Sameer Nigam, StratBeans
With Indian Instittue of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad's prestigious MBA under his belt, Sameer Nigam is ready to take on the world. The 36-year-old IITian, IIMian launched StratBeans Consulting in January 2008. StratBeans Consulting is a management consulting company that provides innovative IT products, IT services, and consulting for enterprises and organizations. Already, StratBeans is straddling two major markets with three operating branches – in Gurgaon, Bangalore and Texas (USA). And there is more to come, Nigam's goal is to enter 2010 with $1 million USD. Read on to discover what Nigam has in store for StratBeans.
StratBeans Consulting provides solutions for specific business issues through cost and time effective, innovative IT products such as Epiplex. With thorough industry analysis, StratBeans Consulting is able to identify major challenges and present creative solutions using existing IT products or by designing new products to address those challenges. We already have mature offerings for trainings in any organization, particularly BPOs.
StratBeans Consulting offers IT services to complement the IT Product portfolio. We also provide inexpensive, open source technologies for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Some of these products are fully functional HRM and CRM system.
StratBeans Consulting also advises organizations interested in outsourcing business processes in India.
Can you explain the business model?
StratBeans Consulting has a three-tier business model. The first is to leverage IT products, from companies with ample support and innovative features, and offer them together with our consulting services.
The second tier is to target SMEs with inexpensive open source technologies.
The third tier is to offer consulting services to Small and Medium Enterprises in USA, UK and Australia.
What are the differentiators of your business?
The three differentiators of StratBeans Consulting are depth, support, and flexibility. We have solid expertise in the outsourcing business and training/transition, which helps us understand and speak the language of the customers. StratBeans’s customer service is a virtual-partner to our clients. Apart from phone support, we also offer web-based and class room trainings on all our products. Also, we are able to customize each client’s solution package with several IT services that we offer on top of the product line
How do you plan to scale-up the business?
StratBeans Consulting will expand business by offering full scale BPO operations and also a larger portfolio of products.
Why did you choose to be an entrepreneur rather than stick to a regular 9-to-5 job?
I worked for many years with TCS and Genpact in USA, UK and India before starting StratBeans Consulting. I always liked the idea of running a business because it allows the space for creative freedom and helps me realise my hidden potential.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was to try mastering all trades. At one time, I had a great product to offer but did not have relevant direct sales experience. The first six months of trying to sell the product were a struggle. The costs piled up while the business was unprofitable. So I experimented with several ways of product positioning and prospecting.
After the first major sale in July 2008, orders started trickling in on a regular basis. Our clients probably liked what we offered because we got many repeat orders.
What is the biggest mistake you made as an amateur entrepreneur?
The biggest mistake we made was to not put down all the terms and conditions of partnerships in black and white. Some of our initial partnerships soured for this reason. We lost valuable time and energy because of this.
Where did you find the seed capital for your company? How much was it?
We did not use any external capital; StratBeans Consulting was funded with past savings. We started with a clear focus on keeping costs to a bare minimum. We utilized some smart technologies, to do a lot with a little.
What has been the growth trajectory of your company?
- 0-6 months - no revenue
- 6 – 12 months – Acquisition of a few large accounts with encouraging revenue, compensating for the first half of the year.
- In the next 6 months, we expect to double the amount of business we did so far.
How many employees and branches do you have now?
We have 19 employees and 3 branches.
What has been the biggest achievement in the growth of your organization?
Our biggest achievement has been attracting large enterprises and creating mutual trust. Many of them are among TOP ten IT/BPO organizations of India.
Have you, or your organization, been recognized in any way for your great work?
We have been recognized as one of the best partners for a product that we resell. This was based not only on the business that we brought in but also on the depth of relationship that we created and the quality of service we provided.
At any point, did you feel like giving up and finding a regular job?
No way !
What drives you to stay buckled on the roller coaster ride of entrepreneurship?
There is never a dull moment, there are so many new ideas that we crystallize and implement.
Even in moments when I am perturbed, my family's support and regular meditation keeps my sanity intact.
I believe one should keep doing the right things at the right time without worrying about the outcome.
What is your vision for your organization in 2010?
We have a long way to go.
The goal is to stabilize new IT products and outsourcing services that StratBeans Consulting is launching this year. We hope to enter 2010 after crossing at least 1 Mn USD in revenue.
The most prestigious awards you have received?
I still remember the time when our section won Talent’s Night at IIM Ahmedabad in 2004. It was a very intense moment. That was the time when the first term had barely started; we were at the peak of a 14 hour academic schedule and an unending barrage of surprise quizzes that first term at IIM A is famous for. Still we managed to put together a series of top quality acts in the competition and coped with academic pressure very well.
The preparation for the event and our eventual success brought us very close within a week. Some of the lessons that we learnt on time management, stress management and team work are most precious lessons so far.
Do you have any sterling tips to share with budding entrepreneurs?
If you just start the business, the business plan will automatically evolve