As the pieces began to fall into place, Kallol Borah realised he was ready to turn his entrepreneurship aspirations to reality. “While in the LSE for the second time to do my MPhil, an idea I had earlier when I was working in Mumbai kept on coming to my mind”, recalled Kalloh, “I was lucky enough to have friends who wanted to invest and come and join me in London to start a venture and we had a fairly quick and profitable exit with that product to make a sizeable amount which served as seed capital for our next venture. And it went on from there.”
Kallol works on a product which provides the software infrastructure for companies to run advertisement campaigns, implement marketing tools like widgets and applications that are linked to multiple social networks, instant messaging networks and popular web services. The idea is to give advertisers, content and media owners, application developers and network operators the ability to run very viral and context sensitive and highly targeted campaigns and applications. The business model is very similar to Google’s with campaigns getting paid for impressions, actions and achieved goals or applications paid for use. Aumega Networks, his enterprise, was established in 2004, and currently boasts three offices, fifty employees and a year-on-year growth of 50%.
The turning point for his enterprise, feels Kallol, has just happened in 2007. After having spent four years selling software to enterprises across Europe and Japan, and having realized that consumer facing businesses have far greater chances of success and that it is easier to scale such businesses, Kallol started out again incubating a product within the company with 16 people with him. This is “going very good so far”, says Kallol. “I believe that our shift to consumer services is a turning point for us.”
The road to this point, however, has not been all smooth. Kallol started his business quite early in life --- in his early twenties, in fact, and as he points out, “starting outside India without any support or mentoring was not easy”. Convincing people to work with them was the first big challenge he faced, although, as he says, “we really found very good people eventually”. Getting the first customer was difficult and the company was fortunate enough to be working in partnership with a larger firm at that time which bridged the credibility gap. And then again 2001-2002 was a difficult period with the dot com bust delaying all funding and later 9/11 affecting sales.
Given all these trials, has he never wanted to go back to a regular job? No, says Kallol. “No, I have never felt that I needed to go back to a regular job. I enjoy taking risks, facing challenges and fighting them off. I did work on a regular job for slightly more than a year in 1998 but I just thought working for things I believed in was great fun, is a great challenge and I could not let go of it.” In fact, he enjoys the daily challenge of entrepreneurship. “Challenges, almost impossible to achieve targets, getting down to do business in a place where I almost know no one, the learning I get from new ventures, having the opportunity to meet interesting and brilliant people”--- these are what drive him on, as he told us. Of course, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”, and Kallol takes care to not fall into this trap. He enjoys Lebanese, Thai and Konkani cuisine, listens to music, reads books, and his favourite holiday destinations are Vienna, London and Cape Town. He also watches a lot of movies and is a self-confessed “movie holic”.
So now that we know what drives the entrepreneur, what is it that drives the business? “The drivers for the business are increasing online ad spends and shift from spends from traditional to new media, pervasive connectivity across mobiles and desktops, and the hyper growth of the social graph to include social networks, mobile phone address books, emailing tools and web.” It is their vision to make all data and content portable and searchable across networks and devices.
What is the secret to Kallol’s success? Well, he obviously can’t tell us that, but he can give budding entrepreneurs a few broad hints: “Identify big opportunities. Think with a global perspective. Think of competition all the time and act on it. Identify business models that yield more as the business scales. Hire only the best people and never compromise on it for anything," says Kallol, whose signature line says it all: “Keep cool. Stay positive. Never give up.”
“Steve Jobs: A guy who has re-invented himself and Apple, has seen many ups and downs, and is a perfectionist,” is Kallol Borah’s role model. We at YourStory wish him the success and fame of a Steve Jobs.
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