Got a project? Mumbai-based ProThoughts can help you manage it

10th Dec 2018
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ProThoughts can train you and your employees on seamless project management, and also provides software and consulting services.

Project Management has been in existence ever since man set out to achieve things. Every task, be it building an apartment to even writing this very article, requires planning, ideating, executing and delivering.

Making this process seamless is Mumbai-based startup ProThoughts.

Founder Ashish Sadekar, at the start of his career, was managing the customer relationship management project at Tata Consultancy Services. His job involved planning, engaging with stakeholders with conflicting views, employing strategies and finally delivering solutions.

"I enjoyed the whole process of project management and the value that I was adding to the company," Ashish says.

He later went on to incubate the Oracle CRM practice for Infosys and Microsoft Consulting India's ERP and CRM Dynamics. Lack of further opportunities and saturated with his 9-to-5 job, 43-year old Ashish started looking for a new venture.

"The next opportunity in my career was using my love of project management to fulfill the existing gap in the market," says Ashish.

Ashish started providing project management services with ProThoughts in October 2014. "It was an initiative to serve as a one-stop shop providing solutions in the project management space," he says. His company provided classroom learning services, first in Mumbai and then to aspirants in Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

"ProThoughts aims to create a space where practitioners, aspirants and experts would collaborate to seek and provide inputs," Ashish says.

Besides this, ProThoughts also provides learning services in the form of self-learning and live-online courses, project management software such as MS Project and Project Insight, consulting solutions, corporate training and project advisory services.

ProThoughts has tied up with MS Project to resell the software and implement it for their clients in India and they are sellers of Project Insight's software in Asia and the Middle East. They also provide support to their clients post the implementation.

The challenges

As a startup, ProThoughts' initial challenge was getting the employees on board. "It was difficult to get our support staff as no one was experienced in this space," Ashish says. They overcame this by training people with the required skill sets after recruiting them.

Secondly, they had to build product awareness among the users. For that, the team made extensive use of social media, networking events and they also met influencers to promote ProThoughts with the help of word of mouth marketing.

"More than 50 percent of our participants come from reference or word of mouth," says Ashish. They also claim to have the highest organic social media followers, when compared to competitors such as KnowledgeHut, Simplilearn and KnowledgeWoods.

Their next big challenge is scaling up and the startup is looking to raise funds to expand to other geographies.

ProThoughts, project management
Team ProThoughts

The team

Founder Ashish has worked for TCS, Infosys, Microsoft and SAS India, before starting up ProThoughts.

Director Arvind Nahata, 40, is a graduate from Virginia Tech and has worked with Accenture before joining team ProThoughts in 2015.

Core member Saurabh Parikh has decades of experience in the consulting and services industry. Having been associated with Project Management Institute, Saurabh has coached up to 5,000 project managers. Team ProThoughts is a 14-member team.

How does the platform work?

On the ProThoughts' website, people can avail of free templates, e-books and updates about the project management space.

In order to approach ProThoughts for their services, individuals and organisations can either drop a mail, connect through their chat option, WhatsApp them or even contact them through their social media pages. The customer is then guided accordingly.

The startup recently launched its content management platform - talkprojectmanagement, where they provide content on project management in the form of articles, blogs, video blogs, and podcasts, curated by experts and team members. The platform also sells books - both in-house and sourced from outside, through ecommerce platform Amazon and its own website. Arvind heads the content team.

"We want to be the bookstore of project management books," says Ashish.

They also import project management books from the USA. The company has sold up to 300 books in the last one year.

ProThoughts gamifies training to make it more interesting - it uses data charts, flash card games, case studies, rapid-fire games and quizzes. Each candidate is also provided with materials including books, flash cards, handouts, pre-workshop materials, mock test and post-training support.

Currently, ProThoughts has four onsite learning centres, one each in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. Their online live classes are available across the country.

There are several players that offer and prepare for project management courses - ALISON, Coursera, Brain Sensei and LYNDA, among many more. ProThoughts, the founder says, stands apart by the extensive materials that it provides to each candidate and its interactive method of learning.

ProThoughts, besides training their clients on project management awareness, also train clients for project management certification.

As a business study, ProThoughts also sits in on their client's meetings and manage their projects but that is a 'limited service' of the company, says the founders. "We have some future plans around it, we might do consulting and outsourcing of Project Managers in the near future," says Ashish.

Number game

Currently bootstrapped, ProThoughts has seen more than 100 percent traction from the second year of its existence, claims Ashish.

The company has clients in both the B2B and B2C space. So far, they have had 3,000 customers across the industry, representing different companies.

ProThoughts has both Indian and international clients including IIM-Ahmedabad (where they trained students for Project Management Certification), Cipla, Glenmark, Lodha, Ceridian and Mahindra Susten. Their software clients are Ooredoo Myanmar, National Guards Saudi Arabia, Campus Management India and Aditya Birla Capital.

Charges for their services vary according to the size of the training assignment and approach of training. For software, the prices depend on the number of users, licence and implementation prices.

For their most popular course - PMP, the startup trains candidates over four days (36 hours) and the course fee is Rs 18,900 per participant. The same course is offered online over eight days (three to four hours each day) and is priced at Rs 13,000 per participant.

ProThoughts provides customisation and discounts for corporate clients. The company has six instructors who are a part of the team and are paid regular salaries.

Future plans

On the firm’s future plans, Ashish says that they have a three-fold growth strategy - increasing their online training presence and portfolio, growing their content management site, and finally, horizontal expansion by providing more services in project management such as career matching, project software tools, advisory services providing insights for setting up PMO, etc. "These services will be developed as we build more traffic on this site," says Ashish.

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