Investment banker to software product company CEO - the Knowcross Story
This article is a part of the Dell Innovators series showcasing successful entrepreneurial journeys
Knowcross is a hospitality software company with a suite of products that collectively contribute
to improving the guest experience in a hotel, was founded in 2002 by Nikhil Nath. Nikhil was with Goldman Sachs and Monitor prior to starting Knowcross and the company started its operations at a small office in New Delhi. Focussing on investing heavily in research and development to retain and continue to build an edge over competitors in other countries, Knowcross has grown to 40 people, hundreds of customers, a dozen technology partners, and a global distribution network today. The 10 year old company which started very small is a well known brand in the hospitality software market today. We caught up with Nikhil to know about his Knowcross journey:
Tell us about yourself and Knowcross.
I founded Knowcross in 2002 and designed the first version of TRITON. Knowcross develops and markets technology solutions for the global hospitality industry. TRITON, the guest service management system is a suite of applications that helps hotels improve guest service, staff productivity and property maintenance. It is currently deployed in over 200 hotels across 35 countries at world’s leading hotel brands like Kempinski, Hyatt, Sofitel, Swissotel, Oberoi, Radisson Blu, Millennium, Occidental, Corinthia etc.
How did you get the idea and how did it shape to starting up?
I always had an interest in computers and after spending years with Goldman Sachs and Monitor, I decided to start off a software company for the hospitality industry. It was an unplanned move.
It was hard finding our feet. It was over six months after our inception that we started working on the concept of TRITON. I always had good relations in the industry and being close to the market helped us understand what they really wanted. We learnt from our clients and after 2 years of head banging, we had a product with strong foundation being used in leading hotels in the industry.
Did you stick with the same business idea or has it evolved with time?
Every time a key team member left, I would think to myself if I was going the wrong direction. But it was the belief that “I can’t fail” kept me moving on. Perseverance has power.
We had started off with just one piece of hotel product and now have a suite of applications for different scale of hotels.
What was the business need for deployment of IT solutions?
Since we are into the field of software development, we need to be in sync with the latest IT trends & technologies on software and as well as on hardware fronts to better serve our customer needs.
What was the reason for choosing solutions provided by Dell and how did it benefit?
Dell has been our preferred vendor for our hardware requirements and we are replacing all old servers, desktops and laptops (as and when required) to Dell. The primary reason for this is that apart from the hardware being robust, reliable and scalable, it was important for us to deal with a vendor who would also provide us good and prompt services. We have had delightful experience with Dell services and feel no other company can match the same.
What are some of the challenges you faced starting up?
For one, finding the right resource has been a challenge. The company is perceived to be a hospitality company more than a software company. With big MNC names (which are actually service companies and not development company), it is difficult to convince people to work with a lesser known name like ours, that too for a niche area.
Also, initially changing the perception that a software from India would be relatively inexpensive was a challenge. But we stuck to our price and explained to our prospective clients that this is the quality of our product with the list of features and functionality and explained to them the value it brought to the table.
What is one piece of advice you would give to young people considering starting up?
What I have realized is that it is only 1% planning and 99% execution. So, plan better but also pay good attention to execution.