NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Startup 21: Prakash B. Rane, MD, ABM

Team YS
20th Apr 2010
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Prakash B. Rane is the Managing Director of the ABM Knowledgeware. He is B. Tech with postgraduate degree in Management Studies (MMS) and has an excellent academic record. He is a first generation entrepreneur. Under his stewardship, the company has attained a leadership position in the niche of e-governance in a short span of time. He has conceptualized various pioneering and successful strategic solutions in e-governance, which have become benchmark in the industry. He was conferred National Entrepreneurship award in 2008 by Marathi Chamber of Commerce.Raj served as Joint Secretary of ISP association of India in 2001.

ABM Knowledgeware Ltd., listed in Bombay Stock Exchange, is one of the few IT companies in India with exclusive focus on e-governance since 1998. Within seven years of its foray into the e-governance space, ABM achieved the distinction of winning the prestigious award of “The Best Technical Organization in E-Governance” in India adjudged by the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Govt. of India and IIT Delhi.


In 2008 ABM won the prestigious “Deloitte Technology Fast50 India 2008” and “Deloitte Technology Fast500 Asia-Pacific 2008” for the growth achieved. The company has been ranked 13th and 120th fastest growing company in India and Asia-Pacific respectively.Recently ABM was awarded the “NASSCOM EMERGE 50 Leaders 2009,” which acknowledges ABM’s achievements as top 10 emerging companies in India.

ABM is one of the few companies in India, which possesses IPRs and trademarks for its various proven and sustained e-gov solutions.

Equipped with necessary quality certifications and a large team of competent E-Gov professionals, ABM has devised several “outcome”-based e-governance solution strategies. ABM’s product for computerization of mid-sized urban local bodies (ULBs) is adopted by Maharashtra government for roll out in all the 231 local bodies. It is also one of the three solutions adopted by Ministry of Urban Development, Govt. of India for recommendation to other ULBs in India. ABM has the unique experience of computerization of the ULBs varying from annual budget size of INR 15 crores to INR 18,000 crores across India. ABM’s recent business focus is on niche domains like providing E-Governance solutions to Municipal Bodies (G2B & G2C); CRM solution for Electricity Distribution Companies (G2C); Automation of Billing, Accounting and Collection for Water Distribution Authorities (G2B & G2C); SAP implementation. ABM has developed exclusive skill required for providing subject matter expertise required for SAP implementation in large govt organizations.

Prakash has entered a new horizon that offers a plenty of opportunity – e-governance. To our pleasant surprise, he has been successful in implementing big projects for the government. We tend to think working with government is replete with red tape and delays. Listen to his take on entrepreneurship as he talks to Indian Startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM.

1. Why did you take up entrepreneurship journey?

Prakash: I come from a service class background. My father retired as a state civil servant. But right from beginning, I had the desire to be independent and was keen to be get rewards proportionate to my abilities. Progress of an individual working either for government or for corporate would hit a glass ceiling at some point of time due to the very nature of your relationship with the employer. As a result, right from beginning, I could never visualize myself as making career by working for any organization as an employee. I also had confidence that in the worst possible scenario, the least I would earn as a business man would always be shade better than what I would earn as a well-placed employee of any organization. I had also noticed that I was very uncomfortable whenever I was being controlled at an individual level by anybody. This feeling, coupled with my experience as an active student leader during my engineering college days, compelled me to plunge into entrepreneurship journey.

2. What keeps you going (how and where you find your motivation levels)?

Prakash: Profits are very important and desirable derivative of business. But that is not the only factor that drives me. Creation of unique and sustaining value proposition by addressing a fundamental aspects is one of the prime motivating factors for me. This helps me staying ahead of competition and creation of automatic entry barriers for new entrants. When I see large government customers relying on my company for automating their critical business operations, I find myself charged with more energy and higher motivation level. Tougher the challenge, more motivated I feel. My business of e-governance deals with citizens. Every successful project done by my company for a govt. customer ends up improving citizens’ experience in dealing with the respective govt. offices. That is a great motivator. I get to deal with senior bureaucrats and politicians. That gives me extremely enriching exposure to different perspectives of governance and life. I find it very refreshing .Monotonous or repetitive activity without meaningful value addition tends to pull my motivational level down and look for better challenges where my company’s worth is recognized , relied upon and well paid for.

3.     What success means to you and your organization?

Prakash: Success inevitably comes enveloped in wealth. The definition of wealth can vary from person to person and from company to company. Wealth for ABM Knowledgeware Limited is a combination of cash (profits), credibility, and leadership. We are willing to forego some amount of profits for achieving credibility and leadership. Profits in isolation may not be a sustaining proposition without credibility and leadership.

Success to us also means Thought Leadership in the segment where we operate. Success also means large amount of repeat business from existing customers. Success also is a long-term relationship with our employees and willingness of our ex-employees to join back ABM. Recognition by NASSCOM as one of the Top 10 Emerging IT companies in India is culmination of our constant pursuit for being distinguished in the business space where we operate.

We started software business with a team of 5 in 1998 .Today we are a 300-people strong BSE-listed company with recognitions like NASSCOM EMERGE 50 Leaders, Deloitte Technology Fast 50 and Fast 500, Best Small Cap Buys on BSE by Dalal Street with over 42+ Lac G2C and G2B citizen services rendered through our e-governance solutions per year across India. We have a long way to go but we feel we have the right foundation now to take off.

5.     What are your learnings from your failures?

Prakash: Generically speaking, every failure has constituents for reducing the possibility of failure in your next venture. Failures in relationships, failures in listening to customers, failures in listening to employees, failures in listening to your inner voice are different types of failures leading to different and varied learnings. One of the key learnings from failure is patience in business. More often than not, failures come along with losses. Suffering losses seem only way to learn hard after completing formal education in terms of graduation, post-graduation etc. Failures also help in analyzing the element of complacence or overconfidence. Failures also help in waking you up to the crude reality of your inability to change, despite of fast changing ecosystem in which your business operate.

5. What is your advice to wannabe entrepreneurs in India?

The abilities or competence required to be a successful employee is not significantly different than what is required to be a successful entrepreneur. The key differentiators is the ability to take extra risks for extra rewards.

While generating wealth, it is important to look at the quantity of money generated but it is more important to look at the quality of money. The era of generating profits by manipulating taxes is far behind us. Another aspect of quality of money deals with a uniqueness of the value proposition which generates the profits. If profit generation is a result of ignorance of customer or complacency of competition, you need to be alert in these situations as these profits will be short-lived and will not multiply themselves in future.

Customers always have many options of almost equal merits at comparable prices. In these situations, it is the culture of your organization, straightforwardness in your approach, and demonstrated commitment to customer’s interest become distinguishing factors in earning or retaining your customer.

Prakash focuses on wealth creation coupled with though leadership and credibility. Large e-governance projects offer unique opportunities as e-governance takes shape in the country. Prakash has leveraged that opportunity.

As part of the Indian Startup EMERGEOUT initiative by NASSCOM, 19 entrepreneurs have shared their views. To know what they are, please visit the links given below.

1. Kishore Mandyam of PK4 Software

2. Anil Pagar of Spadeworx

3. Ajay Sharma of Shristi Software

4. Pallav Nadhani of InfoSoft Global (FusionCharts)

5. Manoj Srivatsava of Hanu Software

6. Sriram Raghavan of Comat

7. Sushil Chaudary of Mann-India

8. Manav Garg of Eka

9. R. Swaminathan of Matrix Business Solution

10. Suresh Sambandam of OrangeScape

11. Ajay Mian of Alletech

12. Prasad Guntupalli of Attra

13. Varun Khurana of Wirkle

14. Anil Kaul of AbsolutData

15. Amit Sadana of PharmARC

16. Yadu and Naresh or Robust Designs

17. Ananth Seshan of Fifth Generation

18. Shoma Bakre of EmPower Research

19. Raj Hajela of Estel

20. Sanjay Shah of Skelta

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT Conclave, Chennai, April 30, 2010

NASSCOM EMERGEOUT conclave comes to Chennai on 30 April 2010. With “Nurturing the IT DNA in India’s growth sectors” as its theme, the conclave focuses on sectors that hold relevance to Chennai such as the automotive sector, in addition to opportunities that exist in the UID space, and workshops on marketing, product design, and many others.

The Chair of the EMERGEOUT Forum, Mr. Krishnakumar Natarajan, has provided the highlights of the EMERGEOUT Conclave in addition to details about EMERGE Forum and its activities. Please visit http://bit.ly/ckRFhI to read his interview to YourStory.

Mr. Bharat Goenka, founder, Tally Software is the keynote speaker. It is a no-brainer right now that if you walk to anyone and ask them to cite you an example of an Indian product, Tally ranks among the top list, and it has been that way for a while. Mr. Goenka is without doubt one of the most prolific icons of the Indian product software industry. Talk to him about product positioning, understanding user behaviour, pricing, marketing and building a brand that is as big as Microsoft in terms of training and development centers, and you are sure to walk away in awe. Would you miss hearing him?

To wrap up the conclave, Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman, Cognizant, is going to engage in rather inquisitive conversation with Prasanto Roy from CyberMedia. He has been a technology industry leader for over 30 years. As a founding member of Cognizant, he was been responsible for the company’s high-touch customer relationship and delivery excellence model. Under his leadership, Cognizant became the youngest IT services company to reach the $1 billion revenue milestone. He is also the part of NASSCOM Chairmen Council and under his leadership, some new initiatives in the EMERGE Forum were started.

To find the speaker list, please visit http://bit.ly/dvMYqq .

Jessie Paul, MD, Paul Writer Strategic Services, author of No Money Marketing, and formerly Chief Marketing Officer of Wipro, is holding a workshop on “Frugal Marketing—What Works, What's Trendy, What's Hype.” Besides great product or service and innovation, marketing right is crucial to build a brand. Jessie is going to demystify the art of brand building using a frugal budget. Visit her blog post at the EMERGE blog http://bit.ly/ahqdqO for details.

Kiruba Shankar, CEO Business Blogging, is holding an “unconference” at the conclave.

The e-governance projects like the Unique ID Scheme of the government present huge opportunities for SMEs. One of the sessions at the conclave will explore this opportunity.

For a list of speakers, see http://bit.ly/dvMYqq

The complete program agenda is available: http://bit.ly/9on2ci An impressive lineup of programs awaits participants. Don’t miss all the action! Join the bandwagon of the emerging opportunities in India!!

Please register for the conference here.

Contributed by Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, Chief Evangelist, YourStory

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