Zen & the art of simulator design
When Ashok Atluri decided to venture out on his own, the sole purpose was to bring a difference to the lives of many people and make the world a safer place. Today, simulators developed by his company, Zen Technologies, are being used by Indian defence services, state police, and para-military to train their forces. He tells YourStory that a new business is like a quicksand and perseverance is the only way out to achieve success.
I never pursued a regular job. After doing my post-graduate diploma in applied computer sciences I started Zen Technologies in 1993 with an aim to develop indigenous state-of-the-art simulators for weapons and allied defense equipments. Somehow I was convinced I could do better by myself, though that conviction was put to test many a time. The early years were miserable. It all might look worthwhile in retrospect, but I wouldn’t go through it again for anything.
The turning point came when we decided to get out of software/hardware business and concentrate exclusively on simulators. A new business is like quicksand that keeps sucking you in; and you borrow heavily from friends, relatives, strangers, etc. The only way you can really get out of it is by making your business a success. Despite the odds, I never really considered giving up and doing something else. Frankly, I never had a choice, did I? And the perseverance has paid dividends.
Zen Technologies, over the years, has developed expertise in designing, developing and manufacturing various types of state-of-the-art simulators. The in-house developed products not only meet all qualitative standards but also are cost effective. We have supplied more than 170 simulators to over 70 customers located across the length and breadth of the country. Few of our main customers are Indian defense services, state police forces, para military forces and the navy of a south-east Asian country. The company went public in 2000 and in past three years we have grown over 100% and paid dividends too.
What has driven me through out my entrepreneurial journey is faith in the worth of all that we have been doing. Our products are making the world a better and safer place. I might be put off if I were in some mass commodity business. The company attaches special importance to its in-house R&D division that is recognized by the department of scientific and industrial research, ministry of science and technology, Government of India. The Company has state-of-the-art mathematical modeling software, which helps in simulating projectile behavior, vehicle dynamics and environmental effects. We have also developed microprocessor based control system for vehicle control and ATGM tracking system. Another landmark achieved by our company’s R&D is micro-screen based sighting system, which is used in simulating realistic missile and tank sights.
Our customers too have reposed faith in us, through repeat engagements. The result is for all to see. A venture capital loan from IDBI, an order from Bihar Police, Zen going public – we have really gone from strength to strength. Today, we have 189 employees across three centres, making a world of difference in different walks of life. My advice to budding entrepreneurs would be what Richard Branson has famously stated: “Screw it, let’s do it.”