result
1. How is that you can make things happen, whatever you wished?
Have you read the book? CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD by Neale Donald Walsch
Three steps –
– Dream the dream
– Share your dream with as many people as you can
– Whatever you dreamt, you should feel it has happened..
o get rid of self doubts in any context
– MCA days – I always told myself and told openly that I will top and I continued to top…
– ” I succeeded in getting two kids to be born on two different continents on the same day just by willing it”!!! : Vishwadeep was narrating another real life experience about how he wanted both his wife and sister-jn-law who were pregnant, DDays apart by 25 days, to deliver on the same day. One day when he was walking with his wife in shopping plaza in London, got a call from India that his sister-in-law has delivered. He thought to himself that a few more hours to go and his wish may come true. They reached home and his wife shared that she is feeling uneasy and asked Vish to feed two kids. In a while, wife asked Vish to take her to the hospital and in a couple of hours they had the baby in their hands !! The POWER OF DREAMING and BELIEF !!
– Recently, waiting at the airport, I saw a pretty lady in the boarding Que. I was sitting and reading a book waiting for the crowd to board. But kept on telling myself that I will be sitting next to that pretty lady. I was the last one to board and it so happened that the seat next her was the only empty seat, and I occupied it !! (students had a hearty laugh at this story)
2. HOW does this really happen –
– Atom building blocks of Universe
– Matter changed into energy
– Energy gets converted to matter…
– Whatever thought we have is energy..
– Energy has physical property..
– Energy will find its resonance…matching…
– Challenge is to communicate to the universe only one frequency… one thought..
– Universe follows…
– Share it as many, let it resonate.
3. How do you market your company?
VB : We follow multiple approaches…
– Online marketing and PR
– Online search engine optimizing…GOOGLE ads…[articles/blogs/appears on the screen]
– OFFLine marketing – Industry events
– Niche journals – Banking journals; Real Estate, Retail etc
4. Your experience in India Vs West?
– My SON was asked to write about three fruits in 300 words..
o He wrote Cheeku, Rosgulla, Gulamjamun
– Western markets are very mature
– SME segment in India no maturity and it is 90% of the economy
o Process are yet to take sophistication
– In West, they plan and Act, In India, we Act and Plan
o Germany : Airport was shifted without any hassles in a one shot operation, not impacting a single aircraft taking off on time.
– India is much bigger market, sheer size and scale, it is huge. We will be profitable. No economy (baring China) can match our scale.
5. What is next.. technologically?
– Black swan theory : (Taleb regards almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events, and artistic accomplishments as “black swans”—undirected and unpredicted. He gives the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I, and the September 11, 2001 attacks, as examples of Black Swan events. Check wikipedia)
o Whatever you dream will happen in uncanny way…
o Everything gets driven by the UNKNOWN; Yes, planning will reduce the cycles of reinventing
– Technologically we are moving from TXT to VOICE
o SMS – call originating… call centre mapping
– Refer book BLINK? – decision comes from GUT
o Critical to find the right people…
o Look problems holistically…
6. What is the secret to your MOBILITY? Your ability to ADAPT ACROSS VARIOUS SECTORS and Countries?
– Fundamental trait is perseverance
– I never thought of shutting shop
– You need to continuously play… score a six
– Relearn and work hard
– Get the right people better than yourself
7. What is your Biggest failure?
– I never felt ever failed
– I feel like this door has shut..will do something else
– Enjoying the moment
8. As young entrepreneurs and business grads..what is your advise?
– Whatever you choose to do, do with utmost passion
– I do not feel the right Idea, People are more important
o Execution is more important and that happens because of people
– GOD lies in execution
o Many people have ideas….execution is paramount
o Execution will be through trial and error and thru people
o Will hire who will help me succeed
o Convince a story about how upside will happen…
o Investing in hiring in advance of the need…
– DREAM…SHARE…Have no doubt about it…
– Following your heart or mind
o In doing what your heart says.. will always help
o I am can dream better than others….
” Have the courage to want things. Life has its way of delivering them to you in the most unexpected ways”
Thanks to Vibha, an entrepreneurial student at IWSB, I have been able to add a couple of more points.
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