| (From left) Arjun Malhotra, Pradeep Kar and Pravin Gandhi at the interface. Picture by Pabitra Das
If tycoons from the world of information technology descend at a B-school campus for an afternoon tête-à-tête with students, the discussion has to revolve around the knowledge of economy, its problems and prospects.
And the budding managers at the Globsyn Business School at Saltlec (Salt Lake Electronic Complex), grabbed the opportunity on Wednesday afternoon to learn the business basics from the tech trio — Arjun Malhotra, co-founder HCL, Pradeep Kar of Microland and Pravin Gandhi, who brought Digital to India.
An hour-long Q&A session followed a brief introduction by Globsyn Technologies CEO, Bikram Dasgupta. And reflecting the fancy that the student community has in the US, the first question from the floor was on the impact of the US recession on Indian business, especially the IT industry.
“Right now things are down in the US. But it’s true that a lot of US companies want to have their base in this country,” replied Malhotra.
The eagerness to become entrepreneur was evident as the B-school boys and girls wanted to know about financing options from the panel. “Are venture capital (VC) funds still interested in investing in ideas around IT industry'” asked a second-year student.
Gandhi, a venture capitalist himself, replied that what happened in the past was an “aberration” and today the VCs had become much more “cautious” in funding ideas after “burning their fingers” during the boom period of 1999-2000. “Business plans by themselves are not enough. One has to know to make money out of an idea,” he said.
Social factors like how someone from a middle class society can kick off a business also came up during the discussion.
Malhotra, who scripted the HCL success story after bidding goodbye to a successful career in the corporate sector, narrated how the company grew from an initial investment of Rs 1,75,000 to a multi-crore outfit. He also outlined the three major criteria for running a successful business — “the passion and motivation to change, ability to create a team that believes in the vision, recruitment of people smarter than you”.
The deliberations covered not only entrepreneurship, but also areas such as selection of a proper specialisation, the issues involved in mergers and acquisitions, impact of fast changes in technology on business and industry.
“You should select the stream which you like. But you must know where would you want to reach and equip yourself by acquiring the knowledge to take on the challenges,” said Kar, who heads Microland, one of the leading systems, security and network services providers in the country. He also dwelt on how he gained in the early phase of his career after joining Wipro in 1983.
“It was not a big company during those days. But I learnt technology and developed a solid contact base which has helped me,” said Kar.