“Industry Training and Research”
Training for industry readiness is an accepted practice in order to be ahead of the herd. One company has been making a name for themselves with their systematic approach in this field. Devender Khari is the entrepreneur/founder of this company providing training and research in VLSI Design & Embedded Systems, under the name of DKOP Labs Pvt Ltd. Devender has been working since 2007 to help students make the transition from academic learning to industry preparedness.
He told us his reasons behind starting this venture saying “I had observed for quite some time that the interview-to-selection ratio was drastically going down. Companies screen 100s of candidates to fill one single position. Lot of human resource is wasted in the process and it is primarily because the candidates are not industry-ready although they may have scored good marks in the academics. I saw an opportunity wherein we could make a difference by bridging the gap between Academics and Industry.
Business idea- The venture is not just about training as Devender explained to us. Though their primary aim is to train, they also research industry related problems. “The primary objective of our Training division is to bridge the gap between Academics & Industry through Skill Development in the technology areas that are hot in the industry. To begin with we are offering skill development programmes in VLSI Design & Embedded Systems. We plan to expand into the software and other high technology domains in near future. We’ve trained more than 500 students in two years of existence. The objective of Research division is to undertake research in the burning problems of the industry and work towards their solution. It serves two purposes – it utilizes the skills and experience of our highly experienced and qualified team while giving them opportunity to keep abreast of the latest technology developments.”
Target Market- Their offerings at the moment are primarily for Engineers in Electronics or Electrical branches and M.Sc. with specialization in Electronics. Devender told us how they have been helping this segment saying “Every year around 2 lacs students graduate in these disciplines who can potentially benefit from our training programs. We’ve trained more than 500 students in two years of our existence through our different training programmes. Our job oriented training programs have helped lot of students build a good career in companies like ST Microelectronics, Cadence, Agnisys, HP, Sasken, Phoenix, etc. and also in pursuing Higher Education in universities in US & UK.
What sets them apart – Devender believes that they are the go-to people when it comes to training for success. He pointed out areas where they definitely perform better than others -
His entrepreneurial story – Devender is an automobile enthusiast and uses an interesting analogy to tell us why he became an entrepreneur. He says “It’s simple. My job was like Mercedes which could take me anywhere in India comfortably but my destination was across the seas, for example, Switzerland, where even Mercedes, although being one of the best cars around, couldn’t take me. Similarly, for achieving my dreams my job, although it was a dream-job, was not the right vehicle, that’s why I chose to be an entrepreneur. I’m very fortunate to have Renu as my better half who understood my aspirations & dreams and not only allowed me to pursue them but is lending continuous unconditional support. With her support and my parents’ wishes I’ll definitely prove my decision right.”
His journey has been made more perilous by the recession that is plaguing the market. He told us how he made it through saying “Survival along with moving up the value chain in tough times of recession was the biggest challenge going into our second year - the year 2009. God blessed me with two gems, Manu Lauria & Sandeep Gupta, who not only invested in the company, helping it survive, but also helped the company move up the value chain through wealth of their enormous industrial experience.”
“Manu has 22 plus years of experience after his M.Tech. & B.Tech. from IIT Delhi and Sandeep has 18 plus years of experience after his M.Tech. & M.Sc. from IIT Delhi. Manu has chosen to spend ten hours per week taking care of finance department and giving his valuable inputs on various issues pertaining to marketing strategy, content development and execution. Sandeep is working full time in DKOP Labs as Director and Chief Learning Officer.
“He has taken the quality of training content and delivery to the level of excellence. The training quality and other internal automation has been greatly enhanced with the contribution of another key member of our team, and another gem, Ashish Gulati. I’m highly grateful to God that He rewarded me with a great team for just facing a small challenge. If this is how God rewards then we are eager to face more and more challenges.”
Devender is not one to give up when he fails. His reasons for persisting are simple and he says “Failure and Entrepreneurship go hand in hand. Failures are God’s means to test and build the character of an Entrepreneur. I had faced biggest failure on the very first day of starting the venture. We had advertised an entrance test for admission to our training program and I was very happy with the response I got. We had 10 seats and we got around 50 registrations for the test. I made all the arrangements accordingly – seating for 50 people, question papers, etc- and I had called a couple of my friends to help as I was alone at that time.”
“On the D-day, we were shocked to see only 4 students turning up for the test. Although disheartened, I had to put up a brave face in front of my friends and was smiling. We interviewed them and didn’t select anyone, but one of them didn’t budge and forced us to select him. He was our first student and remained the only one for good 15 odd days. My belief in the need of such training and never give up attitude helped me to recover. We again advertised and announced walk-in test. This time we could get 7 more students within a span of few days and that’s how we formed our first batch of eight students, filling up 80% of our capacity! There have been failures after that also but we’re immune to them now and we know with each failure we are moving closer to Success!”
Future Plans- Although they have been growing at a reasonable rate they have not yet been able to break even. Devender explains why this is so and how he will solve it in his immediate future saying “This is a new area and there’s lack of awareness among the students as well as faculty in the Northern India colleges. We’re doing ground work, creating awareness through complimentary seminars and events, reaching out to all the stakeholders – students, parents, faculty & college managements – and educating them on the opportunities that lies ahead in this domain. We’ve entered into third year of our existence now and hope to bear the fruits of our groundwork in the coming years.”
“We plan to scale-up vertically and horizontally. Horizontally, we will introduce more number of training programs dealing in high technology area and serving a broad spectrum of people. For vertical growth, we may use franchising model for scaling up.”
Recognition gained-They have trained more than 500 students through their short term and long term programs helping them land good placements. Companies like ST Microelectronics, Cadence, Agnisys, VirajeLogic, Sasken, HP, etc have been recruiting their trainees.
If this were not proof enough of their abilities Devender told us of the feedback he has received saying “So far the recognition has been at individuals’ level. Lot of individuals like professors, college managements and students has appreciated our efforts. Let me quote a couple of students, one said, “The fee you are charging is much lesser to the value you’re giving us”. Another student said, “The treatment we get here after depositing the fees is same as what we get in other training institutes before depositing the fee”. A college principal said, “Your Company may not have high financial valuation, being a startup, but it has very high Intellectual Valuation and the information you provide through your seminar is eye-opener not only for students but for our faculty also”.
Entrepreneurial lesson- Devender shared with his peers what he has learnt in his journey as an entrepreneur saying “Hire a CA from day one of starting your organization, Make yourself “Thick-skinned” and don’t take to entrepreneurship to earn huge money but rather to pursue your passion!”
Devender seems poised to achieve success and we hope that his venture turns cash positive very soon. Yourstory wishes him luck and fortune in the days to come and exhorts him to continue on his journey.