Niraj, Founder, Cosmo India
It is no secret that entrepreneurship takes everyone on a roller-coaster ride. Those who are ready to keep riding are the true survivors. 29-year-old Niraj S is one such never-give-upper. Despite all the challenges he faced, Niraj rested his faith in Cosmo India, a recruitment service provider company he founded four years ago. From a struggling one-man show, the company has grown to 8 employees and has a 60 percent annual growth rate. Niraj vision for Cosmo India as it completes 5 years in January 2010 is to have a 10 crore turnover, the top ten IT MNCs as clients,
and to establish a media organization to assist media persons and newcomers to the industry.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Why did you not pursue a regular job?
I had been working with Aaj Tak as news producer for sometime before I thought of venturing out on my own. I had a few business ideas that I had been playing with. The plan to start Cosmo India, a recruitment firm materialized because it needed the least investment. Even so, it was a great risk and I did not really have a Plan B. I had both advice and criticism from people in generous quantities but I resolved to listen to the most progressive ideas only.
Can you tell us something about the initial years- what kind of challenges, struggles did you face?
The first year was the toughest. Cosmo India went through six consecutive months without any income. I do not know how we survived. With resolution, perseverance and time, that phase passed earlier than I expected. The team learned a lot and decided to take only calculated risks after that. It was very difficult to sustain the business without a steady inflow of funds. At the time, planning played an important role in forging the path to success.
What was the turning point in your business /career?
Every new, good client is a turning point, so it is tough to choose one turning point for Cosmo India. Yet, a moment that stands out is the decision to partner with Accenture. Despite working very hard, business had been suffering because we were small fish in a big pond. That is when we decided to change our strategy – forget brand-building and working with organizations which value quality.
Did you at any point feel like giving up and getting back to a regular job or doing something different?
Since the first year in Cosmo India was full of bumps and hiccups, I often contemplated the possibility of returning to a more secure job. As soon as we had some funds, I dropped the idea completely.
What drives you?
After deep thought, I realize that the most important motivator lives within oneself. With focused effort and a strong will power, I can handle any kind of situation. I believe that energy and patience will drive me towards my goals.
Could you please elaborate on business – the operating model, the differentiators of your business, plans to scale up?
We provide staffing services to various top IT MNCs and media organizations. We help them with hiring at every level. Recruitment services cannot survive on the basis of quantity alone, we strongly believe in quality.
What are the growth drivers / vision for your enterprise?
Innovation and growth are the growth drivers of Cosmo India. Soon, we will enter the media industry again with a new stratagem - the idea is to help newbies in the media industry. Some more top IT MNCs will soon be added to our clientèle.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?
I learnt considerably from my own mistakes as a first-time entrepreneur. The most important lesson was that one should always have a backup plan in times of crisis. You should be prepared to face really rocky times, especially in the beginning. It's important to learn from one's mistakes and losses instead of foolishly losing everything before rethinking your ideas.