You don’t have to be first; be the best in the market: Tejas Goenka
Tejas Goenka, MD of Tally Solutions, talks to YourStory Founder Shradha Sharma about the need to keep pace with technological changes and why staying ahead of the curve is important.
The inception of many startups stems from founders trying to find a solution to their own problems.
Tally, a flag-bearer of business management software, bears a similar DNA, having been started in 1986 to build accounting solutions for Shyam Sundar Goenka’s textile business. Tejas Goenka, Managing Director of Tally, speaks to Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, about what it means to carry forth the legacy and become a global solutions provider.
Tally has expanded beyond India, and now has a presence in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
Tejas, who wants to see “a very large presence outside”, aims to impact entrepreneurs worldwide even as his company seeks to deepen its reach within India, across the MSME sector and down to mom-and-pop store owners. Many small business owners in India still don’t have access to software tailored to their needs, and end up using either imported software or indigenous tools not built for their business.
The third-generation entrepreneur dispels the myth that small business owners are not open to technology.
“There is an awareness gap, but there’s no willingness gap,” he said, adding that the pandemic accelerated the shift towards digital solutions and forced businesses to adapt quickly to the new environment.
A key lever of catering to this segment is increasing access, which Tally is enabling through its network partners, localised languages, and personalised experiences.
Tejas also touched upon expanding Tally’s solutions beyond accounting, inventory, and compliance, and look at potential business areas such as customer acquisition and supply-chain management.
“We see ourselves as a technology company rather than a fintech company,” he said.
Being a software company, Tally doesn’t need to invest much in distribution channels, but focuses on leveraging technology shifts to deliver the best possible experience.
Tejas believes there’s a strong need to keep pace with these technological changes. “You don’t have to be the first in the market, but the best in the market,” he said, emphasising that it is better to focus on something that is deeply differentiated and hard to copy.
Figuring out how to stay ahead of the curve keeps Tejas on his toes. “I am not worried about next month. I’m trying to figure out what I can do better than others.”
The Tally journey
Tejas’ own journey with Tally started reluctantly. He had returned to India after completing his education in the US, and his parents, who were managing Tally, asked him to join the office.
“I was rebellious in the beginning, I used to come in my shorts, T-shirt, and chappals just to make sure I wasn’t fitting in,” he recalled.
Eventually, the company’s vision grew on him and he realised that he could accomplish something meaningful. The freedom to fail his parents allowed him was a key factor in shaping him, professionally and personally.
“I made mistakes, but that made me who I am,” Tejas said, talking about the value of courage that had been passed on to him. Tejas said that he hasn’t been tasked with carrying any baggage from the past success of Tally, and is envisioning the company’s future in his own way.
As the Indian startup ecosystem gains maturity, conversations will increasingly steer towards building organisations that last.
Tally’s story brings interesting perspectives as the organisation has thrived amid rapid changes in business and technology across three decades. More importantly, it’s doing so while there is a change of guard across generations of entrepreneurs, each with their unique approach and mindset. This makes a common thread of values that runs across the organisation’s lifetime vital, even if the business itself undergoes change.
Tejas spoke of a culture that has been passed on since the inception of Tally, and which he observed during the pandemic. Employees working from remote locations would reach out to support parents of new employees in the same region, if the latter were posted somewhere else.
“If these things are not there, it’s a problem,” he says, mentioning how he has learnt the value of teams, shifting from his earlier mindset of seeking to do everything himself.
Shradha summed it up eloquently. “Organisations don’t last as institutions, till there is compassion and care. If Tally has lasted and is growing, somewhere these would be at the core.”
Edited by Teja Lele