MnM mantra: How a Pune-based market research startup went from 2 employees to 840 in 4 years

A young Indian company taking on global giants always makes for a thrilling tale. And when it’s from a tier 2 Indian city (Pune), began as a two-people startup four years ago, and is currently neck-to-neck with Frost and Sullivan, Forrester, and Gartner, then it becomes a serious thrill. In fact, today, “we are the world’s #2 market research firm in terms of volumes of premium research studies delivered,” says Sandeep Sugla, CEO and Founder, MarketsandMarkets.

This market research firm, which comes out with 400 full-length research reports over ten industry verticals a year, is closing the current fiscal year at EBITDA $7 million (earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of a business indicates how much profit it makes with its present assets and its operations on the products it produces and sells). For FY2015, Sandeep told YourStory over email, they were pegged to achieve an EBITDA of $35 million.

market research

A focus on business transformations in newer markets 

With a clear research focus on high-growth technology markets and niche offerings that span across 8 major industry segments, MnM have positioned themselves competitively with well-established international research firms. They focus on hot revenue zones witnessing major business transformations, which are not explored by other companies. This is what their clients count on them for, Sandeep says. MnM is business intelligence partner for many of the Fortune 500 companies, including IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and Samsung. “Our clients rely on us for newer applications, newer markets and cutting-edge technological development and now, MnM enjoys a near monopoly in researching these segments.”

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Currently, “MnM has the highest number of fortune companies as clients, more than that of the tier-1 Indian IT companies.” From just a two-member team during its inception in 2010, they grew to 260 in 2013, and have 840 employees today.

Granular mapping of ecosystem to identify hotspots

MnM believes that market research is useful only if they deliver tangible growth to their clients. For that, they offer “unmatched flexibility to exceed client’s expectations”. They introduced a platform-as-a-service model called RT worldwide in Jan 2014. This integrates a cross-industry ecosystem to deliver real-time market insights. “No single company in the world has mapped the entire eco-system at the most granular and cross-industry level,” Sandeep says.

For example, if the per capita income of a country goes up and overall automotive manufacturing increases, in real time, MnM can point out that those changes impact the polyamide (material used in automotive plastics) market. “Our analysts are continuously tracking markets and identifying hot-spots after speaking to the industry leaders. We have consciously positioned ourselves against the new and niche markets as against the matured market,” Sandeep says.

Sprouting from Solapur

Sandeep began his entrepreneurial journey with an internet cafe in Solapur, a small town in Maharashtra. Bigger dreams forced him to shut it down, move to Pune and start a consulting firm, IBN. IBN executed market research and consulting assignments on an outsourced sub-contract basis, before reinventing themselves as MnM.

In 2013, MnM was the top recruiter among Indian startups. They recruited from prestigious B-schools like IIM-A, IIM-B, IIM-C, IIM-Lucknow, ISB, XLRI and FDI. The core team includes people who joined MnM with experiences from firms like Mckinsey, UBS, IDC, Infosys, etc. Chartered Accountants, PhDs, MBAs form the strategic academic strength in its resourcing.

Though, some of the top global companies engage with MnM for research on cutting-edge technology development and newer applications, in India very few have heard of them. Last year, they were struggling to get basic infrastructure in place to create a better working environment for the team. But now it is comparable to any of the best companies in this segment, Sandeep tells YourStory with pride.

See dollars, and show dollars

MnM pays much attention to the work culture in the company. “Every individual is trained to think like a CEO running a billion dollar enterprise,” Sandeep says. Every member of the team gets opportunities to work with and advise some of the top CXO/Directors of Tier 1 and Fortune 500  companies. The work they do could be instrumental in driving the revenue growth of their clients. So, “every individual working at MnM is trained to ‘see dollars and show dollars’, a policy that defines our business,” Sandeep says.

The global B2B Information services market is pegged to be around $200 billion. “We identify hot revenue pockets/cash cows and translate the same into incremental revenues for companies,” he adds. Most of their revenues come from clients based in North America, followed by EMEA and then APAC.

“We simply multiply the departments that are growing for us and squeeze what is not,” he says. “We have added offerings in terms of consulting, flagship platform RT and global conferences to take our relationship with these companies to the next level.” 90% of their revenues come from market research and they expect to add an equal amount of revenue from each of the other offerings.

Identify the unmet needs and fulfil the same – this is a simple key to success, according to this entrepreneur.

What is your key to success? Tell us in the comments below.  

(* This story has been updated in the light of new information. Watch this space for further updates.)

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