Lakhan Joshi is from a small village, which is 60 km away from Udaipur. After completing 12th standard, he needed financial stability, and he also wanted to pursue higher education. He started as a team leader and today manages operations at Five Splash, an Udaipur-based IT services company that was started to help the youth fight employability in tier2/3 cities. Lakhan was able to pursue education along with his job at Five Splash. Lakhan was the second employee at Five Splash.
Tarun Audichey, the first employee at Five Splash, left the firm for a while and worked for big names, but he missed the feeling of being in home ground and working at Five Splash. He’s now back and handles the end-to-end network solutions for Five Splash.
Five Splash was started in 2009 by Kapil Sharma, an electronics graduated from VTU. Unlike most engineers who want to travel to newer geographies and greener pastures, Kapil wanted to come back to his home city, Udaipur, and work there. The help working at Kapil’s place was a young girl who wanted to work at their place only because Kapil’s family was sponsoring her education. “She didn’t want the money as sympathy, and wanted to give something in return. This was when we realised that people who have ambition but lack of resources have very high self-esteem. It made us think about what we could do as a family.”Kapil adds, “In 2008, the idea came over a cup of tea with a friend. The friend who worked in the BPO sector told Kapil about his first-hand experiences and how it was offering great opportunities for people and youngsters. So, we thought, why not the same in Udaipur?”
A win–win solution
Tier 2/3 cities have been feeling the heat with inflation. The way cost of living is shooting up, but there aren’t very many ‘good jobs’ in such cities. Often, the youth from these cities migrate to bigger cities in search of better opportunities. While some do succeed, most of them end up disappointed.
He touches upon what is of utmost importance when it comes to tier 2/3 cities, “With this, we are actually not trying to solve any problem. We are instead trying to unearth the hidden talent within 60–65% of Indian population residing in tier-2/tier-3 and rural areas. These guys have such amazing grasping power and learning ability that with sincere efforts can they do miracles. And, in this process, by product is the solution to a bigger problem we as a country face today, that is, migration to metros, because mostly jobs there are converged in top 15–20 cities. We believe working in rural areas by virtue of geographies and practicality will hit roadblocks somewhere (in terms of work we can do and size), but tier-2/tier-3 cities are bridge point between metros/tier-1 cities and rural part, where the youths of these cities can work as well as those from nearby villages can commute daily. In fact, we have 30% of people coming in from rural areas with some who have taken rooms near our work place.”
Kapil says that as an employer, they always prefer to hire people who are in need. He adds, “So, we hire people from rural background, who actually need financial support for education. They work morning/day/night and pursue their education in parallel. We focus on women employment, like widows, single mothers, girls who are only bread earners for their families. And, then we look to hire people who are physically disabled and would like to lead their life independently.”
Kapil tells us about how the firm is benefitting the customers, “With our operational model, customers would observe a saving potential of 20–30% from their current in-house operational costing, while erasing away the concept of BPO (business process outsourcing) and transitioning it to BOP (business operations partner), making it a virtual support team just a video call or virtual login away. “
Training the youth
Five Splash has a minimum criteria before they hire. “We do some voice quality check, some computer literacy check, and if the person meets minimum criteria, we get them on-board and train them for the work which would fit best for that person. We have voice and non-voice (back office) modules being created with which we train them for generic part and then process/project specific training is done,” says Kapil. Five Splash also hires through NGOs and various organisation that are associated with the MoRD (ministry of rural development).
Kapil says that the response has been amazing. He adds, “We need to understand the fact that the youth in these cities work at places where they feel homely. For them, a good environment is something that keeps them engaged. Even the attrition rate is much lower.”
Operations and revenue
Five Splash is a NASSCOM member company that has setups in Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Ajmer that handle a variety of operations – data entry services, OCR blended digitisation, document management services, document scanning, data mining services, invoice processing services, claims and rebates processing services, back office support, email and chat support, inbound and outbound customer support services. The services span across verticals such as e-commerce, utility services, telecom, real estate, retail, BFSI, etc.
Five Splash is a privately held company and has been funded by the Sharma family. Kapil says that they’re looking for more funds to expand to more cities. “We want to take this to 15 cities and 3,000 families from three cities today and south, north east, and Kashmir are on our radar. We are hopeful to execute this in the next three to four years,” says Kapil.
On a parting note, Kapil says, “Our dream is to be an inspiring group not just a business, an idea that can be replicated by many aspiring businesses building it in 500+ constituencies of India. When this will be done, the real problem of convergence will be solved in the country. We alone can’t build offices and offer services from 500 locations. We want our potential customers to buy this mindset and agree on the fact that their work can be done in a better or at least same way in a tier-2/tier-3 city, distance and talent is no more a hassle.”